Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the important question that has been raised by the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
Of course, I would like to acknowledge first that we are gathered on Algonquin traditional territory.
My hon. colleague has raised a question this evening that is really directed to one particular case, and it is a matter of public record right now in the country that the case she is raising with regard to Onion Lake Cree Nation is currently before the courts. We understand the frustration that the member may be experiencing as a result, but while this case is before the court, there are certain jurisdictions in which we will be limited.
However, I want to make a statement that I really believe speaks to where we are trying to get to with transparency and accountability.
First of all, we want to have a process that will include first nations and make them a part of the solution in designing what this transparency and accountability looks like.
As a government, this is a priority for us. It is a priority for first nations, a priority for their members. We understand that it will take us a little time to get there, but first nations have been very clear with us that they do not want a top-down approach, a made-in-Ottawa solution, because it does not work.
We saw the former government, of which the member was a part, try that and attempt that top-down approach, imposing upon first nations what it felt as a government would be the solution. That is not the practice that we have signed on to. We have signed on to a process of reconciliation and working in collaboration with indigenous governments across Canada. That means we do not impose upon them what we feel is right; we negotiate with them. We come to a consensus on the proper accountability and transparency measures that need to be implemented, those that will work.
Since last summer, the minister and the department have been working with indigenous organizations, including the AFN and the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association on ways to enhance mutual accountability.
The government has also reached out to community members and leadership through a comprehensive online engagement process, and now it is ready to embark upon in-person sessions across the country over the next few months. I encourage first nations members to visit the departmental website to learn more about how this process works. As well, the government is also continuing to work in full partnership with them to improve mutual accountability and transparency.
We remain committed to the process. We remain committed to establishing a new fiscal relationship with first nations, and in the meantime we are continuing to invest historic amounts of investment in the billions of dollars in first nations education, health care, housing, and community development in all areas of the country in all indigenous governments.