Mr. Speaker, I wish to indicate for clarity to those listening that the question that I have for the late show today is in regard to a question that I put to the government on October 20. This was the question as I put it:
Mr. Speaker, education is critical to improving the social and economic strength of first nations people. The community of St.Theresa Point has over 700 nursery to grade eight students attending school in trailers and satellite rooms that were supposed to be temporary. They have no gym, no library and no playground. Indian Affairs says it will start design planning in 2009 for a new school. In the next five years 500 more children will reach school age. Would the minister and the Liberal government accept their children receiving their education under these conditions?
I was absolutely appalled at the answer I received from the government. The government indicated that it spends millions of dollars for first nations. Fair enough. There is no question that millions of dollars are being spent. The reality is that there is still a huge need within first nation communities considering the situation we have seen in Kashechewan and numerous other communities throughout the country.
The reason that need is there is the fact that for years there have been shortfalls and no proper funding provided by the government. The government has provided no accountability. I am not suggesting that it was first nations who were at fault. I firmly believe that in the cases I am dealing with that is not the case.
I put a question on the order paper asking for the capital funds that had been spent in first nation communities in my riding over the last 10 years. I was astounded when I received the figures. What really jumped out at me was the great disparity among first nation communities. There seemed to be no set reasoning as to how the funding would be done in the communities.
What upset me was that we could have a situation with 700 students in portables and yet the government was not looking at putting in a school until 2009, and that is only the design plan. We all know it takes two or three years after the design plan to get a school in place.
What upset me the most was looking at the 10 year fund. I am not denying any community the right to have a beautiful new school. I am not denying any community the right to have a school that it probably needs. What jumped out at me was the fact that in 2000-01, $86,812,000 was spent in the Churchill riding. The next year 2001-02, the year after the election, $61,956,000 was spent. That amount then increased again tremendously over the next three years, but it went to the Liberal candidates home community.
I do not deny that this community needed a new school. However, when a community has 700 students in portables, how does the government justify putting $38 million toward a new school in another community that already had a school? Granted, the community needed a new school, but a priority factor came into play. It was also the fact that $15 million had been cut from the budget to put additional facilities into our riding.
When I hear of the situation in Saugeen First Nation where the government representative absconded with money that should have been there for first nations, I begin to question the accountability of the federal government in these communities. I also question its commitment to first nations people. It is not acceptable to play one community off against the other.