November 20, 1969

PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

INDIAN AFFAIRS


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Howard (Skeena): That an humble Address be presented to His Excellency praying that he will cause to be laid before this House a copy of all notes made at all meetings or conversations between the government or any agency or department thereof and any provincial government or agency or department thereof since June 25, 1969 relating to the policy statement on Indian Affairs made in the House of Commons by the Honourable Jean Chretien, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development on June 25, 1969.


LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Russell C. Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Mr. Speaker, it might be helpful in my initial remarks if I were to attempt to deal with what seemed to be the point of the argument of the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Howard). As I understand it, he contends that there is a contradiction as between the statement made by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Chretien) and the statement I made yesterday in this House with respect to the return of his motion. I should like to deal with that. Then, I should like to deal with what I consider is the real subject matter this House must determine with respect to this motion. I might say, in an aside, that I do not think we have to determine whether there is a contradiction, as my hon. friend suggested. That was an interesting point and I shall have no difficulty in demolishing that argument.

What is the narrow point of this motion, Mr. Speaker? Is it whether or not the notes and conversations the hon. member asked for are indeed privileged, or does it turn on whether they should be produced? I shall deal with that matter in the second phase of my remarks.

To illustrate the contradiction, my friend of course went to some lengths in quoting the minister. He also quoted from the report of my remarks in yesterday's Hansard. What the hon. member requests in his motion, Mr. Speaker, and this is a matter of record, is a copy of all notes or conversations between any federal government agency and the agency of any provincial government. This matter, of course, is related to the white paper on Indian policy that was presented to

November 20, 1969

this House by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The hon. member took some time in making the point that the Indians were not a party to these conversations or negotiations. Of course, that is not the case, and my hon. friend knows it. After all, he should know it best because of the experience of the Indian band in his own riding. He knows well that the Nishga tribal council stated publicly that they accepted the general principle of the new Indian policy. That happened after negotiation and after consultation, and I think my hon. friend knows it.

I think my hon. friend also knows that part of the white paper on Indian policy suggested that it would be desirable for us not to have separate sorts of services for Canadians, that we should consider all Canadians equal, that they are in fact equal, and that they should all have the same sorts of services. For reasons set out in the white paper and enunciated by the minister in subsequent speeches, we were told that those services could best be provided by the respective provincial governments and that if the Indian people agree, in consultation with the provincial and federal governments, there must be a three part agreement with respect to these services, so that over a period of time there may be an orderly transfer.

There has never been any suggestion that there would not be a three party negotiation. In fact, it involved three parties. In his motion, my friend asks for all notes made at meetings between officials of the federal and respective provincial governments.

There is no inconsistency in this matter because the white paper and the minister's subsequent statements have made it very clear that the negotiations would be on a three party basis and that any transfer or change of any kind would only take place with the express consent of the Indian peoples. As a matter of interest, I think the first Indian nation to say publicly that there have been consultations with respect to the new policy was the Nishga nation. The tribal council made that announcement, and that nation is located in my hon. friend's riding.

May I now deal with the other aspect of my hon. friend's argument? There have been, of course, conversations and discussions between the two levels of government and the Indian people. He raised the matter of notes and conversations and also, I believe, the question of memoranda and working papers resulting from the discussions. I suppose the hon.

Motions for Papers

member is asking for conversations and memos made during conversations.

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

The second matter I now want to argue is whether these should be produced. Possibly I should preface my remarks by reading two paragraphs from the white paper presented by the minister. These come under the general heading of "Foreword". I will read these two paragraphs into the record:

The government does not wish to perpetuate policies which carry with them the seeds of disharmony and disunity, policies which prevent Canadians from fulfilling themselves and contributing to their society. It seeks a partnership to achieve a better goal. The partners in this search are the Indian people, the government of the provinces, the Canadian community as a whole and the government of Canada. As all partnerships do, this will require consultation, negotiation, give and take, and co-operation if it is to succeed.

That is the end of the first paragraph I wish to read. I halt for a moment in order to underline the fact that the whole matter of negotiations is predicated on a partnership. It is referred to as a partnership between the two levels of government, federal and provincial, and the Indian people. The white paper sets out in the first page that this partnership must be achieved by consultation between those three groups. I now quote the second paragraph:

Many years will be needed. Some efforts may fail, but learning comes from failure and from what is learned success may follow. All the partners have to learn; all will have to change many attitudes.

The white paper points out it will take some time for this process of negotiation. We all know it will take some time. We cannot change overnight attitudes of 100 years, policies, and conditions which have unfortunately lasted far too long. The white paper sets out, and the minister has said repeatedly, that this is a matter of negotiation between the three partners. During the negociations there will probably be memoranda. When I speak about negotiations between the three parties, I include the ten provincial governments. Negotiations will be carried on with innumerable Indian bands. Therefore the memoranda, working papers, telephone conversations and all the paraphernalia that accompanies modern day negotiations will pile up. The point I want to make, Mr. Speaker, is that the federal government is one of the parties to these negotiations. If we are going to enter into these negotiations with the hope there will be agreement and unity between these three parties at the conclusion of the negotia-

November 20, 1969

Motions for Papers

tions, we must not prejudice or compromise the position of any part at this time.

I know the interest of the hon. member for Skeena in the Indian people. I am aware of the interest of every member in this House. I say this as kindly as I can, and with the greatest respect, that by asking at this point in the negotiations for these documents to be produced the hon. member is not acting in the best interests of the Indian people. This sort of process is necessary in order to reach the objective for which all Canadians hope, including the Indians of Canada.

Possibly I could draw an analogy for a moment, Mr. Speaker. These are the things we do every day in our professions, our dealings between federal and provincial governments, dealings between international governments and between private individuals who may have a cause of action one against the other in a civil law suit. These things which are negotiable must be done without prejudice to the rights of another party. Successful negotiations cannot be carried on when one party runs and tattles to the judge about what another party said or did. Negotiation must be conducted in an atmosphere of good faith and mutual confidence.

Although I do not think the hon. member for Skeena intended to do so, it may be inferred from his remarks that the Indian people are not being involved and are not a part of the negotiations. That, of course, is not the case. They are parties to the negotiations. There has been no agreement to change the services provided to them, their status, ownership or title to land, the rights or privileges that they have enjoyed over the years. These will not be changed.

Discussions are being carried on with the provinces and no changes will be made without the consent of the third party because this is a tri-party arrangement. All parties have to be in agreement before any changes can be made.

The hon. member for Skeena referred to a speech made by the minister in Regina. I think it is helpful. The parts my friend quoted were helpful, but they were more helpful to his case and the argument that he advanced. I wish to quote from the same speech. I want to underline what is said in the white paper, that there would be continuing negotiations and consultation with the Indian people before any change is made or any transfer of services is made from the federal department to a provincial government. It is important that we underline this and subsequent statements made by the minister.

I will not quote the same sections as the hon. member. I made a note of what he quoted. I think we both have copies of that speech. On page 4 of the minister's speech we find this:

What is needed now is a sensible and meaningful discussion about the steps to be taken and to separate the principal components of the problem so they can be dealt with appropriately.

How are we going to do this if, every time a suggestion is made by one party and a counter-suggestion made by another party, or a discussion is held with an Indian band or an Indian band makes a proposal to the federal department, one of the parties, on the basis of proposals which are tentative and subject to ratification and approval by the Indian people, makes them public?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Will the hon.

member permit a question? I ask this question because the copy of the speech which I have does not coincide with what the hon. member just read. I believe he read:

What is needed now is a sensible and meaningful discussion about the steps to be taken and to separate the principal components of the problem so they can be dealt with sensibly.

[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

The copy I have reads: "So that they can be dealt with one after another, or jointly where possible."

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Honey:

Well, Mr. Speaker, my copy is exactly the same as that of the hon. member, except for the last word, which is "appropriately".

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

It says "one after another" here. More double talk.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Honey:

Anyway, the point with which I want to close my remarks is this: we all have an interest in seeing there is meaningful discussion between the federal government, the provincial governments and the Indians. We all have an interest in making a sensible, new approach. It may well be that the agreements ultimately reached will vary from band to band, or from province to province. It may be these agreements will turn out to be different from the proposals made in the white paper. But we all have a stake in this and we must try to make it work. We must sit down with each other and work matters out, carry on conversations in confidence, respect each other and try as best we can to find a solution to old problems and improve on the old ways

November 20, 1969

of doing things. I do not believe this is possible unless we are able to negotiate on the basis of respect and mutual confidence, as is the case in all other kinds of negotiation.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Would the hon.

member mind answering another question before he ends his remarks? It relates to some words I took down; I believe I have them exactly as they were spoken by the hon. member. If he did not use these precise words, he said something very like them. Though he said it kindly, he said I was not acting in the best interests of the Indian people by asking for the notes of the conversations with the provincial governments at this stage of the negotiations, or at this point of time. May I preface my question by saying I spent a fair part of the summer talking with a large number of Indian people in my own constituency and in other areas. I talked to officers of the Nishga tribal council to which the hon. member has referred, and I also spoke to some of the chiefs of the Nass River band which is covered by the Nishga council. It was at the request of a great number of Indian people who wanted to know whether or not they could have this information-

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bechard):

Order. The hon. member knows he is not entitled to make a second speech; he has to ask a question.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Coincidentally, I was just reaching that stage, Mr. Speaker. I ask the hon. member this question: If the native Indian people who are concerned about these negotiations were themselves to request this information, these notes about the conversations, would he provide them?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Honey:

I made the comment to which the hon. member referred respectfully and kindly; I want to make that clear. We do not agree but I know the hon. member is acting in what he feels to be the best interest of the native people. To answer his question specifically, I could give no such undertaking because I feel that in negotiations of this sort it is important that the discussions be privileged.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Frederick Johnstone (Jack) Bigg

Progressive Conservative

Mr. F. J. Bigg (Athabasca):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about the treatment of our native people. The white paper purports to look toward a three-party agreement. As far as the hopes of the government for the future are concerned I, like the Indian people, cannot be anything but 21362-68

Motions for Papers

happy about the objectives set out in the white paper. However, I am quite sure that what is bothering the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Howard) and a great many of the Indian people is not the objectives of the white paper but the methods by which we hope to achieve them.

The federal government has offered the Indian people full Canadian citizenship and participation. In this context I realize that some of the native people do not think of themselves as Canadian in the sense that we do. The hon. member for Skeena and I are concerned that in our desire to achieve this end we may in fact take steps which will delay the progress we desire to make by approaching the question strictly from the white man's point of view. If we do not enter into negotiations in the spirit of accepting Indians into the Canadian family, or milieu, as complete equals they will be the first to draw the proper conclusions. At the present time they are experiencing a deep feeling of uneasiness; indeed, this feeling has never left them since the white man set foot in this country.

If we take the attitude that this uneasiness arises from the fact that the Indian is a backward man, incapable of accepting our way of life and, therefore, incapable of becoming a fully-fledged Canadian, we shall fail as miserably as we have failed in the past. I am not here to criticize the white paper but to help put a few guidelines along the nebulous path we are treading. I know the Indian people and I have no hesitation in saying that I love them and they love me. The reason is this: from the time of my birth I have never tried to make an Indian into a poor white man. I love and admire the Indian people because they are great individuals on their own ground; they are great citizens in their own right. As displaced persons from Europe, every one of us, we have no right to tell the North American how he must behave in this country unless we can show him something better and finer. So far, our treatment of them has been far from acceptable to these people. No matter how high and mighty we talk, we are not treating them as equals, we never did, and we are not doing so today. Their distrust is, accordingly, well-founded.

We talk about consultation and we talk about co-operation; we talk about meaningful discussion, but this can begin only from one ground-that of mutual trust. I shall not throw any names around but I know certain people in this country adopt the attitude that

November 20. 1969

Motions for Papers

in a great many instances the solemn treaties which most of the Indians recognize as their bill of rights are entirely out-of-date and meaningless. If we enter into discussions with the Indian people with this attitude in mind we might as well have stayed home; it would be better to let them suffer the neglect which they have suffered for hundreds of years. We can no longer talk to them with a forked tongue, leading them along like bad children and suggesting in a condescending manner that we are bringing them up to the standards of the white man in the twentieth century. The leaders of the Indian people know they are equal, but it is very difficult to pass this feeling on to the children who are living under disgraceful conditions, in poor housing and in the most degrading circumstances of any citizens of this country.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Honey:

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to be unduly critical or seem to be putting forward a narrow inter-petation in respect of this debate, but with great respect to the hon. member it seems to me he is not addressing himself to the point of the debate. The point is whether in fact the government should be required to produce the documents asked for by the hon. member for Skeena. This is not a general debate on the white paper, and I respectfully suggest that the hon. member confine his remarks to that point.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bechard):

I think the hon. member is coming to the point.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Frederick Johnstone (Jack) Bigg

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bigg:

I do not intend to get into a technical argument as to whether I am referring to the specific point of the motion. I am here to present, in my inimitable way, several guidelines in respect of the treatment of Indians. I ask Your Honour's indulgence because this type of quibbling prevents us getting down to the meat of the matter.

I believe the hon. member for Skeena is not only trying to flay this government and put it in an embarrasing position but he is trying to get from all levels of government a complete and frank understanding of the Indians' problems. If anything is going on behind closed doors regarding Indians, you can be sure they know about it. I presume the hon. member for Skeena has been asked by the Indian people to attempt to clarify this matter. I go along with his request. As hon. members of this house well know, I do not always agree with that hon. member but I give him the same

benefit of the doubt that the minister is requesting. The hon. member wants a similar co-operative attitude to be adopted, and a detailed discussion of this matter.

I am not castigating the ministers of the Crown and I am quite willing to overlook discussions behind closed doors among ministers, deputy ministers and officials of provincial governments so long as the discussions benefit the Indian people. Let me warn the government that it must be made abundantly clear to these people-not necessarily clear to me or to the hon. member for Skeena-that discussions behind closed doors or at open assemblies are taking place for the benefit of the Indian people.

I do not think for one minute that the minister intends, as the white paper suggests, that the Indian people should be allowed to remain in their present abject state. Great efforts are being made to provide them with proper housing. Up to now these people have not trusted us because they have not had the opportunity to raise their families in a way worthy of Canadian citizens. If we want them to trust us in the future, we must make every effort to assure them that we respect their treaties. The Indian people believe they have a broken treaty as far as their rights are concerned.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Colin David Gibson

Liberal

Mr. Gibson:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit the hon. member is not addressing himself to the issue before the House.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Frederick Johnstone (Jack) Bigg

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bigg:

If in the opinion of the hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth (Mr. Gibson) I have not been addressing myself to the issue before the House, I suggest he must be deaf. There are 21 Indian reservations in the district of Athabasca and I assure hon. members that I have the confidence and respect of the Indian people. I am attempting to give first-hand information in respect of what these people think. They think this government and all the members of the House have little or no interest in their welfare.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

Colin David Gibson

Liberal

Mr. Gibson:

The minister has been travelling all over the county speaking to Indians. He has done more in this regard than any other minister.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Frederick Johnstone (Jack) Bigg

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bigg:

I know he has been speaking to the Indians and I know what he has said. I have read everything he has said to them. I am just giving the opinion of one of 264 representatives in this House. The minister is not on the right track.

November 20, 1969

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO POLICY STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink

November 20, 1969