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?
Subtopic: INDIAN AFFAIRS