Mr. Munro (Hamilton East):
I give the Hon. Member full credit. He asks where it came from. He brought up the idea, we checked it out, found that it could be done, so we put it in there. That shows what can be achieved when all Parties get together and try to find a solution. As I say, it is now in there. The only credit the Government takes is that it had the wisdom to adopt a useful and constructive suggestion. There is nothing wrong with that. It is in here and it gives that type of assurance. Let us take some relief from that.
As far as my successor is concerned, and certainly as far as many of my colleagues are concerned, if we form a government the next time, I will be around, although not as a Member of Parliament, to insist to the maximum of my influence that the Government I will insist that the Government take a hard look in 18 months and see if some of the implications of the disastrous situation referred to by the Hon. Member for Athabasca will occur. If there are not adequate safeguards to take care of that, action will have to be taken before the two-year period is up.
In conclusion, I want to refer to something of fundamental importance. This was pointed out by the Hon. Member for Athabasca. What about the money? How deplorable it would be if we removed this injustice only to create more injustice by raising expectations for these people who lost their status if, when they came back on the reserve, there were absolutely no financial resources to look after them. It would be a mockery. The money that has been established to treat this situation is identified in a special fund separate from Indian Affairs estimates. As the experience comes to us of people moving back to the reserves, that identifiable fund can be tapped based on need, whether it is for infrastructure, community services, land, or whatever. If those numbers coming back on the reserves meet a band that is totally incapable of treating them with adequate resources and the band comes to this special fund and is denied the money necessary to treat those people right, that will be identified immediately because of the accessibility of that fund. Parliament can be the watchdog starting next month, starting next year or starting when the new Parliament convenes. It can be the watchdog to see that there is fairness in terms of access to that fund. Noticeable
June 29, 1984
amounts of money have already been put into that fund in order to ensure that after the first application, there will be money there to give those people the necessary resources. That is another essential guarantee.
Let me say one last thing with regard to the timing of this Bill. There has been some criticism indicating that we could have brought this Bill in earlier. There has been an absolute deluge of legislation coming from my Department in the last three, four or five weeks. We saw a chance to get legislation approved, whether it be legislation on the COPE final agreement and on the Cree-Naskapi Act or whether it be-
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: INDIAN ACT ' AMENDMENTS RESPECTING BIRTH OF CHILDREN