click here Aslo you can tune into CPACto watch the whole thing.
You know when I reread it, it's just like watching a traffic accident in slow motion. Brazeau has really lost it this time. What was he thinking?
Senator Brazeau: My second question deals with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Obviously, we had some good news announced yesterday with respect to the commission having different individuals named so they can start the important work that needs to be done. However, if we go back a little, we had a credible and capable individual step down, former Chief Justice LaForme, who was applauded by the Aboriginal community. He indicated that one of the reasons he stepped down was political interference by the Assembly of First Nations.Having said that, everyone knows that your former chief of staff was also the executive director who was fired by Justice LaForme. Some have suggested as well that perhaps the interference was by yourself in trying to have family and/or friends hired on to this commission. I ask you this question with all due respect. Can you comment on that, please?
Senator Carstairs: Colleagues, I have known Phil Fontaine in several incarnations, both as the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs...
Senator Brazeau: No answer?
Senator Carstairs: — and also as the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. I want my colleagues here in the Senate to know that his legacy will be that it was never about Phil. It was always about his people, and particularly the children and his desire to have Aboriginal children have appropriate housing, education, health care and children's services.Meegwech, Phil. I want to ask a question about children's services. The Wendy Report was clear. The amount of money given to Aboriginal people, whether Metis, or off-reserve or on-reserve persons, is far below the amount of money that is afforded to any other people when their children need to be in care. At the same time, there are greater numbers of children in care than in the general community. I would like to hear from Chief Daniels, Chief Fontaine and Mr. Chartier about what we need to do to ensure that your children receive the services they require.
Mr. Fontaine: I am not aware of the rules and procedures of this place and whether one has immunity from making certain accusations about individuals. What I have heard from Senator Brazeau is defamatory, and I need to protect myself.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Moore: Absolutely!
Mr. Fontaine: One would make such arguments when one does not understand the settlement agreement or has never read it. The fact is that there are six parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The Assembly of First Nations is one of those parties, in fact the only party that has a clear and explicit role in terms of an ongoing responsibility for the implementation of the settlement agreement. For example, on the recent appointment of the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and two other commissioners, the Honourable Minister Strahl consulted with me because that is one of the provisions in the settlement act. I consider myself one of the architects of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. When we were fighting for this issue, we were a lonely voice. I never heard Senator Brazeau raise his voice once — not a single time — to talk about the great importance that the fair and just resolution of this matter meant, not just for the survivors but the for entire country. It was only after we had completed the difficult and complicated negotiations that people started complaining. Until then, we met with silence.
I am quite disappointed that Senator Brazeau would make those kinds of allegations. They are completely uncalled for but very consistent with Senator Brazeau. I want you to understand that that is the settlement agreement, and I would urge you to read the provisions of it. Then, you will understand why the Assembly of First Nations had a strong interest in ensuring that the provisions of the settlement agreement are honoured and that everything proceeds in the best interests of not only the survivors but of the country. This is about Canada.
Do we have any regrets about the past? Of course. Will we be stuck in the past? No. We are moving forward with the government on the implementation of the settlement agreement. This very important undertaking will be before us for five years. It represents not only a tremendous opportunity for the country but also a tremendous challenge to get it done right.
The Chair: Witnesses and honourable senators, I am sorry to interrupt but the committee has been sitting for two hours. In conformity with the Order of the Senate of June 9, I am obliged to interrupt proceedings so that the committee can report to the Senate. Honourable senators will join me in thanking most sincerely the witnesses for being with us today.