Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is doing incredible work for Canada, for all Canadians, and yet the TRC has had to take the Government of Canada to court in order to get an order to say that the documents they need should be brought forward by the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada was dragging its feet. Actions speak louder than words.
We had an apology, and I think that was wonderful; however, the government is not cooperating with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There is an anomaly there; can you admit that? The government is not fully cooperating with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Senator LeBreton: I believe the government is cooperating with the commission. Three and a half million documents have already been turned over as a court-directed process, which we honour and respect.
Senator Dyck: The other aspect of this, of course, is that Justice Murray Sinclair and Commissioner Wilton Littlechild are concerned because it is a five-year mandate. If they do not get all the documents in time, they only have a year left.
If the government is so committed to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will they support the idea that they will commit to an extension for the TRC because the TRC has not been able to get full cooperation in order to get all the documents they need to complete their mandate?
Senator LeBreton: I can only repeat what I just said, senator. This is a court-directed process. There have already been 3.5 million documents provided. We will honour and respect the terms of the agreement. Those are the facts. Unlike what you claim, I do not believe the government has dragged its feet on this at all.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: I have another supplementary question. With regard to the idea that actions speak louder than words, there have been funding cuts of $1.7 million to the various Aboriginal organizations across Canada. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me whether she has looked for savings and efficiencies within Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada itself? Has that department suffered a 30 per cent cut in its budget?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): With regard to budgeting — like all budgeting of the government, no matter what area it is in — we want to ensure that project funding for Aboriginal organizations is focused on the delivery of essential services and the delivery of programs in key areas.
Oftentimes, programs that were in place for a long period of time had outlived their lifespan, so we are instead focusing on the delivery of essential services and programs in key areas such as education, economic development and community infrastructure. These are shared priorities, and the decisions with regard to this funding are, of course, developed hand in hand with Aboriginal leadership.