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Hon. Serge Joyal (Secretary of State):Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member's phrasing is a little subjective. The main reason for the delay is, basically, the fact that over the past year, many provincial and national associations have had to cope with various changes including a large number of new associations. With a view to establishing objective criteria that, in the fact of such problems, would be used in acknowledging these associations, we have tried to reach a consensus and an agreement with representatives of the major associations.
Next week I shall be meeting with representatives of the Métis, in an attempt to seek a solution to this problem. As soon as we have reached a consensus, payments will be made in the manner agreed upon with the organizations.
Mr. Cyril Keeper (Winnipeg-St. James):Mr. Speaker, the Government changed the funding policy for native organizations. When it does that, it has to accept the responsibility to see that that policy works. That funding is still a month overdue. When is the Government going to sit down with native leaders in order to make that policy work, or does the Liberal Party only care about native people when it is thinking about votes?
Hon. Serge Joyal (Secretary of State):Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member is upset but I feel he does not know the facts. If he had spoken to representatives of the main associations concerned, he would have realized that six months ago I started informing each association that we were going to revise program criteria to allow for the new situation that was created last year when a number of national associations were split and when many associations were set up provincially. It was to cope with this new situation that we initiated negotiations and exchanges, and as I said in my previous answer, we are discussing criteria for acknowledging these new situations while maintaining the program's objectives, which are to give the representing associations the financial base they require to carry out their responsibilities. That has nothing to do with the inferences being made by the Hon. Member, which, I feel, are only aimed at poisoning relations in a situation that is very difficult, although in the past, we have always received the cooperation of native representatives.