Lots of consultation went into the bills the federal government is currently passing through the House of Commons, Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback said.
The Daily Herald caught up with Hoback by phone in Ottawa, on Sunday, a day after about 30 people gathered at the Margo Fournier Centre to express distaste for the Tories’ recent round of legislation.
Although they addressed a wide breadth of topics, the key points of contention were with proposed changes to the Indian Act and a perceived lack of consultation when it comes to the bills currently being considered and passed.
“When it comes to C-45 and the budget bills, there’s a tremendous amount of consultation,” Hoback said.
“We travelled all across Canada (in the fall of 2011) … going through proposals by hundreds -- literally hundreds -- of different groups on things for putting in or taking out of the budget.”
It isn’t fair to claim that the Conservatives didn’t consult with the public, he said.
“There’s just been a lot of opportunity for them to raise their concerns. Even in committee, we’ve had endless ours of extended sittings. That’s all I’ve done for the last -- well, since I came back this fall.”
Hoback sits on the federal governments Finance Committee, which has considered a wide range of feedback regarding bills, from criticism to support.
“There’s tremendous process that goes through to create the finance budget bill that the finance minister uses and the prime minster uses as guidance to create the budget (s),” he said.
When it comes to C-45 and the budget bills, there’s a tremendous amount of consultation. - Randy Hoback, Prince Albert MP
As for changes being proposed to the Indian Act, Hoback said that there are no devious intentions.
“There’s talk about creating was for ownership of the property on reserves,” he explained.
“Right now for example, an aboriginal person can’t take out a mortgage on their house, because it’s not their house, it belongs to the reserve itself.
“It allows them to call the house their own, so they don’t have to worry about a chief election or a change in council or the band and being turfed out of their house.”
With their houses now considered theirs, they can make improvements and upkeep to their own benefit, “In the same way I can do with my farm, or someone else can do with the house they own or the business they own,” Hoback said.
Another section of proposed changes to the Indian Act, which was not addressed during Saturday’s rally, involves increased accountability and transparency among native bands.
“It’s to make sure they have the proper transparency in place so that we can see how they’re spending their money, and the band members can see how they’re spending their money,” Hoback said.
“It’s not meant to be overburdened or anything like that, it’s just good governance that any corporation would have to do, any town council would have to do … We’re just asking them now to do the same thing.”