OTTAWA – James Bay Timmins MP Charlie Angus clashed with federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan during question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Angus was seeking answers from the Minister on the housing crisis in Attawapiskat.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect a just resolution to the Attawapiskat crisis, but the minister prefers to punish the community. It has been two months since he has cut off all the funding to the education system and to students. He has cut off the funding that is needed to actually prepare the site so the modular homes can be brought in. We have a technical team on the ground from De Beers that is waiting to bring this story to a conclusion, but the third party manager in Winnipeg is sitting on all the money.
Why is he treating this desperately poor community like a hostage?
Hon. John Duncan (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, all of the statements that were just made are all basically fabrications. They do not reflect the truth. We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of the people of Attawapiskat. In terms of the third party manager, that is a matter before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment further.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is inappropriate that a man has decided to punish the most desperately poor community by cutting off funding to children who are in ramshackle portables. Meanwhile he has hired a third-party manager to sponge off their backs to the tune of $50,000, while the technical team from De Beers does not have a dime to prepare the homes. These are Canadian citizens. They should not be treated like a hostage population. He has to stand and explain his attack on this community.
Hon. John Duncan (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this is a very simple question. We have a manager in place and he wants to work with the first nations leadership in the community. He has asked for and not received the information he needs in order to pay the bills for which the member for Timmins is asking.