Charlie Angus and Minister John Duncan Joust over Attawapiskat

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Parliament HillOTTAWA- Charlies Angus the Member of Parliament for Timmins James Bay and Minister John Duncan the Aboriginal Affairs Minister were up during Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Angus was questioning the Minister on the progress of shipping modular homes to Attawapiskat First Nation.

Here is the exchange from the House of Commons:

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday modular homes for Attawapiskat had to be taken off the trucks because the third party manager screwed up. He has been withholding the funds needed by the De Beers technical team to get the site work done in Attawapiskat.

We have a small window here. Time is ticking. So far the only thing this high-priced Indian agent has done is to hit the community up for about $50,000. That is a lot of coin to provide political cover to a minister who has completely blown this file.

Why does the minister continue to punish the people of Attawapiskat?

Hon. John Duncan (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I wish there were some truth in what the member is saying.

Our government has prioritized the delivery of the 22 modular homes. We have offered to help the band council fulfill its responsibility to complete preparation of the lots for the installation of these homes on a priority basis. The third party manager is standing by to pay once the band council submits the invoices.

We strongly encourage the chief and council to act, which will ensure speedy delivery of the homes.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the minister, in order to punish the community, has actually cut off funding for the children. For two months, education dollars for that community have been cut off by the minister.

Education is a universal human right. It cannot be interfered with. It cannot be withheld. It cannot be used as a bargaining chip to force the submission of a band council that made the minister look bad.

Will the minister stand up in the House and explain to Canadians why he has cut off funding for children, for teachers and for high school students for two solid months? Explain that.

Hon. John Duncan (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we have another fact-free question from the member for Timmins—James Bay. What he is saying is completely false.

We have asked for invoices from the chief and council. These were not forthcoming. As soon as the third party manager receives the information that he requires, the invoices will be paid.

There has been no threat to the school or the school children. That is a fact.

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For over a month, Charlie Angus has asserted that Minister Duncan has not fully understood that the action of placing Attawapiskat into Third Party Management has impacted the funding of education payments in the community. Sources are telling NetNewsledger that some students who are attending school off reserve in Attawapiskat are in the position of not receiving the funds for housing, accomodation or room and board.

Angus stated on January 5 2012, “When Duncan says the Band is failing to supply ‘information’ he doesn’t say (or doesn’t understand) that writing cheques at the Education authority includes intervening in agreements with: teachers, post-secondary off reserve students, high school student tuition agreements in Timmins-North Bay, boarding house arrangements, supplies for the portables, etc, etc.”

The modular homes remain as of yesterday in Moosenee:

Video shot for NNL and APTN by Chris Kataquapit.

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