Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Withdrawing Third-Party Manager in Charge of Attawapiskat Finances: Ottawa Withdrawing Attawapiskat Manager

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Withdrawing Third-Party Manager in Charge of Attawapiskat Finances: Ottawa Withdrawing Attawapiskat Manager

Article excerpt

TORONTO - The federal government is pulling the third-party manager who had been handling the finances of the troubled northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat after the community improved health and safety conditions for its residents.

Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for aboriginal affairs minister John Duncan, confirmed Thursday evening that third-party manager Jacques Marion is being withdrawn because of progress in reserve management.

MacDonald said a transition of power will take place over the next two weeks, and the band will revert to "co-management" of its affairs and finances on April 19.

That means the band and council will have more control over money and local decisions, said a letter sent to the band from Joanne Wilkinson, an official with Aboriginal Affairs.

"This will permit the resumption of the Chief and Council's full responsibilities under the funding agreement, including administering the funding repayable to the council under the agreement," the letter states.

"This decision has been reached in recognition of the success that has been achieved in addressing the urgent health and safety requirements of the 25 affected families that were identified last winter, the letter adds.

The community of 2,000 declared a state of emergency last October after a severe housing shortage forced more than two dozen families to live in temporary shelters, some without insulation or plumbing.

The federal government removed control of public funding from the band in November and ordered an audit of its spending.

The decision to bring in a third-party manager was met with much resistance from band officials.

They sought a temporary injunction, arguing the imposition of the outside manager threatened irreparable harm by using up funds better spent on housing and other needs. A federal court refused to issue the injunction in February.

Government officials speaking on background Thursday said the third-party manager was being pulled not because he had done a bad job, but rather because the band itself had done a good job in improving the health and safety conditions that had necessitated the outside control in the first place. …

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