A First Nations flag passes in front of Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the First Nations Gathering at the John Diefenbaker building in Ottawa , January 24, 2012.
Credits: Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency
Judge Michael Phelan of the Federal Court says there’s no evidence of mismanagement at the Attawapiskat Indian reserve in Ontario.
This is the small reserve into which Stephen Harper has plowed $90 million from 2006 to 2011 for social services. And yet it’s a shantytown with rotting homes, backed-up sewers and some families living in tents. Not for lack of money. The town is drowning in money. That’s the problem.
So much money that the band has three chiefs on payroll, like having three mayors, for a town of nearly 2,000. And 18 councillors. And on top of that, paid full-time bureaucrats. And on top of that, a paid school board. For a town of 2,000. It’s tax-free money, since it’s on a reserve. The chief and council are making the equivalent of close to $100,000 each.
There was a problem with the town school. It smelled of diesel fumes. So they tore it down. But instead of rebuilding it, they built a hockey arena. And bought a $70,000 Zamboni. And paid $80,000 more to have it shipped to Attawapiskat.
There are a lot of gorgeous SUVs in town. It’s not poor. Between the government money and money pouring in from the nearby diamond mine, it works out to $250,000 for each family, each year.
Tax free. That’s like $400,000 a year for the rest of us.
But because it’s an Indian band, it doesn’t have the same financial disclosure or accountability that other Canadians have.
Last year, when the crisis exploded, Harper sent in a financial grownup to see where the hell all the money was going. The local chief — who happened to be dating the financial officer — sued to kick out the manager.
And Judge Phelan agreed.
The federal government “has not produced evidence of mismanagement or incorrect spending,” he wrote.
“The (federal government) misunderstood the nature of the problem, choosing a financial tool ... to address what was really an operational problem. While (Attawapiskat was) having trouble addressing the housing crisis, what they lacked was not the ability to manage their finances ... but the material means to do so.”
So Attawapiskat doesn’t have a problem managing their money. They just need more hammers and nails and stuff. Who is this Judge Phelan? In 2007, he struck down a treaty that prevented Third World refugees from using the U.S. to come to Canada.
Judge Phelan ruled that America is not safe, that it abides torture. So he says foreign nationals entering Canada from the U.S. can seek refugee status here. Fortunately, that decision was reversed by the federal court.
And last year, he condemned Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for not letting a drug dealer back from the U.S. to get our lenient parole.
The criminal was convicted of conspiracy to import and distribute 100 kilos of marijuana and hash oil. But Judge Phelan doesn’t think that says anything about his potential threat to Canadian society.
Judge Phelan should resign and run for Parliament.
That’s not likely to happen. So Ottawa has to appeal Phelan’s political ruling.
It’s factually wrong. And it sends the message to Indian chiefs that anything they do is OK because liberal white judges will look the other way.