Poor managing on reserves hurts the young the most – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – January 8, 2013)


TORONTO – Just when you thought it was safe to stick your toe back into the murky waters of government accountability, along comes Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, all a-Twitter about the leak of an audit report on Attawapiskat.

“Tough love the rallying cry of the cowards who ‘leak’ these ‘audits’. Too much tough not enough love for our aboriginal bothers and sisters,” Duncan tweeted Monday.

Give me a break. Try too much pot calling the kettle black. As a politician, Duncan was part of a government that regularly leaked documents in order to get out their spin. But when the Tories do it, it’s cowardice? It sure explains why this province is in such dire economic straits.

If he really believes it’s acceptable for the band council in Attawapiskat to spend more than $100 million without adequate documentation, then is it any wonder this province is broke?

A scathing audit report by the accounting firm Deloitte found in random audits of transactions from April 1, 2005, and Nov. 30, 2011, 81% of the files didn’t have adequate documentation.

If Duncan defends that kind of accounting, no need to wonder where the $14-billion deficit came from.

All of which avoids the real tragedy, not just of Attawapiskat, but of other remote Native communities.

Poor management in many reserves keeps those residents in ignorance and poverty. Why? Because as long as the aboriginal population stays uneducated and dependent, their flawed and incompetent leaders will keep their jobs.

If the kids go to school, get jobs, break that dependency cycle and move on, then the whole industry — that sucks up hundreds of millions of tax dollars for no apparent benefit to its people — dies.

It’s the young people who are suffering.

The suicide rate among aboriginal young people in remote reserves is one of the highest in the western world. Drug abuse is rampant. You can’t get fresh vegetables into reserves — but drugs are rampant.

It’s not just the feds who’ve pumped megabucks into Attawapiskat.

De Beers, the South African diamond multinational, has invested more than $350 million into the community through contracts to community-owned businesses since the mine opened in 2008.

They invest around $50 million a year in the community.

Of De Beers’ 500 employees, 100 are aboriginal people from Attawapiskat, who are well-paid — including remote allowances.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Toronto Sun website: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/01/08/poor-managing-on-reserves-hurts-the-young-the-most