John Duncan's tenure as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs was a negative one, according to some First Nations leaders — and they aren’t holding out much hope that a new minister will change their relationship with the federal government.
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence said she wishes John Duncan the best going forward, but wishes he had taken the time to visit her community during his time as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
"He never demonstrated much too much on our side … to actually have a better relationship with First Nations and actually come to our communities and look at the situation we've been facing. But I think he made the best effort to work with all the First Nations."
Spence said she’d like to see the next minister to take a more hands-on approach.
Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee agreed. The leader of the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 39 First Nations across Ontario, said he's worked with several different ministers and he believes they are too often swayed by their party's policies.
"Anytime you have a minister that tries to work with First Nations and listen to First Nations, the government usually moves them out of that position very quickly."
Heritage Minister James Moore will look after Aboriginal Affairs until Duncan's successor is named.
Madahbee said he wants that next minister to be a good listener, rather than someone who tells First Nations how to solve their problems.
Duncan resigned last week citing an inappropriate letter he wrote to a tax court judge on behalf of a constituent.