Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Part One of The Current
It's Tuesday, November 29th.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent refused to confirm or deny that Canada intends to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
But if the government does dispense with the agreement, it promises to do so in an environmentally friendly manner.
This is The Current.
Looking for answers in Attawapiskat - Dr. Heather Ringrose
Few people get to the First Nations community of Attawapiskat in Ontario's far North. The only way in, after all, is to fly in. But tiny Attawapiskat is now getting a lot of attention - and visitors with offers of help. The Reserve's Chief declared a state of emergency at the end of September - and called for help to evacuate the community of 2,000 before winter sets in.
Many in Attawapiskat live in makeshift tents or uninsulated sheds with no running water or proper heating. But the outside world apparently needed to see it to believe it ... because few people paid much attention before NDP MP Charlie Angus released a video of living conditions in Attawapiskat earlier this month. All of a sudden, Attawapiskat was on the map. We heard from Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
Both the Ontario and federal governments now have representatives in Attawapiskat. And the Canadian Red Cross is also sending a small team today to deliver blankets, sleeping bags and winter clothing - and to meet with families to assess their other needs. John Saunders is leading up that team. He is the provincial director of disaster management. He was in Timmins, Ontario.
Heather Ringrose is a physician working with the people on the reserve. She joined us from Attawapiskat .
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan was unavailable for an interview this morning but his office did - as we mentioned earlier - send us a statement. In it, the minister says he will get daily updates from his representatives in Attawapiskat and - "The Government of Canada will continue to work with the community to assess future housing needs with a focus on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of the residents."
Looking for answers in Attawapiskat - Clint Barton
Attawapiskat isn't the only First Nation to experience - or express - frustrations over government bureaucracy and the funding process. Clint Barton is the Housing Manager for Gingolx, part of the Nisga'a Nation on British Columbia's North West Coast. We reached him at his home in Gingolx.
Looking for answers in Attawapiskat - Colin Craig
The federal government spends about $12-billion dollars annually on aboriginal affairs. Most of that money is transferred to First Nations to pay for - among other things - education, governance and infrastructure. And critics would like more accountability in how it's spent.
Last week, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada tabled a bill that would require First Nations to make the salaries and expense accounts of chiefs and band councillors public. Bill C-27 would also mandate that reserves publish regular audited financial statements.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has pushed for such a bill for two years. Colin Craig is the Federation's Prairie director. He was in Winnipeg.
Other segments from today's show: