The federal Liberal Party continued its harsh criticism of the Harper government’s handling of the Attawapiskat housing crisis after a December 18 visit to the community by Liberal Leader Bob Rae and the party’s critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Carolyn Bennett.
“At the moment, we’re grateful that the 22 homes have been dispatched,” Bennett said of the modular homes that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs ordered for the community in mid-December.
However, the Liberal Party maintained its opposition to the feds’ decision to impose third-party management on the community and to force the band to pay the management fee out of its own funds.
“We think third-party management was inappropriately applied, without any warning and without any understanding of what was going on,” Bennett said. “This is a band that has been co-managed for numbers of years, where Canada has been part and parcel of every decision. Their books are up and online. We think that this was just an attempt to change the channel and assign the blame when the real blame goes to the Government of Canada.”
Additionally, the Liberal Party considers third-party management a band-aid solution to the problem of Northern poverty.
“We believe that lurching from crisis to crisis is no way to manage ongoing situations,” Bennett insisted. “Attawapiskat is probably only one of 100 bands with these types of living conditions.”