Prentice Defends Broken Election Promise

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 14:11



Canada’s Indian Affairs minister is trying to deflect the blame for a broken election promise to boarding school survivors in Ile-a-la-Crosse.


Jim Prentice is remaining firm in his stance that the Tories won’t follow through on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pledge for compensation for the former students.


Prentice says the Indian Residential School Compensation Agreement approved by the courts and several other parties stipulates there has to be a significant federal tie to any school covered in the deal — and he doesn’t think one exists in the case of Ile-a-la-Crosse.


Prentice notes the residential school agreement includes a mechanism where students not currently covered can make their case for compensation.


But if the Ile-a-la-Crosse students are unsuccessful, Prentice says they can lay part of the blame at the feet of the lawyer who’s launched a class-action lawsuit on their behalf — Tony Merchant.


Prentice says Merchant was one of the lawyers that helped broker the agreement, and knew before it was signed that the Ile-a-la-Crosse survivors wouldn’t make the cut.


Prentice refused to respond when asked about the Metis National Council’s argument that the Tories have the ability and obligation to negotiate a separate agreement for Ile-a-la-Crosse in light of Harper’s promise.