Vellacott Named Commitee Chair, Despite Opposition

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 at 15:15



Controversial Saskatoon MP Maurice Vellacott has been appointed the chair of the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, and as expected, Aboriginal leaders are not happy about it.


FSIN chief Alphonse Bird has repeatedly stated that Vellacott has no apparent relationship with First Nations leaders in Saskatchewan.


Vellacott also angered many in the Aboriginal community when he suggested native men were not dropped off by police on Saskatoon’s outskirts, but instead, made their way there to drink or take drugs.


He also called for an appeal of the convictions of the two police officers involved in the Darrell Night case.


Vellacott feels his comments have been misunderstood. He says the officers acted wrongfully, but their punishment was too harsh for their actions.


About 100 people protested Vellacott’s nomination for the committee last week in Saskatoon.


Northern Saskatchewan MP Gary Merasty calls Vellacott a polarizing figure, and is concerned Vellacott’s views may affect his ability to perform fairly in his new role.


Vellacott says anyone can check his record as vice-chair of the Aboriginal Affairs committee in recent years, and see the types of issues he’s championed for Aboriginal people.


Vellacott also says his job will be to build consensus on the committee. He says the committee’s agenda will be directed by issues raised by the Aboriginal community.