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Metis group concerned about audit findings

By: Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

 | Apr 07, 2014 - 3:27 PM |
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt responds during question period in Ottawa on February 14, 2014. The B.C. Metis Federation says a 2012 review, only recently made public, raises what it calls "a number of very serious issues that demand immediate answers and full public disclosure." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt responds during question period in Ottawa on February 14, 2014. The B.C. Metis Federation says a 2012 review, only recently made public, raises what it calls "a number of very serious issues that demand immediate answers and full public disclosure." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - A Metis group in British Columbia has written to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt to express concern about the results of an investigation into the Metis National Council.

The B.C. Metis Federation says a 2012 review, only recently made public, raises what it calls "a number of very serious issues that demand immediate answers and full public disclosure."

"The federal government has boasted about managing the economy responsibly, strict budgets at all costs," federation president Keith Henry wrote Monday.

"However some of the worst mismanagement is being supported through organizations such as MNC and their affiliates, which continue to negatively affect real support for Metis people across the country.

"What more will it take? There is undeniable evidence which has been kept from the Metis and taxpaying public."

An outside consultant's draft report and a subsequent examination by the Aboriginal Affairs Department raised red flags over the Metis National Council's management practices and financial controls.

The Canadian Press recently reported never-before-released details of those two documents, which identified questionable contracts and apparent conflicts of interest.

A summary of the department's findings, obtained under access-to-information legislation, offered a glimpse of what was happening behind-the-scenes before new measures were introduced to help make the council more transparent and accountable.

Council president Clement Chartier and vice-president David Chartrand of the Manitoba Metis Federation say the outside auditor's initial findings were flawed and other issues have since been resolved.

However, the rest of the council's board of governors are at odds with Chartier and Chartrand, saying they didn't know about the issues flagged by Aboriginal Affairs and do not want to be associated with the probe's findings.

The B.C. Metis Federation is also taking exception to the notion that the Metis National Council and its provincial affiliate, the Metis Nation British Columbia, speak on its behalf.

Valcourt's office says the government acted swiftly after concerns were raised about the Metis National Council.

"Our government is committed to ensuring that all organizations use taxpayer funds for their intended purpose, which is why we were concerned with the financial weaknesses identified within the Metis National Council and why we took these concerns seriously," spokeswoman Andrea Richer said in an emailed statement.

"Immediate steps were taken to ensure these issues were addressed, and in April 2013 the MNC agreed to a way forward and signed a Governance and Financial Accountability Accord which commits them to a higher transparency and accountability standard than any aboriginal representative organization.

"We hope that the MNC will continue taking the necessary steps to strengthen its financial accountability to its members and all Canadians."

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