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Ads accuse federal government of mismanaging money for flood evacuees

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The Manitoba innkeeper who blew the whistle on alleged mismanagement of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for flood evacuees is now taking to the airways to settle his dispute with Ottawa.

A series of ads due to run this week on CJOB Radio accuses the federal government of lack of accountability for what Mike Bruneau claims is $100 million in taxpayer funds over the last three years.

It’s actually $101 million.

The bulk of it, $93.2 million, represents costs paid to date through MANFF, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters. Canadian Red Cross has indicated that its costs from February 1 to July 1, 2014 are approximately $8 million, bringing the total to $101 million. To date, there are still 1,953 evacuees out of their homes, most of them now in rentals.

More than 2,000 people from five separate Interlake First Nations were forced to evacuate when their homes were destroyed in the 2011 flood. Bruneau took in dozens of them, accommodating them at his Misty Lake Lodge in Gimli, which is now closed, and at his motor hotel in Ashern. He waged a successful media campaign to settle outstanding debts in 2013, when Ottawa wrote him out a $2.6 million cheque. He launched a lawsuit earlier this month for another $3 million.

The ads are about the bigger picture, Bruneau says.

In an effort to force some transparency on federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Bruneau targeted the AM talk radio station.

Bruneau figures it’s the best place to get his pitch out to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative base.

"There are 24 spots, 30 seconds each and they run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. People should know where that $100 million was spent." Bruneau said in an interview just as the scripts were finalized for broadcast.

Bruneau said the way he sees it, the answers he wants are contained in a financial investigation of the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters that has never been made public.

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