Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Turning over documents may absolve whistleblower

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WHISTLEBLOWER Ted Ducharme may have struck a deal to end a legal fight with his former employer.

Before a scheduled court hearing Wednesday morning, Ducharme turned over all documents he had collected while working for the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF) Inc. -- documents he claimed support allegations of misappropriation of funds designated for the care of First Nations flood evacuees.

"I do not possess any other documents from (MANFF)," Ducharme told Justice Shawn Greenberg, as a MANFF counsel held up a plastic bag of documents Ducharme had given him minutes earlier. "That's everything."

Outside court, Ducharme said MANFF's counsel had implied the non-profit agency would drop its lawsuit against him now the documents were returned.

MANFF is suing Ducharme, alleging it suffered financial damages and harm to its reputation after he showed the documents to the federal government, the Free Press, the CBC and others.

Ducharme was a former flood liaison officer with MANFF responsible for helping residents of flooded Lake St. Martin First Nation. He became disgruntled with how MANFF staff were conducting themselves and questioned staff payments, trips and costs incurred by the group while it looked after the relocated Lake St. Martin residents. He left his job early in the new year and was formally dismissed in March.

Ducharme, who does not have a lawyer, said returning the MANFF documents made no difference because others, including the federal government, had made copies.

Ducharme told the court he will continue to abide by a court order made at the end of June that prohibits him from circulating copies of the MANFF documents.

MANFF had been in charge of registering and caring for the 2011 First Nations flood evacuees. In February, Ottawa launched an external review of MANFF's operations after allegations it had misspent funds and had not paid outstanding debts to two Manitoba hotels.

Ottawa announced in early June a transition plan will be developed to address the long-term needs of the First Nations evacuees.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said the transition plan will be based on recommendations by the Canadian Red Cross, which he said will work with the affected First Nations to conduct an assessment of the evacuees' long-term needs.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2013 0

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