Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dismissing audit does no good to Spence's credibility

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Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence may be right about some things, but she is absolutely wrong in dismissing a scathing federal audit of her band council's spending as a mere "distraction."

The audit, by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, found "no evidence of due diligence in the use of public funds, including the use of funds for housing."

The audit indicates the band council failed to keep basic records for how it spent more than $100 million in federal funds.

This is a significant issue for taxpayers, and Spence, who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11, does nothing for her own credibility in dismissing it.

It's important for taxpayers to remember Spence's protest is not directly part of the Idle No More movement, which predates her hunger strike by at least a month. It's fair to say, though, that the concerns of Spence and her supporters increasingly overlap with the issues raised by Idle No More.

The fact that there are multiple First Nations voices reflects the complexity of the issues that must be resolved with the federal government. Trying to minimize the significance of the audit is not helpful to any of those involved in resolving First Nations issues.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2013 A11

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