Byrne thinks feds trying to hide Qalipu information

Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  Gerry Byrne may have gotten some answers to his questions on the federal review of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band’s enrolment process, but he still feels there’s a lot not being said.

Byrne, the Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, received a response to questions he posed in an order paper in the House of Commons last Friday.

He asked for details on the contract for Fred Caron, the lawyer hired by the federal government to review the band’s enrolment process.

The review was ordered this past December because of concern over the growing number of applicants. Some 30,000 people have approved for membership in the band and more than 70,000 applications are yet to be processed.

Byrne also asked what would become of those unprocessed applications.

“The government, instead of actually answering in a forthright way, being up front, straight forward and honest about it, have cloaked the answers in total bureaucratese,” said Byrne. “Given the fact that they did not answer fully when obviously answers should  have been given, they’re either in contempt of Parliament or in violation of the Financial Administration Act.”

Byrne said the answers provided show to what length the federal government will go through to hide the issue.

Meanwhile, he said the response from federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt does clear up a bit of confusion over the role of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI) and Qalipu in the review.

FNI signed  the 2007 agreement on the band’s formation, and Bryne said there have been rumours the organization was going to cease existence.

In his response, Valcourt said Caron and the department would be talking with Qalipu and the FNI.  

“It suggests that the agreement, and all the provisions therein, roll over onto Qalipu,” said Byrne, adding that if FNI winds up operation, Qalipu retains successor rights and responsibilities.

Byrne’s order paper will be debated in the House on March 27.

“The government will have to make clear on where it stands,” Byrne said.

Neither Fred Caron or Greg Rickford, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, were available for an interview on the status of the review.

An emailed response from a spokesperson for the department said, “given the ongoing nature of the discussions between FNI (Federation of Newfoundland Indians) and AANDC (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) it is not possible to predict, at this time, the result of the discussions or when a final decision will be made.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Organizations: FNI, House of Commons, Financial Administration Federation of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Richard
    March 19, 2013 - 14:44

    The problem with the whole application process is and always has been that it is draped in secrecy. Same old...same have a situation where certain people have become accustomed and comfortable to reaping the benefits of being Native. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, as Native people in this country are entitled to certain benefits under long signed treaties that were put in place for the protection and well being of ALL Native people. The definitive here being,"ALL"! Newfoundland's Native people have, for the most part been thrown under the wagon, not even off the wagon. In order to be thrown off the wagon you first have to be on it! Thousands of us including myself, made huge sacrifices leaving our families and friends to seek jobs, careers and new lives outside of our place of birth. I for one would like to see some transparency with regard to just how many applicants like myself reside outside NL. I feel that if this information were available that many of you that feel threatened that we will dip into your benefits will have nothing to worry about. It is very disappointing to me that so many fellow Newfoundlanders who are my Native brothers and sisters don't stand up for others. Have you not heard of the saying,"there's strength in numbers?" You know who you are and so does our Creator! Shame!!!!

  • NovaScotia
    March 18, 2013 - 13:26

    David, you clearly speak without facts. The 100,000+ applications did not all come from Newfoundland. Many families moved from Nfld to find work in others provinces and still met the requirements for the Qualipu application.

  • AH
    March 14, 2013 - 21:32

    I think Gerry Byrne is on the right path and thank god someone got the guts to question these things. The only ones taking any offence are the people who didn't qualify and the ones who got it and don't want anyone else to have it (in fear of there not being enough resources to give to everyone). So gross. A duck is a duck.

    • Brian
      March 19, 2013 - 12:59

      "Who didn't qualify" As if this was some time of contest? The "only ones" taking offence are those to have to foot the bill for a special interest group because they supposedly have different color skin. Fact.

  • Tony
    March 14, 2013 - 21:26

    CBGIRL, you sure appear to have a mouth on you. Is your dislike for Gerry Byrne a personal one or do you feel his language has anything to do with his effort he has put forth for those who have applied for their status to be treated just as those who have been processed to date? Pointing out your research from clicking a few buttons shows your low level of tact and abundance of arrogance. Neither of any interest to me when I see this man is fighting for so many of us who have applied for our status and have heard nothing. As for ROD HUTCHINGS, why would you point out that Mr. Byrne is looking for votes? I personally feel he is at least earning them, which is more than I can say for 90% of the MP’s in this country. Mr. Byrne applied for his status, and if he is native Canadian he has every right to do so. Do you have a problem with that? If you do, get over it and move on. And I want to save DAVID for last. Who are you to feel curious about applicants? The federal government did not do it’s homework before signing the dotted line. NL has always since confederation, held the title as having the highest un-employment rate in the country. More than the population of Newfoundland and Labrador since confederation had to leave the province to live and survive without handouts from Ottawa. May I add, many others who remained in NL managed to make a great living and contribute to the federal purse. Any term of federal government should not have to be told that. Obviously you do. No one is asking Ottawa to rush the process or slip those who are not eligible a free “Status card”. If you don’t understand what this is about, I think you may want to educate yourself and read a few treaty agreements that have been ignored by the federal government since the day they were signed. Mr. Byrne I want to thank you for your efforts on behalf of the people who have applied for their status as their birth right. Many of us left Newfoundland and Labrador, not because we wanted to, but because we had no choice but to leave.

    • CBGirl
      March 15, 2013 - 05:41

      Arrogant for stating facts provided by the Qalipu themselves (with a small amount of deductive reasoning?) A mouth? At least I bothered to look it up. As for My dislike for Gerry, I was a big supporter of him for years, and now Im not, for reasons I feel are not part of this discussion. I do agree with the idea that whether Gerry is wishing for membership or not is irrelevant. He has just as much right to apply as anyone. But has anyone heard.a peep from the FNI since Qalipu formed? Brendan Sheppard is still the king/president/chairman/shah of the FNI, no? Shpuldn't the FNIs future be determined from the FNI? The reason for FNIs existence is gone. Mandate fulfilled. They were successful in what they set out to do. Its time for Qalipu to continue their mandate, as it is Qalipu which is the band, not FNI. If the FNI ceases to exist, Qalipu still continues. Qalipu should be issuing a statement on what exactly happens when the applications stop being processed by them and transfers to the department. Sure, the process slows. And with that number of people waiting, it will take some time. It took 2 years to process 30,000 applicants, and more than double remain. Even if Qalipu processed them, I would estimate 4 years to clear that backlog. My application is in that stack. But I'm one of the most patient people you will ever meet. I don't need a card to tell me what I am. The important thing is for due diligence to be carried out by both the federal government and Qalipu. The FNI estimate was off by a wide margin. Of course that will be investigated. Not for wrongdoing, because estimates are guesswork, but why that estimate was so off. I waited this long for Qalipu to form, and if I have to wait a while longer for the paper to be pushed around, so be it. Its a long process. My application was submitted rather late in the game. And thats no ones responsibilty but mine. But Id rather see a membership who actually qualify than a group of people who don't. The financial allocation is based on membership total. And if I don't qualify, so be it. What are they gonna do, take my name away? Take away christmas? Not allow me to form paragraphs on this forum? Oh...Follow me on twitter @_CBGirl

  • Henry
    March 14, 2013 - 19:59

    I think David should take a hike. Nobody really cares what his opinion is. It appears to me he is just another mosquito flying around the room. I think we will just swat him. Haha.

    • david
      March 15, 2013 - 18:05

      Front runner for band leader.

  • CBGirl
    March 14, 2013 - 15:03

    Cloaked in Bureaucratese? Surely Mr. Gerry Byrne knows how to speak and read that language. Now for a few facts: FNI’s primary goal: to obtain Government of Canada recognition of Mi’kmaq eligibility for registration under the Indian Act FNI’s mandate: To promote the social, cultural, economic, and educational well-being of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq. Conne River had been a member of the FNI up until it became a band recognized by the Indian Act. Then it left. Once the Qalipu band was recognized by the Indian Act, it too has the option of leaving the FNI. Once the Qalipu Band was formed, they could leave the FNI. And what would that lead to? Zero people in the FNI. There is absolutely no reason to keep the FNI active now that the band is formed. And Gerry, I found that in two clicks on the Qalipu site. FAQs and the Story pages.

  • david
    March 14, 2013 - 12:09

    100,000+ applications, from a province of 511,000. A full 20% of the population. If I was the federal government, staring at this open-ended, clearly fake potential liability, from a province with the appetite and disposition to bitch and moan for handouts and freebies as this one has, I'd be rightly suspicious / concerned / cynical about this, too. For the first time in my recent memory, I appreciate what might simply be due prudence.

  • Curious
    March 14, 2013 - 08:46

    30,000 approved and 70,000 more applications?? That sounds like there are more Mikmaq in NL than in the Maritimes and Quebec. Can that be right?

    • paul
      March 14, 2013 - 13:26

      'clearly fake'??? how so. the Federal Governemnt have themselves established the criteria for Qalipu qualification, which includes that you can show a connection to 'a' Micmac ancestor...irregardless of how many generations removed you are...this is the Governments doing. to blame people for taking the opportunity offered them is disingenous, since ,really, how many people would not apply for this if they could? that said, many, many applicants are genuinely interested in status for heritage and identity sake.

    • david
      March 14, 2013 - 15:41

      Paul: Just give it up, b''s already embarrassing enough.

  • Rod Hutchings
    March 14, 2013 - 07:39

    I'm tired of seeing the Western Star give Gerry Byrne 100% lip service on every issue. What ever happened to investigative journalism in this province? Some further questioning of Mr. Byrne might have uncovered the reason why Byrne is latching on with the Qaulipu applicants... Firstly, he obviously sees them as gullible voters who will support him in the next election... And secondly Mr. Byrne and his family have a personal interest in this case given the fact that they have applied for membership in the band as well.