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NEWS: Duncan forced to resign from Harper cabinet

CBC reports, “Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has resigned from cabinet over contacting a tax court judge on behalf of a constituent, the MP for Vancouver Island North announced in a written statement late Friday afternoon. …Ministers have to stay away from court proceedings because cabinet and the judiciary are separate powers under the Constitution. It’s inappropriate for them to be seen as interfering with a judicial or quasi-judicial process. It also violates federal conflict of interest rules.”

“Duncan, who was at the centre of First Nations’ protests during the past few months, was also heavily criticized in 2011 for his handling of a housing crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat. …Prime Minister Stephen Harper said while Duncan would continue to serve as an MP, Heritage Minister James Moore will become acting minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development until a new minister is named.”

“NDP Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder said, ‘Conservatives have clearly been unable to get the job done on aboriginal issues. At this crucial time in First Nation, Métis and Inuit relations, the prime minister must move quickly to replace Mr. Duncan’… Grand Chief Stan Louttit, of the Mushkegowuk territory that includes the First Nations community of Attawapiskat, said, ‘What has he accomplished in his term as [aboriginal affairs] minister besides confusion, anger and distrust in government,’ …adding that he hopes the prime minister will involve First Nations leadership in the selection of a new minister.”

“John Duncan’s resignation as aboriginal affairs minister makes him the fifth member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet to leave amid controversy.” The others include Bev Oda (2012), Helena Guergis (2010), Maxime Bernier (2008), and Michael Chong (2006).

The CBC report is at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/02/15/pol-aboriginal-affairs-john-duncan-resigns.html.