Harper government forcing relocation of FN claims tribunal to “smother” it, says grand chief

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Harper government forcing relocation of FN claims tribunal to “smother” it, says grand chief

Jorge BarreraAPTN National News A tribunal created to deal with historic First Nation grievances is slowly being smothered by the Harper government, said a British Columbia grand chief in response to revelations the independent body is now being relocated and stripped of the ability to run its own affairs.

The Harper government is forcing the Specific Claims Tribunal (SCT) to move from its current space to make room for a new super-agency that will handle the administration of several federal tribunals, including the SCT, according to notes obtained by APTN National News. The notes were taken by an individual who was present for a speech given Tuesday by SCT Chair Justice Harry Slade to the Assembly of First Nations’ special committee on claims.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), was among about 20 people who were at the meeting held in a Vancouver board room.

“They are trying to smother it,” said Phillip. “It was a very Machiavellian move, it’s unbelievable. That’s why I say, I’m biting my tongue here.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office issued an emailed statement Wednesday evening saying it was up to Justice Canada to respond. The minister refused to answer questions from reporters following an appearance before the Commons Aboriginal Affairs committee late Wednesday afternoon. Read More

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