Skip to main content

A man walks down the street in Attawapiskat, Ont., Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011.

Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Federal Court judge has refused to remove the federal government's third-party manager appointed to handle the affairs of a northern Ontario reserve.

The Attawapiskat First Nation sought a temporary injunction to remove the manager appointed last year by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.

The community argues the imposition of the outside manager threatened irreparable harm.

Story continues below advertisement

Chief Theresa Spence says the third-party management is costing the community money it should be spending on housing and other needs.

Judge Michael Phelan refused to issue the injunction.

In a ruling Friday, he said the community had not demonstrated that the third-party manager would cause real and lasting harm.

He did order the two sides to work together on acquiring 22 trailers to alleviate the community's housing crisis.

The trailers have to be brought in on ice roads, and their arrival date is uncertain because of weather.

However, the judge ordered the manager to pay for the trailers as soon as the proper invoices are handed over.

He said that doesn't mean the community, the applicant in the court case, has to accept the legitimacy of the third-party manager.

Story continues below advertisement

"The applicant shall not be required to accept, acquiesce or acknowledge the legality of the appointment of the TPM (third-party manager) in order to secure payment of the invoices," he wrote.

Attawapiskat lies close to the shore of James Bay and has a troubled past, including floods and housing shortages.

Last fall, it became a focus of national attention when Chief Spence declared a state of emergency over a housing crisis.

Families were facing the winter in rundown shacks or tents. The Canadian Red Cross flew in supplies.

Mr. Duncan appointed the financial manager in response to the crisis. His officials also arranged to acquire the stop-gap trailers.

The judge wrote briefly about the terrible conditions at Attawapiskat, noting: "How conditions such as these could occur in a country as rich, as strong and as generous as Canada has yet to be determined. That issue is for another day."

Story continues below advertisement

Chief Spence and her fellow band councillors are bitterly opposed to the third-party manager.

Judge Phelan acknowledged the anger in the case.

"It is not necessary at this stage of the judicial review application to deal in depth with the various back-and-forth exchanges and positions adopted. It is sufficient to say that there is a significant amount of frustration, anger and distrust."

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, who represents the area, says the ruling raises questions about the legitimacy of the third-party manager.

"The judge is sending a message that the third-party manager is not there to usurp the legitimate role of the band council," he said in an e-mail.

"He is to pay the receipts. So the question comes back to, Why should such a poor community pay $20,000 a month to a guy who is simply there to rubberstamp the work the band is already doing?

Story continues below advertisement

"What needs to be clarified is why is the TPM sitting on money that should be going to teachers and the school?"

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies