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NDP leadership hopeful Charlie Angus promises help for Indigenous children

Charlie Angus takes part in the first debate of the federal NDP leadership race in Ottawa on Sunday, March 12, 2017. Angus is promising to find better ways to protect the interests of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children - including by dismantling the Indigenous Affairs Department.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus is promising to find better ways to protect the interests of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children — including by dismantling the Indigenous Affairs Department.

The Ontario MP said he would create a federal ombudsperson for Indigenous children, who would have the legal authority to order government departments to comply with policies aimed at improving child welfare.

Last month, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the federal government's failure to fully implement Jordan's Principle may have played a role in the suicide deaths of two 12-year-old girls from remote Wapekeka First Nation in northwestern Ontario.

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The principle lays out how to handle jurisdictional disputes over paying for services to First Nations children, saying the first level of government to be contacted should cover the cost, with arguments over jurisdiction to be sorted out later.

Angus said he would also audit the Indigenous Affairs Department and Health Canada in order to figure out how the government runs its programs and then work with Indigenous communities on giving them the power to run them.

"It's time for action that returns accountability to where it belongs, with parents and these communities," Angus said in a news release Sunday.

Angus also said he would work with the parliamentary budget office to determine the true cost of delivering service to Indigenous peoples, ensure the Department of Justice stops fighting aboriginal rights in court and end the "culture of secrecy" when it comes to government plans and funding for Indigenous communities.

Angus is one of five candidates to replace NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in October.

The others are Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh, B.C. MP Peter Julian, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Quebec MP Guy Caron.

Video: Ontario leaders on challenges they face before election year (The Canadian Press)
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