APTN National News
OTTAWA–Conservative Senator Patrick has turned to YouTube as a megaphone for his call to freeze any additional funding to Indian Affairs and Aboriginal organizations until there is a full accounting of how their current spending impacts ordinary Aboriginal people.
Wearing a turquoise tie and a black suit jacket with red, yellow, white, red and turquoise embroidery of diamonds and bear paws, Brazeau delivered his video message from the floor of the Red Chamber, where the Senate gathers.
In the video, Brazeau calls for a review of the “entire domain of Aboriginal affairs” to determine whether the money they already get is actually benefiting Aboriginal people across the country. He said no additional funding should flow until those questions get answers.
He said it was time to move “beyond the hopelessly broken status quo that favours elites and promotes a sense of entitlement” at the expense of oridnary Aboriginal people.
“The federal government spends over $10 billion on federal program and services for Aboriginal people, yet despite this progress…improving quality of life for First Nations, Inuit and Metis people seems to elude us. This reality begs answers to numerous questions,” said Brazeau, in the video titled, Senator Patrick Brazeau on enhanced accountability in Canada’s Aboriginal affairs.
It was one of three videos posted.
The former head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, takes special aim at federally funded Aboriginal organizations like the Assembly of First Nations.
“Is the AFN, which is the national voice of 600 plus chiefs, as well as other aboriginal organizations, the great majority of which are 100 per cent funded by tax payer dollars, acting responsibly?” said Brazeau. “We need to look at the machinery of government to re-examine the entire notion of funding representative groups that run parallel bureaucracies and yet provide no programs and services to those in real need.”
Brazeau’s video went live Tuesday afternoon, hours after AFN national Chief Shawn Atleo held a press conference in Ottawa calling for about $2 billion in new funding for education.
In an interview with APTN National News, Brazeau said the timing was pure coincidence. He said he has been planning production of the videos for several months and they were finally ready for posting Tuesday.
“You can speculate on the timing issue. That is not an issue whatsoever. The messaging in the accountability video is nothing new and it reflects what I have said,” he said.
Brazeau raised the issue in the Senate last spring when he called for a Senate inquiry into the accountability of Aboriginal affairs
Senators debate issues that have been put under inquiry.
Brazeau said the inquiry is ongoing and more Senators have asked to speak to the matter. Once that ends, he hopes the Conservative government will take the issue on.
“Either the government will be interested in pursuing any of the items debated or discussed. If not, I will have to roll up my sleeves and see what type of strategy I can (develop) to move forward,” he said.
Brazeau said Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan”s office was aware of the videos, but he said they were not part of a strategy that would lead to the unveiling of a government initiative. The videos are simply meant to increase debate on the issue, he said.
“These are my personal views on the Aboriginal accountability video,” he said. “I have not been designated by anyone to do this.”
Brazeau also posted YouTube videos about how the Senate works and the importance of participating in democracy.