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New Aboriginal Affairs minister named

Friday February 22, 2013

Bernard Valcourt, a New Brunswick MP, has been named Canada’s new minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC).

Valcourt, who served the Conservatives during Brian Mulroney’s time at the helm before returning to politics in 2011, was sworn in at a private ceremony at Rideau Hall on Feb. 22.

Valcourt replaces John Duncan, who stepped down on Feb. 15 after writing an inappropriate letter to Canada Revenue Agency on behalf of a constituent.

In a press release, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Valcourt will continue to work to advance dialogue on Aboriginal issues and “take achievable steps that will provide better education and economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples across Canada.”

Valcourt was first elected to the House of Commons in 1984 as a Progressive Conservative. He served as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister of Employment and Immigration before losing his seat in 1993.

He then served as the leader of the Progressive Conservatives in New Brunswick before returning to federal politics in 2011 as MP for Madawaska-Restigouche.

In his first statement as AANDC minister, Valcourt praised the government’s actions on indigenous issues.

“Our government has made significant progress in improving outcomes for Aboriginal peoples across Canada,” Valcourt said in a statement. “We have built new schools, invested in clean drinking water systems, built thousands of new homes, increased funding for services for the most vulnerable members of First Nations communities, and invested in hundreds of projects to link Aboriginals with job training services.”

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Their needs to be a minister

Their needs to be a minister of whiteman

So Kenora MP Greg Rickford

So Kenora MP Greg Rickford got overlooked and he is likely disappointed according to some media reports. Although he had a chance to become minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the prime minister didn't want to favour the Kenora riding too, too much with two big appointments within a month. Lynn Beyak of Dryden just recently got appointed to the likes of Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy; she's now a senator. Her recent appointment likely quashed Rickford's chances of becoming a minister. But then, if Harper is serious about advancing the aboriginal issues to a high level game, he wanted someone in the department with some ministerial experience, thus Bernard Valcourt. Rickford doesn't have that experience yet. There will come a time for a patronage appointment for Rickford. So, he shouldn't look so gloomy yet; patient may be.

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