AIAI Grand Chief sees new opportunities in Ontario cabinet shuffle

LONDON, ON, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - The Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) wishes to congratulate Ontario's newest ministers after yesterday's provincial cabinet shuffle. Randall Phillips says he's looking forward to meeting with Dalton McGuinty's newest team members, and working with them to resolve on-going challenges facing First Nations in Ontario.

Grand Chief Phillips also wishes to acknowledge the work of out-going minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Brad Duguid. "Duguid pushed Ontario's Aboriginal Affairs Ministry in the right direction. He dealt with a sharp learning curve, but quickly got up to speed on our issues," he says. Grand Chief Phillips looks forward to continuing to work with Minister Duguid as he moves over to Energy and Infrastructure. Outgoing education minister, Kathleen Wynne will also be missed, as she was able to do exceptional work in relation to First Nation education.

The new minister of Aboriginal Affairs is Chris Bentley, Ontario's current Attorney General. Grand Chief Phillips says he has worked with Bentley in the past, and is confident the transition will be a smooth one. However, Grand Chief Phillips concedes that concerns have been raised about Ontario's decision to blend the two ministries again. "No matter how you look at it, there is only one minister for both portfolios, and I'm worried First Nation's issues might get the short end of the stick."

AIAI's Deputy Grand Chief Chris McCormick agrees. "Because Bentley is a senior member of cabinet as Attorney General, we may see shortcomings when it comes to dealing with our concerns." McCormick adds more dialogue is needed between the province and First Nations, not less. He says when it comes to consultation on a government to government basis, Ontario is still lacking. "Take the Harmonized Sales Tax as an example. We were never consulted and there may be extreme economic hardships from this decision," he says.

Grand Chief Phillips says Bentley has already attempted to ease First Nations concerns by calling and assuring him that the two ministries will be kept separate and that having only one minister will not create a hardship for First Nations. Grand Chief Phillips says time will tell, as ministers assume their new responsibilities.

SOURCE ASSOCIATION OF IROQUOIS & ALLIED INDIANS

For further information: For further information: and to schedule an interview with Grand Chief Phillips, contact Sherry Huff, Communications Coordinator, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, at (519) 615-1367

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ASSOCIATION OF IROQUOIS & ALLIED INDIANS

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