By Annette Francis
APTN National News
OTTAWA– Federal politicians are back on Parliament Hill after a long Christmas break and a new face is now handling the Indian Affairs file for the government.
Conservative Kenora MP Greg Rickford is now parliamentary secretary for Indian affairs, replacing Saint Boniface MP Shelly Glover, who was named parliamentary secretary for finance.
Rickford told APTN National News he was looking forward to his new role.
“I’m sure glad to hear that our next priority here moving forward is going to be K to 12,” said Rickford, first elected in 2008 and also a member of the Commons Aboriginal affairs committee. “Those are the priorities of this government and they appear to be the priorities of First Nations.”
And as MPs get back into the swing of things, Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan says his department’s top priorities include education and economic development.
“As long as we can keep working with willing partners, and we seem to have lots of William partners, we’ll carry on with positive measures that will really help to develop capacity and allow First Nations to improve the economic development initiatives,” said Duncan.
Duncan said no date has yet been set for an expected formal meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Duncan said plans are also continuing to create a blue-ribbon panel to study education and deliver a report expected to lay the groundwork for substantive changes.
Duncan, however, warned that a spring election could scuttle everything.
“A spring election is not good for the country as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
The budget is the next big thing coming for Parliament. It’s expected to be tabled sometime in March.
If the parties are still talking about an election then, everything will be put on hold.