ATPN National News
OTTAWA–A Manitoba grand chief is considering legal action against Indian Affairs over the department’s decision to award a $25,000 contract to a former bureaucrat for a review of programs in the same branch where the official once worked.
Manitoba’s Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Morris Shannacappo said he is troubled by the department’s silence on the contract which was rescinded after a complaint was issued to the minister of Indian Affairs.
The deputy minister of Indian Affairs has also been asked by the watchdog that oversees federal procurement to probe the awarding of the contract.
Shannacappo said he has failed to get any explanation from the department on the contract, which was awarded to the non-Aboriginal former bureaucrat under a special program for Aboriginal businesses.
Now he wants to explore whether the department broke any laws.
“I would like to get a legal opinion on it,” he said. “I would like to take it to a lawyer to see if we can go (the legal) route.”
Indian Affairs announced it had awarded a contract to review its economic development programs on June 29 to Radek Bandzierz, who worked in the department’s Aboriginal Business Canada section and retired in the fall of 2009.
The contract was rescinded in August after the issue was taken by Shannacappo’s organization to the minister’s office.
In an Oct. 13 letter, obtained by APTN National News, federal deputy procurement ombudsman Oriana Trombetti asked deputy minister Michael Wernick to consider reviewing the contract’s awarding. Trombetti cited concerns from the chief’s organization over possible conflicts of interest and fair competition.
Trombetti said the contract fell outside the ombudsman’s mandate because it was initially awarded under the Aboriginal set-aside program and was eventually rescinded.
Indian Affairs would only confirm it had received the letter and that it would receive a response. A spokeswoman said the response constituted private correspondence and would not be revealed.
Shannacappo said the affair is an example of how the government doesn’t walk the talk on accountability.
“There is a lot of pressure being put on (First Nations) leadership to be accountable, but accountability is a two-way street,” he said.