(NDP leader Thomas Mulcair during a recent stop in Iqaluit. APTN/Photo)
APTN National News
OTTAWA—The NDP will be releasing its platform Wednesday on Indigenous issues within a “nation to nation framework.”
NDP candidate Niki Ashton said during a sparsely-attended press conference Saturday in Ottawa that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair would be making the announcement detailing how the party would invest $2.3 billion in new money for Indigenous communities.
“This is new money, on top of money Aboriginal Affairs has allocated and allocates every year to First Nations,” said Ashton.
The NDP’s press conference was held to again target the Liberal party’s promised new dollars for First Nation education.
The NDP says an about $1.7 billion gap exists between Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s August announcement for First Nations education and the money earmarked for the issue in the party’s costing document. During the August announcement, Trudeau said the party would be putting $2.6 billion in new money for First Nations education, but only $900 million was set aside in the costing document.
Trudeau told APTN National News that his party’s education promise includes the about $1.25 billion the previous Conservative government had pencilled into the fiscal framework that was tied to passage of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, which died on the order paper.
NDP candidate Charlie Angus said it’s irresponsible for the Liberals to hinge a promise on money that “doesn’t exist” in publicly available government budget documents. Angus said the Stephen Harper government squeezed dollars from every budget corner to balance the budget and he doubts those dollars are still there.
“This is money that they will have to find,” said Angus. “The idea that the money is sitting under a desk isn’t simply credible…Mr. Trudeau needs to say where is that envelope of money he is counting on.”
The Liberals immediately fired back Saturday with a press release again stating their promise includes money the Conservative government set-aside.
The federal Finance department said in an emailed statement to APTN that the money does still exist.
“The funds remain in the fiscal framework. Following the federal election, the government will determine the best use of these funds,” said the statement.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office also said the money is there. The government has already committed $500 million from the initial $1.9 billion for infrastructure along $200 million for K to 12 education on First Nation communities, said Valcourt’s office.