The federal government is being criticized for placing Attawapiskat First Nation, a small remote First Nation in Northern Ontario, under third party management. This means a third party appointed by the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs will deliver programs and services.
For those not watching the news, Attawapiskat is a community is dire crisis. Housing shortages have reached critical levels and public services are not being delivered properly.
Beyond all the political grandstanding going on at Parliament Hill, the decision to place the community under third party management is an appropriate response on the part of Aboriginal Affairs. In fact, they are obligated to do if they feel that federal funds are not being used appropriately to finance crucial public services that people, especially the vulnerable, depend on.
Ottawa signs funding agreements with First Nation governments and if those terms and conditions are not met, they are obligated to intervene and ensure they get to the right people.
Obviously, being under third party management is not the best feeling or position for any community, but it is necessary in order to protect individuals.
Aboriginal Affairs own policy is continual assessment of the situation, with the goal of reducing the level of third party intervention. Third party management is actually the highest form of intervention, so this decision was not taken very lightly.
It is also appropriate to ensure that funds directed to the band government are dispensed properly and ethically. Ottawa is not acting inappropriately for ensuring that all funds are being spent on public services like they are supposed to.
Anything less would be irresponsible.