Monday, February 21, 2005

Indian School Abuse Claims

Just when you thought the federal Liberal government couldn't do better than the gun registry and the sponsorship scandal in demonstrating their utter incompetence and unconcern over the expenditure of our tax dollars, we have this February 17th story from the Toronto Star.

Since 2003, when the federal government tried to drag aboriginal claims out of the clogged courts and into what was to be a faster, less formal system, about 50 of an anticipated 12,000 claims have been settled.

During that time, the 87,500 still-surviving students have been dying at a rate of five per week. Progress is so slow - at this speed it will take 53 years to resolve all claims - that cynics are persuaded that death is being encouraged to do government dirty work. What's more certain is that slow isn't cheap.

Stirring gun registry memories, it cost taxpayers $125 million to deliver about $1 million in compensation to those opting for the alternative resolution process.

Overall, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, a boutique operation easily mistaken for the Department of Justice, spends $4 on administration for every $1 paid to victims.
Sound familiar?

If there is any merit in that position, there is noticeably less in the government's argument that start-up costs explain the astonishing bureaucratic overhead. Lawyers appearing Tuesday tore that argument apart with the sharpest instrument of all - experience. They detailed how $20,000 was spent flying a lawyer across the country, preparing evidence binders and renting space for a claim with a $3,500 ceiling. And they talked about the government appeal of a
$1,500 award to elderly and ill Flora Merrick.

As British Columbia lawyer David Paterson scathingly put it "We are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure we don't compensate the wrong people."
Yes folks, it's business as usual. But don't worry. It's only your tax dollars at work.


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