INAC contribution

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In 2004, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) announced it would be providing the DCBC with $3 million in funding as part of its Regional Partnerships Fund. The money was contingent on meeting various unknown objectives and timeframes. Due to the various delays and lack of a suitably-priced bid in 2005-2006, expenditures of only $1.37 million were made before the funding agreement expired on March 31, 2006, and the rest of the money lapsed. Along with some other small contributions this is likely the amount of the Fort Providence groups' equity stake in the project, estimated at around $1.4 million.

Appalling Federal information request handling

Confirming with INAC the amount actually realized from the original $3 million announcement was a surprisingly (not to say ridiculously) involved process. The press release from 2004 indicated a $3 million grant. The GNWT Transportation timeline mentioned in passing that only $1.8 million had been paid, and I sent an email to INAC just to ask what the actual amount was, and was passed to their senior communications advisor. I had quite a simple request ("Was the announced amount of $3 million actually provided to the DCBC, or was the INAC funding reduced or offset by some other accounting, or is the Transportation information just confused somehow?). I was at first told I'd have to make an Access to Information request. When I indicated this seemed remarkable, and used words like "MP" and "reporter", I got a response saying their had been some confusion but a request for figures had been put in to Ottawa. After waiting a couple weeks, I checked in and was told that "INAC did meet the $3M commitment as per the announcement in April 2004. However, the funding was distributed in 2005/2006 fiscal year" [note the careful wording], that any further details would require a formal Access to Information request, and that I was being passed along to CanNor, the new northern agency.

The Regional Director of CanNor was even worse. I was again told I had to make an Access request, and in response to my attempts to resolve this I was rather snarkily told that I was attempting to "contravene [their] protocol and legislation". Considering I was asking for confirmation of one amount announced in a press release, paid by a public agency to a public corporation, I had finally had enough. I drafted a rather pointed letter to the INAC and CanNor deputy ministers in Ottawa, expressing my extreme displeasure, my continued conviction that the information I was requesting did not require an Access request, and indicating that copies were pending to my MP, MLA, news organizations, etc.

Gee whiz, I was contacted by the CanNor communications advisor, who indicated that, oops, the information was being put together, no need for an access request, and she couldn't imagine how things could have been mishandled. It turns out that only around $1.4 million of the announced $3 million had been paid before the funding expired in 2006. This is almost certainly due to the delay in getting the bridge funded and construction started; not a big surprise, considering. I have no idea why the feds were stonewalling confirming this simple number; it is likely just reflexive bureaucratic reluctance to disgorge anything, but it is still highly aggravating.

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