Monday, December 18, 2006

Province investigating recent Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg election!

See-Saw War Of Words Continues
ACW's Financial Woes Disputed

By Philip Paul-Martin (With Reports From Len Kruzenga)
Grassroots News
Volume 10, Number 45
November 28, 2006
Page 8
www.grassrootsnews.mb.ca/images/2006GRN/GRN_Nov28,2006pdf

Former ACW President Larry Wurcherer says a story blaming a Council deficit on his watch while at the Head of the organization is inaccurate. The story appeared in last Monday's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press (Monday, November 20th - City and Business Section page B1).

Incoming Director Wayne Helgason, who is also a past President of ACW, placed a call to the Winnipeg Free Press last week to bring the deficit issue to light.

Wurcherer admits there is a deficit but questions the motivation behind the call. "It's astonishing," said Wurcherer. "It's indicative of how they (The Council) operate. Intimidation tactics and misrepresentation seems to be their agenda. You have to ask yourself why."

"The outcome of the election has been decided and this amounts to grandstanding and a smear campaign on their part."

Wurcherer disputes the claim he had total control of the Council's finances.

"I had no control over the finances. Any decisions were made with the Board's explicit approval," said Wurcherer. "There were issues of funding being delayed due to tampering as well as an additional $80,000 that CAHRD owes the Aboriginal Council. That money remains outstanding which is a large part of the reason w had to operate the Council under a line of credit."

According to Wurcherer, the funds were for a study to ensure CAHRD was providing their clients with proper services.

Marileen Bartlett is currently Executive Director of CAHRD and Treasurer of the ACW.

Bartlett says four parties had to sign cheques in order for funds to be released. Those four individuals were myself, Larry Wurcherer, Lionel Chartrand and Jeff Chartrand. We couldn't operate without those four required signatures.

"As Treasurer it's not like people were writing bad cheques, but obligations to funders were not being met. Outstanding bills were piling up and we had to do something," said Bartlett. "I came on as Treasurer in December of 2005 and yes, there were things that needed to be addressed immediately.

However, Bartlett wouldn't say if the $80,000 from CAHRD has been released to the ACW.

Wurcherer claims Bartlett was aware of the decision to operate ACW with a line of credit and that the Board approved the hiring of an outside person independent of the Council to keep the books.

The Bookkeeper was terminated last Spring after it was felt the Council was a low priority client according to Wurcherer.

He claims Bartlett tampered with Federal funders behind his back to ensure funding was delayed. "That caused problems between the Council and our funders. We were informed last August that no political group in Manitoba including the AMC, MMF or the Council were going to be funded yet. They implied that funding was forthcoming but wouldn't say when."

Currently the Feds owe ACW $20,000 from the last fiscal year according to their agreement. "The Feds may well have cut the funding but there's no way for me to know that as I haven't worked as President for the past two months," said Wurcherer. "There should be recourse for the Council to follow."

"Right now there is almost $100,000 the ACW could have their hands on if they were able to compy with established regulations," said Wurcherer. "But instead of taking that course of action they chose to hang the blame sign on me."

They don't want accountability, they want misinformation to maintain control of funding dollars," added Wurcherer.

The province also suspended funding pending the outcome of the election fiasco. Wurcherer said provincial bureaucrat Eleanor Brockington told them a quarterly $25,000 wouldn't be released. Aboriginal and Northern Affairs funds ACW with $100,000 annually. Brockington confirmed the funding was withheld but would not say whether the suspended payments had been issued following the court decision.

Allegations into election intimidation are ongoing as senior provincial burearcrat Tom Glenwright has been appointed to lead the investigation.

Glenwright did not return calls to Grassroots News by press time.

Community Meeting Garners Strong Support

Meanwhile a weekend community gathering held at the Thunderbird House on Saturday to discuss the lack of accountability and transparency attracted over 60 people.

The ACW sent BOD Member Meaghan Linkletter, as an observer, however, she was immediately taken to task by former ACW President Larry Wurcherer for a move over the weekend by the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg's Board to remove Wurcherer from his post as President of that organization - whose Board coincidentally includes current ACW President Lionel Chartrand.

Organizers of the meeting however, including Dianne Roussin were able to steer the gathering to questions of organizing and developing community-based strategies to institute calls for both internal and external scrutiny of the ACW's adherence to its own constitution most particularly public input at Board meetings and its failure to move on formal resolutions adopted by its General Assemblies over the past two years.

While Roussin, Wurcherer, former ACW Board Member Dilly Knoll and others acknowledged the meeting was only a modest start all remained optimistic the movement for greater democracy at the ACW and other publicly funded programs and services at 181 Higgins will only intensify.

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