Dr. Lorne Greenaway worked late last Monday night, preparing the most controversial presentation he has made in more than six years as a Conservative member of Parliament. Appearing before the Commons Committee on Private Members’ Business the next morning, he stunned fellow MPs by charging that officials in the department of Indian affairs, along with the man who is now the nation’s highest-ranking bureau-
crat, Paul Tellier, were covering up the “mismanagement of government funds” provided to the prosperous Westbank Indian band near Kelowna, B.C. Greenaway, who represents the riding of Cariboo-Chilcotin in central British Columbia, was seeking support for a private member’s bill that would force the department to release a series of studies into band activities. Among his concerns was a $300,000 federal grant to a financially troubled trailer park on the reserve in May, 1981. Greenaway told the committee, “It is a sad tale of corruption, fraud, attempted murder, extortion and, worst of all, a coverup by departmental officials.”
Greenaway’s charges, made under rules of parliamentary immunity that protect MPs from libel action, left the Indian affairs department “dumbfounded,” said assistant deputy minister John Rayner. Added Indian Affairs Minister David Crombie: “I personally have no knowledge of any wrongdoing or coverup.” Tellier, deputy minister of Indian Affairs from 1979 to 1982 and
now clerk of the Privy Council, told Maclean’s the department has conducted several reviews of the band, “none of which support the allegations being made.”
Greenaway’s charges were also dismissed by band chief and millionaire businessman Ronald Derrickson. With investments in land and construction, the band boasts some 25 other millionaires among its 242 members. “What he is doing is slimy,” Derrickson, 44,
said. He complained that Greenaway and other B.C. Tories have waged a vendetta against the band—the subject of at least 21 investigations since he became chief a decade ago. A 1983 report on one of those investigations, obtained by Maclean’s under the Access to Information Act, found evidence of “possible abuses of power by the chief and band council” and possible “conflicts of interest.” A subsequent investigation by Indian Affairs was less critical. Crombie has pledged to release that study and other documents.
The issue, however, remains unsettled. Greenaway told committee members that he has obtained portions of a secret document on Westbank “that would just curl your hair.” Said Greenaway: “We do not know whether department officials have been taking bribes or whether they have been intimidated.” But the full story, he adds, cannot be told until all documents have been released—a quest he has vowed to continue.
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