John Duncan resigns -

John Duncan resigns

The Aboriginal Affairs Minister abruptly steps down


A statement from the Prime Minister.

“Today, I have accepted the resignation of John Duncan as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

“I would like to thank Mr. Duncan for his many contributions as Minister and for his service to the people of Canada. Mr. Duncan will continue to serve as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North in the House of Commons.

“The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, will serve as the acting Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development until a new Minister is named.”

A statement from Mr. Duncan explains why.

“In June of 2011 I wrote a character reference letter to the Tax Court of Canada on behalf of an individual to whom my constituency staff was providing casework assistance on a Canada Revenue Agency matter.

“While the letter was written with honourable intentions, I realize that it was not appropriate for me, as a Minister of the Crown, to write to the Tax Court. I have therefore offered my resignation as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to the Prime Minister, which he has accepted.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences they have brought.

“It has been an honour to serve in the Cabinet and I thank the Prime Minister for placing his confidence in me on this most important file. I have every confidence that the Government will reach its goal of improving the lives of Aboriginal peoples across our country.

“I pledge that I will continue to work hard on behalf of the constituents of Vancouver Island North as their elected representative in Ottawa.”

Mr. Duncan will be added to the official list of ministerial resignations as the seventh minister to step down since the Conservatives formed government in 2006. The nearest precedent for Mr. Duncan’s particular situation might be Jean Charest, who resigned as sports minister in 1990 after speaking to a judge. David Collenette (who does not appear on that list of resignations for whatever reason) resigned in 1996 over a letter to the immigration and refugee board.

What’s the difference between Mr. Duncan’s letter to the Tax Court and Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC? Adam Dodek says it’s the difference between judicial and quasi-judicial.