Kelley returns as aboriginal affairs minister

Third time Jacques-Cartier MNA has held the post

By Kevin Woodhouse

Although this will be his third time as minister of aboriginal affairs, Jacques Cartier MNA Geoffrey Kelley is as excited as when he received the posting the first time in 2005. At Kelley’s swearing in, many chiefs representing various Native Canadian communities were in attendance and happy to have him back.

Kelley held the post two years ago and is “re-establishing contacts before putting an emphasis on economic development for our native communities that will include more opportunities for young people.”

The aboriginal affairs minister also wants to focus on improving “health care and education which can in turn open up more training and educational possibilities for native youth.”

And while Kelley wants to put new projects into place, including working alongside the eventual implementation of the Plan Nord program, he knows that the province’s real “challenge will be to get our public financing in order. The deficit has proven larger than expected and in the past, both Liberal and PQ governments have been living on credit cards.

“We cannot just patch things up,” Kelley told The Suburban, adding that cuts to some social programs are inevitable.

The newly appointed minister did note that two of his West Island colleagues, Nelligan’s Martin Coiteux and Robert Baldwin’s Carlos Leitão have also been given prestigious posts, treasury board and finance respectively. “This is good for the West Island as we will be able to work together to put forward important issues like Train de l’ouest and increased funding for health care,” said Kelley.

And like he does in the riding of Jacques Cartier, Kelley plans to make some visits to the northern portion of the province because “you learn more about native communities by visiting them then reading notes from your office.”

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