Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigns over inappropriate letter

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has resigned from cabinet for writing an inappropriate letter to the Tax Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement Friday confirming the decision.

“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,” Mr. Harper said.

The Prime Minister said Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore will serve as the acting Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development until a new minister is named.

Mr. Duncan released a statement explaining his decision.

“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,” he says in the statement.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Last month Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson ruled Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and two parliamentary secretaries – Eve Adams and Colin Carrie – all acted improperly in writing letters to the CRTC in support of constituents who were competing for a Toronto radio licence.

The Prime Minister did not announce any disciplinary action in those cases.

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