(Photo from the meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde (left) Photo that appeared on Twitter (right) via @NativeTweets)
APTN National News
The Conservative party was forced to pull a photograph of Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde used to promote a petition trolling for signatures in support of the Harper government’s First Nation Transparency Act.
The Conservative party posted the photograph Sunday but removed it the same day after receiving a complaint from AFN CEO Peter Dinsdale, a spokesperson for the organization told APTN National News Thursday. The party posted a cropped photo showing only Bellegarde on their Twitter page which was also pulled.
The photo was posted on the Conservative party’s website Sunday, the AFN spokesperson confirmed.
“The use of the picture was completely unauthorized. We were not asked if it could be used nor were we given any notice it would be used for such a purpose,” said Don Kelly, spokesperson for the AFN. “Had we been asked, we would have flatly refused. As soon as it came to our attention we called for it to be taken down immediately.”
Conservative party spokesperson Cory Hann said the party posted the photo in “error” but quickly corrected the mistake.
“The image was placed in error and once the error was realized the image was replaced,” said Hann.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt promotes the petition on the party website and asks for signatures in support of “more transparency for First Nation governments.”
APTN National News asked Valcourt’s office whether the minister played a role in the decision to use Bellegarde’s image as part of the pitch for signatures. His office had not responded as of this article’s posting.
The Conservative party first posted the petition on its website in December with the image of an inukshuk which is an iconic Inuit symbol. The Inuit are not impacted by the transparency legislation and are not identified as First Nations.
Valcourt directed his department late last fall to take several First Nation communities to court for failing to comply with the legislation.
Onion Lake Cree Nation is challenging the Act in Federal Court.
Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash called the Conservative party “sickening” over its decision to launch the petition.