Conservative MP Bernard Valcourt has been named new Aboriginal Affairs minister Conservative. Conservative MP Bernard Valcourt is all smiles as he is meet by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the first National Caucus at Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 1, 2011. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has enlisted a former Brian Mulroney-era minister to tackle the sensitive subject of aboriginal grievances.
In a mini cabinet shuffle Friday, Bernard Valcourt was elevated to the aboriginal affairs portfolio after John Duncan resigned last week.
Valcourt's selection follows Harper's commitment in January to play a more active role in addressing treaty rights, reserve conditions and resource revenue sharing — issues that have led to protests and blockades and the saga of a northern Ontario chief staging a soup diet sit-in on an island near Parliament Hill.
The New Brunswick MP held several portfolios on Mulroney's front bench. He was forced to resign one of them after a drunk-driving motorcycle crash in 1989.