Duncan resigns cabinet post over tax letter

Federal Indian Affairs Minister and Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan has resigned his cabinet post over aletter he sent to the Tax Court of Canada in 2011.

Duncan admitted to writing a character reference letter in June of 2011 to the Tax Court of Canada on behalf of an individual who was being assisted by the minister's staff 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," Duncan said in a statement released this afternoon. "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."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement  saying, “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."

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, Harper said.

Duncan will continue his MP duties.

"I pledge that I will continue to work hard on behalf of the constituents of Vancouver Island North as their elected representative in Ottawa," Duncan said.

It was inappropriate of Duncan to send the letter because it violated federal conflict of interest rules plus it contravenes the principle of keeping cabinet separate from the judiciary. Ministers should not be seen as interfering in the proceedings of a judicial or quasi-judicial body.

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