Controversial Innu Company Had Political Connections

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Conservative MP Peter Penashue responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative MP Peter Penashue responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Sean Kilpatrick

Federal Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister Peter Penashue has connections with a controverisal Innu development company.

Penashue took out a $25,000 loan from the Innu Development Limited Partnership to finance his federal election campaign in Labrador in 2011.

On Wednesday, CBC reported that Paul Rich, the former CEO of the IDLP, took home more than $1 million in salary over two years, and other Innu leaders were paid $30,000 each to sit on the board of the company.

Elections Canada documents said the loan was interest free, but a spokesperson for Penashue said that information was a typo, and the actual interest rate for the loan was seven per cent.

Officials from Penashue's office couldn't say how much of that loan is still outstanding.

Rich, the man at the centre of the controversy, also personally helped Penashue's campaign, giving $1,100, the maximum amount allowed under the law.

Innu want RCMP investigation

Jeremy Andrew, a board member on the Innu Nation, said the RCMP should do a criminal investigation into the finances at the Innu Development Limited Partnership.

Andrew said as an Innu Nation board member, he can't do anything directly to get answers about how the IDLP has been spending money or whether its earnings have been going back to the Innu people, which is why he said he would like police to become involved.

"Nothing's come out if it is benefitting the people or if it's benefitting a few people," Andrew pointed out. "It's not out there and the people want to know where this money's gone."

The Innu Nation has acted quickly on the concerns about the company, voting on Wednesday to stop sending almost a $1 million a year in mining royalties to the IDLP.

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