THUNDER BAY — "I kind of had a hunch" Patty Hajdu would receive the Indigenous Services portfolio, says Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Derek Fox.
Speaking a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handed the job to the Thunder Bay-Superior North MP, Fox made it clear how happy he was to learn his intuition was correct.
"I think she's the right person for the job. I can't think of anyone else in their party that could be better," Fox said in an interview Wednesday evening.
He believes Hajdu has a lot of passion for First Nation people
"She has a history here in the North. She's worked closely with me and with the previous Grand Chief. The biggest thing is that she wants to make change for the First Nation people of Canada."
According to Fox, he received a text from Hajdu after her appointment in which she said she was "ecstatic" over the prospect of working with NAN in the future.
The minister faces a Friday deadline for deciding whether the federal government should appeal a human rights tribunal ruling that requires Ottawa to pay potentially billions of dollars in compensation because of inadequate funding for the on-reserve child welfare system since 2006.
Hajdu said in an interview Tuesday "there is no question that compensation needs to be paid for the historical human rights violations."
Fox said it will be "good news" if the government decides not to pursue the issue in court.
But he added that NAN has a long list of other problems for Hajdu to address, including housing shortages on First Nations, boil water advisories and alcohol and drug addiction.