Appalling sell-out to money-grabbing “First Nations” chiefs

“The law, brought in by the previous Conservative government, requires First Nations to submit financial documents, including audited financial statements and the salaries and expenses of chiefs and band councillors to be published on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs website… As of Thursday, 38 First Nations communities had not complied with the law for the fiscal year 2014-15, with eight of them also still refusing to publish their information from the previous year.” – (emphasis in original) – (1).

“This sends the message that the government sides more with aboriginal power-brokers than the average people on reserves” – Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation – (2).

In a shocking demonstration of utter contempt for the law, the newly-elected Liberal government of Justin Trudeau yesterday announced that it would cease “discretionary compliance measures”, suspend court actions against First Nations which have defied the Act, and “re-instate” monies withheld for failure to comply (3).

The First Nations Financial Transparency Act passed Third Reading on November 27th, 2012. As I wrote at that time, “Congratulations to sponsor Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan, and Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar MP Kelly Block who introduced the original private members’ bill on this issue and worked so hard for it’s passing… our tax money has created a magical fantasy world of greed and opulence that some Band Chiefs actually live in; they will not be dragged out of it willingly.” (Emphasis added).

Prior to that, in July 2011, I quoted Christie Blatchford writing in the National Post as follows: “On First Nations, the executive and legislative functions are fused in the Chief and council; there’s no official opposition, private and volunteer sectors are under-developed, sometimes grossly, and if there’s a press, it’s the furthest thing from independent… The per-capita costs of FN governments are huge, an average $17,000 compared to a per capita cost of $1,800 for all municipalities in the rest of Canada.”

The bottom-line, as I saw it, was that “…far too much money intended for aboriginals goes into the pockets of the Chiefs, their families and cronies. Why should it cost 9.4 times as much to provide government services to the First Nations as it does to provide governance anywhere else in Canada? Distance will be a factor, certainly, but 9.4 times?”

As I have also observed, “…by sending the money as ‘grants’ to the various chiefs to divvy-up as they see fit, we are simply begging for our money to be wasted, and enabling a relatively small number of aboriginals to live in luxury at the expense of the many… aboriginals living on the reserves seem to be overwhelmed by their sad situation to the point that they sit back and refuse to try and help themselves get out of the rut. Suicide, glue-sniffing, and alcoholism are rampant, with significant numbers of babies born on reservations suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome and doomed to a life of misery and dependency. A very nasty cycle indeed.”

Responses included road and railway lines being blocked, with the Ontario Provincial Police on at least one occasion refusing to enforce a court order, saying in a sworn statement that it was “too dangerous” to remove the protesters. Later, in August of 2014, one chief who was caught out receiving $914,219 tax-free in just one year, reacted by calling the Act a “colonial control tool”.

One might be forgiven for viewing “First Nations” reservations as small enclaves with a guaranteed, unearned income, run by people little different from mobsters. The top-dogs keep the lion’s share of the loot for themselves and their cronies, while the ordinary band members are left to live a life of misery in sub-standard housing, with inadequate provision for their welfare.

We are throwing billions of dollars a year down a bottomless pit, and enabling a form of despotism that creates hundreds of small dictatorships, right here in Canada. And, our political leaders are now sucking up to the perpetrators, and refusing to enforce legislation designed to bring an end to these abuses.

I am disgusted beyond words.

Jeff Goodall.

(1) – Read “Feds considered third-party management for non-compliant bands: documents” here.

(2) – Read “Liberals back down on First Nations transparency” here.

(3) – Read the Minister’s December 18th statement here.

You can review a number of articles I have written, on this subject and on other aboriginal-related issues, in my ‘First Nations Issues’ category here.

Read the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (Bill C-27) here.

Email Carolyn Bennett at: carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca

Email Prime Minister Trudeau at: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Email Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose at: rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca

Find your local MP using your postal code here, and get contact information for your MP here.

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