‘Election Payback – A Licence To Steal?’

“A law without consequence for non-compliance is a toothless law. As such, soon many ‘First Nations’ people across the country will again be in the dark as to how their elected leaders spend public dollars.”
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“For all practical purposes, this is a repeal of the act, being carried out without actually bothering to give members of Parliament any chance to debate it. It is ironic that a law about transparency is being gutted in such a non-transparent way.”ERBLElectionPayback-ALicenceToSteal800x800‘Statement by the ‘Honourable’ Carolyn Bennett on the ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’:

“Today, I directed my Department to cease all discretionary compliance measures related to the ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’ and to reinstate funding withheld from ‘First Nations’ under these measures.

“Furthermore, in keeping with our commitment to a renewed, ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship, the Government of Canada will suspend any court actions against ‘First Nations’ who have not complied with the Act…” 

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1024739

Carolyn Bennett (Adrian Wyld-Canadian Press)
Carolyn Bennett (Adrian Wyld-Canadian Press)

“On Friday {Dec.11, 2015}, the federal government announced that it would lift sanctions against ‘First Nation’ communities that were not complying with the ‘First Nations’ Transparency Act’ (‘FN’TA).

“The Act requires all ‘First Nation’ bands to make their audited financial statements and chief salaries public. Until ‘FN’TA was enacted, ‘First Nation’ governments were the only governments in Canada that did not have to make basic financial information public.

“Further, with an increase in federal transfers to ‘First Nations’ communities, this type of transparency and accountability is needed now more than ever. The federal government alone spends more than $10 billion annually on aboriginal issues, and spending per ‘First Nations’ person in Canada rose more than 880% over the past 60 years. In comparison, spending per person on all Canadians rose by 387%.

“The legislation was created after calls from ‘First Nation’ members across the country who were unable to obtain financial information from their elected leaders. For example, Phyllis Sutherland appeared before Parliament in 2012 testifying that

“requests for information have also been ignored by trustees of [their] treaty land entitlement; and members are subjected to intimidation tactics such as fearmongering, public attacks, and attempts to destroy a person’s credibility”.

“Carolyn Bennett, the new minister for ‘Indigenous’ and Northern Affairs Canada’ (‘I’NAC), appeared on CTV’s ‘Question Period’ on Sunday to highlight the reasons why her government has decided to walk away from the transparency initiative.

“However, some of her statements on the program contradict the advice of her own department.

“For example, the minister stated that “having to disclose the proprietary information of ‘First Nation’ businesses doesn’t work for people” and that it puts them at a disadvantage when competing with other businesses.

“However, ‘I’NAC states on its website that

“the legislation does not require businesses owned by the band to publish their own detailed financial statements. Nor are individual government business entities required to publish detailed financial statements”.

“In other words, band-owned businesses are not required to publish proprietary information, and the same rules that apply to businesses owned by all other levels of government in Canada are applied to ‘First Nations’ under ‘FN’TA.

“Secondly, the minister stated that one of the issues with ‘FN’TA is that it is unreasonable to tell ‘First Nations’ communities that their audited financial statements “should [be] posted on a website for those communities who don’t have internet”. Makes sense.

“However, seems the minister’s department has taken this circumstance into consideration. On its website, ‘I’NAC states that

“in situations where a ‘First Nation’ cannot post on their own website or a ‘First Nation’ organization’s website, they can meet the compliance requirements by asking AANDC to post their audited consolidated financial statements and a schedule of remuneration and expenses on their behalf.”

“To recap, two of the primary reasons the minister cites to walk away from the transparency initiative have already been addressed.”

–‘Minister cites non-reasons to walk away from the ‘First Nations’ Transparency Act’,
Ravina Bains, Fraser Institute, December 21, 2015

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/blogs/minister-cites-non-reasons-to-walk-away-from-the-first-nations-transparency-act

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1322056355024/1322060287419 generosity-index“The federal Liberal government showed more ‘solidarity’ with Canada’s ‘First Nations’ on Friday as it lifted sanctions {‘legal penalties’} against ‘indigenous’ communities that have not complied with a Conservative {government} spending transparency law.

“The decision was quickly condemned by the Opposition Tories and the ‘Canadian Taxpayers Federation’, which warned that the move would leave ‘First Nations’ people in the dark about how their elected leaders spend public money.

“ ‘Indigenous Affairs’ Minister Carolyn Bennett said her department will stop imposing punitive measures {legal enforcement} — such as withholding funds — on those communities not in compliance with the ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’…

“Bennett, who described the changes as part of Ottawa’s new “nation-to-nation” relationship with ‘indigenous peoples’, also said she’s suspending court actions against those ‘First Nations’ not complying with the law…

“Aaron Wudrick, the CTF’s director, said the move makes no sense.

“A law without consequence for non-compliance is a toothless law”, he said. “As such, soon many First Nations people across the country will again be in the dark as to how their elected leaders spend public dollars.”

“Wudrick noted that the vast majority of ‘First Nations’ were in compliance with the law both last year and in fiscal 2014-15.

“Suspending enforcement of this law is wrong, and completely undermines the very principles this government claims to be advancing.”

“Not surprisingly, the Conservatives were also critical, accusing the Liberal government of gutting a federal law without going through proper parliamentary channels.

“For all practical purposes, this is a repeal of the act, being carried out without actually bothering to give members of Parliament any chance to debate it”, said ‘indigenous affairs’ critic Cathy McLeod. “It is ironic that a law about transparency is being gutted in such a non-transparent way.”

“Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed what he called a “new approach’,’ predicting it would result in “real accountability by all parties”.

–‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act: Liberals Halt Punitive Measures’,
Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press, 12/18/2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/12/18/ottawa-stops-withholding-first-nations-funding-halts-transparency-measures_n_8840112.html
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COMMENT: “This is taking away hope from oppressed aboriginals on reserves that they can expect any sort of justice at all from Ottawa in prosecuting corrupt chiefs. Shame on the Liberals!”
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“The people who actually live in ‘FN’ communities have just been sold down the river. Meanwhile, the sale of Escalades is about to peak.”
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“Harper’s transparency act was transformative — it showed the massive corruption going on within aboriginal bands. Those that were not corrupt had no problems. Only a corrupt Liberal would protect corrupt criminals while at the same time talking about transparency.”
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“Generations of ‘First Nations’ women have petitioned successive Canadian governments for some manner of transparency into band finances. Harper was the only PM with enough guts to do it.

“2 years later…after countless scandals over ‘First Nation’s leadership spending abuse…Trudeau sells them out because the chiefs delivered the native vote.

“Nice!”
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“The previous government implemented the ‘Financial Transparency Act’ in response to decades of financial corruption, mismanagement, and graft on the part of some ‘First Nations’ governments. You do not need a partisan agenda to understand the need for that legislation, nor do you need to take sides to understand that the legislation was enacted to protect rank and file band members from the misdeeds (including breach of trust) of their own band councils.

“By undermining the obligation for transparency, these Liberals have eschewed the legitimate concerns of taxpayers, as well as the obvious interests of native band members; and instead, have opted to curry favour with the band leaders. This is simply ideology over common sense.

“I write this as someone who voted for these Liberals.” 

Kwikwetlem ‘First Nation’ members denounce Chief Ron Giesbrecht for collecting nearly $1-million in 2013-2014 -- Tristin Hopper-National Post (Sept., 2015)
Kwikwetlem ‘First Nation’ members denounce Chief Ron Giesbrecht for collecting nearly $1-million in 2013-2014 — Tristin Hopper-National Post (Sept., 2015)

Gloria Tauber:
“On Question Period last week, Robert Fife asked Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indian Affairs, why they would cancel the Transparency and Accountability Act for Native leaders, when Reserve residents saw it as their only way to know how much money was being given to their leaders? She said it was because the people didn’t have a say in the decision to implement that Act! By “people”, she is referring to the crooked leaders who go after the funding, then keep the bulk of it for themselves!

“As Leona Freed pointed out, our leaders only communicate among themselves, and other politicians, completely omitting the people! The majority of Reserve residents had no say in the implementation of C-31, Land Claims, Reconciliation Deals, etc., which are highly detrimental to the people and to Canada; yet, we don’t see those Acts being dissolved! There’s a whole lot of legislation put into place without the vote of the Canadian people, including the Constitution, which has proven to be highly detrimental to the stability of Canada. If the Transparency and Accountability Act can be dissolved so easily — even though it was beneficial to Reserve residents and Canadian Taxpayers, to try to keep the leaders honest, and to save Canada some money — then our politicians could cancel all the destructive legislation that has turned out to cause strong lines of division between races, negative impacts on the country’s stability, or have taken a heavy financial toll on Government coffers!

“They can start by introducing a Bill that stipulates that, at no time, can any leader introduce legislation meant only to benefit Special Interest Groups, which will erode unity and patriotic pride. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to blatant contradictory behavior on the part of Native leaders, who constantly condemn colonization and encourage their people to demand compensation for being “forced” to be educated, while at the same time demanding huge sums of money to put new schools on Reserves, to allow Native teachers to collect tax-free wages! Today, schools off Reserve exist for everybody! Nobody can be “forced” to attend, but, as, in the past, if your children don’t attend, they don’t qualify for the Child Tax Credit.

“It’s time for politicians of all races to get back to the business of striving for equality, justice, and progress for all Canadians! Self-serving Native leaders are pushing for racial superiority and the right to push their people backwards, not because it’s the best thing for them, but because it provides more avenues of funding to abuse! Leaders in upper Government and the Supreme Court don’t cater to them out of genuine guilt, compassion or concern! If they truly possessed any of these qualities, they would use it to govern to benefit ALL Canadians and to strengthen unity.”CanadaCoin-Budget“…It’s no secret that Justin Trudeau’s government has made it a top priority to address aboriginal issues. Bennett’s declaration suggests a curious approach, however: first, reduce transparency. Then, open talks on transparency.

“In the first year of the Act, 98% of bands were able to comply. The figure dropped sharply this year, perhaps because band leaders were hoping the Tory government would fall and they’d be freed of the need. Which is exactly what has happened, suggesting that ‘First Nations’ opposition resulted not from an inability to meet Ottawa’s demands, but a disinclination to do so.

“Would it not have made sense to continue enforcing the act until ‘First Nations’ managed to come up with a better alternative? In complying with the natives’ demand before talks even begin, Bennett has removed any incentive they might have for making the discussions a success.

“Since she became minister, Bennett has shown a propensity to prejudge issues: in announcing an inquiry into missing and murdered women, she declared that the substantial body of information already available wouldn’t do, because it didn’t account for “colonization”. That is, it didn’t fix the blame on her preferred target.

“In her statement Friday, Bennett emphasized repeatedly that the Liberals see their relations with natives to be on a “nation-to-nation” level. That would appear to presume one nation cannot impose its will on another nation. If that’s the case, Canadians could begin to wonder why we’re sending billions of dollars a year to 581 autonomous nations, and what Ottawa plans to do if its many talks and discussions don’t lead to results that improve the lot of aboriginals while ensuring the interests of those Canadians who provide the funding are being equally protected.

“Respect works both ways. Doing right doesn’t mean always saying ‘yes’ to demands. It would be nice if the Liberals would give some hint they understand that Canadians expect results, not just discussions, and that they recognize they will be judged on that.”

–‘Ottawa pleads openness while reducing ‘First Nations’ transparency’,
Kelly McParland, National Post, December 21, 2015

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/kelly-mcparland-ottawa-pleads-openness-while-reducing-first-nations-transparency
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COMMENT: “The Financial Transparency Act was a result of a strong lobby by many of us at the community level.

“We would ask for financial Statements and the Band would tell us they filed them with Indian Affairs and Indian Affairs would tell us to ask the Band. Such was the run-around and complete lack of transparency at the community level. In the short time some of us got to see financial statements, we never saw the complete picture. We just saw a general statement of revenue and expenses and some of our elected officials’ salaries.

“I say some because the honorariums and the like that they get for attending Tribal Council meetings and other meetings of like organizations is not reported in Band financial statements. The honorariums are around $500 per meeting. No wonder many of our elected officials are never in the community. I should add that they also get their Band salary while attending these meetings. This is wrong. I am disappointed that the Liberal government listens to the elite Indian Act elected officials and not the vast majority of us at the community level.” CanadianTaxpayersFederation“…The Liberals just pressed pause on a law requiring ‘First Nations’ politicians to disclose their salaries. This sends the message that the government sides more with aboriginal power-brokers than the average people on reserves.”

“Make no mistake, the only ‘First Nations’ who benefit from a toothless ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’ (‘FN’FTA) are the politicians, not average ‘First Nations’ people”,

Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said via email…

“The controversial law, which was brought in by the Stephen Harper government in 2013, was opposed by a number of chiefs at the time.

“Bennett called it “racist” when she was Liberal critic for the post.

“However, it was inspired by average ‘First Nations’ residents who weren’t being given this information when they requested it.

“The Canadian Taxpayers Federation got wind of their complaints and started lobbying on their behalf. Their efforts led to this act.

“Plus, according to the indigenous affairs website so far more than 90% of ‘First Nations’ have disclosed information for the latest fiscal year. The ‘FN’FTA is clearly a success. Why nix something that’s working? …”

–‘Liberals back down on ‘First Nations’ transparency’,
Anthony Furey, Postmedia Network, December 18, 2015

http://www.torontosun.com/2015/12/18/liberals-back-down-on-first-nations-transparency ERBLTransparencyOnReservesServesThePeople600x600“It is a critical and overdue measure of accountability: in common with other politicians in Canada, aboriginal chiefs cannot properly be accountable to the people they represent if their finances are not open to scrutiny. At the same time, given the funding bands receive out of federal revenues, it is reasonable that the broader Canadian public should be able to see where their money is going, and for what.

“Yet, notwithstanding these compelling rationales, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wants to do away with the ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’.

“Not reform or amend it, but abolish it. To insist on such basic norms of democratic accountability is, he says, “disrespectful.” But is it not more disrespectful to deny ‘aboriginal people’ access to the same information concerning their leaders that other communities expect as a right?

“…the issue of chief and counsellor salaries is straightforward: tax-free, largely subsidized out of federal funds, these can and must be open to public review and, if need be, criticism…

“Whatever their views on other issues related to ‘aboriginal people’, all parties should support the effort to make reserve finances more transparent and maintain the practice of public reporting of politicians’ salaries and expenses.”

–‘Respect aboriginal rights — keep the ‘First Nations’ financial transparency act’,
National Post editorial, September 2, 2015

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/national-post-view-respect-aboriginal-rights-keep-the-first-nations-fiscal-transparency-actERBLAboriginalsDeserveGoodFinancialGovernance600x600“Q.2. Who called for change in the financial transparency of ‘First Nations’?

“A.2. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) was approached by ‘First Nation’ members across the country asking for greater transparency as a result of difficulty obtaining financial information from their elected local officials. Until now, ‘First Nation’ governments operating under the Indian Act were the only governments in Canada that did not have a legislated requirement to make basic financial information public.”

http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1322055921752/1322056591514 ERBLChiefsFreeToStealAgain600x600The Background:

‘Chiefs Free To Steal Again’ {October 28, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/pb.332982123470694.-2207520000.1448486333./687633161338920/?type=3

‘Government Enforcing Transparency Act’ (Liard ‘First Nation’ – Yukon) {August 8, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/659445514157685/?type=3

‘Aboriginals deserve good financial governance’ {June 28, 2015}: https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/644544398981130/?type=3

‘Radical Chiefs Reject Accountability’ {December 10, 2014}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/570951909673713/?type=1

‘Crunch Time’ (Accountability Act) {November 27, 2014}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/566069840161920/?type=1

‘Transparency On Reserves – The Cree Development Corporation’ (Lubicon) {September 9, 2014}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/536516969783874/?type=1

‘Chiefs and council salaries now posted online’ (Canadian Taxpayers Federation) {July 31, 2014}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/518009254967979/?type=1

‘Some numbers for you taxpayers’ (Aboriginal Funding) {August 29, 2014}:
https://www.facebook.com/ENDRACEBASEDLAW/photos/a.336196793149227.59519.332982123470694/529737997128438/?type=1
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