First Nations Financial Transparency Act may fizzle out with court ruling, says expert

A Saskatoon-based member of a national public policy think tank thinks a court ruling and the recent change in Ottawa may spell the end for the Financial Transparency Act.

Federal court ruling plus change in government may spell end

Wallace Fox, chief of Onion Lake Cree Nation defied the federal government's demand that First Nations post financial information publicly. (CBC)

A Saskatoon-based member of a national public policy think tank thinks a court ruling and the recent change in Ottawa may spell the end for the Financial Transparency Act.

Ken Coates is the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's Senior Policy Fellow in Aboriginal and Northern Canadian Issues. 

He said that even though many First Nations objected to the legislation, they complied.

"They are not afraid to let people see what their chiefs get paid and their councillors get paid," Coates told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

It was a handful of First Nations in Saskatchewan and other provinces who took their objections to court. A federal court judge ruled recently that the federal government should cease all legal efforts to force First Nations to publicly report financial information. 

Coates called it an important decision, and suggested the entire effort may have already fizzled out with the outcome of the federal election.

"The new Liberal government has suggested, in fact, that they want to review all the legal challenges they are making against First Nations, and the irony is that the Liberal government might have actually suspended the process anyway."

The federal court ruling did not assign compensation for the First Nations who claim the government withheld money in a punitive effort to force compliance. But, Coates said, it did leave the door open.

"It [the ruling] also said that if you can show there was hardship then come back to us and we will consider your appeal for compensation."

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