Transparency act called 'control tactic' by Manitoba chief
Several First Nations lose funding for not making finances public
Eleven Manitoba aboriginal communities are losing federal funding for not posting their financial statements online.
Aboriginal Affairs is cutting funding for non-essential services to communities that haven’t complied with new transparency rules, which require making public the salaries and expenses of chiefs and councillors.
Ted Bland, York Factory First Nation chief, says he is still trying to organize his finances after being elected in April. He calls the transparency act a control tactic.
- First Nations to 'resist' complying with financial transparency act
- 52 First Nations risk losing funding for not complying with transparency law
"What do you do next? If you don’t comply you get your funding taken away, if you don’t have your own source, or other sources of revenue coming into your First Nation the government pretty much has a strangle hold on you,” said Bland.
Pam Palmater, a lawyer, professor and activist, says the government already knows chief and council’s salaries.
“What they're really after is the personal income of chiefs and councillors, the revenue that's made from third-party companies like band organizations or economic development institutions that don’t get any funding,” said Palmater.
She calls the transparency act a double standard because the prime minister and members of parliament are not required to release their personal wealth.
Wallace Fox is the chief of Onion Lake Cree Nation, another community which will not post their finances online.
“We've always had an open door policy for members to come in and to sit with finance to go through line items they have questions or concerns on,” said Fox.
For him, it’s about taking a stand against what he calls a ‘heavy handed approach’ by the government. He says he has support from his community.
“I am not being arrogant, I am just sick and tired of government doing this to our people, enough is enough,” said Fox.
The federal government is suing six First Nations which say they will never comply. Canada's newly-elected national chief Perry Bellegarde says he will stand with them.