Ottawa urged to back accountability measures

The Assembly of First Nations says federal politicians should abandon their “paternalistic” attempts to make reserves more fiscally accountable, and instead embrace bolder proposals to track aboriginal finances.

OTTAWA — The Assembly of First Nations says federal politicians should abandon their “paternalistic” attempts to make reserves more fiscally accountable, and instead embrace bolder proposals to track aboriginal finances.

National Chief Shawn Atleo is meeting with other chiefs in Vancouver this week to discuss moving beyond the antiquated Indian Act and empowering bands to rule themselves within five years.

Atleo says a key part of that plan is improving transparency so that band members themselves know how the band’s money is being spent.

But he says a private member’s bill gaining momentum in the House of Commons — and has the backing of the Conservative party — is the wrong way to go about it.

The bill, called the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, passed second reading in the House of Commons last week, after a handful of Liberals joined the Tories in supporting it.

The legislation, sponsored by Conservative MP Kelly Block, would force band chiefs and councillors to publish how much they earn.

Atleo says he’d rather see the creation of a First Nations auditor general and ombudsman who would keep track of salaries as well as all of Ottawa’s spending on aboriginal affairs.

Atleo says band members need more transparency in how government money is spent, and how leaders are paid.

But he says the bill perpetuates the failures of the past by bolstering the power of the minister of Indian Affairs at the expense of the First Nations people themselves.

“First Nations are expected to deal with the consequences of decisions that they have no control over,” he said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

“It’s still a deeply paternalistic type of approach that is being delivered, and that’s the pattern that I’m hoping we can break.”

Already, the chiefs have committed to making public all types of remuneration to their band members. And they have long handed that type of information over to the federal government.

Atleo would also like to establish a First Nations auditor general as well as an ombudsman, and develop a system of accountability that would track band leaders’ salaries as well as all of Ottawa’s spending on aboriginal affairs.

“The conversation about who is being paid what needs to be part of something that First Nations governments have to tackle. They’ve signalled a willingness to do that,” said Atleo.

The auditor general and ombudsman ideas were at the forefront of talks with Ottawa under former prime minister Paul Martin. But the Harper government has shown no interest in pursuing them, Atleo said.

“We want to keep this moving . . . . We need the government Crown partner to come to the table and say we will work with you.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer College (Contributed photo)
RDC tuitions to go up 7%

Tuition increase the maximum allowed under provincial rules

This unicorn was stolen from the small community of Delia, northeast of Drumheller on Friday and was recovered, with its bronze horn broken off, on Saturday. RCMP are looking for information on the suspects.
(Photo from RCMP)
Unicorn statue stolen from Delia recovered

Statue found with horn broken off in field about 15 km from Delia

(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe man whose manslaughter sentence was rejected by judge has new lawyer

Judge rejected proposed seven-year sentence for manslaughter in connection with 2019 homicide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

OTTAWA — The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans… Continue reading

Patches are seen on the arm and shoulder of a corrections officer in the segregation unit at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Correctional Service Canada says three inmates at Fraser Valley Institution recently tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Drumheller Institution inmate dies in custody

Inmate’s April 15 death under investigation

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
LaGrange: Feedback needed to refine curriculum

As the Minister of Education my role has been guided by a… Continue reading

In this Feb. 24, 2020, photo, the Olympics rings are reflected on the window of a hotel restaurant as a server with a mask sets up a table, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Will Japanese Olympians be vaccinated ahead of the public?

TOKYO — The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with… Continue reading

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, greets Bayern's Lucas Hernandez at the end of the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PSG, Bayern the big names missing from Super League plan

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The plan for the new Super League soccer competition… Continue reading

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Marion Cotillard, left, and Brad Pitt appear in a scene from "Allied." (Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Leo Carax’s ‘Annette’ to open Cannes Film Festival

Leo Carax’s “Annette,” starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, will open the… Continue reading

From left, Producer Doug Mitchell, actor Chris Hemsworth and director George Miller attend at a press conference to announce the new "Mad Max" film at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Monday, April 19, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
‘Mad Max’ prequel shot in Outback to be released in 2023

SYDNEY, Australia — A prequel to the “Mad Max” movie franchise starring… Continue reading

In this Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. President Joe Biden faces a vexing task as he convenes a virtual climate summit on Thursday. He is expected to present a nonbinding but symbolic goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will have a tangible impact not only on climate change efforts in the U.S. but throughout the world. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Biden pressed on emissions goal as climate summit nears

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden convenes a virtual climate summit on… Continue reading

Women wearing masks wait near an advertisement ahead of the Auto Shanghai 2021 show in Shanghai on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Automakers from around the world are showcasing their latest products this week in the world's biggest market for auto vehicles. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
VW, Ford unveil SUVs at China auto show under virus controls

SHANGHAI — Volkswagen, Ford and Chinese brands unveiled new SUVs for China… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Most Read