In July 2014, the Canadian government passed Bill C- 27 (formerly C-575), the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA). It require that 582 First Nations, defined as an Indian band, under the Indian Act make their audited financial statements and information about salaries and expenses of chiefs and councils available to members, as well publish it on a website and government website.
The purpose of the act is to “enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations.”
There are two problems with C- 27.
First is the punishment for First Nations who fail to comply with the law. Indian Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt had said he would cut off federal funding to Treaty Nations that resist the imposition. By the November 26, 2014 deadline, 52 Bands had not complied. Recently these First Nations are in court with the federal government.
Second and most importantly, is the law itself. As Pamela Palmater reports for rabble.ca, C- 27 is “unconstitutional and illegal.” Palmater believes it was done without legal consultation, accommodation and consent of First Nations. In addition, it violates their internationally protected First Nation’s right to be self- determining.
As well, the legislation forces First Nations to account for their own personal income. In addition to federal funding, the Band must claim any third party owned source revenue and income. Another rabble.ca source, Crystal Lameman wrote, “No one is asking any of the federal and provincial government representatives for their private business ventures.”
The media has focused on the FNFTA quite heavily because of alleged lack of transparency in First Nations. Media did not question or examine the law itself, or it’s flaws. It ignored that the law abolishes First Nations’ rights, consequently repeating Canadian history of assimilation and segregation.
Sources: Crystal Lameman, “Hold the rations: The Canadian government vs. First Nations”, December 23, 2014, http://rabble.ca/news/2014/12/hold-rations-canadian-government-vs-first-nations.
Pamela Palmater, “Stephen Harper and the myth of the crooked India”, November 26, 2014, http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2014/11/stephen-harper-and-myth-crooked-indian.
Student Researcher: Rebekah Lesko (University of Regina)
Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliot (University of Regina)