The Native Transparency Act, which will require native chiefs and councillors to publish their salaries and other remuneration, has been criticized by first nations chiefs as another example of unilateral action and paternalistic behavior because the first nations peoples were not consulted before this legislation was introduced.
The Native Transparency Act would require first nations leaders to post their salaries and audited financial statements on websites. They would also be obligated to disclose financial information about band-owned businesses.
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan defends the legislation on the grounds that “democracy depends on citizens being able to call their elected officials to account.” Duncan claims that his department receives about 250 requests every year asking for the salaries of the first nations leaders.
Yet Duncan could not answer why first nations leaders were not consulted when the legislation was still in its drafting stages. Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak calls the legislation “a prime example of how generally poor attitudes and systemic racism have informed law and policy respecting indigenous people.”
This Act is only the latest in a series of acts that have irritated the first nations peoples, who argue that they have continuously had legislation thrust upon them without consultation. For example, a safe drinking-water bill introduced last year was criticized for imposing standards of water quality on the first nations peoples without providing them with adequate infrastructure to meet these standards.
Nonetheless, Duncan asserts that, “When it comes to major projects, our government takes its duty to consult with aboriginal groups very seriously.”
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