WINNIPEG, MB: November 23, 2011 -- The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) applauded the federal government today for responding to its call to fix and re-introduce legislation that forces politicians to publicly disclose their salaries.
The CTF has spent two years pushing hard for transparency in this area after it broke a national news story in December 2009 of a small reserve in Manitoba whose council members were each making more than Prime Minister Harper. In 2010, it obtained nation-wide figures from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs that suggested upwards of 50 reserve politicians had been making more than the Prime Minister.
Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act does exactly what the CTF has been pushing for – it will put chief and band council salaries and pay information on the internet for both grassroots band members and taxpayers to view. This will bring reserve politicians in-line with all other politicians in Canada that must disclose their pay to the public.
“This legislation is great news for grassroots band members and taxpayers,” said Colin Craig, CTF Prairie Director. “We have highlighted many cases where reserve politicians were paying themselves huge sums while band members and taxpayers had no idea.”
Unlike the original private members’ bill, this legislation has been strengthened by requiring reserves to disclose their audit reports, which include more comprehensive pay information for chiefs and councillors. This is something the CTF has pushed for as band members have indicated they want to know the whole story – not just how tax dollars are spent, but how much politicians are receiving from band-owned gas stations, casinos and other public sources.
“This legislation isn’t a magic bullet to fixing all the problems on reserve communities,” added Craig. “But it takes a very good first step by improving transparency on how funds are spent right now. That will help band members separate the good apples from the bad ones and will help taxpayers understand how their money is being spent on reserves.”
The CTF has been helping grassroots band members find out what’s going on in their communities through a web site it launched back in May 2010 -