Feds name First Nations that flouted lawNovember 27, 2014 3:22pm
OTTAWA – The federal government has published a list of First Nations that have not complied with a law that requires them to post their financial information online.
First Nations had until Wednesday night to post audited financial statements and information about the salaries and expenses of chiefs and councillors on a public website.
Aboriginal Affairs says 529 of 582 First Nations have complied with the financial-transparency law.
The names of 52 First Nations that have not complied were published Thursday afternoon on the department’s website.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt warned First Nations that flout the law will now face the consequences.
In a statement, he said his department will be taking actions against those who have not complied.
Those actions include withholding funding for non-essential programs, services and activities; withholding new or proposal-based non-essential program funding; publishing a list of delinquents; and seeking court orders to get non-compliant First Nations to post their financial information.
“I have directed that the sanctions not target essential services that support band members,” Valcourt said in a statement.
One First Nation has been granted an extension. The Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario has a bit more time to post its documents because it is still dealing with the aftermath of a flood.
The list was published a day after the Onion Lake Cree Nation filed a statement of claim in Federal Court against the government over the financial-transparency law.
Onion Lake, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, is one of the First Nations that has not posted its financial information online.
The First Nation has been the target of criticism from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which claims its chief earns more than Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
On Thursday, the federation’s Prairie director praised those First Nations that complied with the law and called on those who have not to post their financial information.
“It’s unfortunate that some chiefs and councillors are holding out and putting their desire to keep their pay details hidden ahead of the well-being of the people living in their communities,” Colin Craig said in a statement.
“We would like the federal government to indicate which bands have refused to disclose their information versus bands that are disorganized. And we expect appropriate action to be taken.”
The federal Opposition, however, urged Valcourt to talk to non-compliant First Nations to figure out why they haven’t been forthcoming, rather than penalize them.
“I think it’s irresponsible of the minister to start bringing the hammer down on some of the poorest of the poor in this country,” said NDP MP Jean Crowder. “So really, I think he should actually, you know, pick up the phone, find out why they haven’t complied.”
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