Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox says his band has no intention of following the Harper government’s controversial First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
Bill C-27 passed into law Wednesday and enables the government to withhold funding if a band fails to post financial information such as salaries and travel expenses online.
Fox say the Conservatives hammered through the act with no consultation from First Nations.
The Onion Lake Chief adds band councils are only financially accountable to their members and not all Canadian taxpayers.
“I work for the people of Onion Lake, so I’m accountable to them and no one else – pure and simple,” he says. “The people of Saskatoon did not elect me, my membership elected me, so I am accountable to them.”
He adds the new law could harm the competitiveness of First Nations business ventures.
Fox says his First Nation has no problem providing its own business information to its membership but private companies the band deals with likely will not want their own financial affairs posted on the Internet for all to see.
“Public companies obviously have to disclose their financial and accounting to their shareholders but what about a private company,” he asks? “We have a joint venture with a private company today. Now they are going to be forced to disclose their personal statements, their personal incomes, where they got the money to work with us on our land.”
He says Onion Lake will forego government funding rather than follow the requirements of Bill C-27 but adds many First Nations do not have this financial flexibility and will have no choice but to try and comply.
Fox also says he has asked Aboriginal Affairs what the dispute resolution mechanism of the act is but as of yet has received no reply and is considering legal action.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a press conference in Winnipeg earlier in the day on Wednesday to announce the passage of Bill C-27 but the event was cut short after Idle No More protesters drowned out the government’s speakers.
(includes files from The Canadian Press)