APTN National News
OTTAWA – The federal government says it is launching court proceedings to force six defiant First Nations to publicly post their financial information online.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says his department will continue to withhold non-essential funding from almost 50 First Nations that failed to meet the deadline for a new Conservative transparency law.
But the government is also asking the Federal Court to force six First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan to publish audited financial statements and the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and band council members.
“First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected leaders. That is why we passed the First Nations Financial Transparency Act which empowers First Nation members to ensure band revenues areused for the benefit of the entire community,” said Valcourt.
Leaders of the six bands have flatly stated they will not be complying with the new rules.
The Onion Lake Cree Nation – one of the groups the government is taking to court – had already launched its own Federal Court bid late last month in an effort to overturn the Conservative transparency law.
Valcourt says forcing First Nations to publish financial information will lead to more effective, transparent and accountable governance, while aboriginal leaders say the new rules are a sideshow designed to distract attention from chronic government underfunding.
Thunderchild, Ochapowace, Sawbridge, Cold Lake and Athabasca Chipewyan are the other communities.
– with files from The Canadian Press