Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Federal Accountability Act Introduced

CALGARY: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Aboriginal Division responded today to the introduction of the Federal Accountability Act .

Currently, Canadian taxpayers spend approximately $8 billion for federal programs directed at native Canadians. Once the federal government transfers roughly 80 per cent of the money to native bands, the auditor-general of Canada no longer has the authority to audit how and where the money is spent.

“We are very pleased to see the Federal Accountability Act will give the auditor-general authority to audit and scrutinize money transferred to native governments. For too long the lack of accountability mechanisms have lead to inefficiencies, redundancies, corruption and even abuse,” stated Tanis Fiss, the division’s director.

Since the Canadian Taxpayers Federation created its Aboriginal Division in 2002, one of the priorities of the Division was to push the federal government to expand the mandate of the auditor-general to include native bands.

“The CTF is concerned that 17 native governments will be excluded from the Federal Accountability Act because they have self-government agreements. As long as these communities receive Canadian tax dollars, they should be subject to the scrutiny of the auditor-general,” concluded Fiss.

Schedule VII of the Federal Accountability Act excludes 17 native governments that have self-government agreements or have elected to contract out of the Indian Act. Some of these communities include: Sechelt, Nisga’a, Tlicho and Labrador Inuit Association.


leftdog said...

I sure hope that Harpers 'Act' is superior to Brad Wall's 'Code of Ethics' for that pathetic crowd of yahoos called the 'saskatchewan party caucus'. What a bunch of losers they are.

Jonathan at Dalhousie said...

Do the native governments themselves run independent audits?

$8 billion divided by 1 million Aboriginal Canadians (2001 Census) = $8 thousand per capita. Subtract the minors, and you have Charles Murray's $10k solution right there--somebody get on the phone with AEI! So why not disperse the money to individuals instead of their local governments? Oh wait, don't tell me... government knows best.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

Since the rationale behind the CTF's desire to see the Audtior General be able to look into Aboriginal spending is that its tax dollars and therefore should be subject to public scrutiny, does the CTF also support the Auditor general being able to investigate the spending habits of people who get GST rebates, CPP and OAS, EI, child tax benefit etc. etc?

Seems to me that's the logical conclusion right?

David MacLean said...

Actually Mike, no it doesn't.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

Please explain further

David MacLean said...

Mike, why don't you explain why individuals receiving CPP are the same thing as band councils receiving transfers? You can also tell me how the government has the audacity to audit infrastructure spending in municipalities, fuel tax revenue sharing, and foundation grants?

Mike Stefaniuk said...

CPP recipients get public money like band councils do. Your rationale for auditing band councils is that they receive public money. So if you are consistent, you think everyone who receives public money should be audited, no?

As for other auditing, it would take me an hour to write about how poor our fiscal federalism is here in Canada. But if the feds are giving money for an intended purpose, it should be used for that purpose (like muni infrastructure) and not for tax cuts or money for Rudy Giuliani if you prefer.

Why is it different for aboriginal bands? Historical injustices and treaties come to mind, as does self-government. But why not adopt a sensible solution like jonathan has proposed, give money directly to band members and have leaders tax them. That creates accountability. No one will fork over their money if it is being misspent.

As much as you guys at the CTF want the world to be black and white, it just isn't. CTF doesn't stand up for taxpayers, nor does it stand up for business (I do believe that), it stands up for a few angry rich white dudes.

The rich white male is an endangered species right?

David MacLean said...

Jonathan happens to be brilliant. Giving money directly to individuals has been our policy for at least 5 years. Read our aboriginal files, please.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

Great, then why the need for the AG? Giving money to the individual in this instance will take care of the accountability problem.

Now answer my question, why no demand for audits of pensioners? Do not advocate that is hypocritical.

David MacLean said...

Mike, I really expected more from you than race baiting and idiotic questions.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

It's not a dumb question, its a dumb proposal. I'll I'm saying is that if you guys stuck with your initial proposal to give money directly to band members, you'd get no opposition from me (in fact, you'd probably have a lot of support).

But bringing in the AG is unneccessary. Its as dumb as bringing in the AG to audit pensionners. I'm just pointing out stupidity, just like you guys supposedly do.

David MacLean said...

Look, the reality is having money transfered to individuals instead of to bands, isn't going to happen any time soon. In the meantime, that money needs to be audited.

Now, did I really have to explain that to you?

Read the stuff.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

David are you getting upset with me? Our conversation was civil and then you started launching accusations of race baiting, come on, you are better than that.

Bringing in the AG is unneccessary and it is overly paternalistic. It is not intentionally racist, but it is covertly (sill indians don't know how to spend their money).

Now that the AG can audit this, I assume you guys are going to do all sorts of Access to Information requests. And then there will be more news stories of inappropriate spending, and people's opinions of aboriginals will get even lower. Great, a lot of good that will do to help improve the quality of life of Aboriginal people.

If you really want to help, stick to your initial proposal, and perhaps advocate some good "gasp" government initiatives like an aboriginal urban transition strategy.

Taking this to its logical conclusion will only make things worse for aboriginal people, not better.

darcey said...

Some of the bands want this and I know of more then a few members personally that have been looking for some sort of transparent system.

In many cases once the money enters the band fund and there is alleged unfairness or even blatant abuses, the INAC typically says their hands are off of it and the only other alternative is through the courts which causes great divides amongst communities.

A great example for this is the situation at the Poundmaker First Nation. There is currently a protest and campout in front of the band office which has been going on for over a year. This is because they caught the chief and council.

A community divided in half by the courts. Buildings have been burned, accounting records destroyed and so on. Also violence.

If there was a third party they could turn to or if there was a greater surety of accountability then maybe this might not have happened. This is just one community and there are quite a few more in various stages of this.

The CBC had a not bad article on this - link

Tanis Fiss said...

The AG mandate to audit native bands has nothing to do with doubting a native bands abiliy to allocate the tax dollars tranfered to them. It has to do with accountability and transperancy.

Native bands that are already accountable and transparent are not likely to be audited by the AG. However, native bands whose own members have requested a forensic audit are very likely to be audit.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

Will the CTF conduct Access to Information requests and issue press releases if they find irregularities?

Mike Stefaniuk said...

I hope you can understand my concern.

Mike Stefaniuk said...

I guess if you ask tough questions or point out flaws in their reasoning, the CTF doesn't respond.

Chad Moats said...

Hold on here, I could be misinformed but aren't each band a nation we have treaties with ?
Meaning the feds don't have this kind of jurisdiction ?
I might be wrong though, maybe a treaty isn't just between nations.

Anonymous said...

I am calling on john Williamson to resign. His response to the introduction of the FAA shows he no longer speaks for taxpayers. The FAA is the most far reaching legislation, furthering open and accountable government, to come along in years (likely ever) and John's response is that the opposition parties should band together to stop it. Who is John and the CTF representing here? Could it be the Canadian News organization who shared the newsconference when he made these comments?

Rick G

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