Friday, August 8, 2014

It's not about answering to's about something else...

The article, “Chiefs don’t answer to Ottawa” by Grassroots News editor Don Marks reprinted in the Winnipeg Free Press print edition of August 7, 2014 created much controversy: as much as the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA).

A quick flickering of the keys will populate articles commentating (not much reporting) on the issue of the FNFTA; including rebuttals made online.  Positions are declared and much of what is being said, surmises either the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the FNFTA.  Monies invested on behalf of indigenous peoples by the British and Canadian governments within the BNA Act and now in the Constitution-are in fact capital moneys stemming from treaty (1-11).

“The Indian Act defines Indian moneys [Note 2] as "all moneys collected, received or held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of Indians and bands". Under section 62 of the Act these moneys are referred in two categories as:
Capital moneys - derived from the sale of surrendered lands or the sale of the capital assets of a Band. These moneys include royalties, bonus payments and other proceeds from the sale of timber, oil, gas, gravel or any other non-renewable resource.
Revenue moneys - defined as all Indian moneys other than capital moneys. They are primarily derived from a variety of sources which include, but are not limited to, the interest earned on Band capital and revenue moneys, fine moneys, proceeds from the sale of renewable resources (i.e., crops), leasing activities (i.e., cottages, agricultural purposes, etc.) and rights-of-way.It should be noted that Band capital and revenue moneys are not funds which have been appropriated (i.e., approved by vote from time to time) by Parliament. They are deemed public moneys held by the Crown on behalf of Bands and are managed under an entirely different administrative regime.”-AANDC
This at least should not be a revelation for all Canadians, but it is. Marks mentions the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), “We rarely see an official representative of the federal government (politician or bureaucrat) refer to the allocation provided annually to First Nations as tax dollars. They leave that up to groups such as the CTF, which misleads the Canadian public by being selective with information from our shared history and then sensationalizes the story further by using selected examples that distort the issue (the average salary of First Nations chiefs across Canada has been found to be reasonable time and time again).”
Controversial? Two words to keep in mind. Rarely…and tax dollars. As surmised above, there is absolutely no correlation between taxes collected by Canadians being allocated to the AANDC. As stated on its website it renders a comprehensive outlook on the issue.
“Band moneys are derived from a variety of sources which, except for the payment of interest, are associated with the following types of renewable or non-renewable resource activities: lands and natural resource activity; oil and gas activity; settlement funds; and fine moneys. Band capital and revenue moneys collected or received by the Crown are deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) which is the single fund used to receive all moneys belonging to Canada. Within the CRF, specific accounts have been set aside for Bands and certain individuals: Band capital and revenue accounts; individual accounts for minors, adoptees, deceased individuals, dependent adults and missing individuals; and suspense accounts for Bands and individuals.”
The First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act brought about by the Conservative Party of Canada in 2006 merits further reading for those who truly want to unravel the systematic legislative components of the Harper government to extinguish indigenous inherent rights in Canada. 
“(FNTC) is a shared-governance corporation that regulates and streamlines the approval of property tax and new local revenue laws of participating First Nations, builds administrative capacity through sample laws and accredited training, and reconciles First Nation government and taxpayer interests.
On reserve indigenous people do not pay taxes. Off reserve indigenous people do; unless there is an urban reserve within a city. AANDC describes this particular legislation to be beneficial in four ways.

The legislation enables First Nations to participate more fully in the Canadian economy and foster business-friendly environments while meeting local needs by:
  •              strengthening First Nation real property tax systems and First Nations financial management systems;
  •        providing First Nations with increased revenue raising tools, strong standards for accountability, and access to capital markets available to other governments;
  •           allowing for the borrowing of funds for the development of infrastructure on-reserve through a co-operative, public-style bond issuance; and providing greater representation for First Nation taxpayers.

Nevertheless, stating that “Chiefs don’t answer to Ottawa” rankles every single Canadian taxpayer. It smacks of arrogance. Clearly the business of assimilation policies are abject failures. The Indian Act continues to bring out the ire of all: and yet we still have a federal government willing to allude ideologically that the time of reserves, treaty status Indians and this whole ‘nation to nation’ nonsense needs to be extinguished. Never mind the Charter of Rights, Supreme Court rulings, et al.

I had spoken of divisiveness in one of my Facebook comments in regards to Marks editorial. This was in response to the remarks made by subscribers of the Winnipeg Free Press. I daresay that no amount of reasoning will appease either group. Stances made by Marks are true. The (non) issue remains.
Can taxpayers living in Canada reconcile the notion that there is indeed constitutional, legal, and moral grounds for discussions?  Will they accept and allow their federal elected MP’S to enter into accords which clearly states the inherent rights of 633 reserves in Canada?
Do they not comprehend that Chief and Council salaries are not to be compared to municipal, provincial and federal counterparts?

Divisive indeed.

 Canadians think Indians have it all… and Indians understand Canadians still want their scalps: that or become assimilated…or maybe both.
Should it matter? If the Conservatives win another majority I do not think that it will. If not, there is still hope.

I know the proposition of entering into new rounds of modern treaties will upset many indigenous leaders, activists, and individual band members across reserves. As will Canadians be equally upset and be forced to recognize and uphold certain mechanism which promotes and sustains First Nations within a Canadian framework designed to benefit them-exclusively. 

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