On December 2nd CBC’s Evan Solomon presented Ryerson Professor, and lawyer, Pam Palmater arguing against the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Arguing for so-called “transparency” was Aaron Wudrick of the small, parsimonious, right-wing lobby group, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. If you can wait out a compulsory 90 seconds of commercials forced upon you by CBC Player you can listen to the powerful Palmater dissect and consume Aaron the Unready here. It’s worth the corporation-enforced wait.
I will not précis the whole issue but will only say that the Harper CPC can only get away with this egregious harassment of First Nations because of the abysmally ignorant state of Canadians on everything to do with our First Nations. Government “logic” succeeds only because of the typical Canuck couch potato’s massively wrong assumptions and deep, unconscious prejudice about our indigenous people. “Settler” mentality creates big holes in public awareness for the government offence to run through.
Via huge omnibus bills the Harper Conservatives have passed (undebated) a boatload of needle-in-haystack legislation designed to totally destroy the power of our First Nations to stay united and fight pipelines and other attacks on our shared and fragile biosphere.
Professor Palmater maintained, in a talk to Idle No More – Alberta, that:
“It’s time to come up with a plan to let Canadians know that we (i.e. First Nations – ed.) are their only hope of saving the land and waters and animals and plants in this country.”
Back in January 2013, almost two years ago, I listened to all four YouTube videoed parts of her talk. Palmater raised concerns about the First Nations Financial Transparency Act way back then. I took care to explain the major points of her entire presentation and urged my readers to watch her brilliant talk on YouTube. Here is the link to my January 22nd, 2013 post, “Using Buckshot Legislation To Decimate First Nations Rights.” In these videos Palmater attacks eight out of ten pieces of Harper legislation against First Nations rights and goes into the long history of their struggle with Federal politicians of every stripe. Immensely valuable stuff.
Here is an excerpt from my summary of her position on the transparency act (the quotes are what my careful listening makes me confident are her own words):
- The myth: that all six hundred fifteen of Canada’s First Nations leaders “are all millionaires, they’re all corrupt, they all mismanage money and the reason for First Nation poverty lies on the shoulders of those corrupt chiefs.”
- The reality: The average salary of those 615 chiefs is $36ooo, $10000 below the average Canadian wage of $46000. Thirty-six of those chiefs have a salary of $0.
- Palmater had harsh words for Bill C-27, The Transparency Act, designed to force First Nations bands to reveal to the Canadian public every detail of their finances. It implies that First Nations do not do reporting, when in reality their funding would be withheld if they didn’t file every year. And Palmater claimed that any FN person can get a copy of this report from the Department of Indian Affairs. “What this bill really does is it opens all the books: all the band’s own source revenue, all of the band’s business revenue. Not for band members, but for the public.” Palmater pointed out that this is to provide ammunition to support cuts to grants to a band.
- “We’re not even allowed to supplement our own poverty.”
- “If you want to point fingers at who’s corrupt, let’s look at the real ones:” Palmater had listed the abuses of Harpers’ own ministers: $16 orange juice, $2000/night hotels, or Peter MacKay’s $35000 helicopter ride to go fishing, F-35′s. I’m tempted to put in a link inviting everyone to add his/her own example to this inappropriately merciful list.
Again I urge every caring Canadian to watch the videos for a sense of how wrong we “new-comers” are and the desperate fight that needs to be fought against all of this legislation. The four parts add up to less than an hour of time well invested.