First Nations groups have suffered for a long time.
They’ve been victims of the broken reserve model, a pliant welfare system, and endemic corruption within their leadership.
Contrary to popular belief, Stephen Harper passed laws that produced substantive gains for First Nations peoples. He passed the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which required First Nations groups to publicly disclose their audited financial statements, including the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and councillors.
He also passed the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, a subsection of which extends the protections against spousal abuse enjoyed by non-reserve women in Canada to First Nations reserve women, who are abused at a severely elevated rate.
Certainly not enough to turn the situation around, but it was a start.
Many First Nations people have enjoyed extraordinary benefit from transparency legislation.
Despite this, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have caved to the demands of well-paid First Nations chiefs and councils and have stopped enforcing the key provisions of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
There is now no legal requirement for First Nations leaders to disclose how they spend the money they receive from the Canadian government.
As the director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Aaron Wudrick put it, “many First Nations people across the country will again be in the dark as to how their elected leaders spend public dollars”.
Without financial disclosures, First Nations communities are worse off.
In an interview for the National Post, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett stated: “We will work in full partnership with First Nations leadership and organizations on the way forward to improve accountability and transparency. This cannot be achieved without the engagement of First Nations and its members.”
It was being achieved, with action, not conversational engagement. As far as I’m concerned, this is code for “we’ll hold discussions, but won’t get anything done because we’re afraid of being called racists”.
We’re bound to see a repeat of the spending crises that have struck First Nations communities in the past. A lack of transparency allowed the infamous Attawapiskat spending scandal to occur, in which nearly $100 million were misspent in one small reserve over five years.
(Attawapiskat housing conditions)
It wouldn’t be possible for something similar to happen again with the yearly disclosures mandated by transparency legislation passed under Harper. Similarly, a $300 million 2008 grant from the federal government to build 25,000 homes has so far built only a tiny fraction. We need more transparency within First Nations communities, not less.
Some First Nations bands have condemned the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests Act. They would rather the government had catered to their specific demands and created watered-down regulations that fail to police the problem of domestic violence in native communities.
If Trudeau continues to pander to these ridiculous demands, he could push Parliament towards a repeal of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests Act as well, undoing the only substantive protection extended to Aboriginal women in decades.
The Liberals don’t care if First Nations leadership are corrupt; they’re perfectly willing to keep funneling money into unscrupulous tribal governments to secure the moral high ground.
The longtime absence of these legal protections has caused murder and crime in Aboriginal communities to remain elevated at frighteningly high rates.
First Nations communities suffer from the highest rate of violent crime in Canada, and First Nations people have a staggering incarceration rate. The Liberals’ preference would be to ignore the problem and allow the murder and abuse rates of First Nations peoples to soar—whilst simultaneously berating the past Conservative government for not doing enough to address missing and murdered Aboriginals.
The Liberals appear to be deathly afraid of offending political leaders in the Aboriginal community, and will allow the gulf between the outcomes of First Nations peoples and other Canadians to widen as a result.
Tensions between the two communities will increase, and those who need help and want accountability within their Native communities will be isolated.
Trudeau will score his political points, no matter the cost to First Nations communities around the country.
JOIN TheRebel.media FREE for more fearless news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else.