Aboriginal Senators Walk Out On Aboriginal Affairs Minister

On Wednesday Feb 6th 2013 the Senate Aboriginal Affairs Committee met for the first time to discuss the Conservative Government’s proposed First Nations Accountability Act.  The act would force First Nations communities to post their annual financial reports as well as chief and council member salaries online.

While two of the Senators expressed their support for the bill, Liberal Senator Nick Sibbeston from the Northwest Territories, Senator Lillian Dyck from Saskatchewan and Senator Sandra Nicholas from New Brunswick, left the meeting to express their discontent with the bill.

“It’s our small way of showing discontent I guess with the fact that nothing seems to have changed and also to show our support for the First Nations in our country that at least somebody in Ottawa has heard them” said Sibbeston.

SIbbetson explained that he didn’t have a problem with the bill necessarily, but with the process itself.  He is unhappy with the fact there hasn’t been more consultation with first nations communities, especially in light of the Idle No More protests.

The Assembly of First Nations has not given the bill its unanimous support.  They generally agree that their is a need for more transparency with regards to chiefs and councillors, however there is disagreement about how that should be done.

“Chiefs were clear in their assertion that the proposed measures are both heavy-handed and unnecessary and they suggest that First Nation governments are corrupt, our leaders are not transparent and consequently need to be regulated by Ottawa. “What we really need to do is increase the options for our [First Nations] to develop their own governance including their accountability frameworks, so they can build their own future within Canada rather than be legislated from above,”said Jody Wilson-Raybould, a B.C. regional AFN chief, before a parliamentary committee last year.

The entire story, reported by the CBC, can be read here.