Bill C-27, also known as the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, has reopened the controversy surrounding the salaries of First Nations chiefs. Critics of the new bill argued that the public is being fed myths and stereotypes over the salaries of the First Nations chiefs.
On March 27, the bill received Royal Assent and became law despite opponents of the bill stating that accountability was already in place. The point they argue is that band offices do not receive any funding without submitting an audited financial statement and this new bill only serves to demonize First Nations to the Canadian public.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) opposed the legislation on the grounds that there are other ways to increase transparency without increasing federal interference in the affairs of First Nations communities. AFN Chief Shawn Atleo said, “We do not support unilateralism that further entrenches us in a system that doesn’t work for our people or Canada. The answers lie in our communities and with our citizens, not with more control from Ottawa.”
Supporters, spearheaded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), have welcomed the signing of the bill into law. CTF director for the Prairie region Colin Craig said, “The sad reality is many people on reserves can’t find out how much their chiefs and councillors are making and that’s something the grassroots have told us loud and clear they want to know.”