Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Interesting Blog ...

This blog shares some interesting views on topics that have been here as well. Enjoy the read.....

The Conservative "Secret Agenda" Not As Secret As It Used To Be

and the blog on

Thoughts On Duffy


Aboriginal Money – Who is exploiting what?


Federal Spending on Aboriginal People

There is a great deal of talk about the waste of Tax Dollars from Canadians and the lack of accountability for those dollars.

Métis Mama believes that fiscal accountability is important but so is political accountability. It is not just important for Aboriginal leaders but all elected leaders – mainstream and otherwise.

I did some research into the situation because we continue to hear about the billions of dollars that have been allocated to Aboriginal people. For many of us – those dollars are not evident in our communities. It is easy for us to identify bad leadership as the reason for all of our problems – but things really are never that simple.

Truthfully, I am of the belief that resources in the way of financial are not always the solution. Based on the value of resources that appear to be expended on our behalf – we should be the problem free – but an assessment of the resources becomes necessary. At the following website there is disclosure of the budget for the department of Indian and Northern Affairs for 2007 – 2008. This would be the resources that were expended under “Aboriginal” by the Federal Government up until March 31, 2008.

The total budgetary amount available for use is: $7,372,034,338.00. That is 7 billion – three hundred and seventy two million dollars for those that don’t want to count commas.

There is another 134,876,519.00 was expended in non-budgeted expenses.

The First Nations Statistical Analysis Institute [FNSAI] received 4,888,000 dollars. Who is the First Nations Statistical Analysis Institute? – They are an arm of Statistics Canada that the Federal Government set up early in 2006. The board and directive of this institute is determined by government.

The Canadian Polar Commission received 1,015,933 dollars. Who is the Canadian Polar Commission – Another Federal Government department that has the mandate to - The Canadian Polar Commission's mandate requires is to monitor polar knowledge in Canada and around the world. I am not sure how that is the responsibility of just the Aboriginal people of Canada – it should be of interest to all Canadians.

The Indian Claims Commission received 6,476,313 dollars. Who is the Indian Claims Commission? They are mandated to help First Nations and the federal government settle claims. Located in Ottawa, the Commission has a staff of approximately 51 people and a budget of $6.9 million (fiscal year 2005-2006). The Commission's day-to-day operations are carried out by a Management Committee which reports to the Commissioners.

Under the Office for Residential School Program $3,732,160 dollars were for Federal Government employee benefits. (This does not include salaries.) The Operating Expenditures on this program are listed at 453 million dollars. This was to conduct 1.3 billion dollars in residential school claims.

This is just a few things that I was able to quickly pull out of the 500 plus page document. My point to each of you – as much as the various Aboriginal representative groups receive money and need to be accountable – much of what we hear is actually money that the Federal Government expends in making Aboriginal people an economic resource and the sustainability of many public servants jobs.

In addition to these things that are mentioned are dollars for instance that we hear are for things like off-reserve funding for Aboriginal housing. Much of that money is actually allocated to the various provincial and territorial governments who then take their administrative piece of the pie and then the money is often transferred to municipal governments or agencies who then take their piece of administrative bureaucracies and then the money is allocated to property developers hands and the monitoring and accountability of those dollars does not have to stand the same test of outcomes and measures that many of the Aboriginal representative organizations must live up to. They are also not under the same policy of only using 12% for administration. Once a provisional government places these ‘Aboriginal Housing’ dollars into their general revenue accounts with the rest of their transfer payments – they become impossible to track.

Aboriginal people provide many opportunities for the development of infrastructure and bureaucracy in governments. The next time you hear about an Aboriginal program – remember the governments of this country almost consume 30 – 50% of those resources for their own use.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on the Senate of Canada

I see a heated debate looms over this matter. Debate is always good – it makes us critical thinkers and debating our views or ideologies either assists us from seeing things from another perspective or assists us in changing our views. Just a short word of caution – we can do it respectfully and with the appreciation that we all have different views … its’ allowed.

To JJ Carroll - I am not suggesting that Aboriginal people in the upper house is not a good thing – but I will not share the view that because an Aboriginal person is appointed to a position he is above discussion, debate or review. My entire point is that Patrick was given the appointment due to his criticism of the other political leaders and their lack of accountability. I do not pretend not to support this view myself .. you would only need to read past posts to know that I have some of those very criticisms about some of the Aboriginal leaders across Canada. My issue is “Do Not Be A Hypocrite!”

The first hypocrisy in this appointment is Prime Minister Harper’s. Senate reform in the upper house is going to require people who "Walk Their Talk". The debate around Senate reform has gone on since 1874. The first indicator that Harper was not committed to his party’s ideology on Senate reform was when he appointed Michael Fortier when he first got elected so he could bring him into the Caucus without running for election in a democratic process. Senate Reform requires Constitutional changes … as we have seen since Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord no government has wanted to tackle the debate on real Constitutional change.

Unfortunately a recent poll identified that most Canadians are completely unaware of the governmental structures and the context of the Canadian Constitution. We seem to have very few incidents that help Canadians understand the structure of the Constitution and its’ meaning never mind the role and responsibility of the Senate.

The next hypocrisy – which is where this debate started is Patrick Brazeau – those who don’t live in glass houses – shouldn’t throw stones or be willing to hear the cracking glass if someone points it out. Patrick is engaged as a leader of an organization that is entrenched with its’ own accountability issues. Integrity – politically and fiduciary – have been sighted in the Congress of Aboriginal People. I am not the first person to point this out – nor will I be the last.

I also would like to clarify that I quite frankly do not care what he makes as an income – My issue is with him continuing to collect a salary from CAP and the Senate – it is a Conflict of Interest. In fact, the Prime Minister can double the salary of the Senate if he would like but you can not be the leader of the Congress of Aboriginal People and the Conservative Senator and serve two masters.

The other issue that I would like to bring clarity to at this point is there have been many Aboriginal people that sat in the Senate of Canada – Patrick Brazeau is not the first.

  • Adam Willies is an Inuk Member of the Senate and is one of the longest standing members of the upper house at this time. Liberal
  • Senator Lillian Eva Dyck is a member of the Gordon First Nations in Saskatchewan and has been in the Senate since 2005; New Democrat
  • Senator Nick G. Sibbeston is an Aboriginal person from the Northwest Territories has served in the Senate since 1999; Liberal
  • Senator Gerry St. Germaine is a Métis man from British Columbia who was appointed in 1993; Progressive Conservative
  • Senator Charlie Watt from Fort Chimo, Quebec has served in the Senate since 1984. Liberal
  • Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas is a First Nations woman from New Brunswick that was appointed in 2005. Liberal

Some of the Past Aboriginal Senators were:

  • Senator Richard Charles Hardisty was a Métis man from the Northwest Territories and was the first Aboriginal person appointed to the house in 1888; - Conservative
  • Senator William Boucher - Métis man from Saskachewan - Liberal
  • Senator James Gladstone – First Nations man from Alberta - Independent Conservative
  • Senator Guy Williams – First Nations man from British Columbia - Liberal
  • Senator Leonard (Len) Marchand – First Nations man from British Columbia - Liberal
  • Senator Walter Twinn – First Nations man from Alberta - Progressive Conservative
  • Senator Thelma Chalifoux – Métis woman from Alberta (First Métis woman appointed to the Senate) - Liberal
  • Senator Aurélien Gill is a First Nations man from Quebec that was appointed in 1998; - Liberal

Now it is an impressive list of past and present Senators who have a variety of experiences and backgrounds. This once again brings me to the point – we do not have to have a party because an Aboriginal person gets an appointment deserved or otherwise – we have many honourable Aboriginal people who make us proud each day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Senator Patrick Brazeau - who do you answer to now?

  • Patrick Brazeau's Senate appointment comes as no surprise, observers say


    Young senator qualifies for pension that is ‘ticket to the good life'


    Now as things go … we as Aboriginal people are suppose to be overjoyed that Mr. Patrick Brazeau has been named as an Aboriginal person to the Senate of Canada. Thirty- Four year old Patrick will be able to remain in the Senate until he turns 75 years old or retires.

    Now he does indicate that he can not fathom himself at 75 – but let’s be honest – which 34 year old person can? Harper has also indicated that Patrick has said all the right things and done all the right things because he has publicly supported the Conservatives while criticizing the other Chiefs and Councils for their lack of accountable and transparent governance. I have my opinion on these matters too – but for the time let’s stay focused on Mr. Brazeau and accountability.

    Is the Congress of Aboriginal People more accountable or even as accountable as some of the other Aboriginal organizations? Let us do a quick assessment. Who are the members of the Congress of Aboriginal People?

    The CAP website says:

    “The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is a nationally incorporated umbrella organization that represents the interests, nationally, of its provincial and territorial affiliate organizations across Canada.” … “CAP, itself, does not have individual memberships or provide programs and services directly to individuals. In effect, the "members" of CAP are its affiliate organizations.”

    “The affiliates of CAP are provincial and territorial organizations (PTOs) that have applied at various times since 1971 to formally and legally associate themselves with CAP (or the former Native Council of Canada) as their national representative body. Each affiliate has its own constitution and is separately funded under the federal Aboriginal Representative Organization Program (AROP). CAP's bylaws require affiliation be limited to one organization per province or territory. In effect, these affiliates are the corporate members of CAP, which does not, itself, have individual memberships.”

    In Quebec the PTO represents 26,000 eligible members – where there does not appear to be any ballot box elections.

    In Saskatchewan there is no evidence of who are members, how many members exist and how the leadership accounts to the communities they say they represent – but in fairness to this PTO they have just come into the arena and have not been around that long – maybe democratic accountability will be a part of what they use to define themselves.

    In Manitoba the research has left us a little baffled if an affiliate even really exists. In fact, President Brazeau in a document in October of 2008 is questioning their ability to be accountable and transparent. The group did work with the NWAC affiliate in Manitoba in 2004 to complete a health research initiative and also received funding in April of this fiscal year from OFI but how they are elected and who their members are is not readily available.

    In Newfoundland the affiliate group identifies by saying they represent 10,000 non-registered Mi’Kmaq (500 are identified as General Members) There is no identification of when there are elections for the Federation of Newfoundland Indians or the criteria of who gets to elect them.

    In New Brunswick the organization kindly identifies itself through its’ bylaws on its’ website. Through a mail in ballot – full members get to elect their leadership in something called the Universal Suffrage Process.

    The Native Council of Nova Scotia, much like New Brunswick uses the Universal Suffrage Process for elections.

    In Prince Edward Island there are three regions that select twenty delegates to attend an Assembly and through the Assembly the 6 representatives are elected.

    In Ontario in 2007 a new affiliate was established after the previous affiliate had issues related to financial accountability. The new group has some elected and some appointed officials. The elected officials are elected at an Assembly.

    In British Columbia the provincial organization claim a membership of 11.000 but identifies that it speaks on behalf of 90,000. The representatives are elected at Annual Meetings where delegates are chosen or appointed.

    There are no Provincial affiliates in Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta and Nunavit that is listed on the CAP website. If you do some swift inquiries in many of the affiliate areas where they claim to represent the Aboriginal population – they do not know of or have involvement nor have they ever mandated this organization. So the question would be – is an audited financial statement the only requirement of accountability or transparency?

    Now accountability to government for tax dollars is important and I do advocate that it is necessary but political accountability is just as valid or in some instances more important.

    As a Métis person living in a large urban centre, Mr. Brazeau has claimed to represent me and my interests. Let me be clear to him and any others that tell you that – YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT!!!! I do not participate in your political structure, hold membership in any affiliate or other organizational structures and just because I happen to be an urban Aboriginal person – I have not asked for your tail gating and collection of Aboriginal dollars on my behalf.

    When Chief Brazeau introduces himself he clearly identifies that he represents 800,000 off-reserve Indian, Inuit, and Metis people living in Canada. When did those people get to say they want you to represent them?

    The other issue with the various provincial entities is there is no consistency in their structures, accountability back to the communities and communication with their constituencies. Historically, prior to Harper government – there has been a great deal of concern and speculation around fiscal accountability for program dollars that were received through the CAP affiliates and those things have never been responded to its’ constituents.

    Now Chief Brazeau believes he should keep his elected position which at the end of the day – earns him most likely in excess of $100,000 dollars per year. In addition to his new senate salary of $130,000 a year – we are probably looking at salaries of approximately a quarter of a million dollars a year. That will not include the benefits, pensions, additional committee compensation and travel. Not bad for an Aboriginal brown faced boy. But if that doesn’t make you go hmmmm …. Then ask yourself – how do you serve two masters? Harper or your constituents? When Harper doesn’t like Aboriginal people looking to negotiate a better policy – like the Kelowna Accord – which master will he support?

    Conflict of Interest takes on a new meaning for some – but Patrick doesn’t see it yet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some Interesting questions about rights and things …!

Last week was the 60th Anniversary for the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Sixty years and where are we at today.

This weekend a survey of Canadians was done and guess what – as proud Canadians we did not even know our own countries political structure – an example of questions was - When asked if they get to elect the Prime Minister – they responded “Yes”. (Not based on the ballot I seen in the election a couple of months ago.)

Some scary results clearly demonstrated that most Canadians do not know – and may not even care about their political structure, what our democracy looks like, what our constitutions says, what is really in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms…?

This is just some thoughts on the issues that make one go hmmmm…

Do we defend rights that we do not know we have?

Are human rights for me different then the rights of an individual who may be living in a socially different culture and economy?

Has the human rights agenda driven policies completely ignored because we live in a country of privilege and it is easier to turn away from those things we do not want to see?

How many Canadian even know what the Charter of Right and Freedoms are?

How do I as an Aboriginal person – make others understand what we are working for when they have no value for what we already have?

Do we – as Canadians – not have a responsibility to know who we are, how we are structured and the rights that we apparently hold so dear? In fact, I bet because of American literature, media and news – most Canadians know more about the American Declaration of Independence then they do about our own governing documents!

Where are our educational institutions in teaching about the Canadian system of governance, policy and law?

Just one of those cold days contemplating …. Hmmm!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Canada Must Respect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Vancouver (Coast Salish Territory) – On December 10, 2008 (United Nations HumanRights Day), the United Nations celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration”) affirms that ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law’.

Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand were the only nations to vote against the UN Declaration when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. The Canadian government has continued to oppose the UN Declaration, actively undermining the international human rights system.

On December 9, 2008, Canada again joined with the United States, Australia and New Zealand to oppose references to the UN Declaration and to the rights of Indigenous peoples in a decision on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which was drafted by government delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznań, Poland.

“This latest effort by Canada to oppose the UN Declaration and the rights of Indigenous peoples is part of a disturbing pattern”, stated Grand Chief Edward John, Political Executive Member of the First Nations Summit, “Within Canada, and internationally, the federal government has shown no respect for recognizing and upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples”.

“On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Canada to endorse and fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, stated Chief John.-30-The First Nations Summit speaks on behalf of First Nations involved in treaty negotiations in British Columbia.

Further background information on the Summit may be found at www.fns.bc.ca.

For Further Information:
Colin BrakerCommunication Director
First Nations Summit: Office: 604.926.9903/Cell: 604.328.4094