Chief Morley Googoo, right, flanked by Chief Terry Paul, speaks during the Mi'kmaq Treaty Day Awards Ceremony at Province House in Halifax on Oct. 1. Nine First Nations politicians in Atlantic Canada make more money than Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
One Atlantic First Nations leader gets almost $1 million
Some chiefs make more than prime minister - Front - TheChronicleHerald.ca (external - login to view)
OTTAWA — Nine First Nations politicians in Atlantic Canada make more money than Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and one chief of a small band is paid almost $1 million a year tax-free, according to federal government figures acquired by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The organization released the numbers Monday, three days ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on a private member’s bill that would require all Canadian chiefs and band councillors to report the amount of money they receive from taxpayers. Conservatives are set to support the bill, but the opposition parties are not sure about it.
Across the country, the numbers show, 82 chiefs and councillors have higher pay packages than the prime minister, who makes $317,574, and 704 make more than $100,000.
The federation expected the big money would be in Prairie communities and was surprised to find that nine Atlantic First Nations politicians take home more money than Harper, and one chief in the region has a salary of $978,468.
The numbers released by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada do not show who received how much money, for privacy reasons, but do reveal the population of the native bands in question. The chief who makes $978,468 is from a community of 304.
The Glooscap First Nation in Hantsport had 304 members in the 2006 census but was listed last December as having 300, according to Indian and Northern Affairs. Chief Shirley Clarke did not return a call by mid-evening Monday.
A source in the Mi’kmaq community said he believes the highest-paid native politician in Atlantic Canada does not live in Nova Scotia.
The dollar figures include salaries, honorariums and travel per diems, and the money is tax-free.
The revelations indicate that Canadians need more information, says Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic director of the taxpayers group.
"What this really calls for is the need for transparency," he said Monday. "We know what MPs and MLAs make and our federation certainly speaks out on those issues, but now it’s time to have the same transparency moved over to reserves."
Nova Scotia MPs said Monday they don’t like the idea of a chief making almost $1 million a year.
"Are you serious?" said NDP MP Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore). "I know that chiefs have a difficult time and everything else, but $1 million a year for one person, that’s obscene. And I think the people on that reserve, and other First Nations people across the country, would be quite upset with that."
On Thursday, MPs will have a chance to vote on a private member’s bill — the First Nations Financial Transparency Act — from Saskatchewan Conservative MP Kelly Block, which would force First Nations to reveal how much chiefs and councillors are paid.
Stoffer said he supports the principle of greater accountability but couldn’t say how he would vote on Block’s bill. Neither could Liberal MP Mark Eyking (Sydney-Victoria), but he said reserves should be open and he pointed to a reserve in his riding.
"I look at the model of Membertou," he said. "Every band member can go online and see how every nickel is spent through the band, and it’s a good accountability system."
Conservative Scott Armstrong (Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley) said he will support the bill. He said Millbrook, in his riding, does a good job and would surely not complain about accountability.
"I think they’re very good stewards of taxpayers’ money," he said. "I think they would have no problem in being transparent in how they spend taxpayers’ money."
Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale said he wants to know what the Assembly of First Nations thinks about the private member’s bill before his party decides what to do.
"Transparency is a very good thing and I think it’s an issue that we would want to take up with the Assembly of First Nations," he said.
"There was a proposal some years ago that fell by the wayside for an aboriginal auditor general."
The assembly didn’t return calls on Monday afternoon.
Alex McDonald, a former chief and current councillor in Indian Brook, said band chiefs shouldn’t make more than $60,000.
"I understand, myself, there are a few leaders that make quite a bit of money," he said Monday. "Sixty thousand at this present time for some leaders, especially in very small communities, I think that’s plenty, myself."
McDonald said it’s a shame to see "rundown houses" next to luxurious homes owned by chiefs, a reality on some reserves.
"Personally, I want the taxpayers to get upset," he said.
A senior adviser with the Wagmatcook First Nation in Cape Breton said the information the taxpayers federation provided is misleading.
"You just have lists of numbers, you don’t have names or (know) how long people have been in office . . . or what their local governance allows a chief to make," Brian Arbuthnot said.
He also pointed out that most chiefs and councillors do not receive a pension once they leave office.
Waycobah Chief Morley Googoo said that in many cases the higher salary numbers are not representative because travel and other costs are factored in. And it’s the responsibility of the band and community to "decide and determine" the pay of the chief and councillors, he said.
Mi’kmaq elder Daniel Paul said it’s time the federal government made major changes so the bands will be run responsibly.
"Let’s put it this way — the Department of Indian Affairs carries the responsibility, they are well aware of what’s going on and have chosen not to do a thing about it," he said Monday evening.
"This has been a problem . . . I would say for 30 years. The Indian Affairs guidelines are very loosely applied."
Paul said he wasn’t surprised to hear of some of the exorbitant pay packages.
"The only one that has the legal authority to put a stop to it is the Canadian government," he said. "It’s entirely up to them. They’re the ones who let it get out of whack in the first place."
Well there it is Government..... now do something about it........ at least do something about something and act like you're doing your jobs..... otherwise don't ever expect to get paid better then a Chief's hair stylist.