Some chiefs make more than prime minister - NS


Praxius
#1

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."

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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.
 
Bar Sinister
#2
That is always a problem with democracy. Unless elected leaders are closely watched they tend to pad their own wallets first and then deal with the problems of others. I expect the problem will continue until voters of reserves get tired of their leaders lining their pockets. Let's hope it doesn't take too long or you'll end up with the same scenario Alberta ended up with. The payouts to retiring politicians in this province are truly exorbitant.
 
FiveParadox
+1
#3  Top Rated Post
Given the terrible state of many reserves, this is entirely unacceptable.

Unfortunately, this also is a setback for Aboriginal arguments for self-government; if this level of corruption is evident even under the stifling control of the Indian Act, how can the same First Nations be simultaneously asking for greater autonomy? Certainly it would be unacceptable, under the Canadian tenet of good government, to grant any greater level of decision-making under those conditions.

Addendum

Just to be clear, I have no issue with politicians being paid on the higher end of the scale for what they do; the game of politics can have serious personal consequences, not to mention having virtually no privacy, and I feel that a high salary is a fair trade-off for those compromises. However, nationally, these salaries should make some degree of sense relative to one another. Only the federal chief justice and presiding officers (and I would argue governors general, but this is not currently the case and is a point of debate for another time) should have salaries that rival that of the prime minister.
 
Unforgiven
#4
Who do those friken Indians think they are? Making more than a white guy. Well at least in the public sector. Not much chance for Dancing Fingers to step into a Bay st. law firm for a cool million a year any time soon so I guess you have to get while the getting is good. As for the broken down houses on reserves, have you met some of these colourful folk living on the reservations? Surprisingly not all of them are enterprising up and comers turning heads with panache and style in better homes and gardens. Go fig.
 
Trotz
#5
Who is the white guy on the left?


IMO, if I had my way only the pure bloods should get money and frankly most of the ''Chiefs", including a good number with Anglo-Saxon sounding surnames (heck my surname isn't anywhere close to being Anglo-Saxon), would be disqualified.
 
FiveParadox
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by TrotzView Post

IMO, if I had my way only the pure bloods should get money and frankly most of the ''Chiefs", including a good number with Anglo-Saxon sounding surnames (heck my surname isn't anywhere close to being Anglo-Saxon), would be disqualified.

It would serve us no purpose to simply give money to First Nations just for the sake of giving them money. Any transfers of funds should be for the purpose of reserve band councils providing services to their people. Unfortunately, it seems that some chiefs are abusing the power that they have over the allocations of these funds. This begs the broader question, then, of whether First Nations can be expected to effectively govern themselves using the rigid, cookie-cutter elected council structures demanded by the Indian Act. Perhaps First Nations should have greater latitude, under the Indian Act, to create their own systems of government provided that federal standards are met, in exchange for a requirement of greater transparency in expenses.
 
Praxius
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by Bar SinisterView Post

That is always a problem with democracy. Unless elected leaders are closely watched they tend to pad their own wallets first and then deal with the problems of others. I expect the problem will continue until voters of reserves get tired of their leaders lining their pockets. Let's hope it doesn't take too long or you'll end up with the same scenario Alberta ended up with. The payouts to retiring politicians in this province are truly exorbitant.

A little late for that around here in the Maritimes..... severance packages and bonuses being given to people who leave their political position around here are insane..... not to mention the big fiasco over when the Conservatives were in power, that just about every MP of every party used a pile of tax payers money, which they were told they needed to spend on something (so we're told anyways) and various MP's bought flat screen TV's, XBox 360s, computers and laptops...... as it goes for Federal spending:

Public gets a view into MP expenses | Canada | News | Ottawa Sun (external - login to view)
 
Praxius
#8
Related News Report:


Diane Denny, in the living room of her Pictou Landing home, wants more information on how band money is spent.

Chiefsí pay angers reserve resident
Chiefs? pay angers reserve resident - Front - TheChronicleHerald.ca (external - login to view)

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PICTOU LANDING ó Diane Dennyís house is modest yet comfortable.

For the most part she gets by just fine, but itís a far cry from what her living situation might be if she were pulling in a six-figure income.

Denny, who lives in the Pictou Landing First Nation, said she was angered to learn what some chiefs and band councillors on other reserves are paid.

"I started thinking about the other people on the reserve," she said. "Weíre the ones that are bringing in the councillors and the chiefs."

Her reaction was not uncommon after the Canadian Taxpayers Federation publicized the results of a freedom of information request on the salaries of chiefs and band councillors in Canada on Monday. Headline-grabbing numbers showed that many First Nations politicians make more money than the prime minister or provincial premiers.

However, not all chiefsí salaries are so eye-popping.

Data released by the taxpayers group showed that of 525 chiefs in the 2008-09 fiscal year, 40 had incomes of six figures or higher when factoring in salaries and honorariums.

Of the 525 chiefs, 308 are listed as having salaries of $60,000 or less, with 134 of those coming in at $40,000 or less. The low salary on the list is $134.

The numbers released by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada do not show who received how much money but do reveal the populations of the native bands. Data for Atlantic Canada shows that the chief and council for the two largest bands have some of the smallest salaries in the region, especially when considered on a per capita basis.

The chief of one earns $95,000 and councillors take home between $48,000 and $60,000. The chief of the other gets $82,000 while councillors earn between $37,000 and $40,000.

The two highest salaries for chiefs in Atlantic Canada come in at $400,000 and $336,000 when honorariums, travel expenses and other items are factored in.

None of the First Nations politicians pays income tax.

Denny said such salaries donít mesh with the reality faced by most people living on reserves.

At the Pictou Landing reserve, she said, a single person receives $128 every two weeks. Denny acknowledges that people living on reserves are not paying for their housing or power bills but said a little more than $60 a week isnít a lot to cover things such as food and a phone.

"Those cheques never went up in years," she said. "We canít afford healthy food. Thereís a lot of people with diabetes and high blood pressure . . . because we have to probably buy the cheapest meat that you can come across."


Denny is temporarily filling in as a personal care worker for her parents while her sister, who usually holds that role, recovers from a medical procedure. That brings a little extra income, but itís still a stretch for her.

Additional expenses include water for drinking and cooking. Pictou Landing is located next to Boat Harbour, a longtime paper mill waste lagoon.

A private memberís bill introduced by Conservative MP Kelly Block calls for the salaries of chiefs and band councillors to be posted online. Denny said she supports such a move.

Denny said she doesnít know what her chief, Aileen Francis, or any of the band councillors are paid. Her brother is a band councillor, but she said sheís been unable to get the information.

Francis could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"Nobody seems to want to say nothing," said Denny. "I have tried many times to talk to somebody."

For Denny, the issue is less about what her chief and councillors are making and more about knowing where the bandís money is going and how itís spent. She said chief and band councillorsí salaries should be in line with what average people make.
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