First Nations Transparency Act Passes 2nd Reading

Aboriginal Law Blog

March 04, 2011

Bill C-575, a private member's bill brought forward by Conservative MP Kelly Brock to create the First Nations Transparency Act passed second reading on March 2nd in the House of Commons and will be referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for review. 151 MP's voted for the Bill, and 128 against the Bill.

The purpose of the Act as set out in section 3 is "to enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations by ensuring the public disclosure of the remuneration paid by a first nation, directly or indirectly, to its chief and councillors. A schedule of remuneration to a first nation's financial statements is mandated by subsection 5(2), and subsection 5(3) requires the Schedule to be made publicly available within 120 days after March 31 in each calendar year.
MP Kelly Brock is said to have brought the Bill forward in response to concerns expressed to her by community members about the lack of transparency surrounding salaries of First Nations politicians.

At a Special Chiefs Assembly on December 14, 2010 in Gatineau, through Resolution no. 50/2010 First Nations re-affirmed their support for accountability and to "lead by example and demonstrate to other orders of government processes for accountability" but did not support Bill C-575. The Bill is referred to as "unnecessary and heavy handed" in the Resolution – unnecessary as "First Nations are already required to report on matters covered in the bill through contribution agreements with the federal government"; and heavy handed in that "enforcement provisions enable costly and unnecessary legal proceedings wherein the Minister is authorized to apply to superior court for enforcement which will serve to only further exasperate an already adversarial relationship."

In commenting on the Resolution, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo is quoted as commenting that "I applaud the Chiefs who demonstrated that, despite unfounded and alarmist attacks by our critics, First Nations fully believe in accountability and transparency and are dealing with this issue head-on."