Office of M.P. Cathy McLeod
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal government has abandoned transparency when it comes to financial matters for First Nations, according to Official Opposition Indigenous Affairs Critic Cathy McLeod.
“Today’s decision by Minister Bennett to cease all discretionary compliance measures regarding the First Nations Financial Transparency Act is a step backwards for transparency for all Canadians,” McLeod said on Dec. 18. “The government is functionally abandoning the First Nations Transparency Act without repealing it. This is a sad day for those First Nations community members who called for enhanced financial accountability and transparency.”
McLeod said the FNFTA represents real progress in ensuring that First Nations leadership worked in the best interests of their communities, and that the Act should remain in place.
“The Act ensures community members have access to basic financial information such as audited financial statements, and the salaries and expenses of chief and council. Now with no compliance measures in effect, it’s a safe prediction that the compliance rate will collapse, and financial information will again be shrouded in secrecy from community members,” said McLeod.
“Our Conservative government supported this legislation because it is based on the premise that all Canadians deserve accountability and transparency from their leadership,” said McLeod. “First Nations governments operating under the Indian Act had been the only level of government in Canada that was not obligated to make basic financial information public.”
McLeod pointed out that withdrawing enforcement of the Act is being done without the benefit of a parliamentary debate. “For all practical purposes, this is a repeal of the Act, being carried out without actually bothering to give Members of Parliament any chance to debate it,” said McLeod. “It is ironic that a law about transparency is being gutted in such a non-transparent way.”