View Full Version : Aboriginal candidate in B.C., caught in political crossfire

08-17-2014, 12:27 PM
Jody Wilson-Raybould, aboriginal candidate in B.C., caught in political crossfire


The Assembly of First Nations says it's up to First Nations leaders in B.C. to decide whether Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau's candidate in Vancouver Granville, should stay on with them as regional chief for B.C. while she campaigns for the Liberal Party ahead of the next federal election in 2015.

In a letter obtained by CBC News, national chief Ghislain Picard said the AFN executive committee met via teleconference this week to discuss Wilson-Raybould's candidacy after an Ontario chief complained it would put the national group in a "real or perceived conflict of interest."
■Jody Wilson-Raybould, B.C. aboriginal leader, to run for Liberals in Vancouver
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"While there were a number of opinions expressed, the majority agreed that this is a matter for determination by B.C. leadership and they have the authority to choose their representative to the national executive," Picard said in a letter dated Aug.13.

As B.C. regional chief for the AFN, Wilson-Raybould has been elected by 203 First Nations chiefs in the province.

Wilson-Raybould told CBC News she has sought and obtained the support of First Nations leaders in B.C. to stay on as a paid official for the AFN while she runs for Trudeau's Liberals.

"In consultation with B.C. chiefs and in full compliance of B.C.-AFN by-laws, I've taken the necessary steps to ensure I can continue to fulfill my duties as regional chief," Wilson-Raybould said in a written statement.

In a letter Wilson-Raybould sent to B.C. First Nations chief and council on Aug.1, she said it was agreed that she would take a leave of absence from the AFN once the writ is dropped.

If a conflict of interest does arise before then, she said it was agreed that another elected representative of the B.C. wing of the AFN would temporarily step in.

Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day complained to the AFN, in a two-page letter dated July 31, about "a clear bias and conflict of interest."

"There are very obvious fears that the AFN mandate is being affected by partisan influence and that fiscal resources are funding a formally announced candidate.

"Fundamental fears are that there are conflicting positions on major First Nations policies that are not in line with the Liberal Party of Canada and vice-versa," Chief Day said in his letter to Picard.

Transparency rules expose divisions

New transparency rules enacted by the federal government at the end of July have exposed divisions both among First Nations leaders and federal politicians alike.

While the national chief at the AFN has opposed the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, others such as Chief Day have spoken out in favour of it.

"Accountability: a vital building block of nationbuilding. Let's depoliticized accountability," Chief Day said in a post on Twitter when the the act came into effect.

Meanwhile, the Opposition New Democrats and the federal Liberals have both opposed the new financial transparency act.

The Conservatives, who took notice of Wilson-Raybould's presence at the Liberal Party's policy conference in Montreal last February, immediately seized on the news of her candidacy and opposition to the act in order to pounce on Trudeau.

Wilson-Raybould, in her capacity as B.C. regional chief for the AFN, opposed the bill when it was being studied in Parliament.

Late Thursday, Wilson-Raybould made public her salary in a post on Twitter.

"By the way - I make $107,645.92 as BCAFN Regional Chief," she said.

The disclosure came after CBC News received her written statement for this story.

Trudeau to replace the act

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt accused Trudeau of giving First Nations leaders who oppose new transparency rules "an easy way out."

“Justin Trudeau announced that he will repeal the First Nations Financial Transparency Act and in doing so has chosen the side of those First Nation chiefs, like his star candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould, who would keep this basic financial information hidden from their communities and from Canadian taxpayers," Valcourt said in a statement earlier this week.

Trudeau, who voted against the bill, said a Liberal government would replace the act because the government failed to consult First Nations on it — but not because he is opposed to having First Nations bands disclose their expenses and salaries.

"We would bring in a different piece of legislation that would have many of the same goals of transparency and accountability, but would be more about empowering First Nations communities to do that and to reassure people that taxpayer money is being spent wisely," Trudeau told reporters in Saskatoon on Thursday.

Disclosures made public under the new act have revealed that Ron Giesbrecht, chief of the Kwikwetlem First Nation in B.C., earned nearly $1 million last year. That amount included a one-time $800,000 bonus which came as a result of land deal with the B.C. government.

Picard told Chief Day in his letter that the AFN executive members agreed to discuss the matter further the next time they meet in person.

08-17-2014, 12:29 PM
nothing wrong with working two jobs at the same time,, you know like being a Member of Parliament and charging for speaking engagements right Justin?

12-18-2015, 10:51 PM
Dec 18 2015
Ottawa, Canada

The Liberals just pressed pause on a law requiring First Nations politicians to disclose their salaries. This sends the message that the government sides more with aboriginal power-brokers than the average people on reserves.

"Make no mistake, the only First Nations who benefit from a toothless First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA) are the politicians, not average First Nations people," Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said via email.

On Friday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett revealed the government will drop legal action and stop withholding funds to any First Nation that didn't comply with the FNFTA.

The act mandated band councils provide financial statements, which were then posted online for all to see. The Liberals are now reviewing the whole law. Maybe they'll change it. Maybe they'll scrap it.

This would be a shame. A key way to guaranteeing politicians serve their constituents well is by empowering their constituents with information so they can hold their governments to account.

Because of this act, First Nations members learned a lot about their leaders. Some members of the small Kwikwetlem First Nation in British Columbia even announced they were launching a lawsuit against Chief Ron Giesbrecht after learning he received a whopping $914,219 in compensation in 2013.

The controversial law, which was brought in by the Stephen Harper government in 2013, was opposed by a number of chiefs at the time. Bennett called it "racist" when she was Liberal critic for the post.

However, it was inspired by average First Nations residents who weren't being given this information when they requested it.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation got wind of their complaints and started lobbying on their behalf. Their efforts led to this act.

Plus, according to the indigenous affairs website so far more than 90% of First Nations have disclosed information for the latest fiscal year. The FNFTA is clearly a success. Why nix something that's working?

"This government has been shouting from the rooftops that it stands for transparency and accountability," Wudrick also wrote, "and yet one if its first acts is to stop enforcing a law that has been the single most important tool First Nations band members have had to hold their leaders to account."

Conservative indigenous affairs critic Cathy McLeod tweeted: "They cannot justify keeping basic information away from community members!"

Governments in Canada are increasingly moving towards "open source" measures like this. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has said he supports more open government.

However, he also campaigned on retracting First Nations legislation put in place by the Harper government that the aboriginal community opposes. But does he mean laws opposed by aboriginal leadership or by regular people on the reserves? It's an important distinction. The answer is unclear.

Trudeau has repeatedly stressed he wants to rebuild a "nation-to-nation" relationship with First Nations. It sounds inclusive at first. But nation-to-nation conversations are conducted at the top level. The average person isn't consulted. They're shut out from the process.

It's a shame that a measure that empowered average people on reserves looks to be the first one the Liberals have put on the chopping block.