Petition calls on feds to enforce transparency law

First Nations activist Maskowikamihk Charmaine Stick and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation delivered 30,000 petition signatures to the Prime Minister’s Office calling on the federal government to enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

“Today me and 30,000 of my friends came to ask the prime minister a simple question: why aren’t you standing up for grassroots band members when they’re looking for accountability?” asked Stick, who is a member of the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. “The prime minister likes to talk about sunny ways bringing Canadians together so he needs to join us and support openness and transparency.”

The CTF collected over 30,000 petition signatures calling on federal government to enforce The First Nations Financial Transparency Act which requires bands to publish consolidated financial statements as well as the salaries and expenses paid to chief and council. The overwhelming majority of First Nations routinely publish this information.

The federal government stopped enforcing the act in 2015 and promised to pass new legislation, but failed to do so.

Stick went on a 13-day hunger strike calling for accountability from her band leaders in 2014.

The Onion Lake Cree Nation has consistently refused provide financial transparency so Stick teamed up with the CTF to take her leaders to court.

The Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan ruling issued on June 15, 2017, ordered the Onion Lake Cree Nation to publish basic financial documents, but band leaders appealed. On Mar. 26, 2018, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the decision requiring transparency after which the band published the required documents for 2015 and 2016.

Leadership at the Onion Lake Cree Nation is again refusing to publish financial information for 2017 and 2018 in defiance of the court order. This summer, the Court of Queen’s Bench delivered a groundbreaking ruling to hold the band in contempt of court. The band will face a $10,000 fine if it doesn’t publish the required documents in 30 days.

“Charmaine took a solitary stand for accountability when she went on her hunger strike, but now she has thousands of Canadians standing with her,” said Todd MacKay, the CTF’s Prairie Director. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is failing grassroots people in First Nations communities by failing to enforce The First Nations Financial Transparency Act.”