First Nations are in the news with hunger strikes, Idle No More demonstrations, and the court’s recognition of Metis’ aboriginal rights. Judging from the “push back,” many people, including politicians, need a few lessons in Canadian history. Reading Tom Swanky’s Canada’s War of Extermination would be a good start.
The story that bugged me was the “leaked” audit of the Attawapiskat Band’s accounts. Let me be clear. I’m all for financial responsibility. Government and government-funded agencies have a duty to be prudent when spending and diligent when accounting for taxpayer’s money, but audits rarely (ever?) find anyone 100 per cent pure.
Although the Attawapiskat audit found no wrong-doing and included only one year under Chief Spence’s watch, it was used to discredit her and the movement. Okay, but what about the gazillion dollar boondoggles in senior governments? MP Bev Oda had the grace to resign (with a healthy pension) when caught out on extravagant spending, but Defence Minister Peter MacKay takes the cake, he not only couldn’t count how many billions of dollars the F-35 fighter plan would cost, he thought nothing of spending $5,925 to go to a Grey Cup game. Tony Clements, Treasury Board Chair, managed to divert $48 million of G-8 Summit funds to buy goodies for his riding. During his six years as BC Auditor General, John Doyle unearthed so many diddles in provincial affairs the government is getting rid of him, I guess before he finds any more.
My point is, if senior governments, with all their resources (accountants, advisers, etc.) can’t keep their finances in line, why do we expect a small Band to be able to?
I have a suggestion for Prime Minister Harper. Spend at least as much time working with the First Nations as you do encouraging foreign interests to take over our natural resources. It could be better economically in the long run.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.