POLITICS

FSIN chief upset with federal financial disclosure bill

11/27/2012 04:21 EST | Updated 01/27/2013 05:12 EST
Saskatchewan's top First Nations chief is upset about a federal bid to force chiefs and band councillors to post their salaries and expenses online.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says he supports in principle the bill that's now before Parliament, but says the government should have consulted First Nations before pushing it forward.

First Nations leaders are already moving toward financial accountability and transparency, he said. Members of First Nations can obtain such financial records now just by showing up at a band meeting and asking for them, he said.

"A lot of these requirements are there already," he said. "It's a good thing to have this in place but it's all about process — let's do things together rather than being told what to do all the time."

Bellegarde also said some bands can't afford to hire the people necessary to properly track expenses.

"It's good to have a chartered accountant in place — a lot of times First Nations don't have the resources to hire that person. That's the issue," he said.

The proposed legislation stems from research from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation which showed that 50 band politicians, including two in Saskatchewan, earn more than the prime minister.

Bellegarde said those CTF figures are misleading because they add travel expenses to chiefs' salaries. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper's travel expenses were lumped on to his salary, that would be one large number, he added.