NEWS

Onion Lake Cree Nation takes Ottawa to court over transparency law

11/26/2014 04:34 EST | Updated 01/26/2015 05:59 EST
First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan are taking the federal government to court over a new law that requires First Nations bands to post their audited financial statements online, including the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and councillors.

The government told CBC News on Wednesday that 73 First Nations have until midnight to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. The vast majority — 509 out of 582 First Nations — have already done so.

Chief Wallace Fox from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 territory said a statement of claim was filed in Federal Court in Edmonton earlier today.

"We decided, enough is enough," Fox said during a news conference in Edmonton.

"The statement of claim was the last step in a long journey to get the federal government to sit down and talk with the nations."

He said the legal action was in response to the government's "ultimatum" and "threatening letters."

The statement of claim names the Governor General, the aboriginal affairs minister and the attorney general of Canada.

Asked about the court action against Ottawa, the office for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said he had no immediate comment.

Valcourt has publicly said First Nations that don't follow the law could be subject to "court orders, withholding of non-essential funding and withholding of new funding."

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