A C C O U N T A B I L I T Y
Accountability seems to be this government's new buzz-word as it relates to First Nations. The perception promoted by right-wing thinkers like Tom Flanagan, Alan Cairns, Frances Widdowson, Dale Gibson, and Calvin Helin is that all First Nations leaders are "corrupt", "wasteful", "destructive", "venal", "communist" and "discriminatory". The current conservative government does little to distance itself from these sentiments and, in fact, their recent legislative and policy initiatives combined with their related budget decisions are strong indicators of their right-wing agenda vis-a-vis First Nations.
Financial accountability seems to be the focus of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), yet the Auditor-General has often criticized INAC for their own lack of accountability and poor performance in relation to programs and services related to Aboriginal peoples. However, we rarely see Canada acknowledge any responsibility for their own accountability issues and instead INAC often tries to deflect the blame for its cumbersome, paternalistic administration of Indian Affairs on the First Nations.
In the March 2009 Report, the Auditor General criticised the federal government for not addressing process times for adding lands to reserve, and it has not adequately reported on actual results in the Treaty Land Entitlement Process:
In the 2008 Report, the Auditor General confirmed that Canada's funding formulas for First Nations Child and Family Services activities creat inequities:
In the 2006 Report, the Auditor General reported that Canada was NOT taking the urgent steps required to improve the quality of life of First Nations, including mold in band homes, the need to implement land claims and to eliminate the unncessary reporting requirements imposed on First Nations:
In 2005, the Auditor General had noted Canada's very limited progress in adding lands to reserve in Treaty Land Entitlement process. INAC has known about the problems for a long time and has done little to act on its own action plans:
In 2004, the Auditor General repeated the concerns it had in 2000 about INAC's UNACCEPTABLY slow progress with regards to First Nations education results. The AG also noted a "lack of meaningful action" to address the findings in numerous reports about significant problems in First Nation education levels. Despite being told to do so, INAC had still not come up with a strategic plan to address these issues, specify roles and responsibilities and report on outcomes. Most importantly, the AG found that the funding had the potential to create inequities:
In 2003, the AG reported that while the resolution of land claims was important, that dispute resolution remained a problem as Canada refuses to be bound by third party adjudication. The AG noted that there were numerous disputes which have caused unhealthy relationships, but that no dispute has been brought to adjudication within the last 10 years because of Canada's position:
This is just an example of some of the reports from the Auditor General about Canada's lack of accountability with regards to First Nations's issues. There are endless reports and studies which substantiate these findings.