Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Todd Russell vs Brazman

Ah its been way too long since we've posted about the Brazman. It's a guilty pleasure to point out- in case you missed it - this exchange of letters in the National Post between our favourite Senator and Liberal MP Todd Russell. Enjoy.

Why do some chiefs oppose accountability …

Re: First Nations Last In Openness, John Ivison, Oct. 7.

John Ivison’s column on the recently introduced private member’s bill that would compel First Nations to publish chiefs and band councillors salaries sheds light on a very important matter.

That there is resistance from the Liberal party and the Assembly of First Nations is no surprise. Let us recall that the Liberal party purposefully torpedoed its own minister’s legislation in 2003 when Bob Nault’s bill on First Nations Governance came too close to passage.

The Liberal party received over $350,000 in political contributions from 2000 to 2006, donated by aboriginal contributors, according to Elections Canada’s online database. Who would wish to stem such a tide of income to the party coffers by pursuing any efforts at reform of the status quo?

What is baffling is why the legislation is required at all. If the chiefs are as accountable, transparent and responsible as the AFN claims them to be, why is salary information not readily available and already proffered to First Nations citizens?

How can the idea of accounting of the investment of public funds towards political salaries be seen as an example of government-knows-best prescription, as AFN Chief Shawn Atleo contends?

Let’s be clear. Not all chiefs are unaccountable. Not all communities lack transparency. All First Nations citizens and indeed all Canadians have a right to know how much their politicians are being paid.

Such disclosure is necessary. Such openness reflects democracy. Relative silence on this matter such as there has been speaks louder than words.

Senator Patrick Brazeau, Ottawa.

Thanks for the donation

The only Aboriginal contributors who may now make political donations to federal parties or candidates are individual contributors. To my knowledge, neither Elections Canada, nor the Liberal party, keep data on the ethnic origin of individual political donors.

In any case, I imagine that the motives of individual Aboriginal political donors, or those of Aboriginal organizations under the old rules, are, and were, no different from those of any other donor, including Senator Brazeau himself.

The same Elections Canada databases which he so diligently searched, reveal that the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples donated politically while the Senator was its president, while Mr. Brazeau has personally contributed both to the Liberal party (of which he was formerly a member), and to the Harper Conservatives after he was appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper in 2008.

For the sake of full disclosure, Patrick Brazeau also made a contribution to my federal Liberal by-election nomination campaign in 2005, for which I thank him.

Todd Russell, MP, Labrador.


1 comment:

Pam Palmater said...

Many people feel this way about Brazeau, but those who speak out feel the wrath shortly thereafter. See my recent blog about Brazeau's legacy at CAP. I personally have suffered the wrath of Brazeau for not agreeing with him. You may have seen the story on APTN which reported that Brazeau had a Question of Privilege raised against him in Senate for (surprise) nasty things about Aboriginal witnesses - namely me.

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