Saturday, October 30, 2010

Signs of sanity

Just watching some of the rally to restore sanity videos being posted by regular folks on Youtube.
Signs of sanity: looks at some of the signs protestors are using. My faves: "Spread peanut butter not hate - unless you're allergic." And "Not a fan of Airplane middle seats."
A few folks have vlogs - but as Jon Stewart and his team have pointed out, moderates make terrible television - not much better on youtube - although some of the costumes are hilarious. Live coverage starts at noon, on Comedy central and CNN. If you don't get those stations the Washington Post is also supposed to live webcast. I am personally looking forward to feeling saner by 3 pm.


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.


Chiefs, Salaries. Moving beyond double standards.

The Toronto Star recently ran an expose on chiefs salaries.

The article focused on 9 chiefs who earned more than federal cabinet ministers and 30 chiefs who earned more than provincial premiers. (The article also admits that on average chiefs earned a reasonable $60,000 a year, 5 chiefs do their work pro-bono and 77 chiefs earned less than $30,000. However "Majority of Chiefs earn reasonable salary while some work for free" is not an eye-catching headline.)

The article led with a thinly-veiled racist slant. Reporter Brett Popplewell wrote: The best paid politicians in Canada aren’t in Stephen Harper’s cabinet. They’re in some of this country’s most impoverished communities — the First Nations.”

The not-so-subtle suggestion here is chiefs should not be salaried on their merit, skills, or education. It's too embarrassing to see a First Nations leader earning a decent salary next to people living in third world conditions. Our chiefs are told to hang their head in shame for not also being poor, regardless of how hard they work.

Yet no one shames the Minister of Indian Affairs or his army of bureaucrats – lawyers, policy analysts, spin doctors – many of whom earn more than the average chief -- and who are also on the tax payers dime.

So yes, let's discuss the 39 bad-apple-chiefs, but let's do it in context, without double standards or snide racist whispers.

39 chiefs out of 633 pay themselves too much. They should not earn more than a Cabinet Minister or a premier.

Its a mystery to me why the other 594 chiefs - and National Chief Shawn Atleo for that matter - don't gang up and lynch some sense into them. So far only FSIN and a few chiefs in Ontario are supporting a bill that would force chiefs to make their salaries public.

After all it's hard enough to get a reasonable plea for equal access to education in the papers without having to compete with Indian Country's crazy's for the headlines. It makes even less sense that the majority of chiefs want to keep their salaries secret. Publishing the salaries of elected officials is a matter of public trust.

Besides - if it's true that on average chiefs only earn about 60,000 a year, no one could argue that these are not very reasonable salaries indeed. If we agree that Chiefs should not be salaried at the level of a Premier, we can also agree that they deserve more than a policy analyst working in the Department of Indian Affairs.

So what's fair? Maybe the equivalent of a Mayor? If we were to agree to that, a number of chiefs would be in for a raise.

  • Mayor of Toronto $142,538,
  • Mayor of Mississauga/Councillor,
  • Peel Region $153,468,
  • Mayor of Calgary $155,000,
  • Mayor of Edmonton $142,000,
  • Mayor Winnipeg $123,000
  • Mayor of Markham/Councillor, York Region, $133,570,
  • Chair - Region of York $155,105

(and let’s not forget that in some cities, portions of a Mayor’s salaries is tax-exempt.)


Personal Business Directory - BTS Local