Grand Council Chief Madahbee reiterates opposition of Bill C-27 to prime minister

NIPISSING—In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Patrick Madahbee, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation, has reiterated the Anishinabek Nation is opposed to Bill C-27.

“I am writing to you today in response to a notification letter sent to my attention from the Ministry of Environment’s Assistant Deputy Minister, Debra Sikora, on December 27, 2012,” wrote Grand Council Chief Madahbee in a letter sent to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper on February 6, 2013. “First and foremost, in consideration of a letter I sent to you last year regarding legislation that does not include First Nations free, prior and informed consent or consultation and accommodation, for greater certainty, I would like to reiterate that the Anishinabek Nation is opposed to Bill C-27.”

“I have reviewed the letter and the proposed legislation that would follow Bill C-27 the Financial Transparency Act,” wrote Mr. Madahbee. “I want to be direct and respectful, but I must admit, it is difficult to maintain respect when there is tone of dictatorship from our treaty partner, especially considering the recent erosion of our relationship that has seen First Nation citizens coordinate public demonstrations across the country on a weekly basis.”

“From a First Nation perspective, Bill C-27 opens the door to heighten racism as there are corporate owned organizations such as The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the Sun Media Corporation that will no doubt target and extract specific chiefs’ salaries for their own pointed messaging,” wrote Mr. Madahbee. “We are all well aware of organizations in Canada that target a specific ethnic group for cynicism by undermining fundamental rights of First Nation citizens. These organizations act with conscious intentions to create and perpetuate an environment of racism against First Nation citizens.”

“I do not have a problem with transparency and I understand the importance of being accountable, First Nations are audited every year through a federal process and under federal rules, but questions and suspicions arise when the tone of demand to be accountable and transparent is coming from a government that has been anything but transparent or accountable,” continued Mr. Madahbee. “If there is mutual respect with our treaty relationship then this road should go both ways.”

“Therefore, the Anishinabek Nation advises you that as the federal government appropriate profits from our lands, waters and resources via taxation, licencing and other fees, Canada is indeed obligated to a treaty relationship, which includes a nation-to-nation approach and accountability,” continued Mr. Madahbee. “As the Grand Council Chief, on behalf of the Anishinabek First Nations, I must remind you that our relationship is not one of power and control, but one of respect, peace and friendship.”

Mr. Madahbee wrote, “with that, in consideration of your demands for our chiefs and employees’ salary disclosure, we must respectfully advise you that it is in our interests that the appropriate ministries account for all the revenues that have been extracted from treaty and traditional territories without First Nations’ free, prior and informed consent (a condition of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples that Canada has endorsed).”

“Government legislation that enables industries to profit from our territories without a proper mechanism for true consultation and accommodations, as required by your own courts, puts the honour of the Crown in a precarious position at best,” wrote Mr. Madahbee. “It is the Government of Canada that assumed the British Crown’s financial debts and obligations without consulting its First Nation treaty partners and therefore, it is the Government of Canada that must uphold international laws and its own constitution, which acknowledge and recognize aboriginal and treaty rights.”

“Moreover, in the interest of transparency and accountability, we must also request that the general public be made aware of where Canada’s revenue stream comes, how it is spent (including federal employee salaries) and how Canada acquired the rights to control those revenue streams,” wrote Mr. Madahbee. “It would be both surprising and prudent if Canada were to live up to these treaty obligations considering its history with accountability to First Nations, but if you do choose to uphold the honour of the Crown by addressing my request, I would ask that the accountability reports be simplified into plain and basic language so that we do not have to hire lawyers or consultants to decipher your reports.”

In closing, Mr. Madahbee wrote, “I understand that you may choose to ignore our requests for financial accountability, or that you may refer to a policy or existing Canadian mechanism that does not meet our mutual standards, but is instead a standard of government practice. In anticipation that your response may not satisfy the Anishinabek Nation’s request, I hereby inform you that all correspondence we send you regarding accountability will be made public through any and all mechanisms available to us, including social media, local media and our First Nation treaty chiefs and citizens.”