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Monday, August 11, 2014

Blockade threat looms over federal First Nations transparency law

A top Manitoba aboriginal official says First Nations in the province will use blockades and other measures if the federal government follows through with a promise to cut funding from bands that refuse to make their finances public.

Grand Chief David Harper of MKO (Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak) says bands are ready to close installations, such as pipelines, in their fight against the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

The law - passed in 2013 - requires all bands to post online their audited financial statements, including an audited report on the salaries and travel expenses of chiefs and band councillors.

The deadline to file the documents was July 29, but only eight of Manitoba's 63 First Nations have complied.

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said this week the holdouts will have until the end of November to comply, or he will impose penalties, including withholding federal funding.

Chiefs from Canada's First Nations have previously endorsed publicizing their salaries to stop criticism that they were being overpaid at the expense of their band members, but many were livid when Ottawa stepped in to enforce the law. -CP-

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