Friday, April 30, 2010

Salaries and things

Hello all:

Some interesting happenings in Aboriginal Country.
The posting of chief and councillor salaries has become a hot button issue, even to the point that some of the most radical indigenous nationalists are taking notice of the abuses out there.
Chiefs set their own salaries with very little oversight and scrutiny, so are we surprised they set them so high and out of proportion?
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) did a great service by posting some of the worst examples of salaries.
I am not one to say exactly what a chief or councillor should make. There are many chiefs out there who do great work and work hard. They also live in isolated communities, so travel expenses are higher.
I support the CTF's proposal of setting up a website to post all chief and councillor salaries. I think public pressure from their own communities will drive some of the most bloated salaries down.
I think a lot of these changes can happen if the chiefs were more transparent in their dealings. Band council meetings should be open and not held off-reserve, as is the case with many First Nations.
The problem is there is no incentive to change. Chiefs receive their salaries mainly from taxpayers, not their members, so they don't feel accountable to them.
I think sociologist Mennon Boldt was right in arguing that a bottom-up reconfiguration of First Nation governments, including band constitutions with significant grassroots input, could change a lot of things on reserves.
Will I see change in my lifetime? I am skeptical, but hope some politician takes this issue on in a big way.