Set up to fail: Flawed Indian Act and bad court decisions hinder progress

First Nations protesters are silhouetted behind a flag in Toronto, January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mark...

First Nations protesters are silhouetted behind a flag in Toronto, January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Lorne Gunter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

Before any of us non-aboriginals (me included) gets too critical of the mess on many of Canada's First Nations reserves, it's worth saying that a lot of non-aboriginal communities would be just as dysfunctional if they were forced to use the same broken governance model imposed by the Indian Act.

Of the 617 reserves in Canada, at any one time one-quarter are being administered by federal bureaucrats or outside auditors. That probably means one-half should be under administration if not for federal reluctance to appear heavy handed by intervening so many places at once.

The millions of taxpayer dollars Ottawa ships to each reserve every year are supposed to be accounted for with a proper audit before the next yar's payments begin. On half or more Canada's reserves, this almost never happens. There are few, if any, consequences for non-compliance.

Take the northern Ontario Cree reserve of Attawapiskat. Canadians know from a comprehensive audit of the band's books that 81% of the band's transactions lacked adequate documentation for the auditors to determine whether they were legitimate or not. Yet Attawapiskat is not one of the reserves under outside administration. Imagine how messed up a band has to be to have Ottawa appoint a financial overseer.


Videos

Photos