OTTAWA, Aug. 18, 2015 – AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin T. Hart today joined AFN Alberta Regional Chief Craig Makinaw in giving full support to Onion Lake First Nation and Sawridge First Nation who appear tomorrow at a Federal Court Hearing in Saskatoon, SK calling for a stay or halt to the federal government’s legal action against them relating to the imposition of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (Bill C-27) on their communities.
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin T. Hart said, “First Nations do not oppose accountability or transparency but we will be accountable to our citizens first. Bill C-27 is a flawed and heavy-handed approach that violates our Treaty and Aboriginal rights that are recognized in Canada’s own constitution. It is forcing First Nations that generate their own revenue to disclose information that could put them at a competitive disadvantage. This is the wrong approach and it does nothing to deal with the government’s lack of accountability to First Nations and Canadians for its poor and mismanaged spending. That’s why we support this legal action.”
On August 3, 2015, the federal government announced that it would commence litigation against First Nations that do not comply with Bill C-27. Onion Lake First Nation and Sawridge First Nation are in turn taking the government to court to stop the proceedings on the grounds that the law violates Aboriginal and Treaty rights as well as sections of the Constitution that ban discrimination and entrench the rights of Aboriginal peoples.
“Many First Nations have been making their financial information available to their citizens for decades,” said Manitoba Regional Chief Hart. “This is another example of the federal government spending millions to fight First Nations in court when we should be working together to support strong, healthy First Nations people and governments.”
Regional Chief Hart is planning to attend the hearing along with AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, AFN Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith and AFN NWT Regional Chief Bill Erasmus.