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COMMENT: Transparency act may hurt indigenous communities

This February the Canadian government tabled a new measure known as the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act. It will force oil & gas and mining companies to disclose payments that they make to foreign and domestic government...


This February the Canadian government tabled a new measure known as the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act. It will force oil & gas and mining companies to disclose payments that they make to foreign and domestic government entities.

The act has merit. Disclosure will probably make it harder for corrupt governments to keep the benefits of mineral development for themselves rather than using them for the public good.

But there could be a major downside, says the Mining Association of Canada. MAC and a group of non-governmental organizations proposed the transparency act, but they never intended it should apply domestically, that is to Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

There is nothing in the law as it is currently written that would stop the Canadian government from decreasing its contribution to First Nations by an amount equal to what they receive from industry.

For example, if Moosepasture Mining spent $150,000 on a local community centre in the village nearest its new mine and that contribution was mandated as part of aboriginal consent to develop the mine, the federal government could cut $150,000 from its annual payments to the same First Nation.

For the federal government to essentially claw back contributions made by private industry to First Nations is wrong. There would be no net benefit to the indigenous community if the government withholds an amount equal to the private contributions. There would be no reason to approve development if there is no benefit. The mining industry would have to explore elsewhere. Aboriginal communities would remain dependent on federal handouts, and readers know that does not provide adequate schooling, housing or job opportunities that most Canadians take for granted.

In the worst case, the Canadian resource industry could grind to a halt.

Let’s fix this act before it becomes law. Canadian aboriginal communities should be exempt.


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6 Comments » for COMMENT: Transparency act may hurt indigenous communities
  1. David E.H. Smith says:

    NATIVE ‘ECONOMIC’ DEVELOPMENT;
    REOPENING TREATIES, both ‘DOMESTIC’ (First Nations) & ‘FOREIGN’ (Global Corporate);
    Corp. Canada Continues to Create Unrealistic Expectations for Treaty Signatories via Deprivation of Due Diligence Info. Re; 2X+ Direct Cash Dividends, etc.
    Eco. Dev. Contracts VOIDED at Shareholders’ Expense for Trampling over ‘Consultation’ with the Most Vulnerable Band Members (95% – 99% of the Band Members) & Desecrating The W.A.D. Accord & its Compensation?

    Still NO MONEY for Sharing, Discussing & Improving The WAD Accord & its COMPENSATION in SAFE Forums; TPP, CETA corporations & SHAREHOLDERS brace for “You Should have Known’ Routine?

    Corporate Canada, Bay St., Parliament Insist upon Deluding; the most vulnerable Canadians, both Native & non Native (95% – 99% of all Canadians) and Global Corporate Assocs. ‘Ignoramus at Ignorambimus’?

    But, how much of the direct cash dividends are the most vulnerable band members obtaining from their share of ‘their’ economic development as per The W.A.D. Accord & its Compensation? Are the most vulnerables receiving a factor of two (2+) of the amount that can be obtained from all of the present sources of social assistance? Or, are the band managers claiming that the most vulnerables are obtaining “more benefits(?) than any other Native community”, or, are the rights of the most vulnerable First Nations members (ie. 95% – 99% of the members of the communities) once again being traded for future considerations that only benefit the families of the 1% – 5% of the communities)?

    And, how anxious is corporate Canada to make ‘arrangements’ with Native leaders that would avoid the time consuming process of re-opening existing treaties to include the provisions of The WAD Accord & its Compensation, and/or, of including the provisions in the treaties that are presently on-going in order that corporate Canada can ‘guarantee’ its global corporate associates that they will not be further encumbered by the development of Indigenous (human) rights & thus, be able to access, finance, develop, extract, trade, etc. the natural resources that are continuing to be found in Canada for the manufacturing profits, etc. of corporate Canada’s global (foreign) associates by way of the flurry of superseding treaties with foreigners, such as; The TPPartnership, The EU — Canada CETAgreement, NAFTAgreement, China — Canada ITreaty, et al?

    And, what are some of the other areas of information that corporate Canada is continuing not to share with its foreign associates, Native leaders, the most vulnerable community members, both; Native & non Native, et al, that are in the process of raising unrealistic expectations & greatly destabilizing the geo-political world while passing the costs on to the non shareholders?
    ****
    The W.A.D. Accord (Less Comprehensive version)
    See; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    or,
    Google
    ***
    FULL Article, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others…

  2. Greg McNab says:

    You have completely missed the point and your argument is flawed. It is exactly this kind of “mysterious” payment that the act is meant to bring out into the open. If you have a problem with the federal government clawing back anything, take it up with the federal government. But first point me to anything that says the federal government has indicated it would do that? You don’t kill the provision in the act because you don’t like what someone will do with the information. Although the situation you described seems to suggest the group would be double dipping in the first place, which I would have thought should be prevented, no?
    And what if, God forbid, one of these payments to an Aboriginal representative wasn’t quite 100% above board (on the recipient end). I know that’s hard to imagine happening. But if it did, don’t you think transparency would be a good thing?
    Finally, I think the majority of Aboriginal group members would actually appreciate the transparency, as it seems to be lacking. I don’t think you are doing these Canadian citizens any favours letting their leaders keep secrets like this from them.

  3. Ron Bradshaw says:

    Excuse me, but Madam Scales seems to be in a different world. SNC Lavalin, the engineering firm from Montreal gets fined hundreds of millions of dollars for paying off representatives from off shore third world governments including indigenous groups. But she thinks that paying off chiefs of third level government (tribes) in Canada should be permissible. And of course they do whatever they like with the money. What is the difference between the unlawful pay-offs by SNC off shore and those of resource companies operating in Canada?

    Furthermore, the chiefs of these aboriginal groups have free legal service, which they will use if they are charged. This free legal service should be abolished.

    The sooner such legislation is passed the better. Otherwise our natural resource industry will be eliminated.

  4. R Fisher says:

    Good morning
    I disagree that First Nations should be exempt. You have used a bad example to justify the exemption. Just like corrupt governments in third world countries, monies are diverted from the intended community use by First Nations bands or used personally instead of for the community. If a corrupt government had a community center build by a mining company, I’m sure that they would divert funds from that community to another community that needs a like facility or additional funding for different facility.

    Our social programs in Canada are based on need not greed and decisions are made all of the time on affordability. We don’t give everybody social assistance because as taxpayers, we can not afford that.

    To use a ridiculous example, let’s assume that the Band receives a billion dollar in funding. Should they still receive taxpayer’s money? I think the answer is obvious.

  5. Qalingo Saviadjuk says:

    Hi, I didn’t know this until I read this. Regarding transparency thing, this is all good for everyone concerned. But, the comments about First Nations parties, where else will we get these funds to build what we need in the communities? As Inuit in Northern Quebec above 55th parallel, we pay the same taxes just like the rest of people who pay their taxes in the Province of Quebec and don’t forget the Federal Government. We have the highest cost of living in Canada and even more so for people living in the Territories and Nunavut. The Raglan Mine has helped the communities and it’s people to find work at the mine. We have shortage of housing, we only have shipping during the summer season, whereas communities or towns in the St-Laurent river, they are provided with winter ice-breakers to assist shipping companies to supply them. Here, we don’t have that!!! and we have ice for 7 to 8 months of the year. We have built a community gymnasium, renovated an existing arena to have proper dressing rooms with heat and washrooms, before that, the dressing room used to be almost the same temperature as the outside -30+. They have built a seasonal swimming pool and I forgot to mention this, it was all paid through the community, none from Provincial or Federal funding. Lets all work together for the betterment of all citizens.

  6. Dave Nickerson says:

    All arguements that support transparency abroard apply equally well for all levels of government, including First Nations Governments, in Canada. We would be a laughing stock amongst nations if we exempted ourselves from requirements we impose on others.

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