Thanks to Conservatives and Canada’s 41st Parliament
for sharing this article on their site.
Over the last few weeks, Senator Patrick Brazeau has appeared to be at odds with Chief Theresa Spence.
It’s not an odd relationship insofar as Senator Brazeau has had run-ins with others in the past. During his time as the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), he was known for his negative comments about former Assembly of First Nations leader, Phil Fontaine.
And less than a year ago, when it was reported that he had the poorest attendance record of all Senators, he posted a number of untoward comments on social media about Jennifer Ditchburn of The Canadian Press. Why Jennifer Ditchburn? She was the reporter who dared to share facts with taxpayers that Senator Brazeau didn’t want shared with them. What was shared was that:
“Between June 2011 and April 2012, he also missed 65 per cent of meetings at the aboriginal peoples committee on which he sits. He was away for 31 per cent of the meetings of the human rights committee, where he is deputy chair.”
Just days ago, Senator Patrick Brazeau wrote on his blog:
“Aboriginal Canadians, like all Canadians, deserve to know how public funds are managed. One’s racial heritage should not interfere with the right to know how public funds flow through the community. Many Aboriginal Canadians have reached out to me pleading for assistance in confronting their own chiefs and councils about funding.”
It’s not the first time Senator Brazeau has purported to support transparency in government. In fact, on the federal government website as well as on his own personal website, this is just some of Senator Brazeau’s bio:
“Patrick is a vigorous advocate of accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs. He is vocal proponent for the replacement of the Indian Act with more progressive legislation that aims to reconstitute true Indian Nations – such as the Mohawk, Cree, Algonquin and Ojibwa nations, to name but a few – and to reflect the tenets of modern-day governance.”
This is an interesting perspective for Senator Brazeau to hold in light of the fact that so many questions have been asked about the seemingly lax “accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs” that were shown in the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples while he was National Chief.
(NOTE TO SELF: At some point in the near future, it might prove helpful to know which Indian Nations the Senator feels aren’t true Indian Nations …. just so all of us are on the same page with that concept.)
His term as National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples left people asking a lot of questions about public funds and financial accountability.
For those who may not be aware, the annual revenue for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples for the last year Senator Brazeau was National Chief was $5.5-million with most of that funding allegedly coming from “seven federal departments.”
In 2010, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples received funding from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Indian and North Affairs Canada, Environment Canada, Office of the Federal Interlocutor (AANDC), the Basic Organizational Capacity (AANDC), and other sources.
Most telling in the financial statements of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the ripple effect of Senator Brazeau’s involvement with the organization.
“The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the defendant in a number of actions in areas of its operations. Claims against the Organization range from $6,000 to $1,250,000. Management is of the opinion that some of these actions will result in losses and accordingly has accrued and amount of $40,000 relating to these actions. Management is of the opinion that any claims above $40,000 will be fully covered by insurance.”
Senator Brazeau was in the paid employ of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples from 2001 through to 2008. He was elected vice-chief in 2005. His position? He was responsible for CAP’s finances. He rose to the position of National Chief in 2006, and resigned in December of 2008 — after his appointment as a Conservative Senator.
According to a news article published in the Globe and Mail newspaper on 12 September 2009:
“Beyond the mounting debt, delegates expressed concern when told Mr. Brazeau received severance when he left the organization, that he routinely flew first-class on congress business, and that a big-screen television for his office was originally described as a gift from the organization’s auditor and then later paid for by the congress as an expense.”
The article states that National Vice-Chief Betty Anne Lavalée stated in a financial report tabled at the congress meeting after Senator Brazeau left CAP that “she uncovered cheques that were issued without the required approval of the board of directors.”
Due to alleged financial mismanagement while CAP was under the leadership of their National Chief, Patrick Brazeau, the federal government demanded repayment of certain monies CAP had received.
“During the year ended March 31, 2008, the Office of the Federal Interlocutor (“OFI”) completed an audit relating to several funding agreements with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples for fiscal years 2004 through 2006. The audit concluded that $234,725 was overpaid and $295,155 of expenses incurred were not eligible expenditures under the terms of those agreements. The total amount payable to OFI as of March 31, 2009 is $529,880.”
“During the year ended March 31, 2010, Health Canada completed an audit relating to several funding agreements with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples for fiscal years 2005 through to 2008. The audit concluded that $158,753 of expenses incurred were not eligible expenditures under the terms of those agreements.”
I was happy to see that the current CAP leadership appears to be one of “accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs.”
But you know, it’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least, when a former National Chief and current Senator states publicly that “accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs” matters and yet, audits seem to indicate that “accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs” may not have been as important to him during his tenure with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
The next time Senator Brazeau asks, “How can you vote for your chief and council without thorough knowledge of how band finances are managed?” think about the mismanagement that went on when he was the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Ask yourself why he wasn’t asking the important questions back then, before he was a Senator.
Now what Senator Brazeau has done isn’t a breach of the “clean hands doctrine” by any stretch of the imagination, but it does remind me of something my grandfather used to say when I was very, very young: When you point one finger at someone else, three fingers point back at you.
And the next time Senator Brazeau posts something like this on Twitter …
… maybe he should reflect on something Jesus once said: Don’t focus on the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the log in your own eye.