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(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Dec. 19, 2005)

Some more 'Swill' on the Indian Industry

John Pifer

Yes, yes, it is the season of goodwill to all, and all that festive stuff … but try telling that to someone who is part of the “First Nations Summit”, once they had read a column here questioning the waste of tax dollars, and the lack of accountability for that money.

One Doug Kelly, who calls himself Grand Chief of the political executive committee of that Summit, has written in response to that column, stating that this scribe “missed the mark on several key points.” He also labels concerned comments from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, which I support, as “swill”.

(As Terrific Great Super Chief Kelly chose only to refer to the writer as Pifer, as part of a sustained disrespectful approach to the whole issue in his letter, allow me hereinafter to simply call him Kelly, just to keep matters on an even keel).

Kelly says my bottom line was alleging reverse racism, and that I called for legislation to protect middle-aged white men from racism.  Obviously, he and his sarcasm miss the mark.  What we do need is legislative powers to ensure that all taxpayers in Canada have a full and accurate accounting of the billions of dollars shoveled out each year to a handful of people, based solely on race.

Yes, some native bands were treated abysmally by the conquering hordes in decades gone by.  Yes, some Indian youngsters were sexually abused in residential homes by some perverts disguised as men of God.   And yes, some acknowledgment of that mistreatment is required, even some financial recompense, if it will salve the wounds to any degree.

But No, that does not include handing over a blank cheque in the billions year after year, sucking the taxpayers dry while complaining of the lack of funding on reserves, and the plight of their “nations” people.

It is time to honour aboriginal rights; it is not a time to throw good money after bad, when clearly the funding is not reaching the people who need it the most – those who have been marginalized and who languish on the outdated, antiquated, ill-fated reserves.

It is time to strike a settlement with the individual natives, and to move on, past the “first nations” claims to “owning” 111% of the land in the province, and past their demands that anything and everything that is undertaken in BC, from mining and logging to recreation and resorts, must first be “approved” by them. Those are not “rights” to which anyone, let alone any racial group, is entitled.

Many in the Indian industry, especially the chiefs and the lawyers, might well be resistant to change. They have a lot to lose, including control of those billions. Kelly asserts that the natives’ community leaders “must submit up to 168 reports per year to four funding agencies in order to continue receiving funding.”

Good – that’s a start, vis-à-vis accountability. Determining what those four agencies do with that flood of paper, and what aspects of it are truly essential or helpful would be a good next step.

Kelly avers that there are many reports in Ottawa on native issues of health, education and post-secondary education, housing, economic development, funding agreements and reporting requirements. He does not address the fact that the Auditor-General of the country is not allowed to explore the spending of the seven-thousand-million dollars ($7billion).

Why not? Surely even he and the other Chiefs are not afraid of an honest, open, non-political probe to get to the truth, are they?

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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