Opinion

Native leaders' wages an overdue right to know

Most First Nations leaders are highly respected figures, as moral and spiritual leaders of their people.

Most earn their pay, and have the best interests of their members and reserves, in mind.

But some chiefs and councillors seemingly earn pay that's way out of whack with how many folks they lead.

Remember, about 75% of their tax-free wages are taxpayer money from our federal and provincial coffers.

Any chief or councillor making big bucks, while their people struggle with foul water, poor sanitation, bad health, rotten schools, and lousy housing should hang their heads in shame.

They should also resign, or be kicked out by senior governments surgically questioning how our public purse is spent by each chief and counsellor.

We're all paying a large chunk of Kwikwetlem Chief Ron Giesbrecht's annual $915,000 salary — $1.6 million in off-reserve dollars — according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

In context, Gisebrecht leads about 81 band members including 57 voters with less than 40 living on reserve, the CTF says.

We assume and expect he's doing great things for his relatively high pay and small band.

In the Cowichan region, leaders of the Penelakut and Malahat Nations filed their earnings by a federal July 29 deadline — but the CTF says Cowichan and Halalt leaders failed to do so. Why?

Any chief and council wages, unlike those of our bureaucrats and politicians, were private until the CTF successfully won legislation making Aboriginal leaders' wages public.

Our right to know those earnings should have been honoured long ago to show where our precious tax dollars go.

Native leaders earning every penny of their pay have nothing to hide, and deserve our respect.

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