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Thursday, April 06, 2006

So who will be voting for this? 

Now we hear that one of the aspects of the Conservatives trumpted "accountability" act is to impose a whole new set of accounting requirements on Aboriginal reserves -- thus pandering to the right-wing mantra cum Conservative wedge issue which claims that poor people, particularly darker-coloured poor people, are always trying to rip us all off.
Are the Conservatives also demanding similar levels of accounting detail for all of the municipal highway projects they fund each year? How about all of the business development grants they make? And the job-creation funding for companies? And the health-care transfers to provinces? Is the Auditor-General planning to expand her staff to hundreds of people, to look into all those federal transfers? Or are Aboriginal reserves going to be singled out?
I just hope the NDP, Liberals and Bloc will be asking questions like this before they give a knee-jerk vote in favour of "accountability" -- because who would want to be against it? -- without realizing they are actually voting for a divisive - maybe even racist - policy.
I say racist because so many reserves are already struggling to stretch their very limited, non-indexed federal dollars for education and housing. Now they'll have to spend even more on hiring more accountants, just to prove that they aren't spending anything wrong.
And don't tell me that these additional federal audits are needed to catch illegal embezzlement -- police and RCMP are already catching these offenders. Some cases of fraud don't justify implicitly tarring every reserve with the "fraud and mismanagement" brush, any more than every city mayor should be blamed whenever one or two mayors put their relatives on the payroll.

I searched the web for some photos of Aboriginal reserves, just to demonstrate that these are not people living in the lap of luxury. Here's a CTV photo of the Kashechewan reserve, which was under a boil-water advisory for two years -- TWO YEARS -- because their sewage treatment plant wasn't working and they couldn't get the money to fix it.

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