The chief of the Attawapiskat reservation said last night that the reason Harper’s government has unilaterally imposed non-1st Nation outside rule over her people is that his government has been embarrassed by the Red Cross having to fly into her land and attempt to save her people. Bear in mind that the federal government, currently controlled by Harper, has the fundament responsibility for all 1st Nations people in Canada. Harper has been saying that the reservation received about $90 million over 5 years from the federal government thus, he seems to be implying, what is the problem for the 1293 Nation members? After all that is about $69,600 for each individual or about $13,900 per year.
Actually for the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2011 the reservation received about $15,160 per person of federal funding so Harper was basing his defence on broad averages it seems. It also seems he likes to quote 5 year totals because, I think, it sounds like a lot of money to the average Canadian and gives his rather mean spirited, aka, I think, modern Christians, base something to chew on as well as talking points to attack anyone questioning his rule. Gad those large numbers say it all don’t they.
Well any one, can check the Attawapiskat’s audited books and financial statements as they are available online here: http://j.mp/rsjGBd. My check, [don’t you wish sometime that one, it could be anyone of the oodles of journalists, is that what they call them, working for any news organization might have gone to actually have a look at the books so-to-speak before just copying down what Harper et all have said] didn’t reveal anything earth chattering.
Oh, by the way, I wonder what the Band’s audit firm in Timmons might think of Harper seizing financial control and indicating a forensic audit will take place. Has there been some skulduggery here? Remember that a forensic audit is, in simple terms, just the application of auditing skills to situations that have legal consequences. Maybe but I think not.
Anyway since I know a bit about Nunavut and particularly its finances I thought I’d do a few back-of-the-envelop comparison for just one fiscal year between the situation for the average citizen of the territory versus an Attawapiskat resident. I picked 2010 the last year the Nunavut government has completed and published the AGs audited public accounts. I’m not doing any tables, as I said these are rough comparisons. So:
in 2010 Attawapiskat (Att) received $19.6 million in federal transfers, Nunavut (NU) received $1.231 billion; that’s $15,160 per resident of Att and $36,969 per NU resident.
in 2010 Att spent $30.522 million to run its community, NU spent $1.505 billion to run the territory; that’s $23,606 per resident of Att and $45,187 per NU resident.
And just one final little factoid, to provide a bit of perspective regarding Harper’s $90 million over 5 years talking point, over the same 5 year period Nunavut received from the federal government $4.975 billion. The come back to my factoid would be that 1st Nations don’t pay income taxes so lets reduce Nunavut’s federal transfer total by the amount its taxable residents pay in net federal income taxes. I’ve used CRAs interim statistics to get an approximate indication over the 4 years from 2006 to 2009 and grossed up 2009 by about 6% for 2010. This gives me a total of $375.6 million so net federal transfers to Nunavut over 5 years, assuming its residents make no real contribution to the federal government, would be $4.975 billion - $.3756 billion or $4.5994 billion.
I wonder how the per capita Nunavut federal transfers compare to the number Harper has been mentioning for Attawapiskat? Lets see:
Att $90 million divided by approximately 1,293 residents divided by 5 years, as we said above, = $13,900; and
NU $4.5994 billion divided by approximately 32,000 residents divided by 5 years = $28,746
I’ve no general conclusion from my little trip into audited public statements for two very remote places in Canada that are, under the best of conditions, extremely challenging to govern and administer. I do, however, have a feeling in my stomach that we have just seen, yet again, the nasty and mean spirited Harper and his government if they are cornered, embarrassed or opposed.