Onion Lake ordered to disclose financial information

A judge has found Onion Lake Cree Nation in contempt of court regarding the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, in another legal development among the parties involved.

A application filed by Charmaine Stick and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation asked a Queen’s Bench Court to find the First Nation in contempt of court for the First Nation not revealing its financial information in the way the First Nations Financial Transparency Act sets out.

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In a July 24 decision, Judge Meghan McCreary agreed.

The First Nations Financial Transparency Act came into effect in 2014. A vast majority of First Nations comply.

A point of contention among critics wasn’t that First Nations shouldn’t reveal their financial information to band members, but to do so in the way the act sets out.

The act requires First Nations publish their financial information online, which some argued required them to reveal more information than do other government entities.

Before the act, many First Nations revealed their financial information to band members in meetings and by other means, rather than in ways set out by the federal government.

According to the act’s supporters, the published information is useful and relevant to band members and taxpayers.

Stick and the taxpayers federation brought an application to the courts in 2016 regarding 2015 and 2016 financial information.

In April 2018, the Onion Lake Cree Nation posted its 2015 and 2016 financial statements and other relevant information on the internet as required. The decision said the First Nation hasn’t published any since.

According to the decision, Canadian common law supports an Indian band recognized under the Indian Act can be held in contempt of court.

The band was also fined $10,000.


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