From the Ottawa Citizen, P.#A9, Friday August 1, 2014, and here:
Chief’s pay raises eyebrows
B.C. First Nation leader earned $914,219 tax-free
Ron Giesbrecht, chief of 80 member Kwikwetlem First Nation, earned $914,219 tax free last year
It’s good to be the chief. Ron Giesbrecht, chief of the 80-member Kwikwetlem First Nation in B.C., earned a salary of $914,219 tax free last year and a further $16,574 in expenses.
That’s the equivalent of $1.6-million for someone who pays tax on income.
The band’s accountants, Richmond-based Reid Hurst Nagy, confirmed the salary figure released as part of the government’s new First Nation Financial Transparency Act is accurate and said a statement explaining the remuneration package would be released by the Kwikwetlem band later Thursday. Repeated calls to the band were met with a terse “no comment.”
The million-dollar chief is listed on Linked In social media as chief and economic development officer. He has been chief for more than five years and lists his interests as “fishing, aboriginal culture, golfing, photography and sitting on the beach.”
The band’s most recent financial statements reveal that it had net financial assets of $8.8-million, up from $2.7-million, largely as a result of an $8.2-million payment from the province of British Columbia earmarked for economic development and a $1.2-million payment by Quantum Murray, an environmental services company.
A spokesman for the province said that the $8.2-million was payment as part of an economic benefit agreement related to land sales.
Colin Craig, Prairies director for the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said he is waiting to hear the full circumstances of the remuneration package before commenting definitively. “But if that’s all pay, it’s pretty egregious and one of the worst cases we’ve ever seen.”
Andrea Richer, communications director for Aboriginal Affairs minister Bernard Valcourt, said the government expects band councils to use tax payers dollars responsibly and for the benefit of all community members.
“The First Nations Financial Transparency Act applies the same principles and requirements that already exist for all other elected officials in Canada,” she said. “The reported salary of the chief is very troubling and his community members deserve an explanation.”
The band received $673,000 from the department of Aboriginal Affairs last year and a further $298,000 from CMHC, the Crown housing corporation.
On Thursday the band released a statement acknowledging the “large number” was disconcerting, but attributed it to the fact the chief also holds the job of the band’s economic development officer.
The salary for that job is $80,000 but pays a 10% bonus for development on the gross profit from “capital projects and business opportunities secured.” The chief’s bonus worked out to be $800,000, the statement said.
The band said Mr. Giesbrecht’s contract was negotiated in April. The bonus clause was removed and his chief’s salary reduced to $4,800.
The federal government’s legislation came into being after an outcry four years ago, when a taxpayers’ federation survey revealed 82 aboriginal reserve politicians were paid the tax-free equivalent higher than Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s $315,462 salary.
The survey also said 222 First Nations politicians earned more than the premier of their province and 700 took home more than the equivalent of $100,000 in off-reserve income. One band chief in Atlantic Canada earned $216,130 in salary, $34,000 in per diem travel expenses and other income totaling $978,468, including contracts for work by his construction company — all for running a band of 300 people.
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For contrast, the Premier (like an American Governor) of Ontario, Canada’s largest Province, earned a salary of $198,873 in 2013.