All doing our part

The Canadian taxpayers Federation (of which I am a member and former national director) came out with a report on salaries for First Nations chiefs and councillors. It shows that a number of chiefs and councillors appear to be way over paid. It also shows that some chiefs and councillors work for small or at least reasonable wages. In the Winnipeg Sun, there appears the following statement which I think is very well said by Grand Chief Ron Evans. “Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron Evans said it’s ultimately up to band members to hold their political leaders accountable to set reasonable salaries, but admitted he was troubled by the newly released numbers.“It’s very disturbing that salaries could be as high as what has been reported when the majority of the leadership are making an average of $60,000 per year,” Evans said. “It really paints a negative picture when there are many chiefs making good efforts to provide the best leadership for their communities.”
Be it First Nations, federal government, provincial government, municipal government or school boards, accountability and transparency are the key words.
The problem is that many of us are scared silly to hold ourselves and others accountable. It’s not a comfortable thing to confront someone when you know very well they are out of line. It could be on a public or personal conduct issue, it could be on a policy issue or a spending issue. In last week’s column, I raised the question about how many civil servants are paid  more than their ministers. It’s just not right. It’s also not right that bank presidents are paid such outrageous salaries and why the shareholders don’t object is beyond me. I objected years ago and sold off the few little bank shares I had and I refuse to participate in their RRSP schemes. I invest in what I know and can see and what I have some understanding about. In my case, it’s in buildings (three) and the two newspapers. I invest my time with people, some of whom are in need, and we invest money into Christian work. Those are things I understand. I don’t understand stocks, bonds and RRSPs so I don’t go there. Some understand that scene and they are welcome to it.
It’s all about accountability and control. Control is a good thing, as long as it is steered by integrity. 
The problem with politics, be it local, provincial, federal or First Nations, is that we quickly loose control. An election should bring about good results. If we don’t get good results, then perhaps we are looking for the wrong thing. I suspect many politicians are elected by voters thinking “What’s in this for me?” I suspect votes are cast based on what good will come to the voter in direct financial benefit. That’s a bad reason to vote. So few people have any hope for the future that they are willing to sell their inheritance for a bowl of stew, as Esau did with his brother Jacob in the Old Testament Bible days. It is incumbent on everyone, no matter how prosperous or how desperate their situation, to take the longer view. In the short-sighted view, personal benefit may bring short term gain. In the longer view, we need accountability and transparency in order to grow our society and enhance our system of living.
If we sit back in a state of hopelessness, thinking all is lost and that no good can come, then we will for certain see the self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to insist that all things are done with integrity, from the smallest to the largest detail.
And we need to insist that our leaders have great courage to make the changes in policy that are needed so that we run our society and our government the way it should be run. We can all make a difference and we need to demand that our leaders are doing their part.

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