By The Editor
By Mike Archer.
I’ve tried to be outraged about the fact that a First Nations Chief made nearly $1 million dollars last year. I really have.
But other than the fact that he is First Nations I can’t figure out what it is that I am supposed to be outraged about.
According to documents released by the band Chief Ron Giesbrecht, of the Kwikwetlem First Nations band was paid $4,800 last year for his position as Chief. When the former economic development officer of the band resigned last year, Giesbrecht took over the post and was paid, as he should have been, the $80,000, which went with the job.
The Chief and economic development officer had $16,574 in expenses.
The only things that jump out at me so far are the following:
1) A First Nations Chief only getting paid $4,800 a year. Now that is an outrage.
2) An economic development officer getting paid $80,000 a year. That’s less than half what the economic development officers I know get paid.
3) Only $16, 574 in expenses? I know salesmen and women with more expenses than that in a single quarter.
OK. So no outrage yet other than the opposite of the outrage that is clearly expected of me.
Then we get to the big money. As an incentive, not unlike any salesperson I’ve ever known and most CEOs and people responsible for economic growth, the business growth of a company or the increase in shareholder value, the economic development officer’s contract made allowances for a 10 percent commission on the value of any gross profits the officer is able to generate for the band.
Again … looking for the reasons for outrage.
Then it appears. Last year, on behalf of the band, and in the proper performance of his job as economic development officer, Giesbrecht achieved significant economic development and profits for the band by selling a piece of band owned property to the provincial government. The value of the land was $8.2 million.
So, as he should have been, Giesbrecht, the economic development officer, was paid his one-time, 10 percent commission ($800,000) for doing what he was being paid to do under the terms of his contract in the normal course of business.
What on earth this perfectly normal, correct, legal and above-board transaction has to do with the fact that Prime Minister Harper only makes $327,400 a year or that Christy Clark makes $193,532 a year is beyond my limited powers of reasoning.
Why weren’t Clark’ and Harper’s salaries compared to some of the most outlandish salaries of bank CEOs or those of the companies which were so miserably managed they required massive infusions of taxpayer cash when the world economy was destroyed by a small group of rich white men in 2008?
Erica Meeks of the Aboriginal Affairs Department, said “The reported salary of the chief is very troubling and his community members deserve an explanation.”
Was she referring to the $4,800? Because I share her outrage over that figure and I agree that, no matter how small the band is (Kwikwetlem First Nations band is made up of only 84 people), we should be paying native leaders much more than $4,800 a year. It is an absolute outrage that, in this day and age, someone should be expected to live on $4,800 a year.
As for the ten percent commission, other than CEOs, realtors, sales people or others who make a living off of creating economic growth, I can only understand the outrage as being generated by a sense of jealousy that they haven’t been able to negotiate as high a commission as Giesbrecht’s predecessor did (Giesbrecht was merely filling out the end of his predecessor’s contract).
The fact that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and the Harper government were able to convince the Canadian media that they and their viewers/readers should be outraged that a native man should be paid a reasonable commission for increasing the financial well-being of his band (to the tune of approximately $97,000 per band member) is the real outrage.
The requisite outrage the presentation of the story is clearly meant to elicit makes no sense whatever if you take out the fact that Giesbrecht is native.
If a real estate agent, business growth expert, salesperson or private company were to charge and get paid a 10 percent commission for increasing shareholder value by that much in a single transaction, the story would have appeared in the business section of the paper as a success story about a particularly astute business man.
Add the words, ‘First Nations Chief’ and it becomes a national outrage.