BC Métis Federation Letter re MNBC Press Release

The following is an open letter to all Métis people…

Re: MNBC Press Release Stunning Admissions – Removed Over $1 Million to Pay their Debts

Open letter to Mètis people, I am writing this evening in response to the MNBC press release entitled “Once Again MNBC Comes Under Attack”. I would best describe this MNBC strategy as deflect, deny, confuse and act like a victim. There is nothing wrong with asking questions about financials concerns, welcome to community transparency and accountability, not mention democracy. The reality in politics and this world is that business is business and anyone should be able to answer the tough questions regardless of what, who, or where they may come from. MNBC has continued to hide from questions, a pattern we have witnessed for years. When MNBC wants to stop questions, they file legal action. MNBC has always used this tactic to prevent public debate and discussion.

The MNBC is certainly no victim and their ongoing sustainability issues are 100% their own doing. The choice to ignore BC Métis Federation and many others in the Métis community has been a consistent behaviour as we believe MNBC could not or did not want to answer the tough questions. The MNBC breakdown of the alleged items in this recent press release only serves to meet their interests and defend at all costs, even if the truth sometime gets in the way. I am aware media is now investigating the BC Métis Federation claims and I assume this MNBC press release was a reaction to serious questions.

Regardless here are some points I will further clarify:

1. MNBC identified Item #1 – The MNBC financial statements were not searchable on their website as of Sunday, October 20th. Regardless MNBC may have posted in the AGM section. The larger question is why MNBC did not post since the MPCBC and MS and ECT financial statements since they were completed May 29th and July 4th respectively? This issue is about public transparency of all Métis program and governance funding. The decision by MNBC to not post was clearly the MNBC leadership view to keep information secret, behaviour consistent when they borrowed $3 million in 2009 to purchase a school in Abbotsford without the membership approval, which I would argue started this entire financial and political mess.

2. MNBC Identified Item #2 – It appears by the MNBC response that they believe the commitment was only for the Métis Nation Council and not MNBC. This is not true and I have attached the signed agreement from May that clearly identifies the MNBC as part of the Métis National Council to refresh their memories.

a. MNBC further suggests they willingly put the MPCBC and MS and ECT financial statements on their website but it is clear the spirit and intent of the May agreement with the Federal Government was to post such information within 120 days of the end of the past fiscal year. MNBC approved their financial statements within the 120 days of March 31st, 2013 period so why would MNBC not want to post in light of the agreement signed with the support of MNBC as MNBC President Dumont is also a board member of Métis Nation Council.

b. The MNBC claim that the MNBC audited financial statements are to be presented at their AGM does not limit them to informing the membership when the statements are approved by the board.

c. We believe the actions to limit public review and scrutiny are deliberate as they have been for the past years when BC Métis Federation requested copies and MNBC consistently refused.

d. If there is nothing to hide why not release?

3. MNBC Identified Item #3 – The auditing firm of Manning Elliot is reputable and respected. BC Métis Federation was not claiming they were not. However the audited financial statements are a basic financial summary of the MPCBC and MS and ECT only. The auditors make this reference in the cover letters, for example for the MPCBC in the section entitled “Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements”.

a. Simply put the MNBC, through their various entities, prepares the materials and Manning Elliot comes in, review samples and makes an opinion. Given the items we identified in our research and correspondence of October 21st we believe the financial statements are inaccurate and as such a more detailed audit should be undertaken to further review how MNBC prepared their interpretations and assumptions.

b. The firm of Manning Elliot agrees with the BC Métis Federation in terms of future sustainability and has actually written the statements for the last three years to include a remarkable position:

“Emphasis of Matter

Without qualifying our opinion, we draw attention to Note 12 in the financial statements which indicates that as at March 31st, 2013 the Council’s liabilities exceeded its current assets by $5,624,881 and the Council has an accumulated deficit of $2,299,981. These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the Council’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Perhaps MNBC leadership, staff and their supporters do not recognize the significance of this statement but the reality is the auditing firm confirm the MPCBC is unlikely to continue.

4. MNBC Identified Item #4 – The MNBC is portraying this major debt reduction as this success. The project funding provided to MNBC on behalf of Métis people by governments and industry is to assist Métis communities, support Métis needs, and ensure community consultations. Where did MNBC claw funding to pay years of such mismanagement of over $1 million? Was this at the expense of the student’s tuition and living allowances that were paid consistently late this past year that caused so much stress?

a. This so called debt reduction came at a hefty price and it is unclear where this money came from in the current presented MPCBC and MS and ECT statements. This must be clarified exactly where.

b. Consider how much $1,052,135 could have helped build capacity for the communities, or actual support for a Mètis culture?

c. MNBC leadership and management are using the alleged recognition exclusively with government and industry to get money on behalf of all Métis people then forget them? This is absolutely wrong and must be stopped.

5. MNBC Identified Item #5 – I am surprised at the MNBC reaction to admit they spent more than our calculations in interest and finance.

a. The claim of paying down the principal of the debt is understood but what budgets are paying the $573,419.00 in financing charges? It is unclear in how the MPCBC statements have been presented so MPCBC should clarify exactly where these additional; financing charges are paid.

b. The suggestion that paying down the debt is suspect as it appears the asset at 30691 Simpson Road property can’t sell after being on the market now 2 years. Remember the speeches of how this school would be economic development; bring in millions, catering company success. The truth is exactly as we predicted in 2009.

6. MNBC Identified Item #6 – The claim about the MNBC taxes is wrong. Our statement is based on the actual City of Abbotsford Tax Assessment dated March 5th, 2013 which clearly identifies the total property tax amount which reconciles with our of October 21st, 2013 statement.

a. I have reattached for greater clarity. b. Regardless of how MNBC justifies moving amounts around the fact is the 2012 property taxes were paid extremely late and cost extra in penalties and interest at the cost of support for communities.

i. Despite the MNBC claim now in their press release the actual property tax outstanding as of March 5th, 2013 was $117,232.74 with interest at $1,214.09 and not $113,683.36 as suggested according to the facts.

7. MNBC Identified Item #7 – MNBC claims the lien has been removed. Perhaps but our facts supported by evidence suggest the lien is still at issue as of September 9th, 2013. I have reattached a copy of the information from the Land Titles Office from New Westminster. The receipt confirms that the information is true and accurate as of this date which is well after the MPCBC financial statements have been completed. Only MNBC can answer why the lien would still be reported and our point is valid and based on actual evidence.

a. Once again how come MNBC did not pay their bill and why did this company have to file a lien?

b. We submit that based on the evidence MNBC is not truthful in their press release today until they have proof to the contrary.

8. MNBC Identified Item #8 – MNBC suggests their administration is accurate and apparently they missed the overarching point of the BC Métis Federation October 21st, 2013 letter. There are considerable operational costs charged by MPCBC to the programs and why is this not better used to support communities or agencies actually doing the work for their clients or members?

a. How much in resources was provided to Métis communities MNBC allegedly represents? We believe MNBC provided no support to Métis communities in 2012-2013 either through MPCBC or MS and ECT in terms of governance capacity.

9. MNBC Identified Item #9 – The payment of the MNBC board is playing on words regarding salaries, versus honorariums, etc. There is no separate audited schedule provided by MPCBC or MS and ECT to account for any “honorariums” or the Presidents salary. Why not?

a. The fact is the amounts contradict MNBC’s own previous press release and a MNBC Debt Recovery Plan approved and supported by the MNBC board released publicly in May of 2011. For example, despite a clear commitment it appears MNBC President Dumont‘s salary is $20,000.00 more than public commitments made prior by himself?

i. I think MNBC authors here need to review their own past documentation. None of the communities MNBC allegedly represents are compensated in any way.

b. MNBC statements and their September 2011 press release:

“President Dumont congratulates the Board for making what he calls “a bold and responsible” decision on behalf of the Métis citizens of British Columbia.

“While it is never easy to make a decision of this nature, the vote will result in a voluntary Board of Directors in the next fiscal year for the MNBC. It also will equal a cost savings of at least $467,000.00 annually for MNBC and will help us reach a balanced budget as part of our Deficit Recovery Plan,” says President Dumont.”

c. According to the 2012-2013 MPCBC financial statement schedules the board was certainly not volunteering. The board, including President Dumont, spent approximately $460,000.00. Meanwhile the board was missing representatives and was not a complete board. It is clear the board members are being provided significant support for less than 11 individuals allegedly volunteering.

10. MNBC Identified Item #10 – MNBC financial controls are a mystery. It is clear the MNBC finance staff and management will encourage payments to their board if they can somehow pay through program or project funded by industry. The priority is not to address millions lost in only 4 years but rather keep the political master pleased and their paycheques flowing.

a. BC Métis Federation and our community partners and agencies know there is a better way forward than using Métis people for money to industry and government.

b. Review Schedule 30 of the MPCBC to reinforce the point. MNBC was provided approximately $106,000.00 and only $1,361 was spent on community events and functions. The remaining $104,000 plus was spent on wages and travel.

i. Considering the significant challenges and concerns Métis people have in communities most directly affected one would imagine these funds should be used primarily on community meetings, etc.

11. MNBC Identified Item #11 – BC Métis Federation continues to believe a complete forensic audit should be completed to verify all stated budgets and identify how MNBC used over $1 million of their $10 million dollar overall budget on their debt using program and project resources.

a. The MNBC insult pointed at BC Métis Federation financial statements is short sighted. BC Métis Federation does not have public funding but we have a Chartered Accountant who validated and completed the financial statement in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

b. BC Métis Federation publicly posted our financial statements and reports both through email and on our website well before our Annual General Meeting in August 2013. c. BC Métis Federation reviewed the budget and approved unanimously.

MNBC continues to make this personal and it is not. The BC Métis Federation questions and statements are based on research and facts. The lack of MNBC public accountability and transparency at MNBC is self evident and their desperate reactions are to save their collective paycheques at the expense of progress or support for our Métis culture. MNBC claims their glowing achievement is debt reduction at a time when our Métis culture is suffering and the needs of people for real issues goes without support. We have Métis service delivery agencies throughout British Columbia trying to barely keep the doors open and the functionally bankrupt MNBC is actually competing for government and industry resources instead of support their needs.

The fact is I did not claim I was performing an audit when reviewing the MPCBC and MS and ECT financial statements and I provided an opinion, one based on over 15 years of administrative experience and successfully running nonprofits organizations with balanced budgets, creating strong financial controls, etc. I reviewed my findings with an accountant and I am confident I know how to read any financial statements from MNBC. The fact is many assumptions I have made are made as a result of the lack of details from the statements themselves. The reality is how a person or firm reviews the MPCBC and MS and ECT financial statements, you cannot ignore the millions in debt and overall insolvency. Since credentials appear to be at question I think it only reasonable to state that besides having a university education I have been trained extensively by Deloitte and Touché, on of the major accounting firms, should there be any further questions.

I conclude with some final points. I continue to state unapologetically that the MNBC should be forced to closed and bankruptcy. MNBC is insolvent and functionally bankrupt, that is fact. Programs need to be protected from MNBC spending on their debt which by their own press release today further proves the importance of this issue. The answer to current and future MNBC financial challenges is to claw funding intended for Métis people at any cost. In 2012-2013 today MNBC admits today they paid over $1 million to reduce the debt and you can be assured this will continue with no support for the communities, agencies, Métis cultural activities. Ask yourself where did this money come from? The impacts of this MNBC self serving behaviours are clear;

  • MNBC has lost any legitimate mandate as less than 600 people voted in their last election in 2012;
  • Only 20 of their alleged 35 Métis Chartered Communities are in good standing as legal entities which by their own governance is supposed to be requirement and many have been dissolved,
  • And many other issues.

Consider that MNBC did not even disclose any accounting for Niche Environmental Limited in their financial statements in any manner over the course of the last two years. MNBC is a shareholder so where are these revenues? I have attached a press release from MNBC in 2011 where MNBC celebrated a major contract with Niche Environmental Limited December 10th, 2011. Why has there has never been any accounting for any revenues or expenditures?

MNBC leadership has outright lied to Métis people on several occassions. After years ask yourself where is that so called approved stimulus funding from the Federal Government? Remember the words of MNBC President Dumont March 25th, 2011. Read the press release as he thanks Prime Minister Harper for the approval, etc. This was not true and MNBC has not receieved a dime of stimulus funding. I find it extremely ironic that MNBC can call anyone’s credability into question in light of statement after statement from MNBC that is proven false time and time again.

There have been six issues to address since 2009 and MNBC has never addressed. This latest reply demonstrates that they just don’t “get it”. MNBC leaders and staff want the Métis people to believe them, don’t worry about it, they are wrong. Unfortunately this has never been the case and we know as people read the actual facts, they see the reality.

BC Métis Federation will continue to call the misuse of Mètis public funding to task whether MNBC likes it or not. We urge governments to complete a full forensic investigation of MPCBC and MS and ECT, clarify the MPCBC board expenses, clarify how the Métis funding has been redirected to pay the MPCBC loans and financing costs, clarify all MPCBC revenue sources including any shareholder agreements signed such as Niche Environemntal Limited, plus many other questions yets to be raised.

While MNBC pretends they are working for the people BC Métis Federation is planning for one of the most important plays in our history brought to British Columbia, the Trial of Louis Riel. This past year BC Métis Federation has shown that we will support Métis culture and address real issues. Unfortunately for MNBC they are an issue we will address.

Thank you,

Keith Henry

President
BC Métis Federation

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Metis-People-October-25th-2013-MNBC-Spends-Million-on-Debt.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/NR_RE_BCMF_Allegations_Oct_25_2013_final.pdf”]Click here to view the recent MNBC press release[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Governance-and-Financial-Accountability-Accordsigned12.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download the Governance and Financial Accountability Accord[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Property-Tax-Certificate-March-5th-20131.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download the City of Abbotsford Property Tax Certificate[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/niche-press-release-final.pdf” style=”download”]Niche Environmental Press Release[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Title-re-30691-Simpson-Rd-Abbotsford-September-20132.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download the Title Search Issued September 9th, 2013 [/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/MNBC-PR-GovtAnnouncedStimulus.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download the MNBC Stimulus Announced Press Release[/ilink]

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