BCMF Reply to Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Letter Dated February 10th, 2012

Dear Minister Polak,

I want to acknowledge your efforts to respond to the letter I sent to Premier Clark and Prime Minister Harper dated January 9th, 2012. There are a few points I want to try and clarify given the response and I will follow up with your Assistant Deputy Minister Peter Cunningham in the near future as indicated in your letter. I also reinforce that I have worked in strong partnership with the Provincial Government on a number of issues and I can assure you that I seek a more productive forum in the future.

First I want to acknowledge the exact wording you used in your correspondence with MP Elizabeth May that I made a reference and paraphrased. Regardless of the exact wording your correspondences regarding the MNBC debt have provided what we believe is an inaccurate assessment of the overall financial insolvency. For example on September 8th, 2011 (attached and Ref # 28023) you stated:

“Ministry staff are continuing to monitor MNBC’s efforts to eliminate their annual deficit in the current fiscal year and begin to reduce the accumulated debt in future years, if not in the current year?”

What was meant when stating “if not in the current year?” Did your officials actually believe MNBC would start to reduce the debt in 2011-2012? MNBC was funded to develop a debt recovery plan that was released last May 2011 and MNBC has not provided public reporting despite their commitment in writing to provide monthly updates. What has unfolded is a consistent turnover of key MNBC management staff, MNBC leaders blaming former staff who have moved on, etc. We now all know MNBC has failed at the school, in addition to all other economic development schemes, and it is up for sale.

I would also draw to your attention the inaccuracy of the statement regarding MNBC board salaries in point #2 of your correspondence. I have been made aware of MNBC board members still receiving a board salary as of February 2012. During a recent Vancouver Island Regional Governance Council meeting MNBC President Dumont clarified that his salary as President is still currently $86,000.00. The Regional Governance Council also was informed $15,000.00 per year was allocated to the MNBC Health Minister through the BC Health Ministry and it is still being paid. Therefore this recent information demonstrates that two of the 11 MNBC board members are still in receipt of MNBC salaries despite any MNBC public statements about no salaries as of January 1st, 2012. The real question is where else has the MNBC board charged salaries directly to federal and provincial government programs. The MNBC statements are not truthful.

The issue of the purchase of the school has been a contentious matter for Métis people throughout BC since this was first realized in August 2009 and is one of the main reasons people such as myself terminated any membership with the MNBC in 2011. I respect that your office cannot intervene in MNBC financing and I have no issue with non-profit societies to acquire property. However, MNBC was designed to be a governing organization and not a property owner. This MNBC board purchased this property without any prior consultation, feasibility review or a mandate from the members throughout BC. Regardless MNBC arranged significant debt financing without proper due diligence, MNBC leveraged program funding as capital, and today MNBC is on the verge of bankruptcy. The question is what information and role did the province play in this matter as the Minister of Education had to approve the sale of that school. Did anyone review the business merits of this proposal and who is responsible for the financial demise of the MNBC? I am sure you can appreciate how your constituents expect public consultation when significant decisions are made that affect the public. This never occurred and the ramifications are being felt today.

I hope your office will carefully review the actual Métis governance mechanisms in comparison to what actually unfolds at the MNBC. The MNBC has not held consistent Regional Governance Council meetings for years, continues to make unilateral decisions, and several members have terminated their MNBC cards over the last year because of the ongoing undemocratic processes. The MNBC governance process has become less and less democratic each year and the most recent resolutions developed by the MNBC board for their next sitting of the Métis Nation Governing Assembly (MNGA) in March 2012 showcase their true dictatorship. I strongly encourage your officials to review the 15 resolutions posted for the March MNGA on the MNBC website. The MNBC board has drafted 14 of the 15 resolutions and is now going to remove any MNBC member or community who has any association with a “Rival Organization” and we assume this would be the BC Métis Federation. This rival language is used throughout the resolutions and is a new concept.

The MNBC board resolutions are completely absurd in this day and age. The fact that the MNBC board is bringing forward such undemocratic principles while both the Federal and Provincial Government maintain their support, financial and political, is unimaginable. Could your Liberal government kick out the NDP? True democracy is challenging and at times painful but necessary for the good of the public will. This is no different in our Métis community so how does any government stand by and support indirectly to this dictatorship?
In closing I am optimistic that the Province will complete necessary due diligence as indicated in your letter and I will be following up with you Assistant Deputy Minister before the end of the week to meet.

Thank you,
Keith Henry
British Columbia Métis Federation
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
V5R 5W2

cc BCMF Board of Directors
BCMF Members
BCMF Statement of Cooperation Métis Communities
MNBC Board

[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Provincial-Minister-Mary-Polak-February-13th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/MarkPolak_Feb10th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Mary Polak_Feb10th 2012 Letter[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/MARR-Letter-December-20th-2011.pdf” style=”download”]Mary Polak December 20th 2011 Letter to Elizabeth May.[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/MARR-Letter-September-8th-20111.pdf” style=”download”]MARR Letter September 8th, 2011[/ilink]

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