Independent Legal Opinion Tells all – Startling Revelations About MNBC/MPCBC

Continued Government Support of Mètis Nation British Columbia

Dear Premier Clark and Prime Minister Harper,

On behalf of the BC Métis Federation, I submit this letter to the Federal and Provincial Governments, to inform you of new information regarding continued government investments into an organization known as the Métis Nation British Columbia and also by its previous and alternate name, the Métis Provincial Council of British Columbia (MPCBC). Over the past year, your respective governments have been apprised of the concerns regarding substantial financial unaccountability and mismanagement of the aforementioned organization. Unfortunately, to date, there has been a lack of visible action by either government to address these Métis concerns. The message that your governments are sending to both Métis and non-Métis citizens in British Columbia is that you not only accept but also approve of unethical practices by both governments and corporations in the province of British Columbia. This message is evident through the continued signing of contracts and flow of financial resources between your respective governments and the MNBC/MPCBC. Your continued support allows the MNBC/MPCBC to exercise power without responsibility, under the auspices of being a Society. Please note, the MNBC/MPCBC may be registered as a Society, however, the BCMF via legal counsel (please see below) has confirmed that it is not in “good standing”, nor has it been for some time.

It is with the best of intentions that the BCMF shares with each of your governments a copy of an independent legal opinion BC Mètis Federation obtained from a prominent law firm in Vancouver – Bull Houser and Tupper LLP (BHT). Given the ongoing MNBC/MPCBC financial and governance issues related to improper Mètis representation in British Columbia, the BCMF wanted to review the situation based on facts. Ultimately, the goal of the BCMF is to ensure that the Métis people of BC are not penalized for the actions and inactions of organizations far beyond their control. To that end, the BCMF aims to ensure that those responsible for a loss of services to our people are held accountable and that basic questions can be factually and knowledgeably answered. As such, the BCMF has asked BHT for a legal opinion in regard to the following six questions:

1. Could the directors of MPCBC be personally liable to the creditors of MPCBC?
2. What duty do the directors of MPCBC have to address the increasing debt of MPCBC?
3. Who are the members of MPCBC?
4. What powers do MNBC citizenship card holders have?
5. At what point should a not-for-profit declare bankruptcy?
6. What occurs when a not-for-profit becomes bankrupt?

Upon review, your governments cannot help but find that the BHT legal opinion clearly articulates the MNBC’s: organizational chaos; a paradigm of legal issues; and, quite simply a lack of good faith in MNBC practices.

First and foremost, the BCMF finds it incredible that the government has continued to flow taxpayer monies to a corporation that is no longer legally “in good standing”. Is this common practice for your respective governments? BCMF understands that this could be considered an administrative “oversight” however; it begs the question of accountability. If basic paperwork ensuring the validity of a legal entity cannot even be filed, how is it possible to entrust the approximate $12 million dollars (on average) governments have poured into this not for profit. Furthermore, how can your governments and various departments’ even sign contracts with any organization that is not in good standing? This certainly appears to breech each of the governments stated Treasury Board Guidelines and sound financial administration policies and practices regarding “Contracting”. Furthermore, who or what organization are the governments contracting with? There is another legal society with the name Mètis Nation of British Columbia intertwined as part of MNBC yet based on the MPCBC Bylaws and Constitution there are serious legal contradictions about who are the legitimate members of what.

More disappointing is that, to date, neither of your respective Ministers who are tasked with addressing Aboriginal issues have taken this situation seriously. It is unclear how government officials have addressed the legal challenges this situation presents to governments, not to mention industry. The BC Mètis Federation has repeatedly called for meaningful action, given the ongoing financial mismanagement and consequently instability. The MNBC/MPCBC board members have continued to benefit without any legitimate mandate from an organization that is “functionally bankrupt” and now, evidently not in “good standing”?

The BCMF’s concern continues to grow as we look toward the future, with the reminder that this new legal opinion does not even take into consideration the public allegation that MNBC/MPCBC will substantially increase their debt by another million dollars over the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Where is the oversight that was indicated in correspondence by the Province? How does the Federal Government justify massive budget cuts to legitimize Aboriginal organizations throughout Canada and your internal staff while supporting approximately $10 million dollars in programs and services to this visibly defunct organization?

Once again, the BCMF, on behalf of many concerned Mètis people in British Columbia, urges both the Federal and Provincial governments to seriously review the attached legal opinion. It is the hope of the BCMF that the time has come for both governments to examine future options for a new Mètis engagement in British Columbia. The BC Mètis Federation has recently completed a meaningful, transparent province wide consultation process and as such our organization can confidently and publicly state that the MNBC/MPCBC no longer represents the collective will of the Mètis people of British Columbia. The BHT legal opinion provides further concrete evidence as to why immediate and necessary steps must be taken by governments. Therefore; we strongly urge governments to cease and desist providing funding to the functionally bankrupt MNBC/MPCBC – an organization that is no longer representative of the Métis people of British Columbia.

The BCMF is requesting a meeting with the appropriate federal and provincial departments in the extremely near future. At that time, the BCMF wishes to assist the governments in exploring options on how to move forward with regard to our people to ensure the legal, social and economic interests for the Métis people in British Columbia are not lost due to the objectionable conduct of others.

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

cc Peter Cunningham, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Honourable Scott Fraser, Critic for Aboriginal Relations
Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Federal Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic
Honourable Jean Crowder, NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic
BC Métis Federation Board Members
BC Métis Federation Members
Jody Whitney, Manager Aboriginal Consultation and Regulatory Compliance Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project

[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Provincial-and-Federal-Governments-June-22nd-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Letter in PDF format[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BHT-Legal-Opinion-June-20th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]BHT Legal Opinion June 20th, 2012[/ilink]

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