Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Consulting No One: Is Democratic Administration the Answer for First Nations?

Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Consulting No One: Is Democratic Administration the Answer for First Nations?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In 1996, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of Canada released its report, Study of Accountability Practices from the Perspective of First Nations, which found that governments and First Nations have different understandings of what is meant by accountability. While the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) understood the department's mechanism of accountability to be concerned with the form of accountability for funding, First Nations believed accountability required increasingly open and transparent dialogue between the department and the people it affects; that is, accountability for performance which means that government action must achieve high results to cover citizens' expectations (Behn, 2001: 10). However, accountability for performance is not occurring in practice. Instead, the implementation of the New Public Management model in Canada since the 1980s has not fulfilled its mandate to be more effective and accountable because of the model's focus on treating citizens like consumers. This paper argues that accountability for performance can be achieved through greater consultation between First Nations and governments at the initial stages of policy making, as advanced in the democratic administration model. This model theorizes that greater public participation will lead to better policy outcomes. Furthermore, the paper argues that the lack of accountability for performance has created serious political, economic, and social implications that have denied First Nations groups rights and control over their communities (see Figure 1) (Shoucri, 2007: 04). This argument will be demonstrated through review of three recent Canadian Court cases: Mikisew Cree v. Canada(2005), Ermineskin v. Canada(2009) and Pikangikum v. Canada (2002).

Keywords: a-priori policy-making, consultation, New Public Managament, democratic administration, accountability for performance

Introduction

In 1996, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of Canada reported in the Study of Accountability Practices from the Perspective of First Nations that governments and First Nations have different understandings of what is meant by accountability. While the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) understood the department's mechanism of accountability to remain in the form of accountability for funding provided by the federal government, First Nations believed accountability required increasingly open and transparent dialogue between the department and the people it affects. That is, accountability for performance means that government action must achieve high results in terms of citizens' expectations (Behn, 2001: 10). In other words, First Nations expect to know how funds are being allocated and implemented, be part of the initial-stages of policy making and, more importantly, that program results meet First Nations' expectation. With this in mind, this paper has two focuses. First, this paper argues that accountability for performance can be achieved through greater consultation at the initial stages of policy making (a-priori policy). This type of engagement is advanced in the democratic administration model which ultimately stipulates that greater participation by citizens in government affairs will lead to greater citizen-centered policy outcomes.

Second, this paper argues that the focus on accountability for funding rather than the focus on accountability for performance has created serious political, economic, and social implications that have denied First Nations groups rights and control over their communities (Figure 1) (Shoucri, 2007:04).Given that the rights of First Nations groups derives from the Indian Act, 1876 and Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, and because the Canadian system entrusts the judiciary to be the guardians of the Constitution and mediator between state and society (Shoucri, 2007: 04), recent Canadian Court cases (Mikisew Cree v. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.