(Photo: Gerald McIvor, 46, of Winnipeg and Sandy Bay band member. Courtesy Gerald McIvor)
APTN National News
OTTAWA-The federal director of a taxpayer watchdog group says he regrets sending a heated email calling a First Nations man in Manitoba “racist” during a flurry of exchanges over the organization’s release of chief and councillor salaries.
Kevin Gaudet, federal and Ontario director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), found himself in a heated war of emails with Gerald McIvor, who lives in Winnipeg, that was triggered by his organization’s release of Indian Affairs documents showing dozens of band politicians making more money than the prime minister and provincial premiers.
The email exchange highlights how emotional the issue of band politician pay can get for all sides.
“If I had to do it over again I would have deleted that email,” said Gaudet, in an interview. “It does wear on one after a while doing this type of work being criticized like this. I let that frustration out in an inappropriate way.”
Gerald McIvor, 46, a band member with Sandy Bay First Nation, said he became angry when he read Gaudet’s email.
“I was really angry, but I wasn’t going to stoop to his level and nowhere did I imply racism,” said McIvor, in an interview. “If you read my actual email, nowhere do I imply racism.”
Gaudet was responding to a Nov. 24 email from McIvor who demanded to know the names of the people who had asked the organization to look into chief and band councillor salaries. McIvor also said that chiefs should file “libel and slander” lawsuits against the organization for damaging their integrity.
Gaudet dismissed McIvor’s demand the organization release the information before taking the issue to a personal level.
“You should be disgusted with yourself and embarrassed and ashamed,” wrote Gaudet, in the now widely disseminated emails. “You are willing to justify and defend elected officials of the First Nations taking million dollar salaries and then you blame the messenger because I am white. You, sir, are racist.”
McIvor said he wanted the names because he doubts the request came from a grassroots First Nations person. He is also calling on the CTF to release their list of 17,000 donors.
Gaudet said the organization is private and protects the confidentiality of its sources and donors. He said the majority are “mom and pop farmers from Western Canada.”
The CTF’s release of band councillor salaries, which was obtained under Access to Information, has already triggered proposed federal legislation from Conservative Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block. The legislation would force the publishing of the names of each chief and councillor alongside their salaries and other band revenue.
The released Indian Affairs documents had names blacked out.
Chiefs also appear to have felt forced to respond. They plan to debate a resolution this week to publish salaries, honoraria and expenses associated with their band work. First Nations chiefs are gathering for a special chiefs assembly meeting in Gatineau, Que., which begins Tuesday.