1979 BEAVER REPORT
In 1978, Indian self-government became the prime topic at Indian Affairs. In 1979 the Department acquired the services of J.W. Beaver to study the issue and make appropriate recommendations. On October 16, 1979, Beaver submitted his report to the President of the National Indian Brotherhood, Noel Starblanket, and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Jack Epp. This report, commonly referred to as the "Beaver Report," made two major policy recommendations:
"1. That the Indian Bands be given the authority, responsibility, and resources to develop their own policy for the improvement of social and economic conditions in their Communities.
2. That the Government of Canada, the Department of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Bands, together with their organizations, accept in principle, and work together to implement:
(a) Indian self-government, which will give Bands the option to exercise full powers to manage their own affairs; and
(b) Community-based planning and development, which will set the conditions enabling Indian communities to move in the direction of self-reliance and to root out the devastating effects of dependency."
The following were Beaver's comments on accountability:
"Strengthened accountability is closely linked to the proposals recommended in this report for Indian Self-Government. Concurrent with increased powers, responsibilities and the certainty of funding for Band Governments, is the necessity to improve accountability. The importance of accountability will be constantly reaffirmed, especially in periods of fiscal restraint."
Beaver proposed that the Bands be given the opportunity to govern themselves by wielding the following powers and controls:
"(a) the governing and administrative structures that should apply to such reserves;
(b) the necessary legislative, financial, and other regulatory controls that they will apply to themselves; and,
(c) the preparation, education, and training that Indian people will need in order to provide their own effective Government."
With much intelligent thought, Beaver had put together an excellent report. However, to make anything work there must be a will to make it happen. The politicians may have had the will, but the bureaucrats did not. Although community-based planning and self-government received a favourable reception from the bureaucrats, the most important element, accountability, did not. They immediately set out to scuttle the accountability aspect of the process without seeming to do so. Their solution was simple. They came up with financing agreements that would provide for even less accountability from the Band Councils. This enhanced the climate for corruption at the Band level and insured the bureaucrats' jobs-problem solved. If Beaver's blueprint had been followed, accountable and effective self-government would be well in place in First Nation societies today.