Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

First Nation chief 'awarded' Teddy by taxpayers' group

Earns more than the prime minister

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OTTAWA -- A Saskatchewan First Nation chief who earns more than the prime minister has won the dubious distinction of an award given annually for wasteful use of taxpayer dollars.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has named Standing Buffalo First Nation Chief Roger Redman as the recipient of the 15th annual national Teddy award.

Redman, whose reserve is home to 443 people, took home more after-tax income last year than Stephen Harper, who earned more than $317,000 in 2011, the federation told a news conference Wednesday.

As well, each of Redman's councillors earns more than the premier of Saskatchewan.

The Teddy awards are intended to shine a spotlight on corruption and waste in government at every level, said Gregory Thomas, the federation's national director.

"It's enough to bring you to tears sometimes, these greedy, scheming politicians," Thomas said.

"Once a year we can all have a laugh about it and, more importantly, about them."

The Standing Buffalo First Nation is struggling to maintain social services for its members due to a lack of money, putting Redman's salary squarely in the spotlight.

When band members gathered in January to impeach the chief, he padlocked the band office and community centre and confiscated the band's chequebook.

Redman and band elders are currently embroiled in a legal battle over elections that have been called for March 16.

A senate of elders was forced to hold nominations for the election last month out in the cold because the locks had been changed on the band's community centre. That centre and the band's offices remained shuttered on Wednesday.

Redman, who has maintained the elections are illegal, could not be reached for comment. A call to his lawyer was not immediately returned.

The Teddy awards are named for Ted Weatherill, a former Canada Labour Relations Board chairman who was fired in 1999 after submitting a litany of questionable expenses, including a $700 lunch for two.

For the second year running, Alberta has been awarded the provincial Teddy.

This year, it goes to former Alberta tourism minister Christine Cusanelli, who billed taxpayers when she took her mother and daughter to the London Olympics.

Cusanelli later paid the money back.

The City of Toronto's Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council was awarded the local Teddy for billing the Toronto District Public School Board $158 million for completing 293,000 work orders.

Those orders included a $143 bill to attach a pencil sharpener to a desk with four screws and $266 for hanging three pictures on a wall.

Bev Oda, the former minister responsible for doling out international aid money, won the Lifetime Achievement Teddy. Oda, who left politics last year, was remembered for expensing various chauffeured limousines and for dinging taxpayers for two luxury hotel stays in London on the same night, along with a $16 glass of orange juice.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 7, 2013 A1

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