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This article was published 18/12/2009 (3618 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Each member of the Peguis First Nation band council made more money last year than Winnipeg's mayor, Manitoba's premier and nearly every one of the province's MPs.
According to brown-envelope documents delivered to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently, Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson made $174,230 in the fiscal year ending in March.
That includes a base salary of $124,000 plus $48,200 in unspecified "other remuneration." It doesn't include $32,000 in travel per diems and expenses.
But Hudson made far less than his four councillors, most of whom earned well over $200,000, tax free.
One band councillor, Glennis Sutherland, made $251,000 and charged an additional $59,000 in travel expenses in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. That's more than $160 a day in gas.
Sutherland has been a band councillor for about 20 years in Peguis, one of the province's biggest reserves and one that's routinely jolted by scandal.
On Thursday, Hudson suggested the figures were too high and possibly incorrect. Friday, he checked with his financial staff and confirmed they are accurate.
He said the high salaries are a hangover from the former regime.
Two years ago, in a battle that had been brewing for a decade, Hudson defeated notorious chief Louis Stevenson, who had also been plagued by scandal.
Instead of cleaning house the moment he became chief, Hudson said he kept many of Stevenson's staff, including the former finance manager. Salaries, travel per diems, expenses, honoraria and other payments like overtime and vehicle grants had been handled by the former manager until she resigned in March.
"Some of the patterns were not identified until now and we're still finding things out as we progress," said Hudson. "It's 26 years of practices that were in place and a lot of them were hidden."
Hudson said a forensic audit of the band's books over the last four years is underway, and the band council recently drafted a resolution capping remuneration at $170,000 for the chief and $140,000 for councillors.
Hudson also noted that's he donated $33,000 of his salary for a community Christmas party.
The reports, done by the Graham Avenue office of BDO Dunwoody chartered accountants, are year-end tallies of the band council's salaries, honoraria, travel expenses and other remuneration for the last two fiscal years. They were delivered anonymously — Hudson believes they likely came from Stevenson's allies — to the CTF.
"It's atrocious," said CTF Manitoba director Colin Craig of the salaries. "I wonder what the conditions are like for the average person on the reserve?"
The Interlake band has about 7,200 members and has traditionally spawned some of the province's most colourful controversies.
When Hudson ended Stevenson's 26-year reign as chief in 2007, Ottawa investigated and rejected allegations made by Stevenson and his supporters alleging election corruption. Similar allegations were made after nearly every band election.
Stevenson's tax-free salary and severance package paid during his last year as chief also sparked criticism. He made $240,000 plus a whopping $133,000 in travel expenses in 2006-2007.
Population: 7, 200
CHIEF GLENN HUDSON
Salary, honoraria and other remuneration: $174,230
Travel: $32,151 (For 2008-09 fiscal year)
COUN. MARY SUTHERLAND
Salary, honoraria and other remuneration: $185,486
COUN. GLEN COCHRANE
Salary, honoraria and other remuneration: $213,683
COUN. DARLENE BIRD
Salary, honoraria and other remuneration: $220,366
Travel: $37, 239
COUN. GLENNIS SUTHERLAND
Salary, honoraria and other remuneration: $251,747
Premier: $153,769 (According to the province's latest public accounts documents, former premier Gary Doer made that much in the year ending March 31, 2009. Premier Greg Selinger will make roughly the same.)
Population: 1.2 million
Mayor: $114,053 (In 2008, Mayor Sam Katz made that much. A third of it was taxfree.)
MPs: $157,731 (That's the base salary this year for MPs. It was a little less last year. Cabinet ministers like Treasury Board president Vic Toews make an additional salary, bringing their pay up to $233,247 this year. They also get a car allowance of $2,122.)
Population: 80,000 average for Manitoba ridings