Kiwkwetlem Chief Ron Giesbrect has been re-elected by his band members despite a controversy that emerged last year when it was revealed he made nearly a million dollars in 2013.
According to the election results on the Kiwkwetlem First Nation website, Giesbrect defeated his only competitor George Chaffee in a vote of 30-16.
The 81-person First Nation is located in Coquitlam area and has two reserves totalling about 85 hectares (0.85 square kms). Government data shows just 35 people – approximately one-third of its members – live on the reserves.
Audited financial statements made public by the federal government’s newly implemented First Nations Financial Transparency Act indicated Giesbrect earned $914,219 tax free in 2013 plus $16,574 in expenses. This is equivalent to an amount of about $1.6 million before taxes.
However, Giesbrect argued that about $800,000 came from an economic development ‘bonus’ – he is eligible to receive a 10 per cent cut of a land deal the band made with the provincial government. During that fiscal year, $8.2 million of the band’s $12.6 million revenues came from B.C. taxpayers.
When details of Giesbrect’s compensation emerged last summer, there were calls by both band members and former band councillors for Giesbrect to resign. Since then, some band members have also filed a lawsuit against the Chief’s substantial earnings.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation in 2010, 82 aboriginal reserve politicians made more than Prime Minister Harper’s $315,462 salary while another 222 First Nation chiefs and councillors made more than their province’s premier.