Authors: Christopher Alcantara, Zachary Spicer, Roberto Leone
Published March 2012 in Canadian Public Administration.
Abstract: While academic interest in accountability and transparency mechanisms in Aboriginal governance has risen over the past few years, very few studies have examined how these mechanisms operate in practice. One author, Shin Imai, argues that Indigenous groups in Canada are faced with an accountability paradox that gives too much power to the federal government to intervene in band affairs, while giving too little power to band members to hold their local officials accountable for their actions. This paper examines the extent to which Aboriginal groups can avoid this paradox by reviewing three experiments in institutional design and self-government in Aboriginal communities: the Sechelt Indian Band and the Westbank First Nation in British Columbia, and Nunatsiavut in Labrador. While considerable variation exists in terms of how well these communities overcome Imai's paradox, each community's accountability regime is an improvement over the one imposed by the Indian Act. The effectiveness of these regimes depends heavily on the institutional designs chosen by the Indigenous groups.