Federal political party leaders Elizabeth May (from left), Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier, Yves-François Blanchet and Jagmeet Singh at the Oct. 7, 2019, English-language debate in Ottawa. Photo by Justin Tang/Canadian Press
It took eight minutes for leaders gathered for the first and only commissioned English-language debate of the 2019 election campaign to make a reference to Indigenous people.
The reference was made by Green Leader Elizabeth May, who noted that before answering an audience member’s question, she wanted “to start by acknowledging that we’re on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, and to them, miigwetch.”
Twenty minutes of the Oct. 7 debate were allocated to a discussion about Indigenous issues among all six Canadian federal leaders vying for control of the country’s top office. But as quickly as this segment began, it derailed into a haphazard conversation about pipelines, Quebec and climate change, none of which were discussed constructively, or at all, in the context of Indigenous Peoples.
The segment was moderated by Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt, who posed the first question to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer about his proposed energy corridor: “Practically speaking, how will you consult, accommodate and obtain consent from Indigenous Peoples, and what will you do when your plans come into conflict with Indigenous rights and interests?”
Scheer prefaced his remarks by noting he is “someone who has 12 First Nations reserves in his riding” before speaking of the importance of balancing treaty rights with a path to economic prosperity for Indigenous groups.
He promised a “dynamic” consultation process, but failed to mention the Conservative platform has no dedicated section on Indigenous issues.
Twenty minutes of the Oct 7 debate were allocated for a discussion about Indigenous issues among all six leaders. But as quickly as this segment began, it derailed into a haphazard conversation about pipelines, Quebec and climate change.
Scheer was also one of two leaders onstage (People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was the second) who did not openly state a willingness and commitment to adopt the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. He demanded, instead, more clarity on the right of “free, prior and informed consent” in relation to energy projects and more.
But all leaders, not just those heading the right-of-centre parties, failed to reckon with Indigenous voters’ concerns.
In June, the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada to be guilty of both historic and ongoing genocide. Yet on Monday night, no leader mentioned the term “genocide,” despite being asked about how they would each work with provinces to adopt the recommendations of the MMIWG inquiry.
No leader other than Scheer mentioned the calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, despite also being asked how they would implement them.
The fact is, of the 20 minutes allocated, much was spent on back-and-forth offensive exchanges between the leaders that were completely off-topic or not grounded in the betterment of life for Indigenous Peoples. As NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Scheer, it became more of a debate about “who is worse.” MORE
By ignoring Indigenous rights and child protection, our parties have sentenced a vital national inquiry to a quiet death.
Murray Sinclair led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which in 2015 issued 94 ‘Calls to Action’ for Canada. As of July 2019, only 10 had been implemented. Where are our federal leaders on reconciliation?
The fact that reconciliation isn’t a headline issue during this year’s federal election campaign, despite government and business determination to build a new pipeline for Alberta bitumen, is just one indication that ‘we’re not there yet.’” — Senator Murray Sinclair
Remember when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to implement all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action? That was memorable.
The CBC’s Beyond 94 is the best collection and summary available of Canada’s implementation of the TRC’s Calls to Action. Beyond 94 shows that, as of July 2019, 26 of the 94 Calls to Action had not even been started, and only 10 were fully completed.
The Conservatives never promised to follow the TRC’s Calls to Action, and it’s clear they are utterly opposed to any reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. So a little balance is necessary in assessing the government’s performance.
Let’s look at four of the TRC’s Calls to Action. Where are the political parties on these four items?
Calls to Action 24, 27, 28, 42, 43, 44, 48, 50, 57, 67, 69, 70, 86 and 92 commit Canada, churches, universities and Canadians to implement through domestic legislation and other measures the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In response, the House of Commons passed Bill C-262 in 2018 to require Canadian law to harmonize with UNDRIP. After it became apparent in 2019 that Conservative efforts to prevent a third and final reading in the Senate for C-262 would succeed, the Liberals announced they would once again campaign on a promise to legislate UNDRIP if re-elected in the fall.
But C-262 was a private member’s bill by NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who is not running again in this year’s election. Exactly why wasn’t his bill a Liberal government bill?
The Greens and NDP have also promised legislation to implement UNDRIP. But let’s unpack this a bit.
UNDRIP’s most important provision is that Indigenous nations have a right to free, prior and informed consent about anything that will happen on their lands. Conservatives especially, and others, are petrified this might mean that Indigenous peoples can say no to pipelines and any other proposal their colonial governments set their minds to. In their view, the right to consent cannot possibly mean the right to say no. This is the fundamental reason that former prime minister Stephen Harper refused to allow Canada to endorse UNDRIP in 2007 at the United Nations.
After Bill C-262 died in the Senate, the Liberals said again that if re-elected they will implement UNDRIP. Fool me once, shame on you…
And what about the NDP? I find their position to be very confusing. Do they support the liquefied natural gas pipeline and gas plant in northern B.C. even though hereditary chiefs are opposed to it?
The NDP seems to be in favour of the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline beginning in Dawson Creek and ending at a plant in Kitimat. This position seems to be their only chance of retaining retiring MP Nathan Cullen’s seat in northern B.C. But how can the NDP tell the Liberals: “You. Bought. A. Pipeline.” and then support a different pipeline (kinda sorta, nudge, nudge, wink, wink) even if hereditary chiefs are opposed? The same problem applies to the Site C dam and other projects that require major intrusions onto Indigenous lands. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination told Canada that it is concerned “that the realization of the Site C dam without free, prior and informed consent, would permanently affect the land rights of affected Indigenous peoples in the Province of British Columbia. Accordingly, it would infringe Indigenous peoples’ rights protected under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”
Again, for balance, let’s recognize that the Conservatives do not believe that Indigenous peoples have any right whatsoever to free, prior, informed consent over developments on their land. All fossil fuel projects are good. Indigenous peoples lost their land rights because England said so. End of story. God save the Queen and all of the colonialism and white supremacy she gave to Canada.
Independent Senator Murray Sinclair told APTN: “That [UNDRIP] doesn’t mean that we’re vetoing [proposals]. It doesn’t mean that First Nations people, or Indigenous people outside of Indian reserves, are vetoing anything. Just because they say you can’t run a pipeline across my land doesn’t mean you can’t run it somewhere else.”
As you would expect, the TRC’s first five Calls to Action are about child welfare. The Government of Canada, and therefore the people of Canada, have discriminated against Indigenous children and youth for well over a century. In 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Act was finally enacted, but it included the odious provision that no one was allowed to allege discrimination under the Indian Act. Finally, in 2008, section 67 was repealed. MORE
And yet it remains the only international human rights standard in Canada still up for debate
Chief Jimmy Lulua of the Xeni Gwet’in was elected in a 2018 landslide victory and is continuing the band’s decades-long fight against Taseko Mines’ proposed New Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake. Photo: Louis Bockner / The Narwhal
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded its work almost four years ago, it provided a road map for Canadians to follow. That road map, the 94 Calls to Action, aims to “revitalize the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian society” after more than 100 years of the traumatic and systemic removal of Indigenous children from their families.
Call No. 43 underpinned all others, according to the commission. The commission urged federal, provincial and territorial governments to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They called it “the framework” for all reconciliation measures “at all levels and across all sectors of society.”
It’s extremely rare for international human rights standards to even be mentioned in the Canadian policy debate. However, when Canada voted against the declaration in 2007 at the United Nations, it was the first time that Canada had ever stood in opposition to an international human rights standard.
It remains today the only international human rights standard in Canada up for debate.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper issued an official apology for residential schools in 2008. However, my ongoing study on state apologies to Indigenous Peoples demonstrates that apologies without clear policy shift are typically rejected as “empty gestures.”
International standards of justice require that those responsible for human rights violations must do more than acknowledge and apologize for the harm that has been done. They must go further. They must take every reasonable measure to set things right and to prevent any recurrence of harms.
A closer look at the history of the declaration and its unique framework for human rights protection underscores the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s wisdom in highlighting its indispensable role in reconciliation.
…With the adoption of the declaration, the famous words “We the peoples of the United Nations” at long last became inclusive of the realities of Indigenous Peoples. It made way for Indigenous Peoples who seek a multiplicity of new relationships with UN member states within whose boundaries our territories and nations have been divided and subsumed.
The declaration reinvigorates the themes of self-determination, decolonization and anti-discrimination that are the foundations of the United Nations.
In its preamble, the declaration refutes the doctrines of racial superiority that have been used to justify the dispossession of Indigenous peoples around the world. In its provisions, the declaration calls for concrete remedies for the harms that have resulted from this dispossession. MORE
John Curran volunteered to be arrested at an Extinction Rebellion protest because he fears what the future might be like for his three-year-old daughter.
Former police officers in the United Kingdom have joined climate protests organized by a group with a deliberate mission of getting arrested.
Among them is John Curran, who was actually arrested at another Extinction Rebellion protest earlier this year.
The decentralized international activist group employs peaceful civil disobedience and endorses mass arrests to force governments to take the climate crisis seriously.
Rob Cooper, the former chief superintendent of Devon and Cornwall police, is another former officer who’s joined the Extinction Rebellion protests.
You can hear the former officers’ stories in the video below.
Image: Marty Bernard/Flickr
Brian Russell had $40 left in his pocket when he was one of 4,000 people selected for Ontario’s basic income pilot project.
“Your life is better,” he says. “I had better food and money to travel around the city. My life was more stable and secure.”
For Joan Frame, basic income payments from the province meant she no longer had to borrow from friends to make it through the last few days of the month. Frame says she was always juggling bills and that basic income gave her back power over her life.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you need to ask for money, but it is impossibly difficult,” she says. “It was the worst part about being on any kind of assistance for me.”
The program was launched by the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne. On March 31, 2019, Doug Ford’s government ended the pilot, plunging participants and their families back into a dysfunctional welfare system that penalizes them for simply being poor.
Ford claimed that some 25 per cent of participants were either dropping out or failing to meet basic obligations, such as filing their taxes. Neither claim was verified.
In fact, the project was achieving its goals of improving food and housing security and mental health, as well as increasing access to education, training and employment. It was also reducing demands on the provincial health care system.
We know this not just from data that was collected, but from the testimonials of participants who say receiving a basic income of $17,000 per individual or $24,000 per married couple had noticeably changed their lives.
Frame had decided to go back to school, but that turned out to be short-lived when she was blindsided again by the Ford government’s cuts to post secondary education two weeks into her midterms.
Before launching the basic income pilot, the Wynne government consulted Ron Hikel, the executive director of the original Mincome project in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Under this program implemented by NDP premier Ed Schreyer and Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, all adults living in Dauphin received basic income payments from 1974 to 1978. The experiment ended when Progressive Conservatives came to power provincially.
A decade ago, health economist Evelyn Forget of the University of Manitoba found some 18,000 boxes of research from the Dauphin project that had been collecting dust in a warehouse.
Filmmaker Ken Fisher has combined Hikel and Forget’s expert knowledge with the experiences of four participants from the Dauphin project to create the 20-minute documentary, The Manitoba Story: A Basic Income Film.
(Fisher and his team have also designed a free and open source game to help others explore their own relationship with money as well as their understanding of basic income.)
Participants in the film include Eric Richardson, who was in Grade 6 when his parents began receiving Mincome payments. As a result, Richardson was able to go to the dentist for the first time in his life and have 10 cavities filled.
Now a college instructor in carpentry, Richardson says his choices in life would have been severely restricted without Mincome. Had his family not received a basic income, he says, he would likely have had to quit high school.
Susie Secord tells a similar story. Secord dropped out of school at 17 because she was pregnant. Receiving Mincome meant she could take care of her child while earning her high school diploma. She was able to go on to university, land a good job, buy a house and raise three children. Secord is now paying it forward by ensuring others in her community have opportunities to better their situations.
Clark Wallace was part of a farming family that just never seemed to earn enough to get ahead. Mincome enabled Wallace’s father to purchase a new truck to take the community’s lambs to market. This gave the family the financial hand-up it needed to expand into horse farming.
Forget, whose research includes finding ways to make the health care system sustainable, says there is enough data from Mincome projects around the globe “to support the idea that we need to start investing upfront to ensure people have the resources they need to take care of themselves and their families.”
Many Canadians don’t realize that 67 per cent of Canadian families already receive a partial basic income. Canada’s Child Benefit is a guaranteed basic income for families and it’s keeping 588,000 children out of poverty.
Forget says, “We’ve been experimenting with basic income for the past 40 years. The results are always the same — people who receive a basic income are happier, healthier and less likely to need the support of other social programs. They are financially more stable and are in a better position to make long-term plans.”
Hikel says successful basic income programs in the U.S., including the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation in New York City, and others in Europe, have not received the attention they deserve, while failures have tripped up several attempts to build a basic income program.
Forget hopes that when people watch Fisher’s documentary, “They recognize that the people who benefited from Mincome were people very much like themselves and their families.”
Image: David J. Climenhaga
Research published this morning by Environmental Defence Canada concludes that adoption of the powerful Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers lobby group’s election wish list would increase Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by 116 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.
“In that scenario, Canada’s oil and gas sector would be emitting 311 million tonnes, making emissions from that one industry representing one-fourteenth of the Canadian economy greater than the emissions of 170 countries in the world,” the report stated.
This goes to the respected Toronto-based environmental group’s assertion well-funded fossil fuel industry lobbying is the single biggest barrier to effective climate action being taken by Canada.
“Oil and gas companies haven’t just played an outsized role in emitting GHGs and accelerating climate change,” said the report, which was put together for Environmental Defence Canada by the EnviroEconomics research organization. “Their lobbying efforts have also contributed to weakening existing environmental policies and killing or delaying proposed climate policies.”
The report noted that academic research shows corporate fossil fuel lobbyists met with Canadian government officials about 11,000 times between 2011 and 2017. That’s eleven thousand times — not a typo.
Fossil fuel industry lobbying sought to weaken or kill six important areas of environmental protection, the report said: environmental assessment rules, water protection, carbon-pricing policies, methane controls, impact assessment and clean fuel standards.
The report also accuses some of Canada’s major fossil fuel companies of using subsidiaries in foreign tax havens to avoid taxes, although the researchers said they were unable to estimate the amount of money that may have been squirrelled away abroad.
If CAPP’s wish list were granted after the October 21 federal election, Environmental Defence Canada said, GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector “would use 60 per cent of Canada’s 2030 carbon budget under the Paris Agreement.” It noted that the sector, despite its power and influence, represents 7 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product and 1.3 per cent of Canada’s employment. MORE