Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Non Native #IdleNoMore

We, the non native communities of Canada have had our successive Governments impose their will on our friends’ native communities going back untold years.

It is time we spoke up and let the Government of Canada of today and the Governments of the future know that this has to stop and that the only way forward must include the voices of those we wish to help.


I have been following the #IdleNoMore movement for a while and while I understand some of the reasons behind this movement, I don’t pretend to understand them all.

But what I really can’t wrap my head around is the Harper Party’s response to these #IdleNoMore protests.

I look at the handling of the hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence by Stephen Harper.  Had Harper stepped up in the first place and had a sit down with Chief Spence there would probably not have been much of a protest.

Instead, Lord Stephen chose to rebuff Chief Spence and to ignore her.  When it became apparent that she wasn’t going away, he opted to send lackeys.

First off it was Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan.  This is like sending the server back to a bunch of teed off customers in a restaurant.  The service was appalling and you’re sending the same person we’re mad at back to settle us down?  And then you act surprised when he can’t get a meeting?  It is fairly obvious that Chief Spence wants to talk with someone who can do something more than regurgitate talking points.

Then it was Patrick Brazeau, the Senator who says he is still living at home with his Dad to pick up an extra $30Gs in taxpayer money.  The first time he arrived he was told that Chief Spence was not available to meet with him, when he came back hours later he was told that Chief Spence did not want to meet with him.

And we have Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and other Federal Officials chirping in the background that Chief Spence should just meet with John Duncan. 

Apparently they don’t get it.

Many of the treaties signed over the years were between the Native Bands and with the Crown.  John Duncan does not represent the Crown.  He is merely a regurgitator of talking points.  He is an echo box.  Chief Spence does not want to talk with the “Mouth Piece of Stephen”. (That is a Lord of the Rings reference if you don’t recognize it... Gandalf dealt with him… Chief Spence is more polite) Stephen is supposed to represent the State, and Governor General David Johnston is supposed to represent the Crown and they are the ones she wishes to speak with.

Some Bands have even written to the Queen to try and get some action.

It doesn’t seem to be working.

Look, Stephen Harper says that he hasn’t got the time to meet with Chief Spence, but he did find time for a photo op with Justin Bieber, he did find time for a photo op in a seniors residence playing cards, it is plain to see where his priorities are.

He certainly is some kind of “Master Strategist” isn’t he?

It was just a year ago that Chief Spence and the Attawapiskat Community were in the news, not locally, not nationally, but internationally.  There is already a national groundswell of support for both Chief Spence’s hunger strike and the #IdleNoMore movement and it is showing up internationally as well.

Aboriginal groups around the world have noticed what is happening and are talking about it.  Non Aboriginals have noticed it as well and they are talking too.  Stephen may not realize it yet, but there are many people throughout the world, primarily in Europe who have a fascination with Native Canadians.  In a way they seem to envy us for having these people here, it is very different from their world where they are the natives.

You and I, we all have a share of the problems that Native Canadians face.  We have elected the governments that have failed to solve these “Indian Problems”.  We have forced Native children into Residential Schools, thinking that education was the answer.  It didn’t work out.  We’ve tried to transplant these children into “our” schools often by taking them from their communities and adopting them out to nice white families with poor results.  We, through the government decide on what can and cannot happen on the Reserves.

Imagine that.  How would you like it if you wanted to build a house but the Minister in Charge has to approve the allocation of land for the building, has to approve of erecting a building there and so forth?  Or if the Government decided the best way to educate you kids was to send them off to school in a distant city and not allow them to live the way you taught them?  You’d scream bloody murder.  But this is how we treat Native Canadians.

I think even Stephen Harper would agree that there are problems here and that they need to be addressed.  The problem is that HE wants to determine what the issues are and HE wants dictate how they are handled.  Wouldn’t it far simpler to sit down with the people involved and determine what the issues truly are and work out a plan to try and resolve these issues?

No, not really.  It is easier to impose our will on others, but easy does not mean right.  Sitting down with the leaders of the various communities would take time and it would be hard on both sides, but progress would be made.  The cost of addressing these issues on the short term would be high, but in the long run would be far cheaper than the bandaid solutions that we have been giving them over these many years.

Everything that the Natives of Canada have, we’ve given them.  We forced them off of their original lands and given them reserves.  We stripped them of their Native ways and given them diabetes, addiction, and suicides instead. 

Maybe it is time we stop giving and start taking instead.

Maybe Stephen Harper should take the opportunity to speak face to face with Chief Spence.  He could even take the Governor General with him.  Justin Trudeau took time to meet with Chief Spence, former Prime Minister Joe Clark took time to meet with her as well.

We should listen to what the Native leaders have to say and take their views into consideration and take their advice on how to correct the issues that we have given them.  I’m not so naïve to think that these elected leaders of the various native communities have all the answers, but I am smart enough to see that our elected leaders have failed in the past and will fail in the future unless they take the advice of the experts, and the experts are the Native Peoples themselves.

In the mean time, I along with others will encourage Stephen Harper (@pmharper) to meet with Chief Theresa Spence (@ChiefTheresa) and other Native leaders using the hashtag #IdleNoMore to let everyone know what my feelings are.

For those of you who think using Twitter is a silly way to do this, we are not writing to Stephen Harper, we are writing to the world to tell them what we think.

Cheers, BC

You may have noticed the liberal use of us and them in this posting.  I am a non native who supports #IdleNoMore. 

We helped to create the situation, we need to help rectify it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Bit of a Christmas Rant

I got a news item in my email the other day from  I get them daily, a list of articles that are of importance, headlines, you probably know the type of thing.

Anyhow, one of the articles was to do with a city in Saskatchewan turning down a request to remove “Merry Christmas” from city busses.

So who was the heinous group of terrorists and infidels or those godless types that wanted the Merry Christmas removed from the busses?

One guy.

One guy sent the city a letter complaining that it bothered him, that it was offensive. And it goes out as national news.

Says a lot for our “National News” people doesn’t it?

Lately I’ve seen some signs going up too, on lawns throughout the area. “Christmas is about Christ” is the message. Maybe it used to be.

This seems to be part and parcel of the so called “War on Christmas” we keep hearing about.  Political Correctness run amok. The atheists and the infidels are trying to destroy our way of life!


I’m sure that the non Christians enjoy the time off work, or the premium pay if they get stuck working the Christmas shift and I don’t think it bothers them that people seem to be a bit nicer to each other, even if it is just for a couple of weeks prior to Christmas.  After all, Santa IS watching, isn’t he?

Look, it doesn’t bother me to have someone say Merry Christmas. It doesn’t bother me to have someone say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” either. It is the Christmas season that I’m being greeted with, holiday is an old word from the combining of “Holy” and “Day”. If these things bother you, get over it.

Maybe it should bother you that the “Christmas Season” starts off with something called “Black Friday”.

Seriously, there has been a War on Christmas, and it has been going on a long time. It is not the non Christians and non Believers you have to worry about, it is the businessmen.

How many of you have read “A Christmas Carol” or at least seen the movies?  Did you even notice that Bob Cratchit has to ASK to have a day off to celebrate Christmas with his family?

Back then, Christmas was a rural holiday. To the industrialists and businessmen it was a bother and a pest, a humbug if you will, to give people time off during the work week for a church holiday. Most of the workers back then were still moving from the countryside to the cities in search of work, and this Christmas day off was just a remnant of country life, nothing to do with the city, and nothing to do with business.

And it is still happening today. This year Wal-Mart tried to get the jump on the competition by starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday evening. Thanksgiving evening. There was a lot of push back, but not nearly enough, Wal-Mart went ahead anyway.

You see Thanksgiving is a big deal in the USA, they even have holiday specials on TV for it. The rants on the news sites were all blown away with comments like “IF you don’t want to work on Holidays, don’t work at Wal-Mart”. Curiously, I’ve never thought of Wal-Mart as a career choice. Even more curiously, if you use that argument about not joining a union they get real cranky, but that’s another rant.

If you think that Wal-Mart and Target and the other big retailers haven’t considered opening on Christmas, you have been asleep. The only reason they close and stay closed for Christmas is that they are scared that the fallout will be too hard to handle for too long.

We’re dealing with people who think God only comes before Greed in the dictionary. The bottom line is the only one that matters. Not you, not your family, only profits.

Do you think Target cares that they ousted thousands of employees when they bought Zellers? Some of these people were working full time (Gasp!), some were making more than minimum wage (Gasp!!!), but that is not the Target way. Here in Chatham, 
they just closed the Zellers up, 9 days before Christmas.

Season’s Greetings from Target! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

If you need to be upset about something, don’t waste your time on “Season’s Greetings” and whatnot, be upset about something that matters…

Like folks who get Christmas dinner at the soup kitchen.

Like people getting their Christmas cooking supplies from a Food Bank or a Salvation Army basket.

Like the kids who’ll only get one toy this Christmas because of a charity like the Good Fellows who made sure that they got one.

These people didn’t ask to be put in this position. Many of these people used to give to these same charities that they now find themselves receiving help from.

Maybe the guy in Saskatchewan is right. Maybe it is offensive to put Merry Christmas on the busses, maybe we should put it somewhere else, like in our hearts.

I hope this Christmas season finds you all well, and I hope that you will be able to enjoy time with your friends and loved ones. Maybe this year we can figure out that the best way to celebrate Christmas is not to be nice for a couple of weeks or a month, but to be nice to each other the whole year round.

Yeah, kind of sappy, but after all, it is Christmas.

 Glædelig jul!  BC

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Enough With the Vote Splitting!

There were three by-elections in Canada this week. Each riding was held by the party that had the seat prior to the by-elections.  The riding of Durham, Ontario was a majority win so there is no complaint there, but the other two races were very close with the “victors” only taking roughly 1/3rd of the votes cast.

But the biggie is the near upset in Calgary by the Liberal Candidate Harvey Locke who almost ousted the Harper Party Parachute Club member Joan Crockatt.  Crockatt took 36.9% of the votes cast, Locke took 32.7%

This is where the cries of vote splitting kick in.

There are people ranting and railing about how the Green Party candidate Chris Turner screwed the chances of a “progressive” party winning Calgary Centre by not throwing his support behind the Liberal cause.

My question to them is why should he have?

If Chris Turner believed that the Liberal Party was the best option for the residents of the riding, he should have run for the Liberals.

He didn’t, he opted to run for the Greens because he felt the Green Party was the better choice.  At least I hope that’s why he ran.

The people complaining about the vote split need to listen to the disenfranchised voters from the right side of the spectrum.  These are the former PC supporters who now have no party to represent them.  They have 3 choices (actually four).  Some, a fair number I suppose, vote for the vestiges of their party that rest in the Harper Party.  They aren’t that happy.  Look at Calgary Centre, the Harper Party only managed 37% of the vote in a lead pipe cinch riding.  The former MP for the riding took 55% of the votes in the 2011 election.

Some of them are willing to hold their nose and vote for the Liberal or other parties, the one that shares at least some of their former beliefs.  This would account for the surge in votes for both the Liberals and the Green Party.

And the rest stayed home.  That could in part explain why the turnout in Calgary Centre was so low.

The fourth option would be to vote for the Progressive Canadian Party, which is made up of former Progressive Conservative members and supporters who left their party rather than be part of the Harper Party.

Are you with me so far?  So let’s “Unite the Left”.

Let’s just say that the NDP, Liberal, and Green Parties sat down and decided that each would get a shot at a riding where it looked like they had a chance of winning and the others wouldn’t field a candidate in that riding.  So the NDP gets Victoria, the Liberals get Calgary Centre and the Greens get Durham.

So the results are a solid NDP win in BC, a solid Liberal win in Alberta, and a Green Party loss in Durham where the Harper Party carried just over 50% of the votes, right?

Maybe, maybe not.  This isn’t a case of 1+1+1=3.  If your riding was a targeted riding and your party was not running a candidate so that a progressive would have a better chance… would you vote for that candidate?  Would you vote for another candidate because you refuse to vote for the “chosen party”?  Would you bother to vote at all?

Be honest, if you are a card carrying Liberal or NDP member, would you happily vote for the other party?  Would you just stay home?

Listen, some churches have tried similar things.  Faced with declining numbers churches are combined in the hopes that 1200+1200=2400.  It doesn’t work that way for them.  Some people faced with the closure of their church would rather not go to church at all, or join other churches that are closer than their newly assigned church.

If it doesn’t work all that well for them, why should it work in politics?  I’ve seen people who agree on just about everything ready to come to blows simply because of the colour of their lawn signs in election season.

Political divisions aren’t like the lane divisions on the highway, where the NDP drive in the Left Lane and the Harper Party in the Right one.  It’s more like mixing water colours and where the two close colours blend is where the swing voters live.  The thing is that if you take colour from the one side of your spectrum, say the right side, then you risk alienating your supporters on the opposite side who may move away from your party or just stay home on Election Day.

In the last Federal Election, Ontario Liberals were knocked down badly.  I looked at the numbers comparing the 2011 Election with the previous election.  The increase in Harper Party votes roughly mirrored the increase in the NDP votes.  Apparently some Liberal supporters jumped to the right to prevent the left from sweeping into Ontario.  The other thing I noticed was that the number of votes that moved to the left and right did not match the drop in the Liberal numbers.  Liberal supporters stayed home.

From where I sit, the best thing for Canada right now is for the “progressive” parties to choose whoever they feel is the best leader for their party and to hammer out what they feel are the best policies for their party and for Canada and to sell it (the policies, not the country).

Part of the beauty of Canada is that we are not divided into two parties.  We have choice.

But beyond that, I would love to see the day when our candidates run under a given banner, but have the ability to stand up in caucus and in the House of Commons and say to their party “This law is not a good fit for my constituents.  I choose my constituency over the wishes of the party.” And not be penalized for that.

And banning all attack ads would be nice too.

Cheers, BC.