Prime Minister Harper Meets with Aboriginal Leaders in Closed Door Meetings
Who is Defending Our Rights?
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It must have been a little embarrassing for Mr. Harper at the recent closed door session, knowing that possibly some – if not all – the chiefs in attendance earned public service salaries (after taxes) in excess of his own. In spite, the conversation no doubt centred around how hard done-by the native leadership is, and how difficult it is to make ends meet on $9B tax –free annually. But no rational person who’s read a newspaper lately would believe the lack of money, absence of compassion or racism is at the root of the problems plaguing Canadian reserves.
What is striking is the cruel and absurd clinging to a broken system that clearly fails those it purports to help. All the while, some chiefs, band councils, bureaucrats and legions of profiteering lawyers are making a tidy living on the backs of taxpayers, with little to show in spite of centuries-old recriminations and mountains of shuffled paper. One can only speculate about this latest meeting since none of us ordinary folks – who pay the bills incidentally - were invited. But if history is any indication, Canadians without so-called “status” will lose more of their rights, freedoms, land and private property in the name of redressing past crimes that none of us had anything to do with in the first place.
To be fair, this latest protest is more than just about money; although that is inexorably where it always ends. Rather, the real issue is about reinstating claims of sovereignty and self-government. Many native leaders believe that their people are a nation unto themselves, never mind that they live – and receive many benefits as a result –within an already established sovereign nation with clearly defined boarders, rules of law, a Charter and a parliamentary system. In other words, if it walks like a nation, sounds like a nation, and looks like a nation, it’s probably is a nation. And as such, individuals voluntarily residing within the jurisdiction’s borders are at least ostensibly and at best de facto citizens, expected to abide by the rules set down while respecting the rights of the other people that live there.
A nation does not necessarily exist because of various documents that say it does; declarations, charters, constitutions, decree and other legal mumbo jumbo are really just hamster cage liner truth be told. While language, boarders and culture help to define a nation, what really makes the thing work is the consent of the people that reside there. Of course if the peaceful, voluntary option fails, the people can, through their representatives, brandish firepower to maintain order and peace. But that has not been the Canadian way up to now and while not always peaceful and loving, somehow, the people of Canada have always managed to pull together, thus creating one of the most peace-loving, compassionate and enlightened nations on Earth. However, as a result of decades of decline into progressivism, socialism, collectivism and unchecked liberalism, political correctness has seeped into the body politic, resulting in the race for special status and guilt brides which various groups within Canada are exploiting to their own benefit. Unfortunately these interests are usually represented by a small cabal of elites who are the main beneficiaries, while the groups they purport to represent rarely see the benefits. And in the end it is always the befuddled and disenfranchised average citizen who ends up paying the bills, while receiving little value or benefit in return.
Aboriginal Affairs portfolio is also a mess
Like all government programs it is not surprising that the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio is also a mess – just like Health, the RCMP, Canada Post and so on. To most Canadians, Indian Affairs seems like just another fat, bloated, failing government service that we’re forced to pay for. Through a succession of politicians and their party interests, generations of ordinary Canadians have had their kindness and goodwill exploited. So abused has their fiduciary trust been that we must forgive citizens for their cynicism. Canadians have done their part through the crushing and exorbitant taxes they pay and through their obedience to the laws of this country. So why hasn’t the government and bureaucracy made any demonstrable strides to address the plight of ordinary Aboriginals?
Up to now the system has been a politically expeditious exercise which, from time to time, throws crumbs to the reserve rent-a-mob, protesting class to keep them quiet. There is no interest in actually solving the problem since the guilt trade is far too lucrative for a growing class of elitist administrators on both sides of the equation. Mix in the Charter - which gives the rights of individuals precedent over the nation and its peoples as a whole - throw in a good dose of liberal media-hyped guilt, add militant native leaders and spineless politicians and bureaucrats and we have a recipe for disaster. No wonder the situation is so messed up. We’ve seen it too many times before in government negotiations with public sector workers; where government officials - desperate to avoid job action, public inconvenience and bad press - cut unaffordable, backroom deals. Spending other people’s money is always easy, especially when future generations who actually have to carry the debt cannot defend themselves. As a result we have- according to the Canadian Federation of Business – massive public pension unfunded liabilities exceeding $300B, which future generations will be paying for. But it is far more than just lucrative pensions that the native leadership is arguing for, rather, they want their own nation within a nation, along with most of the land in Canada and all the natural resources that come with it. Clearly the stakes couldn’t be higher and Canadians have a bunch of incompetents negotiating on their behalf.
Canada’s sovereign territory is being disputed by land claims
While many Canadians are too busy watching sports on T.V. or shopping for the newest electronic gadgets, most don’t realize how much of Canada’s sovereign territory is being disputed by land claims. A comprehensive map is available on the Web at CBC’s 8th Fire webpage , which illustrates all the so-called disputed land. Other than some rocky outcrops on the west coast, a sliver of Ontario and the most eastern reaches of Newfoundland, the native leadership would have us believe that the entire country of Canada doesn’t really belong to Canadians. The native leadership doesn’t really want the land, since they do not have the ability or expertise to actually process the natural resources. Rather, they want either one-time, astronomical financial compensation, or the right to charge Canadians rent in perpetuity to merely “borrow” the land. So far land claims have paid huge dividends to Canadian aboriginal groups; $145M Toronto Purchase and Brant Tract Claim, $154M Fort William First Nation claim (1), $126M Peguis First Nation claim (2), $259M James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, $445M for the Treaty and Land Entitlement Framework Agreement and too many others to mention. In other words, quietly, behind closed doors, our politicians have bartered away billions of dollars in our name, and given away vast tracts of land to settle obscure agreements that most of us never made or even heard about. But still it’s not enough it seems. Indeed another $250M has been allotted over and above all other expenditures by Stephen Harper’s government to “speed along” the 600 or so currently unresolved land claims. Never mind that the government pays lawyers representing aboriginals to litigate against the Canadian people. When you’re paid to play the lottery the only losers are the taxpayers, and while Canadians sleep, their land and private property are being bargained away.
Small wonder why many sentient Canadians are angry at the prospect of having to pay rent to live on land we rightly and legally own. And if ownership is indeed disputed, I should guess we have well-armed and trained military and police forces, who will uphold our sovereignty, rule of law and peace, while protecting our persons and private property. Not so, when these protectors are muzzled by spineless Liberal politicians as was done in Oka, Ipperwash, Caledonia and elsewhere. These incidents leave Canadians wondering whether some groups are above the law, when the rights of assault rifle-toting thugs trump their own. The outcomes of such stand-offs are usually the same; the entire affair is bungled by the government and taxpayers pay restitution while militant native elements become emboldened and increasingly radicalized.
In spite of what radical aboriginal groups assert, the issue of native sovereignty has been resolved many times over, through the signing of various treaties over the years, through sundry Supreme and provincial court rulings, and more recently, through the Charlottetown Accord. In a rare instance where the people of Canada were actually consulted – although technically the 1992 Charlottetown initiative was a non-binding plebiscite rather than a binding referendum – the majority of Canadians rejected the Accord in part due to the special rights it granted to Quebec and aboriginals. It is clear that Canadians are compassionate and willing to share the wonderful opportunities and resources that they’re blessed with. But they will not, rightly, tolerate the granting of special status to certain groups based merely on ancestral rights. Further, to demand the people of Canada pay for the weakening and eventual dissolution of their confederation is indeed a slap in the face. When a government takes its citizens’ private property and re-distributes it to groups it deems (quite arbitrarily) as having special interest or priority, the results are usually divisive and destructive. Clearly there is a popular myth in Canada that everyone is equal before the law.
Attawapiskat reserve’s financial records revealed serious accounting problems
The recently released Deloitte and Touche audit of Ontario’s Attawapiskat reserve’s financial records revealed serious accounting problems. The audit was unable to account for hundreds of financial transactions worth millions of dollars due to inadequate or absent supporting documentation. The audit summed up, “There is no evidence of due diligence in the use of public funds, including those used for housing” (3). Sadly this isn’t the first time financial irregularities have appeared in band accounting. According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s website, of the 615 bands in Canada, 157 have defaulted on their financial obligations. Given that $9B is spent on aboriginal affairs annually, Canadians are owed an explanation, and perhaps we are starting to see why the money isn’t getting to those who need it most.
It is not just the $9B and how it is being spent that has many Canadians concerned. Ponder the land claim settlements and the various side deals (including the $330.8M announced yesterday for water systems on aboriginal lands). We must also consider lost opportunity costs associated with the blocking of various resource development projects. The bloated salaries eared by litigation lawyers, government bureaucrats, chiefs, their families and friends on the band councils are also of grave concern. Enormous expenditures have accrued through countless native-related commissions, public inquiries and compensation packages. Another 600,000 Metis and non-status Indians have been granted tax-except, Indian Status earlier this year. And the enormous human and program costs associated with native family breakdowns including policing, incarceration, social work and healthcare have become unbearable. As a result we have an unsustainable financial and human crisis. But we also have a constitutional crisis as well, given the preferential sentencing that natives receive in our courts, their immunity from paying taxes, the hiring quotas, the lowering of standards when granting academic accreditation and the kit glove treatment protestors received when they transgress laws that the rest of us must abide by.
This story really has two victims; the average reserve resident that lives in squalor while his chief lives like a king. Then there’s the average Canadian living on a kind of tax reserve, in squalor, while her chiefs live like kings. In spite of every effort to pit us against each other, ordinary Canadians – including aboriginals – have a lot in common; we’re both abused by a ruling elite that is getting fat at our expense. It is important to remember that are excellent chiefs in this country. These are kind and thoughtful people who genuinely put their people’s needs before their own. Their reserves are progressive and busy savvy, making money the honest and old fashioned way through investments, production and putting skilled and dedicated people to hard work making and selling things and services that people need. But far too many are involved in the guilt racket which uses misery and so-called past transgressions and never-ending legal disputes to hold Canadians ransom in order that greed be satiated. The “dependence in perpetuity” status that is being perpetuated is unbefitting of a free and civil society, and this festering cancer requires excising from our national and cultural milieu.
Why hasn’t the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent brought us any closer to a resolution?
Of course the final question in this debate is – when is the so-called debt repaid? Why hasn’t the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent brought us any closer to a resolution? Why are ordinary native people and the other forgotten citizens of Canada (taxpayers) not being better served? Unfortunately, under the current system, the native leadership and our Federal government representatives lack the moral fiber and intellectual depth to confront these enormous moral issues. Solving these fundamental issues takes great men and women and unfortunately we have lightweight Lilliputians who are more concerned with political correctness, their jobs and pensions. In a sense Mr. Harper is being presented with a unique opportunity of going down in Canadian history as the man who solved the native crisis. But that won’t happen. He needs only to put the native issue to a referendum and allow the people of Canada to decide the matter once and for all. No blame, no recriminations, the people will speak and a fair, open and just outcome, according to the will of people, would result. Alternatively a moratorium should be placed on the current negotiations and the issues – along with the proposed spending - ought to be run on by the various parties during the next federal election. This would also allow all Canadians to have a say on the matter.
Unfortunately, over the years, our politicians have created an arbitrary caste system in Canada where certain groups are beholding to others. Most Canadians see special rights being granted to natives and other groups at their expense, while their private property is being confiscated and flushed into a bottomless pit. I venture to say that not a single Canadian alive today outside of government has ever abused native people, yet somehow we are shamed and obligated into paying restitution. It is time to confront this issue in a sensible and responsible way, and seek a solution that meets the needs of everyone, not just aboriginals.
- The Toronto Star, December 16, 2011, author Tanya Talaga
- CBC News Manitoba, June 14, 2009
- CTV, Attawapiskat audit scrutinizes reserve’s record-keeping on millions spent, January 7, 2013