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A new book takes on the shocking conditions in Canada’s 'Third World'

The Shocking Conditions in Canada’s 'Third World’


By —— Bio and Archives--December 6, 2018

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The Shocking Conditions in Canada’s 'Third World’
Until its destruction by fire last July, this packing case was home for five Inuit in Iqaluit, capital of Canada’s Nunavut territory. (Photo—Courtney Edgar)

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father was PM, it was said in western Canada that he yearned to be the supreme head of an undeveloped country—like his friends Fidel Castro of Cuba and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. So he set about achieving that objective at home.

There are never exact comparisons, but Argentina comes close. With resources roughly equivalent to Canada’s, in 1945 that country ranked among the world’s richest. The slide gathered momentum under Juan Peron. Similarly, in 1995 The Wall Street Journal nominated Canada as an honorary member of the Third World on account of the national debt, then almost unmanageable thanks to Trudeau Senior’s profligacy. Since then, there’s been a respite, until now.

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Supported by a sympathetic justice system, and as understood by the vigilantes in the foreign exchange market, Trudeau Junior is following his father with these policies:

Import the Third World with an open door immigration policy, not just for real refugees but for the uneducated and the unskilled masses—for a shrinking job market.

Pay the unemployed and the unemployable not to work and to make babies instead, with crushing costs for the welfare state added to the national debt.

Promote an environmental and climate-change agenda by strangling natural resource development with regulation and, especially, the petroleum industry, despite its being an all-important source of jobs and tax revenues.

Higher taxes—the opposite of President Trump’s approach, and its own vicious circle.

Consolidate Canada’s existing Third World by abandoning the stated intention to close the ever-widening gap for First Peoples (Indians and Inuit).

In his recently published book, There Is No Difference—highly recommended—lawyer Peter Best promotes the cause of equality of rights, responsibility and opportunity. He reviews judicial impediments to natural resource development, as well as law enforcement so ineffective that protests close down worksites. As he explains, jurisprudence from the Supreme Court promotes obstruction.

Many First Peoples leaders exploit deprivation and societal dysfunctionality because they profit personally from maintaining tribal marginalization. Obstructing resource development is leverage for getting unaccountable money for doing nothing. Ever romantic racists steeped in Nanook of the North and Hiawatha, judges are still delivering decisions based on the belief that hunter-gatherers represent reality today—despite extinction of the fur trade decades ago. Today, however,  young people want the opportunities and benefits of the modern world.

Best says the Supreme Court invented new jurisprudence, relied on by the Federal Court to stop Trans Mountain, the pipeline expansion intended to take Alberta oil to market through the port of Vancouver. In Haida the Supreme Court of Canada said the honour of the Crown required not merely consultation but accommodation. By definition, accommodation requires agreement on both sides, or else there’s no deal. Haida carried forward jurisprudence from Delgamuukw requiring “full consent of [the] aboriginal nation” on very serious issues, both for unresolved claims and for intrusions on settled claims. This jurisprudence opens the door not merely to what Best calls Danegeld (shakedown) but to impasse. For example, despite paying $2 million annually to Attawapiskat and providing some employment, community objections led de Beers to abandon the diamond pipe they wanted to develop near the Victor mine that will be exhausted next year.

Theoretically, the Crown could assert the right of eminent domain (necessity) to override legal objections to developments. But, as Best points out, protests have provided the template for delaying developments or stopping them altogether, including the Caledonia residential development in Ontario, and the mining projects of Rio Tinto, Frontenac Ventures, Platinex, and Solid Gold. Some court injunctions have stopped legitimate work because of Indian claims. Others allowing work to proceed have been overridden by violent protests, with the police refusing to enforce the law. Reconciliation is now a one-way street, and violent protests could prevent construction of Trans Mountain regardless of agreements, court orders or legislation.

First Peoples living in terrible remote-settlement slums are mostly uneducated, unskilled and all but unemployable. Their communities have the world’s highest male youth suicide rate, and violent crime and arson are endemic. The scourge of sexual predation leads girls as young as nine to kill themselves. Absent support systems that work, things are hardly better for urban First Peoples. The burgeoning underclass, not exclusively First Peoples, is doubling every twenty years.

In 1969, Trudeau Senior proffered his Policy Statement aimed at ending the de facto apartheid that continues today. In response, Harold Cardinal wrote: “The policy prattles on about replacing the Indians’ dependence with opportunity and responsibility but nowhere does it suggest the government fulfill its legal and moral responsibilities to the Indian.” Cardinal said repealing the Indian Act would be easy if the government met its obligations under the Treaties.

So what are those legal and moral responsibilities? By contrast with what’s been happening in Canada forever, in 1965 Singapore’s Premier Lee began a ten-year program of re-housing and intensively educating 60,000 Malays living in a terrible slum. By the 1990s, children of relocatees were doing Masters degrees at Berkeley and Cambridge, in physics and architecture. In the United States, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and Teach for America show how to educate the most disadvantaged youth for opportunities in the mainstream economy. In Somaliland, of all places, Jonathan Starr finances a residential school that prepares students for university in the United States.

Trudeau Junior’s policies rely on the misconception that all First Peoples espouse his environmental and climate-change agenda, and join with him in opposing natural resource development. That’s not true. Recently, more than 50 leaders banded together as the National Coalition of Chiefs to change attitudes toward resource development and exporting landlocked oil. Speaking of plans for oil terminals on the northern coast of British Columbia, Chief John Helin said: “You [Trudeau] say you want reconciliation and to change the relationship with Indigenous peoples, but then you bring in a tanker ban that deprives us of our right to development without consulting us.”

All First Peoples need adequate housing, education and skills training, sports and recreation, and the opportunity for rewarding employment in the mainstream economy—like what Senator Murray Sinclair and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had in their youth. Canada’s (Trudeau’s) failure to deliver those necessities violates the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. But delivery is impossible when fifteen people live in a tumbledown shack in Attawapiskat or Arviat, and students don’t even learn to read and write English proficiently. The alternative is to implement the Newfoundland outports option—close unviable remote settlements. Urban First Peoples then need supplementary help that works, but which simply isn’t there now. With it, Best’s no difference could become reality.

I have in mind Chief Dan George’s unfulfilled vision on Canada’s centenary, in his 1967 Lament for Confederation: “Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success—his education, his skills—and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society.”

Housing in Pikangikum
Housing in Pikangikum in northern Ontario. A family actually lives here even though the temperature falls to minus 40C in winter. There’s no running water and no electricity


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Ireland, back left, Aubree, with bottle, and Amber, along with their mother, Faith Strang, and five other family members died in a fire on the Indian reserve at Pikangikum in northern Ontario—a frequent occurrence in remote settlements. Chief Dean Owen says his community suffers from overcrowding, unsafe building standards and a lack of firefighting equipment. (Faith Strang's Facebook page)  
Ireland, back left, Aubree, with bottle, and Amber, along with their mother, Faith Strang, and five other family members died in a fire on the Indian reserve at Pikangikum in northern Ontario—a frequent occurrence in remote settlements. Chief Dean Owen says his community suffers from overcrowding, unsafe building standards and a lack of firefighting equipment. (Faith Strang’s Facebook page)

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Colin Alexander -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Colin Alexander was publisher of the Yellowknife <em>News of the North and the advisor on education for the Ontario Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. He lives in Ottawa and has family living in Nunavut. <em>


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