The CBC is hailing the Royal Assent given to Bill C-27, an Act to Amend the Human Rights Act as a good thing. I say, beware what you wish for – especially when it comes from Canada’s other national public broadcaster (APTN is another).
Why? I remember Bill C-31 which allowed some but not all “non-status Indian” people to regain their status after the Canadian government had stripped them of their rights in the first place with clearly, obviously, deliberately discriminatory legislation.
First, Bill C-31 didn’t work for everyone. Second, it continued to allow discrimination against Status Indians. It did so by continuing the very same discrimination – only this time by jumping a generation. So Bill C-31 might allow a child of a non-status Indian to regain rights, but the children of this person would lose it. Clever folks, these federal bureaucrats. Makes you wonder what they do in their spare time.
Secondly, status is one thing but most services are delivered to “band members.” Some bands came up with such narrow definitions of membership that they actually lost numbers. This, too, is another form of discrimination but the feds considered this to be OK so long as it was Indians discriminating against Indians AND in a way that they agreed with (less Indians is and always has been the ultimate objective of federal Indian policy).
Then there were the unkept promises (don’t get me started!) by the Prime Minister on down that bands would be adequately funded and able to handle the increased demand for medical and social services, housing, basic welfare, etc.
Hah! If you believed that one, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for you.
Here’s what the CBC put down about Bill C-27:
But bands in the region will need more money to comply with the act, said John Paul, executive director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs.
With this legislation, he said, communities may be forced to provide services “with money they don’t have.”
Reserves were exempt from the Canadian Human Rights Act when it was passed in 1977. The exemption was supposed to be temporary to give bands time to prepare.
The House of Commons closed the loophole late last month.
Not quite accurate, even for the CBC. It was not ONLY status Indian bands that needed more time. The federal and provincial governments wanted time as well, so they could get their programs, policies, laws and regulations in line with any changes that might be required to accommodate the COLLECTIVE rights of Aboriginal peoples. Or maybe to find new ways to weed out even more Indians or otherwise restrict their rights.
Whatever. These rights were entrenched in the Charter of Rights and the Constitution Act. The federal and provincial governments were also supposed to make sure that any changes they made did not undermine or violate these rights.
You see, it isn’t just one party that has been discriminating both for and against Aboriginal peoples. Sometimes the Indigenous peoples do it to themselves. But most often, it’s the folks with the power and authority that discriminate against Indigenous folks with near impunity – and get away it time after time.
So, let’s start keeping track of who is complaining about what in the next few months. Let’s just see if the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the legions of knuckleheads out there who think status Indians spend their lives sipping mai-tais by the backyard pool, begin to file all kinds of grievances “so we can all be equal under the law.”
To me, equal treatment would mean that the federal and provincial government begins to treat them the way they have been treating Indians. Let’s see how they like that!