Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

after the gold rush

residential-school-pic[editor: I changed the title from “education or gold rush?”]

I remember going to school board meetings in Regina and Ottawa (not exactly as shown) in my past life as a reporter.

Boring affairs. Lots of empty seats. A few iffy stories. Mostly, I thought to myself, folks seemed more concerned about everyone else’s kids than their own. Not that different than rez parents.

I was therefore surprised at the amount of jabber-jabber among non-Indigenous types about the First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

First, it’s about (yawn) education.  Second, it’s about (double yawn) First Nations’ education. So why all the online chatter?

Right now, the topic’s just-a-popping especially after last week’s shocking, surprising, and dare I say (yes I do) historic resignation of Shawn Atleo as head of the Assembly of First Nations. He said he wanted to remove himself as a “lightning rod” for opponents of the FNEA.

So what, you say. Why should non-Indigenous types think this concerns them at all?

It doesn’t. But they love to tell Indigenous peoples that they’re a bunch of stubborn, misguided arses and that they’re ruining their own lives and those of  blah blah blah.

Maybe this compensates for frustration, deep feelings of anxiety, impotence and inadequacy at their own lack of control over their own politicians and governments. They got daddy issues, y’see.

If they were half as concerned as they claim, wouldn’t they have asked why First Nations students get about a third less money for education than their own kids? Or why so many FN schools sit on contaminated land, make kids sick from mold and other poisons, don’t provide classes in their own languages, or teach their own histories?

Sorry. I almost put you to sleep, didn’t I? But isn’t that the point?

Knowing all that stuff presumes non-Indigenous folks even care about news from Indian country. Of course, they don’t. Why should they when they got Rob Ford, Mike Duffy and Pauline Marois to entertain and enthrall.

Yet, so many non-Indigenous types get their knickers in a twist about FN education on the rez when their preferred teaching method is apparently provided by Canadian prison guards.

I mean… really? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Choose one or the other. Education in schools? Or longer prison terms? Focus, people!

I’m being cheeky. Still …

I don’t think them hosers are really concerned about FN education or FN students at all. I think they’re really upset about losing control over Indigenous peoples. They’ve a lifetime of comforting stereotypes pounded into their noggins, after all, that “natives” are inferior in nearly every way including how to raise and teach their own children. And ain’t that the very foundation for residential schools?

Face it – there are a lot of hosers who think those schools weren’t all that bad. Eh?

My point is this. The FNEA and a string of other “historic” accomplishments passed by the Harper Government™ since it took power has been less about First Nations’ fiscal accountability, financial transparency, fair elections, matrimonial property rights, or education.

It’s been about the Federal  government blocking, limiting, undermining and avoiding at all costs the recognition of some fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples to control their own lives.

It’s about centuries of White privilege, and fear of losing a tiny bit of that, should Indigenous peoples escape those legal handcuffs so effectively applied by the Indian Act and other government policies.  I mean, just look at the amazing job the Canadian Government’s done so far? Need I say more?

Indigenous peoples already have legal recognition of their inherent rights; in the Aboriginal rights sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights, various decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada and other Canadian courts, in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and under international law.

The problem isn’t legal recognition. It’s Canada’s amazing, technicolor, hypocrisy.

One the one hand, Canada claims: “we respect Aboriginal rights”.

On the one hand, it does its darnedest to tear up those same Aboriginal rights in lengthy, expensive court cases.

Even when it’s been handed very clear, definite judicial smackdowns, the Federal Government’s lawyers will appeal almost with malicious intent.

There. I said it. I believe government lawyers can be petty and malicious. I hope you’re happy.

There seems an unwritten memo floating about the PMO (regardless of political occupant) that says: Deny, deny, deny.

Maybe this is why the Harper Government™ is in such a rush to cut Indians off at the pass. It’s a different kind of “red scare” these days.

Blogs, reports and studies, and headlines rally the troops to plant flags and stake claims before it’s too late. Do it now – before Indigenous peoples get there and demand a share of the wealth. Or at least a seat at the negotiating table.

Sheesh!  I mean, the nerve?! Google shows “about 21,700 results” with the words “Canada”, “Aboriginal rights” and “resource development”. A sizeable chunk warns governments and corporations that snoozers are losers.

It’s the Harper Government’s™ version of THE AMAZING RACE with oil and mining companies scrambling over themselves to get there before the courts step in. “Thar’s gold (oil and other precious minerals) in them thar hills!”  Yee-haw!

Doncha think maybe, just perhaps, that could be why so many chiefs are upset at all the backroom deals and private talks going on between the Assembly of First Nations and the Harper Government™?

The AFN and PMO can use all kinds of fancy blah-blah about “historic” this and that, or yadda-yadda about saving souls, but we know it’s always been about used car salesmen and Indians getting the sh***y end of the stick.

Politics and Indigenous rights – not education or fiscal whatever. Anyone who says different is zoomin’ ya.

Yes, there are fundamental differences – that Great Native Divide; “comprised… of native people who think of themselves as Canadian citizens [and] those who regard themselves as citizens of their respective nations.”

But can that excuse those who think it must be one or the other – all or nothing – with no common ground? Are these the only choices: assimilation or Indigenation?

There are, after all, common Aboriginal rights at stake for adherents of both camps. Protecting and advancing those rights is — and should be — Job # 1 at the AFN. The question is whether this organization of chiefs has been doing that or jumping at carrots dangled by the Harper Government™.

Interesting sidebar: more and more people outside Indian country are becoming interested, learning about and debating these issues. Always a good sign. Welcome to the party, y’all.


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Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canadian politics, Indigenous rights

fool me twice, shame on me

Idle No MoreIf you want to understand Idle No More, listen hard to what people don’t say. Listen to the emotions that emanate from them when they gather. Listen and hear everything from joy and pride, to anger and shame. And great disappointment too, for believing government promises time after time.

The shame I’ve heard seems to come from peoples’ sense of helplessness, of being told change and improvement are hopeless – and believing it.  They’re fed up at being sucker punched by the Government time after time, and having shame pressed upon them by society. They don’t like feeling that way. They don’t want their kids to feel that way. Not anymore.

Continue reading


Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canadian politics, human rights, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, journalism

chuckie and da baas gotta go

A few years ago, I did some research on federal education funding from elementary, to high school and post secondary. Province by province, it was a mish-mash of ad-hocery that even a relatively superficial examination showed that the Department of Indian And Northern Affairs was simply throwing money at some schools and some school boards, while starving others to point of shutdown. What I found early on were examples of off-reserve school boards (white school boards) filing inflated numbers of Indigenous kids at the beginning of the school year and got cheques cut for them by INAC with nary a question asked. On the other hand, on-reserve schools had to justify each and every request for funds; for every staple, piece of chalk and teaching aid.

Chuck Strahl

Strahl don't need no edumacated Indians!

Off-reserve schools recruited reserve kids like crazy before the September deadline for admissions, then managed to kick a lot of them out once the cheques had been delivered. On-reserve schools had to fight to keep their students in classes sometimes with no heat, few books, and grossly underpaid teachers,  compared to what teachers in the white schools got. Gym teacher? In a rez school? What kinda mushrooms you chewin’ on?! Y’eedjit.

Off-reserve schools got grants to upgrade their computers. On-reserve schools got nada – not a freakin’ dime – for computers or software or printers. Nothing. Period! Off-reserve school boards could factor in a certain percentage of their federal grant applications from Indian Affairs for upkeep to the premises, usually called “infrastructure” or “capital” costs. On-reserve schools got a belly laugh from Indian Affairs officials when they tried to apply for similar funding.

I tried to encourage reporters to take a closer look, including some Aboriginal reporters.  All I got were blank stares. I got the feeling from the Aboriginal reporters that they wanted me to do their work for them. I got the feeling from the white reporters that not only did they want me to do their work for them but they couldn’t give a sh*t either.

Which brings me to my pick for overlooked or ignored news story of the week. Once again, it’s the disgusting behaviour of the Harper Government in Ottawa, and the always blood-boiling antics of the Department of Indian Affairs under the direction of Chuckie. I have never seen such of bunch of two-faced, lyin’ sonsawhoosits in my life. They give new meaning to the word: “shameless.”

shameless |ˈ sh āmlis|
(of a person or their conduct) characterized by or showing a lack of shame : his shameless hypocrisy.


Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, human rights, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, journalism, racism

reality bites

It’s pretentious, snobby, puts itself on a pedestal, looks down on real people, thinks it directs or informs international policies where it’s published and sometimes through influential readers where it is not. But every now and then, even The Economist nails it.

It called former PM Paul Martin Jr. “Mr. Dithers,” and everyone seemed to know his days were numbered (including Mr. Martin). Now the British-based international business magazine has a new target living at 24 Sussex in Ottawa.

Harper in a ballet tutu

PM Stephen Harper (not exactly as pictured)

The headline reads: Halted in mid-debate

But its the sub-head that does the damage:

Stephen Harper is counting on Canadians’ complacency as he rewrites the rules of his country’s politics to weaken legislative scrutiny

T’was ever thus. Can you hear the clock ticking…. ?


Filed under Canada, Canadian politics, Climate Change, Environment, journalism

great line

Rick Mercer

A "borrowed" picture of Rick Mercer

This is by Rick Mercer, a comedian, humourist, and funny guy in Canada. I think he comes closest to the biting kind of political satire that Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) specialize in.

Here’s Mercer’s rant on Stephen Harper, who has p*ssed off just about everybody in all areas of the political quandrants by proroguing Parliament for another couple of months (probably so he can avoid answering opposition questions on torture in Afghanistan, stack the Senate while Parliament is empty, spend taxpayers’ money like drunken fools without anyone asking serious questions, and pretty much avoid the media.

Harper aka Pinochio

PM Stephen Harper

Enjoy the >full rant here:

This is a man who could argue that he is Canada’s greenest PM simply because he’s the only one who has gone out of his way to give potted plants key portfolios.

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Filed under Canada, Canadian politics, Environment, humour

i share your disgust

Healther Mallick

Canadian journaist/writer Heather Mallick

Not much to add to Heather Mallick’s opinion piece in the Guardian (UK). Right to the point. The disgust, the anger, the general pissed-off feeling with Stephen Harper and his gang that came in to form a Conservative government in Canada with high promises and low intentions.

Every promise (accountability, transparency, greater respect and civility, and on and on) broken with worse than a shrug. A largely sycophantic media at best, or a beaten and submissive media at worst, keeps bending to this strutting joker and his bunch in Ottawa. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is a joke and so is that party’s leader who wants to lead but thinks it comes with the letterhead and doesn’t need to be earned.

CDN PM Stephen Harper

CDN PM Stephen Harper

Harper and the Cons? What a joke on the international stage.  Climate change? How can they use it to shovel more money to the big polluters (and make a laughingstock of Canada abroad)? Indigenous peoples rights? Get’s nothing but a snarl from those idiots. The economy? Harper and his finance (sic) minister took a huge surplus, gave it away to big business just as the crisis began, denied there was a crisis, and then saddled the country with its biggest debt ever with even more no-strings giveaways to big business while the unemployment rate climbed and people lost jobs. Makes it easier to cut social programs later, doncha know.

Now they’ve “suspended” Parliament until after the 2010 Olympics because the Harper government doesn’t want to answer questions about the war and its soldiers in Afghanistan, possible complicity in torture there, as well as a long list of other things to be avoided.  Take the Harper government’s continuing refusal to face reality and sign the UN’s International declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, tackle a weakening economy that needs revamping, the lack of accountability on all of that stimulus spending, a do-nothing policy on climate change… And the list goes on and on. So many things to be avoided, promises to be ripped up, so much disrespect to be dumped on people across this country.

Arrogant bastards. They have got to go.


Filed under Arctic, Canada, Canadian politics, Climate Change, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights

look, a cat…

Here kitty, kitty.

Canada's embarrassing PM Stephen Harper

PM Stephen Harper just doesn’t get it – the meaning of certain words and phrases. When he speaks about press freedom, human rights, accountability and transparency, it all sounds like a cartooon dog’s impression of human-speak: “qwa-qwau-kwonk-qua-quonk.” For examples to all of the above, keep reading.

Strangely, all it may take is a little misdirection to get the media wondering if they’ve gone too far. Continue reading

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