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The fire this time

Posted by Bob Rae on January 11, 2013 | No Comments

Canadians like to think of ourselves as living in a peaceable place, where the values of caring and sharing are hallmarks of who we really are as a country. This cheery self-image fails to face up to some harsh facts about our history and current reality.

Prime Minister Harper once said that “we have no history of colonialism.” This is simply false. When Europeans came to these shores centuries ago, they did not find an empty wilderness, a “terra nullius” where no one lived.

Quite the contrary. Aboriginal Peoples had been living here in vital, complex communities, for thousands of years. For millennia before the European settlement, this land was their land.

The encounter between these two civilizations was brutal and violent, and we live with its consequences today. Many Canadians have been baffled by the decision of Theresa Spence, the Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, to carry out a hunger strike to demand that Prime Minister Harper meet with her and other aboriginal leaders.

Why not just follow the accepted channels? Why upset the normal ways of communicating?

Let the social scientists try to explain how deference has disappeared in our increasingly divided society. The great American writer James Baldwin once wrote of the growing demands of American blacks for justice as, “The Fire Next Time.”

Chief Spence’s hunger strike, carried out with dignity and determination, and the broader Idle No More campaign, which has gone beyond the traditional politics both within and outside the aboriginal community, are based on a deep sense of frustration, of promises broken, of conditions that no people in Canada should have to accept. Federal and provincial governments face a fire of resentment and anger not next time, but this time. To ignore it, as the Conservatives and some provinces have done, is to court disaster.

It is a universal in life that people want recognition and respect. The deeper meaning of last year’s summit, and the Prime Minister’s eloquent apology in the House of Commons, is that there is a hunger for this respect, and appreciation when it is offered and followed with effective action. The Prime Minister faces a deep challenge. Many in his party are opposed to the recognition and constitutional protection that Aboriginal Peoples have achieved, and with its implications. At the same time, the old bromides of assimilation and “let’s concentrate on education and the economy” completely ignore the aspirations for self-government, autonomy, and a real transfer of power and resources that have the deepest roots in today’s aboriginal politics. His apology in the House of Commons, and the summit he called last year, have simply not been followed by effective action.

Mr. Harper has wisely, if belatedly, agreed to a meeting this week. But the confrontations will continue unless meetings are followed by substantive change. Mr. Harper has to come to terms with a difficult truth – the political doctrines of the Reform Party have nothing to contribute to what needs to be done. His decision to cancel the Kelowna Accord, signed with the aboriginal leadership and every Premier, was a sign of profound disrespect as well as a massive cut in investment in housing, education, and self-government. It was worse than being dishonourable. It was a mistake. He needs to accept that change starts with him and his government.

In November National Chief Shawn Atleo sent a letter to the Prime Minister complaining that by any measure the plans set out last year after the much touted summit were not being met. The letter was ignored. A year ago Chief Spence’s community was forced into third party administration, a clear sign that those who complain will be slapped down – and this was followed by a sustained media attack against her by the Conservative propaganda machine that believes the only good defence is to attack, attack, attack. But the courts found that there was no basis for the government’s decision, and that a continuing lack of money, not any alleged “maladministration” was the real cause of the housing crisis in Attawapiskat.

The issues Chief Spence is raising – of terrible living conditions, of deep neglect, of poverty and powerlessness, will not go away, and will not disappear in the face of attack. They are the shame of our nation and they must be addressed.

The Conservatives have rejected replacing the Indian Act with a real transfer of power, and the implementation of the self-government agreements which all Canadian governments agreed to do in Charlottetown 20 years ago. They show no understanding of the significance of treaties and the meaning of a “nation to nation” relationship.

They have offered nothing that even begins to address the issues, and we shall all pay a heavy price for this lack of leadership.

Bob Rae

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The fire this time »

January 11, 2013

The fire this time »

January 11, 2013

The fire this time »

January 11, 2013

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  1. Avatar of Craig Farlinger Craig Farlinger said on

    Hi Bob,

    You are right about a dialogue needing to get underway and as usual you are eloquent and insightful in your comments. Your involvement and leadership are the reasons I decided to join the Liberal Party of Canada. I think the discussion needs to move away from abstract “nation to nation agreements” however and focus on solving the problems faced by our first nations people – how to improve their levels of happiness and fulfillment as well as their desires to become involved in Canadian society. It is unfortunate – and our former political leaders are to blame – that first nations peoples cannot go back to their old ways of life, nor live isolated in rural areas. We need to create a unique way for them to live meaningful lives within Canada. We need to pursue a path that has a chance of success and doesn’t just divide us into group relations that don’t benefit anyone on either side.

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  2. Avatar of Ken Cunningham Ken Cunningham said on

    I’ afraid we face what well be an intractable problem with FNs in Canada. One the one hand the world has changed. Very few Aboriginal people now live on the land as they once did even a generation ago. Nor i think do many of them wish to go back; but the obvious solutions…leave the reserve, introduce fee simple, allow free rein of capitalist tools for wealth creation, create another dilemma – a paradox really. If they were to adopt all of these changes willy nilly then it is very likely they would disappear as a distinct culture in a very short space of time. Most FNs i know reject this option. Yet there remains all the other attendant problems of life on a remote reserve, made doubly more burdensome by the strait jacket of the indian act.
    How to resolve this dilemma to the satisfaction of both FNs and the larger Canadian tax payer has been, so far, unsolvable.
    Perhaps some of the fears of culture loss and assimilation are overblown in 2013? [ certainly not the case in the past] After all who would seriously want to leave the south to say buy a home on the Attawapiskat reserve if they didn’t have a very good reason? Who would an individual on reserve sell to off reserve?[ unless of course there were nearby valubale resources to be exploited] How would the introduction of market reforms even help in such a remote reserve? Would the local market be robust enough to build equity and wealth? Obviously these questions are far more clear cut the closer the reserve is to larger population centres. There is even a possibility that this would simply open the door for resource corps to offer to buy out whole tracts of land and housing in remote spots – allowing some people to leave well off and possibly head to the city for a better life if they wished; but what of those who chose to stay behind? what of their culture? Again, it should be their collective choice in the end; not ours.
    Lots of question? Few answers. Some concrete examples and models for success elsewhere would be helpful – there is the experiment going on in Nisga territory in BC for example – how is that fairing now? And why aren’t FNs themselves leading or exploring the best options themselves? Govt should butt out of that question surely?
    But one thing seems clear, ending the indian act and putting real choice within the grasp of FNs, honouring our historic partnership and relationship with FNs, respect, is infinitely preferable to the Harper model…we’ll drag you kicking and screaming into the open market place, whether you like it or not.

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    • Avatar of Ken Cunningham Ken Cunningham said on

      ps: Perhaps one of the most useful things a federal govt could do would be to fund aboriginal run and created think tanks, universities, cultural exchange centres etc., coming up with the solutions should not just come out of the maw of govt…we’ve been on that road for a long time now, with sometimes tragic consequences. Time tochange the model.

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  3. Avatar of Don Girard Don Girard said on

    An independent 3rd party, like world court, has to make a ruling that all have to abide by, we are 2 nations living on one land mass, and neither can see past their own selfish needs, It is time>

    Sorry Bob but the finances and bookeeping hid more then it showed, and chief Spence is responsible if only from lack of ability and proper procedure in her community. And I do not believe many FN bookeeping is any better.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      The interesting thing here Don is that all D&T audit discovered is that there is insufficient documentation to support most of the transactions. They are making no claim that anything was done wrong or that any monies were misappropriated and they are making no claim that money was not allocated to the correct programs. Just that they can’t find “receipts”.

      Now, for the past ten years, each and every annual budget/expenditure report from Attawapiskat has been signed off by both the government appointed co-manager AND an independent auditing firm based in Timmins (Ross, Pope & Company LLP). These budgets and audits have ALL been accepted and approved by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada – effectively, Minister Duncan has signed off on these annual audits.

      So why, all of a sudden, are the Attawapiskat accounting procedures insufficient? And why has this been released (“leaked”) 4 days before a meeting with the FN and Chief Spence? And why, with all the audits and all the reports from all the FN bands in Canada is the one concerning Chief Spence and Attawapiskat the only one “leaked”?

      Your comments are the answer. Because the Conservative propaganda/misinformation/attack machine is very well oiled. They know that they can fool Canadians. They know that there are enough people (like you Don) that do not research the facts and without questioning, buy into bs they feed their lap dog media contacts.

      This is a smear campaign against Chief Spence and all FN – plain and simple. It is designed to deflect and obfuscate and confuse and blur the real issues. It is shameful.

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      • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

        It is very shameful Martin. I wish there was an even stronger word for this type of politics. Good post.

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        • Avatar of David Momotiuk David Momotiuk said on

          Wolfgang, you might be thinking of the word, abhorent..?

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  4. Avatar of Keshav Chandra Keshav Chandra said on

    May be the FN should be given a system of book keeping. They might have their own system that we don’t know about. In India when the English colonialists tried to tax villagers of a community they ran into problems. The community did not have a monetary system. The distribution of the fruits of the labour by the community were awarded according to custom and tradition. It was an iterative process. to complicate matters. So the English had to face the issue, and understand their ways of doing things.

    Such customs and traditions would vary by community.

    I am not sure how an auditor could have done a proper job under the circumstance regarding the nature of transactions among others which possibly were not based on market economy where goods and services are exchanged thru a currency.

    Hey I don’t know the facts but I think we need to get some anthropologists to join the analysis of this issue.

    I suspect there is something deeper than what we see on the surface.

    FN have been accused of being lazy and not hard working. My dealing with Ontario Human Rights Commission long time ago revealed quite a different picture. Basically we can readily make culturally biased judgements.

    Once again I don’t know the facts. Before going to the United Nations which I agree as a possible method of creating a resolution we must invite some specialists who understand cultures which are not white anglo saxon. Once again I am not saying that the anglo saxons are wrong but it in my mind it does beg the question…

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  5. Avatar of Don Girard Don Girard said on

    It would be up to the outside mediator to consult with “specialists” and yes I know first hand that the disbursement of money and wealth, and pot lucks have a very specific culture format.

    Therein lies the problems, we supply funds which we see as being used in certain manners while some FN systems believes the wealth belongs to the chiefs and it is solely in their discretion how those funds are to be used, so when they leave some of the programs we thought were being addressed, and were not, then we are blamed, because the ones not receiving only see that we were responsible to take care of them.

    Thus no more inside squabbling, lets stop putting it off and get a ruling we all have to live with. Boths sides will have to agree to the mediator and with the resolutions handed down. Our dirty laundry has been hung our for all to see, let us get it cleaned.

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  6. Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

    Thomas Walkom who writes for the Toronto Star today reported that chief Spence received about $71,000 in 2010-11. Living costs in Attawapiskat are roughly double those in Toronto. So the salaries aren’t as generous as they might seem. But they aren’t bad.

    Walkom also reported that another auditing firm, based in Timmins, has regularly been OK’ing the band’s annual financial statements, all of which are available on the Attawapiskat website.

    PM Harper is going into Friday’s meeting with an economic agenda, which he will likely position as a remedy for FNs. The PMs agenda is centered around resource development.

    First Nations people are going into the same meeting to challenge the PM to the recent changes (buried in his Omnibus Bill)to environmental laws meant to speed those resource developments. Namely, said changes would speed up the development of an oil pipeline to the B.C. coast through FN lands.

    Both sides will be on different pages come Friday. Not a good starting point.

    It is the federal government’s PURPOSE (reason for being) to protect “all” Canadians, including First Nations people. In this situation protect means to protect lands belonging to First Nations.

    Similarly, the Ontario provincial government must have a similar PURPOSE to protect “all” Ontarions. The Ontario Mining Act allows any mining company take your land and mine away from us at any time if that mining company wishes to extract resources from your property. Both situations are wrong. Both situations do not adhere to the PURPOSE of government. Why is that?

    Governments, at all levels, have completely ignored any PRINCIPLES that guide such purpose of “protecting” all people, including First Nations. And this includes governments that have been led by Liberals and NDP in Ontario.

    That is why it is so important for the LPC to clearly articulate what it’s PURPOSE and PRINCIPLES are as a Party AND, that if they return to power, they will govern “all” Canadians according to such purpose and principles.

    I would really like to have Mr.Rae and all candidates running for leader of the LPC speak ‘more clearly and concisely’ to PURPOSE and PRINCIPLES. There is more room for improvement required to the Charter of the LPC.

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  7. Avatar of Keshav Chandra Keshav Chandra said on

    When a government hires a consultant, the consultant knows what the person who is paying the piper wants. They ususally have a closed door meeting where such matters are discussed.

    I will not judge the matters at hand here as I don’t know enough.

    But it is intersting that there appear to be two sides to the issue. That is unfortunate from what I percieve.

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    • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

      Keshave Chandra, I’m not sure I follow your reference to “a consultant” :-Q
      Perhaps you could elaborate.

      The definition of a consultant: “Someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time.”

      I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. =^D

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  8. Avatar of Don Girard Don Girard said on

    Briefly for me:
    – I have worked for, with, and as an outsider for 5 FN communities over many years, and I can tell you that their way is not the same as ours, and corruption occurs there as well as ours, and without transparency as we note with all levels or our government we have only scratched the surface of crime without our systems. Some legalized. Bookeeping without backup documentation, does not prove guilty but it does not prove innocence. This year try putting expenses on your tax return without documentation and see where it gets you. Some can pull this off, other will not, and others get caught!
    – How much would you have to earn, including all taxes you pay in Toronto, gst, pst, property tax, fire protection, utility bills etc to clear $71,000. And you have the right to obtain 50% or more of your food without regulation. And you do not have to repair, maintain or insure your house. And you get education reductions, do not pay medicare, but enjoy the benefits of EI.
    – Most important, this new bill 45 has more then environmental protection issues, it is aiming at allowing votes on land use to be approved by a majority at a meeting rather then the majority of the majority, ie the chiefs will decide and the run of the mill native will be left out. As posted elsewhere someone noted that if this passes, bags of money will be flowing to the chiefs, and things like northern gateway and other terrible environmental disasters will be approved by greed.
    – Would you like your rights sold out for money, I guess that maybe we have, CPC. Notably Harper, because even the mps that make up the party are allowing the selected few to make decisions for them, the mps do not want to lose their jobs, greed comes first. Harper has leaned “how to boil a frog” as noted by another poster elsewhere. Guess who the frogs are.

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  9. Avatar of Don Girard Don Girard said on

    AS you posted Martin

    Now, for the past ten years, each and every annual budget/expenditure report from Attawapiskat has been signed off by both the government appointed co-manager AND an independent auditing firm based in Timmins (Ross, Pope & Company LLP). These budgets and audits have ALL been accepted and approved by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada – effectively, Minister Duncan has signed off on these annual audits.

    Makes you wonder doesn’t it how all these audits are approved without proper bookkeeping and receipts, it sure seems like everyone has dropped the ball, and the only ones paying the price are the people suffering on the reserves, not the ones who earn $71000 per year, or the ones earning more in those other agencies.

    I am not saying that Harper is right with his omnibus bills, but he may be using genuine failures in the system to play his games. Giving the chiefs even more power on land decision making and taking it from the average resident is only promoting greater hardships.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      You keep going on about the $71,000 a year … that’s really not that much Don. The cost of living is very high in Attawapiskat and Chief Spence is basically managing a “company” with 2,000 + employees and and a $20 million annual budget. Not very much at all.

      Maybe if we trained these people properly (most companies provide training to their managers – even the government trains its staff – but apparently no, we don’t train “indians”) and paid them what they are worth, we wouldn’t have these problems you talk about.

      BUT … and this is a big BUT … I don’t want to have this conversation. This is the conversation that Harper and his team of distraction experts WANTS us to have. They don’t want us to talk about the real issues.

      Sorry … not gonna play Steve …

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  10. Avatar of Sharon Mulcaster Sharon Mulcaster said on

    Canada has spent over 150 years telling FN how they should live, work and think. Maybe time has come to ask questions and then actually listen without interruptions. We could then proceed to start paying our long overdue huge debt (will take some work calculating) and offer help when and only if asked.

    Like most Canadians I have remained blissfully ignorant of what FN endure and now wonder how they have put up with it for so long. I had thought the majority of Canadians were fair minded

    Why have FN not been able to have MP’s and MPP’s representing their Nations. The population should have deserved at least 10 members of parliament which would give them power and respect with veto ability over Bills that affect FN land, water, air. Only then will they be consulted first.

    If I leased my property to someone I would most certainly want power to control how the property is used. All levels of government have certainly retained that ability in by-laws, zoning and land use laws.

    Showing respect may be more successful than thinking “we are going fix it”. But then again being paternalistic is much easier and less fearful than giving up power! Just my POV.

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    • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

      >>>Why have FN not been able to have MP’s and MPP’s representing their Nations. The population should have deserved at least 10 members of parliament which would give them power and respect with veto ability over Bills that affect FN land, water, air. Only then will they be consulted first.

      I’m not an expert either Sharon, but doing that would take away from First Nations their status as a ‘nation’.

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      • Avatar of Sharon Mulcaster Sharon Mulcaster said on

        Maybe that’s a question that should be asked? At work we were asked “do you want a title or money” (most took the money). Do FN want to have the powerless title of “Nation” or real power. I wonder what they would say?

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        • Avatar of Patricia Beurteaux Patricia Beurteaux said on

          Sharon, at work you were given an `either-or’ because you are in a master-servant relationship and you accept that. This is not the case with FN.

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          • Avatar of Sharon Mulcaster Sharon Mulcaster said on

            Sorry that I didn’t explain clearly enough – I keep reading so many discussions how our government should decide what to do with the FN problems which gives me that feeling of how parents talk about children. I believe that FN have long known and are perfectly capable of telling the government what they want to do and how they want it done. Listening would be required. The sample question (that I have never heard in connection with FN) is just a curious thought and nothing to do with a master servant relationship which is at the core of all that is wrong with FN relations with the Canadian Government.

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        • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

          It is a good question Sharon. Probably a better place to ask the question is on the Idle No More blogs….. http://www.idlenomore.org

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  11. Avatar of Ken Cunningham Ken Cunningham said on

    http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/01/08/attawapiskat-chief-spences-life-partner-challenges-department-to-launch-forensic-audit-says-band-has-nothing-to-hide/

    Here’s a little more background from the Attawapiskat perspective, rather than the soley from the mouth of the federal govt.
    I urge those who are interestd in hearing all sides of the story to include APTN news in their research on this topic and #idlenomore. There seem to be details there that are not always making it into the MSM.

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  12. Avatar of Don Girard Don Girard said on

    It is an odd game isn’t it Martin, and complex, we play the game of the suffering persons, want to exempt the ones who make them suffer, claim that 71000 is not much of a salary, while one with no salary starve and freeze, and the books can not say with accuracy where the money went, it is not a game, it is a reality for those at the painful end of it.

    I personally have know chiefs that received good salaries, but in addition they owned enterprises that were very profitable and received their contracts from the office that the chief ran, justifying that it put FN people to work, but who got the jobs.

    Enough,

    Bring in a 3rd party outside of Canada, world court, whatever, and bring an end to this joke that allows unfortunate people from being abused by those in power and let the unbiased outside mediator find the truth, and fix it. This is a long fought waste of money t o lawyers and the needy are still forgotten and it is not the average Canadian like you and me that is lining their pockets while it goes on, it is you and me and the people who are suffering and are paying.

    Bob Rae eloquently listed all the negatives, laying some of it at our feet the average Canadian living in luxury while people starve, savage invaders we are because our fore father might have been, all nonsense, many average Canadians are not living any better, and yes we inherited this mess as have the FN people of today, and yet He did not offer solutions, as I have, he did not note that these problems existed through many LPC reigns, he focused on promoting anti Harper rhetoric. This is not a political game, it is real lives!

    That is what is wrong with our party, while we will not rule again, we do not offer solutions, we only offer rhetoric and criticism.

    No one jumps onto my solutions, but worse they do not offer any of their own. , like you Martin, they pick apart what I have seen, but offer no resolution that satisfies both sides and hurts both sides. Cancel the Indian act, great for lawyers they will have a whole new feeding trough to suckle on, but useless other wise , unless a mediator sets aside a real fix. Martin stop being a liberal of past, full of criticism without offering solutions, and look for policy and action that will fix not only dire problems like these but will bring about a new and true liberal party that puts action ahead of words.

    I like many of your comments and appreciate the criticism, but try to see all perspectives. I have lived with those starving persons, worked with them and their criticism is as often against their own chiefs as ours, but their chiefs always blame ours, who never bring on solutions.

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    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      All I am picking apart is the fact that you continue to try and blame the FN (or their Chiefs) for the problem – just like our conservative government.

      Please make one post where you do not make comments about salaries. Or comments about corruption within the bands. YOU are the one who is playing games Don. You say you want a solution but you insist on taking shots, at the FN, at the Chiefs and now apparently, at me. That is not how we are going to solve these issues.

      I don’t care if the Chiefs make “a lot” of money. I don’t even care if from time to time there has been some underhanded dealings – ITS NOT THE POINT.

      And I am not a “Liberal of the past” … how dare you!

      I have not discussed your idea of some “world court” or “mediator” because I don’t agree with it. We don’t need it. And that approach will take years and years. This should not be an “US” against “THEM” case. Courts and mediators deal with the “adversarial” process – that is NOT what wee need, we need discussion, conciliation and we need to stop blaming each other.

      We can sit down and we ask our aboriginal population what they want. We can work with the separate groups and with the provinces and we can come up with meaningful co-operative solutions. We did it with the Kelowna Accord but Harper cancelled that deal.

      The Liberals HAVE offered solutions. Bob Rae has offered solutions. You are woefully misinformed. I strongly urge you to contact the office of Dr. Carolyn Bennett and ask them to educate you on all that the Liberal Party has tried to get done over the years.

      I have solutions too but I won’t waste them on someone who thinks the problem lies with a Chief that makes too much money. Someone who insists on regurgitating conservative propaganda

      I’m done with this Don. I will not play your and Harper’s game.

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      • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

        Martin,

        Sitting down with FNs and listening to their wants while at the same time balancing the impact of any solutions equally on the ROC is a challenge.

        The question that I have, is one that you won’t be surprised at :-)…. …what principles should our government be guided by when deciding on possible solutions and are those principles consistent and in keeping with our government’s purpose?

        I don’t see how meaningful cooperative solutions can be resolved in the absence of purpose and principles.

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        • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

          Sorry but what is the ROC?

          Anyway …

          Our government should not be “deciding” anything – they are one party at the table. Our federal government should be discussing solutions and coming to agreements, on an equal basis, with the other nations we share this land with. Those solutions should be decided on by the people of Canada – all of us – FN, Inuit, Metis, Status, Non-status, immigrants … all of us.

          Everyone seems to start off by assuming that this is an adversarial process – I don’t think it should be or needs to be. We all have the same basic goals, we all want what is best for the country and for our people.

          The purpose is simple – to arrive at a solution that is fair and beneficial to all the people of Canada.

          The principles should be fairness, our constitution, The Charter, and accepted UN resolutions on aboriginal rights … I guess.

          But perhaps the meetings should start off by setting those ground rules. By agreeing on what we are trying to accomplish and the principles the solution must support.

          In all honesty, I would be happy with an approach of … Look, we took your land and then we treated you really badly and now we’ve screwed everything up. So, how about you guys take over for awhile and tell us what to do. We can’t leave so, whatever you come up with is going to have to provide fairly and beneficially for all the people here … so … what shall we do?

          I bet they’d have some great ideas on how to run Canada. Heck they did it for thousands of years without us.

          I’m only half joking. If the approach is to provide for ALL the people of Canada fairly and equitably and we all understand that the others aren’t going away so we better deal with the whole shebang, regardless of who actually makes the rules … I think we might make some real progress.

          Let’s start again… Hi, nice to meet you. We’re going to be living here so we thought we should probably figure out a way to do that to everyone’s mutual benefit.

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          • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

            ROC – rest of Canada.

            Martin, I agree that this need not be adversarial. In order for discussions to take place do you agree that both sides need to share some principles that ‘all’ at the table will use to hold such discussions?

            You said “The purpose is simple – to arrive at a solution that is fair and beneficial to all the people of Canada.” Did you mean to say the ‘objective’ is simple? As you have probably already concluded I use the word ‘purpose’ in the context of ‘what do we stand for’. In other words, in the end, all sides have to agree on what they want its governments to stand for. Just a niggle on my part, but an important one. It also means that political parties will have to work towards the same purpose and principles.

            I do like your approach. It can lead to a much needed discussion and agreement on what we all want as the purpose and principles of government at all levels.

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