Chief says RCMP Threatened to Call in Child and Family Services if Parents Failed to Leave Community

The Canadian Press | 

ALEXIS CREEK, B.C. – The chief of the Tl’etinqox First Nation said RCMP officers told them to leave or risk having their children taken away. Instead, they erected a fire boundary and prepared to fight.

“We are generation after generation that continue to live in a fire zone. This is not new to us,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, whose community is about 100 kilometres west of Williams Lake. “We feel this is the safest place for our community members to be.”

Emergency officials and police are urging British Columbia residents to respect evacuation orders ahead of fast-moving wildfires, but some First Nations are standing their ground, successfully protecting their homes and property.

There are about 1,000 residents on the reserve, but Alphonse said only about 300 stayed to fight the fires.

BC Wildfire Service chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek said there had been a slight reprieve in the weather forecast with some rain expected, bringing relief to the windy, hot and dry conditions fuelling nearly 200 fires and displacing more than 14,000 people.

Crews took advantage of calmer conditions Wednesday to make progress on fire guards near Williams Lake, where 10,000 people remain on evacuation alert.

With improved conditions, Alphonse said he finally had a moment to reflect on the three days of firefighting without the aid of power or telephone service.

He said Mounties told them to evacuate last weekend and the conversation quickly became heated.

As chief, he said his signature is required to enforce the evacuation order on the reserve, which he chose not to authorize.

Robert Turner of Emergency Management BC said Alphonse was correct. First Nations have the authority to issue their own evacuation orders for their territory.

“They would hopefully be taking advice from the same experts as a local government,” he said.

Alphonse said many in the community wanted to stay behind to fight and they have trained firefighters, access to heavy equipment and emergency plans to evacuate if they lost the battle with the fire.

He said an officer threatened to have the Ministry of Children and Family Services “remove all the children.”

Tempers flared and Alphonse said he suggested their own roadblocks would keep the Mounties out and if that didn’t work, perhaps warning shots above their heads would.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said in a statement Wednesday, “as far as the comments made by Chief Alphonse, we do not believe the comments made are reflective of the recent and continued meetings and conversations we have had with the chief.”

The RCMP’s responsibility is to “advise the public that there has been an order and advise them of the risk associated with staying,” Linteau told reporters on a conference call.

“Of course, if the person has the ability to make their own decision and they are over the age of 19, we will not force them to leave the home,” she said.

But she said if there are children under 19 at risk, police are required to move them to a safe location. No children have been removed by the RCMP to date, she added.

Alphonse disagrees that officers were trying to protect their children.

“The safest place for our kids is here with their families under the supervision of the leadership of this community,” he said.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said Indigenous Peoples have a fundamental right to make decisions about protecting and defending the safety, health and well-being of their community.

“If and when houses and band infrastructure are lost to these fires, it will take years to rebuild and we fear in many instances the homes and infrastructure may never be built,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said in a statement that the department is working with Emergency Management BC and First Nations to make sure the communities are supported.

B.C. Forest Minister John Rustad told radio station CHNL that the province was concerned about the situation.

“People are staying behind, they want to fight for their homes. That poses a very serious problem. We know these fires can be very, very volatile and can change at a moments notice,” Rustad said.

Ultimately, Alphonse said staying was the right decision and it saved at least 10 homes.

The chief of the Bonaparte Indian Band north of Ashcroft said they also defied an evacuation order over the weekend and successfully stopped flames from overrunning their reserve.

“My community has some really skilled firefighters, like a lot of First Nations reserves, and they came together and they stopped that wildfire from wiping out that whole community,” Chief Ryan Day said.

He said 60 of the band’s 280 members stayed to fight the fire.

The community doesn’t have a firehall, a new water reservoir hasn’t been connected to their main supply yet and they don’t have a formal emergency response plan in place.

But Day said the experience of the trained forest firefighters in his community and access to heavy equipment contributed to their success.

“We weren’t prepared for it of course because it happened in a blink of an eye, but we snapped into action and everyone did their part,” he said.

[SOURCE]

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Indigenous Leader Invites Brian Pallister to Try Living on Reserve

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson is inviting the premier to spend a month in a remove northern community to learn more about what it’s like to live on reserve. (Jill Coubrough/CBC)

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson says experience would expose premier to realities of poor housing, roads, food

· CBC News April 15, 2017

The grand chief for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is inviting Premier Brian Pallister to live on reserve for a month to learn what life is really like for Manitoba’s remote Indigenous communities.

Sheila North Wilson is standing by earlier comments she made about systemic ignorance and racism at the provincial level and says Manitoba has a lot of learning to do to combat myths about Indigenous peoples.

“That invitation is open for him and anyone else that wants to experience what it’s like to live on reserve,” said North Wilson.

CBC has reached out to the premier’s office for reaction to North Wilson’s request and will update if we hear back.

Her invitation follows a statement she made Tuesday where she referred to Pallister’s government as the “most racist provincial government in Canada.”

On Friday, she clarified her point and accused not just Pallister’s government of being racist but called it a systemic issue across the province — saying Manitoba’s policies and bureaucracies are failing Indigenous peoples.

“We have some of the poorest housing conditions in Canada. We have high rates of children in care and illnesses that we have are on the rise,” she said.

She added if Pallister lived on reserve, he would have to live on the same money families in remote areas have to budget on as well as deal with the bad roads and food insecurity common in Manitoba’s north.

“I wish they would experience that and then see what they think afterwards.”

‘We’re resilient and we’ve overcome a lot’

Ideally, North Wilson said she would like to see Pallister experience life for a month in a remote, northern community but she said a lot of First Nations would vie for the chance to host the premier.

“For a day, for a week but hopefully a month —- but I doubt that’s going to happen,” she said.

The grand chief is also extending an invitation to anyone else at the provincial level who would like to learn more about living in a northern community.

“There is a lot of work that we need to do to get to a point where we’re actually trying to achieve reconciliation,” she said.

North Wilson told the premier face-to-face recently she did not like the way he characterized Indigenous communities as having high rates of chronic disease and mental illness, she said.

While statistics may bear that out, she says numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“We’re resilient and we’ve overcome a lot and there’s reasons why we are sick and that we need a greater sense of hope.”

[SOURCE]

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson Says Manitoba’s Government Is The Most Racist In Canada

Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, speaks to media at a press conference in Winnipeg on March 18, 2016.

A Manitoba grand chief says her provincial government is the most racist in Canada

Staff – CP | Posted: April 12/2017

Sheila North Wilson, who represents northern Manitoba First Nations, told a First Nations health conference in Saskatoon that some indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan might dispute that.

North Wilson says Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister refused to sign a climate change deal back in December citing a need for more money to deal with escalating health costs.

She says she was offended that Pallister said Manitoba indigenous people have the most chronic diseases and mental health issues.

North Wilson says Pallister wants more money for health issues, but won’t work with First Nations groups.

She says they’re pushing the Manitoba government to sit down with elders and youth to discuss their health-care needs.

“Well, thank you for calling us crazy and sick. I took offence to that.”

“He claimed in the national media that we have the most chronic diseases and mental health issues,” North Wilson said Tuesday.

“Well, thank you for calling us crazy and sick. I took offence to that.”

In January, Pallister came under fire from indigenous leaders and opposition politicians for saying that tensions around night hunting were leading to a race war.

He said he chose his words poorly but didn’t apologize for saying it. A Supreme Court ruling a decade ago upheld the indigenous right to hunt at night, subject to safety regulations.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

On Cross-Country Tour, Trudeau Hears Growing Anger and Frustration from Indigenous Canadians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with the public as a pipeline protestor stands behind him at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with the public as a pipeline protestor stands behind him at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Trudeau challenged time and again by indigenous people at town hall meetings

Staff | Jan. 28, 2017

Ottawa (NP) – On his just-completed nine-city town hall tour of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got sharp and sometimes angry questions about aboriginal affairs — a sign of the growing impatience and frustration many indigenous people and their leaders have with his government.

And the reviews, in some cases, have been less than kind.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with pipeline protestors as they stand and hold signs at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with pipeline protestors as they stand and hold signs at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas, who was at Trudeau’s Wednesday night town hall forum in Saskatoon, characterized one of Trudeau’s answers on indigenous youth centre as “dismissive.”

Trudeau told the crowd in Saskatoon that First Nations chiefs who told him that money was needed for TVs and sofas in indigenous youth centres had not been listening to their own youth.

“When a chief says that to me, I pretty much know that they haven’t actually talked to their young people,” Trudeau said in Saskatoon. “Because most of the young people I’ve talked to are asking for a place to store their canoes and paddles so they can connect back out on the land and a place with Internet access so they can do their homework in a meaningful way because their homes are often too crowded and they need a place to work and study.”

Trudeau offered an almost identical answer — that chiefs were out of touch with their own youth — when challenged the next night in Winnipeg by Eric Redhead of Shamattawa First Nation, a community of about 1,500 located about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg near Hudson Bay.

Shamattawa had pointedly asked Trudeau why the federal government was slow to respond to the suicide crisis on many First Nations reserves. Redhead singled out the Jan. 8 deaths, by suicide, of two 12-year-old girls, Jolyn Winter and Chantell Fox, from Wapakeka First Nation, in northwestern Ontario, about 200 kilometres from the Manitoba border.

One of the girls was the granddaughter of Wapakeka Chief Brennan Sainnawap who, in a letter to Health Canada last July, begged for more funds to deal with a mental health crisis among youth in his community. His request was turned down. A senior Health Canada bureaucrat explained that the request came “at an awkward time” in the federal government’s budget cycle.

This week, an anonymous donor, moved by the deaths of the two girls and the plight of the Wapakeka community, pledged $380,000 which the community believes can pay for four mental health workers.

A protestor shouts at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he speaks a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017.

A protestor shouts at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he speaks a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017.

“Now we have a private donor who stepped up — this is not the Conservative government, this is your government — who said it was an awkward time,” Redhead said. “We didn’t vote you in for that. Is this the new government now where the private sector is funding the First Nation suicide prevention program?”

In response, Trudeau agreed with Redhead’s assessment. “We have seen far too many tragedies ongoing in indigenous communities and we need to more. Absolutely.”

But then Trudeau largely repeated his answer from the night before in Saskatoon, saying, indigenous leaders who ask for sofas and TVs for their youth centre “haven’t done a very good job of listening.”

“‎The Prime Minister was reflecting on countless conversations he has had – over many years – regarding challenges facing Indigenous youth,” Trudeau’s press secretary said in an e-mailed statement late Friday night.  “It is important for him to hear the perspectives and ideas from everyone – including leaders, young people, parents, and elders – in order to better understand the issues they are facing, and how best they can be addressed from community to community.”

As for the comments about canoe storage and wi-fi, Ahmad said, “During these conversations, First Nations youth often raise the need for greater investments in youth programming and services, and we will continue listening to youth in Indigenous communities across the country while working in partnership with them to develop new solutions and opportunities.”

But even as heard much during those town hall meetings, Trudeau was challenged time and again by indigenous people. It happened in Kingston, Ont., in Peterborough, Ont., in Halifax as well as Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

16344273_353461961705504_703582594_n

“We live in third world conditions in our First Nations communities and that has to change said a woman in Winnipeg

“The conditions on our reserves our horrible! Horrible!,” said a woman in Winnipeg who said she was a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation, a community of about 2,000 near the northern edge of Lake Manitoba. “We live in third world conditions in our First Nations communities and that has to change. How is your government is going to help our communities? ”

In Fredericton, Trudeau was told his government had not put in place appropriate measures to consult First Nations on the  Energy East pipeline project. In Kingston, an indigenous woman broke down in tears begging him to “protect our water.” In Peterborough, he was introduced by Curve Lake First Nation Chief Phyliss Williams who reminded the prime minister that her community had no potable water and was living under a boil water advisory.

At more than one, he was criticized for failing to implement the United Nations Declaration of Rights and Indigenous Peoples. Two Dalhousie University students, Alex Ayt and Kathleen Olds, asked Trudeau for a selfie during a photo opp  at a Halifax coffee shop.  They  then used the occasion of being up close and personal with the PM to press him on UNDRIP.

Before Christmas, at events like the Assembly of First Nations annual special assembly in Gatineau, Que., many chiefs spoke about how the Trudeau government was slow to keep commitments, such as lifting a freeze on operating transfers to First Nations governments.

And they spoke of how the current government began with high hopes and high expectations among indigenous Canadians.

“During the election campaign (Trudeau) and his party convinced a lot of our people who normally don’t vote in elections to step forward and come to vote with the hope that change would come about. But change has been very slow in coming,” Jean Guy Whiteduck, chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, an Algonquin band based in Maniwaki, Que., said at that December AFN meeting. “At this stage I don’t know if he gets a passing mark.”

During the series of town hall meetings, Trudeau heard from only a handful of chiefs but heard plenty from angry everyday citizens of First Nations communities.

Pipeline protestors stand and hold signs as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with the public at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017.

Pipeline protestors stand and hold signs as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with the public at a town hall at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 26, 2017.

But his response in each case was similar usually. First, he would acknowledge the grievance put to him, often agreeing that the complaint is a valid one, before promising to do better. But that promise would frequently be followed by a recitation of some of things his government has done.

“We invested historic amounts of money in budget 2016 and [we will] continue to invest,” Trudeau said in Winnipeg in response to the woman from Ebb and Flow. “I think that we are starting on a path that is going to change the future for your daughter and the present for yourself. We’re not moving as fast as I’d like on that path — I absolutely agree — but it’s a difficult path to walk.”

— with files from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Source: National Post

The Trudeau Government Has Betrayed Us

PM Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Reader Submission:

Whistler Question (Opinion) | October 3, 2016 

Stephen Harper must be chuckling in his beer. The Trudeau government has managed to approve two LNG pipelines and plants in record time: Woodfibre LNG in Squamish and Pacific Northwest (Lelu Island) on the north coast. Increased fracking in northern B.C. will supply this industry, and the gas, after energy-intensive liquefaction, will be shipped in LNG tankers down Howe Sound and out from Lelu Island to Asian markets.

Indications are strong that the Trudeau government will also approve the Kinder Morgan/TransCanada pipeline to Vancouver, to be filled with increased bitumen extraction from the oil sands. If approved, bitumen-carrying tanker traffic to Asia out of Vancouver harbour will increase by nearly seven times.

The Trudeau government has succeeded in accomplishing what Harper tried to do for 10 long years and failed. The light between the Conservatives and the Liberals has disappeared.

These decisions make the grandstanding of the Trudeau government at the climate gathering in Paris last fall a joke and a lie.

New research states (again) that the world must NOT build any new fossil-fuel infrastructure or increase extraction if we want to avoid run-away climate change. First World countries must help developing countries deal with this reality. Retraining for those who have relied on the fossil-fuel industry for jobs must take place. Renewables must be encouraged. Investment in fossil fuels must not increase, lest that money be wasted. (See Oil Change International’s 60-page report at priceofoil.org.)

We are on track to set a dangerous and alarming new precedent: 400 parts per million of green house gases in our atmosphere for 12 months in a row, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Ridiculously, the Trudeau government is still acting as if we have a choice regarding new fossil fuel development.

Scientific facts make no difference to the Trudeau government as it presses on to prop up a dying industry desperate to save itself from the inevitable. Canadian banks, which are on the hook for enormous sums of money they lent to the industry, are surely having their say. The Trudeau government is demonstrating who really runs the show, and it’s not us. We don’t stand a chance against the Eastern Establishment.

Maybe the Trudeau Government is betting the fossil fuel projects they approve won’t actually be built due to economic conditions and coming climate change. How dare they take that risk and make disingenuous and cowardly decisions that could prove disastrous, just to please the people who did not vote for them.

The actions of the Trudeau government are shameful, hypocritical, deceitful, and in the end, harmful to us all.

The Trudeau government has shown no courage, no leadership, no vision and no attempts to move on to a future reality.

The Liberals will pay for this cynical “follow-the-money” policy at the ballot box. The rest of us will pay for it with climate change.

The Trudeau government has betrayed us completely.

Sincerely,
Jane Reid

Whistler

http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/letters/the-trudeau-government-has-betrayed-us-1.2357039#sthash.MBlGxXZ3.dpuf


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Justin Trudeau’s Lofty Rhetoric On First Nations A Cheap Simulation Of Justice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

An era of so-called reconciliation has disguised the continuation of Harper-era land and resource grabs

By  | The Guardian, September 19, 2016

By now, we all know the greatest priority of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is its relationship with Indigenous peoples. How could we miss the weekly reminders?

Trudeau graciously wrapping himself in ceremonial blankets. Hauling jugs of drinking water door-to-door on a northern reserve lacking portable water. Paddling the Ottawa river in his dad’s buckskin jacket and moccasins with Indigenous youth, after a sunrise ritual at dawn.

Welcome to the era of reconciliation, ushered in by a Prime Minister so different in appearance from his predecessors. Free of prejudices. Moved to tears by the country’s dark history. Committed to the need for deep, fundamental change.

Except this carefully scripted story, managed even more tightly than ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s, has long been unravelling.

It began with the fraying of Trudeau’s official platform. A legal order issued to the Liberals to end racial discrimination against Indigenous children? Repeatedly ignored. Compensation for 16,000 individuals snatched from their homes and adopted by non-Indigenous families in the Sixties Scoop? Opposed in court. And that historic budget for First Nations? Turned out most of the funds would flow only in 2020—after the next election. Not exactly the “new relationship” that Trudeau announced to rapturous international applause.

And then there’s what hasn’t made the headlines. In British Columbia, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and elsewhere through Canada, there are scores of First Nations who have never signed away their Aboriginal title through treaties. For years they’ve wracked up debt while in negotiations with the government over lands sought after by mineral, forestry, hydro and oil companies. But as a pre-condition for any compensation, they’re forced to extinguish their rights to 9 out of every 10 parcels of their territory—rivers, forests, mountains, farmland, and everything underneath.

Fair to have expected a change under Trudeau? Instead the Liberals have given negotiators marching orders from a Harper-commissioned report that advises how to force through energy infrastructure. That’s because Indigenous rights stand in the way of pipelines, mega-dams like Site C, giant fracked gas terminals—and $650bn in resource projects over the next ten years that the Liberals are trumpeting as much as the Conservatives did.

Never mind that recent Supreme Court decisions, and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples before them, call for shared sovereignty or management over these lands. Or that many more Canadians are realizing that Indigenous stewardship of large swathes of territory—instead of its mismanagement by multi-national corporations—would be to the benefit of everyone.

Trudeau may indeed want to do right by Indigenous peoples, but the government is locked into a logic of its own: quietly maintaining exclusive control over Indigenous peoples’ lands and resources. Is this what Trudeau meant when he said his government would “think seven generations out”?

Turning the language of liberation into a contraption of conquest is nothing new: it’s part of Liberal heritage. In the early 1990s, as calls for Indigenous self-determination gained steam on the heels of widespread protest and the Oka crisis, the Liberals appeared to embrace the movement’s demand. They named their policy “the Inherent Right to Self-Government.”

Except this policy—still on the books—only grants First Nations rights such as policing, education, and the licensing of marriages; the government keeps all powers of trade, diplomacy and serious economic development and decision-making to themselves. No wonder Indigenous critics have said it turns First Nations into “ethnic municipalities”: it is nothing like a genuine third-order of government.

The Liberals latest utterances appear just as soothingly promising: “reconciliation,” “nation-to-nation,” even “decolonization.” The most slippery of all has been their use of “consent.” Though the Liberals have proclaimed their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—at whose heart lies the right of “free, prior and informed consent”—they’ve been loathe to recognize it in practice on the ground.

It’s obvious why: the right of consent sends shudders through corporate boardrooms whose goodwill the Liberals covet. As an alternative, the government has wheeled out a hazy concept of “collaborative consent.” All that’s clear is it studiously avoids recognizing the actual right to say no to destructive resource projects. Indigenous feminists have underlined how this half-measure is hollow: whether it’s territories or bodies, if you don’t have the power to say no, then “consent” is meaningless.

The extractivist worldview—bent on treating everything as a commodity—that lay behind Stephen Harper’s resource agenda just as powerfully shapes Trudeau’s. In fact, the Liberals’ attempt to wrap themselves in the UN Declaration without embracing its central right may constitute a new, more subtle form of extraction: the extraction from Indigenous territory of consent itself.

Liberal moves to extract and manufacture consent and support for outdated policies are evident elsewhere: restoring funding to the Assembly of First Nations, a government-dependent organization that has since plumped frequently for them; appointing an Indigenous Justice Minister, even though Indigenous critics argue she has sided with the government agenda throughout her political career; and agreeing to call an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but with a mandate far short of what impacted families wanted. As the weight of reality presses against Trudeau’s rhetoric, the ability to generate consent is crumbling.

Reconciliation is a powerful hope, an uplifting prospect, a deeply desired new relationship that Trudeau has compellingly invoked. But if reconciliation does not include the restitution of land, the recognition of real self-government, the reigning in of abusive police, the remediation of rivers and forests, it will remain a vacant notion, a cynical ploy to preserve a status quo in need not of tinkering but transformation. It will be Canada’s latest in beads and trinkets, a cheap simulation of justice.

The good news is that Indigenous peoples have never been more poised to push Trudeau from mere words to deeds. Idle No More left a profound imprint: a more readily mobilized Indigenous population and a far larger non-Indigenous reservoir of support. An influential presence on social media, a growing force in art and culture, Indigenous peoples are leveraging Supreme Court precedents and trying to rebuild their economies and nations.

They have endured too much to be satisfied with Trudeau attending a pow wow, flashing a Haida tattoo on his arm, or calling for yet another consultation and study. If Canadians are willing to do their part, Indigenous peoples can test Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric the most effective way possible: in the crucible of a rising movement.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/sep/19/justin-trudeaus-lofty-rhetoric-on-first-nations-a-cheap-simulation-of-justice

 

‘Good Riddance’: Canada’s Stephen Harper Bids Adieu To Politics, Hello To Consulting

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who just announced his resignation. (Photo: Heather/flickr/cc)

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who just announced his resignation. (Photo: Heather/flickr/cc)

Former prime minister made resignation announcement Friday

by Andrea Germanos, staff writer | Common Dreams‎

As expected, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced his resignation from Parliament, saying that he’s now gearing up for “for the next chapter of my life.”

That chapter, as the Toronto Star reports, includes “launching a global consulting business.”

Harper posted the news Friday on his social media accounts, saying, “I leave elected office proud of what our team accomplished together.”

For the 57-year-old, the resignation marks the end of “nearly two often-tumultuous decades in public office,” Mississauga News reports.

Harper lost power in October in a “devastating election defeat” when his Conservative Party lost to the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party.

Since then, the Star adds, he “has only appeared in the Commons for votes since he lost power last fall, and has never spoken in debate as the MP for Calgary Heritage.”

The country “shifted to the center-right under Harper,” the Associated Press writes, and, as Common Dreams has reported,

During his tenure as Prime Minister, which spanned from 2006-2015, Harper was known internationally for pushing through an aggressive conservative agenda which included: wholesale investment in fossil fuels, including Canadian tar sands; blocking international efforts to combat climate change; dismantling civil liberties through mass surveillance; unflinching support of Israel and attempts to outlaw pro-Palestinian boycott movements; supporting numerous wars overseas; and willfully ignoring the treaty rights of Canadian First Nations, among many other things.

As for his new career, the National Post reports that he “has already lined up an impressive and potentially lucrative post-politics career that includes a new consulting business with international clients, board directorships and joining a speakers’ bureau.”

Our direction

Following the election in October, Andrew Mitrovica wrote at Ricochet:

Like millions of Canadians, I’m glad he’s gone and taken his tawdry ideas—if you can even call them that—about who Canadians are and what Canada stands for with him into political oblivion. I’m not going to waste a nanosecond pondering his ignominious “place” in this nation’s history, his toxic “legacy” or what he’s going to do next. Justin Trudeau is like a nicely wrapped confection.

Look, he’ll be just fine. Chances are Harper’s going to do what other ex-prime ministers have done when voters tell them emphatically to get lost… he will cash in big time. I suspect the make–believe economist will quickly join a high-powered law firm somewhere in Canada or maybe the United States and turn into a make-believe lawyer. He’ll also accept lots of invitations to sit on lots of corporate boards that will pay him lots of money to act as a glorified lobbyist.

Like Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien before him, he’ll happily trade in the “noble calling of public service” to become a highly paid gun-for-hire in a pinstriped suit doing lucrative mega business deals with influential politicians and CEOs he befriended along the way. Some elder statesman.

Good riddance, Harper. Don’t let the closet doors hit you on the way out of the PMO.

On Twitter, writer and Ricochet founding editor Derrick O’Keefe similarly summed up many progressives’ response to the new development:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/26/good-riddance-canadas-stephen-harper-bids-adieu-politics-hello-consulting

First Nations Chiefs Urged To Consider ‘All Options’ On Adoption Of UN Declaration

Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde says "all options" are on the table as Indigenous peoples push the Canadian government to adopt the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples during closing remarks to First Nations chiefs in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Thursday. (CBC)

Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde says “all options” are on the table as Indigenous peoples push the Canadian government to adopt the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples during closing remarks to First Nations chiefs in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Thursday. (CBC)

UNDRIP on the agenda as AFN meets with provincial, territorial leaders in Yukon July 20-22

July 15, 2016 / news.yahoo.com 

Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde urged chiefs to explore “all options” when pressing the Canadian government to adopt the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples, two days after the country’s attorney general said it could not be adopted into Canadian law in its current form.

“We need to look at all options when it comes to our rights and title. We need to continue to look at ways of adopting and enforcing the UN declaration which also may include legislation,” Bellegarde said in his closing remarks to the 37th annual general assembly in Niagara Falls, Ont., Thursday.

Bellegarde said the issue will be on the agenda when the Assembly of First Nations meets with Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders in Yukon next week.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s spoke about moving beyond the Indian Act when she addressed First Nations chiefs earlier in the week.

“As much as I would tomorrow like to cast into the fire of history the Indian Act so that Nations can be reborn in its ashes — this is not a practical option. Which is why simplistic approaches, such as adopting the UNDRIP as being Canadian law are unworkable and, respectfully, a political distraction to undertaking the hard work required to actually implement it back home in communities,” Wilson-Raybould said on Tuesday.

The justice minister, who represents the B.C. riding of Vancouver Granville and is a former AFN regional chief, said the UN declaration would be implemented “through a mixture of legislation, policy and action initiated and taken by Indigenous Nations themselves.”

Wilson-Raybould said the transition would be “controversial” but also “absolutely necessary.”

Unworkable ‘for whom?’

The Trudeau government committed to adopting UNDRIP when it removed its objector status at the UN in May.

But NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who has been pushing the Trudeau government to back his own private members bill on UNDRIP, wondered whether Wilson-Raybould’s remarks signalled an about-face.

“So the statements at the UN in May was just smoke and mirrors?” Saganash asked Wilson-Ryabould in a post on Twitter.

“Unworkable! For whom?” Saganash said.

Trudeau government on notice

On Thursday, Bellegarde put the Trudeau government on notice.

“We have a good working relationship but we will not sit back if we hear the ministers of the Liberal government saying something that is contrary to our understanding about our rights and title.”

“I want to make that statement very clearly here to the chiefs in assembly and to our colleagues on the executive and to the government: we’re going to work in partnership and collaboration, no question. But we will call you out as well if you’re not respecting that partnership,” Bellegarde said in his closing remarks on Thursday.

A government official told CBC on Friday that the minister did not backtrack on the Trudeau government’s commitment to support the adoption of the UN declaration.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/first-nations-chiefs-urged-consider-211851726.html

First Nations Chiefs Sign Agreement With RCMP To Address Racism Within Force

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, left, signs a memorandum of understanding with RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, during the AFN annual general assembly in Niagara Falls, Ont., on July 12, 2016. (Chris Glover/CBC)

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, left, signs a memorandum of understanding with RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, during the AFN annual general assembly in Niagara Falls, Ont., on July 12, 2016. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Annual gathering of Indigenous chiefs goes today through Thursday in Niagara Falls, Ont.

By Susana Mas, CBC News Posted: Jul 12, 2016

The Assembly of First Nations signed an agreement with the RCMP on Tuesday to address racism and discrimination within the force as the two sides look for new ways to improve relations ahead of the federal government’s inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The memorandum of understanding comes just over six months after RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson openly admitted during the Special Chiefs in Assembly last December there are “racists” inside his police force.

“We invited the commissioner back again … to be part of this MOU… about how can we work together to deal with issues, deal with all those misconceptions that are within the police,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde as the AFN kicked off its three-day annual general meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“How can we work together to make sure that that air is cleared, that cloud is gone, that there is a bright sunny way within that RCMP?,” Bellegarde said.

While the government is not expected to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women during the assembly, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett told First Nations chiefs it is “very close” to making that announcement.

Bellegarde said an inquiry will force police to answer some difficult questions about the force’s own shortcomings.

“When the inquiry is announced, be prepared, because you will come under question and focus about why did you not put more resources into these things upon investigation… why was there not more respect for the families, why was there not more communication? All these things are going to come out.”

“There is still a lot of hurt, still a lot of pain with the families that are still looking for closure,” Bellegarde said.

The national chief said the launch of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women could come later this month, or next month.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde signs a memorandum of understanding with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett during the AFN annual general assembly in Niagara Falls, Ont., on July 12, 2016. (Chris Glover/CBC)

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde signs a memorandum of understanding with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett during the AFN annual general assembly in Niagara Falls, Ont., on July 12, 2016. (Chris Glover/CBC)

In his opening remarks, Bellegarde said Indigenous communities are “gaining momentum” — the theme of this year’s general assembly.

“It doesn’t mean all of our issues have been solved. But what it does mean is that, for the first time in a very long time, there is reason to believe that we are on the cusp of great change,” Bellegarde said.

“But it will take all of us, working together, to make it real for everyone.”

Bellegarde said the AFN also signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government “to create a new fiscal relationship, one based on real needs.”

The AFN signed the MOU with Bennett to form a working group to advise the government on how it should move forward with funding for Indigenous communities.

The agreement follows the Trudeau government’s pledge to forge a new fiscal relationship with First Nations.

First Nations to benefit from Hydro One shares

The general assembly began with Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day announcing that First Nations communities in Ontario will benefit from the sale of Hydro One shares.

“As of 9 a.m. this morning, the province of Ontario has entered into an agreement in principle will all 133 First Nations communities to sell 15 million shares of Hydro One for our collective benefit,” Day said in his opening remarks.

Some eight months ago, Ontario began the biggest sell-off of a Canadian crown corporation in 20 years.

Chiefs will also hash out strategies for moving beyond the Indian Act, the primary legislation used by the federal government to administer everything from laws to membership and elections in First Nation communities.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is also scheduled to attend the assembly.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with chiefs at a 2015 AFN gathering, his office told CBC he will not be attending the general assembly in Niagara Falls this week.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/afn-meeting-niagara-falls-1.3674114

 

Trudeau Announces Nearly $70M Over 3 Years For Indigenous Mental Health Services

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, attends a meeting with some 20 youth from Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in northern Ontario on Monday. (Nishnawbe Aski Nation/Twitter)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, attends a meeting with some 20 youth from Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in northern Ontario on Monday. (Nishnawbe Aski Nation/Twitter)

Announcement comes ahead of meeting with Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh

CBC News Posted: Jun 13, 2016

The Liberal government will invest nearly $70 million in new funding over three years to address the health and suicide crisis involving Indigenous people living on reserve and in the territories, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today following a meeting with Indigenous youth.

“While we will continue to engage Indigenous partners in finding long-term solutions to these pressing issues, we know that urgent action is needed — and it is needed now — to address the health and mental wellness crises being faced by Indigenous people,” Trudeau said in a written statement Monday afternoon.

The announcement comes as Trudeau is meeting with Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh, whose northern Ontario community has seen multiple cases of youth drug overdoses and suicide attempts in recent months.

The new funding will provide “urgently” needed mental health services while the Trudeau government continues to work Indigenous leaders on a long-term plan.

The new measures include:

  • “Four crisis response teams to provide surge capacity for rapid response services and crisis co-ordination in regions in Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut that are identified as having the greatest need.”
  • “An increase in the number of mental wellness teams from 11 to 43 for communities most at risk in order to strengthen community supports.”
  • “Training for existing community-based workers to ensure that care services are provided in a culturally appropriate and competent way.”
  • “The establishment of a 24-hour “culturally safe” crisis response line.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose Timmins-James Bay riding includes Attawapiskat, was invited to take part in the prime minister’s meeting with some 20 youth from Nishnawbe Aski Nation from northern Ontario.

“I’m very pleased the prime minister sat down and gave so much time to the Treaty 9 youth. These young people really are ground zero of the catastrophe that is facing Indigenous young people in Canada,” Angus said in a phone interview with CBC News following Trudeau’s announcement.

“It was very moving to see that interaction,” the NDP critic for Indigenous and northern affairs said of the two-hour meeting.

According to Angus, Indigenous youth recounted stories of being denied medical services, of living in overcrowded housing with black mould, of leaving their communities as teenagers to go live in boarding homes.

“They really laid out the substandard inequity that young people are facing and they did it with such dignity,” Angus said.

Angus said today’s announcement is “a good step” but still falls short of the money that should be on the table.

“I’m hopeful but I’m still concerned,” Angus said.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde echoed Angus’ statement in an interview on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“It’s always a good first step, but we’re always going to keep pushing for long-term sustainable strategies,” Bellegarde said.

“We need at least 80 mental wellness teams. We’re going to start preparing again for next year’s federal budget. That’s what it’s going to take to close the gap.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-attawapiskat-youth-chief-meeting-1.3629960