Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

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.

Jane Reid



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‘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:


Harper Resisting Inquiry Into Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women

Conservative leader Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign stop at Global Systems Emissions Inc., in Whitby, Ont., on Oct. 6, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Conservative leader Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign stop at Global Systems Emissions Inc., in Whitby, Ont., on Oct. 6, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

The Canadian Press

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper isn’t budging on his refusal to hold a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, framing the issue Tuesday as a law-and-order problem and noting police have solved most of the crimes.

Advocates for an inquiry swiftly criticized Harper for taking an overly narrow view of violence against aboriginal women and girls that ignores complex underlying causes.

“We don’t expect anything different from Harper,” said Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association. “We’re hoping for a government that will work with us in addressing this.”

It’s time to move past “simplistic explanations,” such as attributing the phenomenon to domestic violence, said Craig Benjamin, campaigner for the human rights of indigenous peoples at Amnesty International Canada.

“We have to get to the point of understanding the violence is far more pervasive, that it has multiple causes and that it does in fact have deep roots in our society and the relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.”

During a campaign stop in Whitby, Ont., Harper said it is “way past the time” for studying the subject because there have been some 40 examinations already.

Instead, a re-elected Conservative government would press ahead with efforts to prevent violence against aboriginal women and ensure appropriate penalties are in place for abusers.

“Our government position on this has been very clear. We have moved forward with a whole series of criminal justice reforms to deal with the problems of violence against people generally, violence against women in particular,” Harper said.

“Most of these murders, sad as they are, are in fact solved.”

In Saskatoon on Tuesday evening, about 100 protesters, including a number of aboriginal women, chanted and drummed behind a fence when Harper arrived at a pre-fab building products company.

Inside roughly the same number of partisan supporters greeted Harper enthusiastically as he continued to tout the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

A landmark report issued last year by the RCMP said close to 90 per cent of all female homicides are solved, and there is little difference in solve rates between aboriginal and non-aboriginal victims.

Overall, the RCMP review — drawing on data stretching back to 1980 — identified 1,181 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing aboriginal females — 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims.

Even so, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Tuesday that Harper was “shamefully ignorant of the facts.”

There is an obligation to get to the bottom of the problem, he said, reiterating the New Democrat promise to initiate an inquiry within 100 days of forming a government.

Benjamin said the dozens of studies into violence against aboriginal women include a “vast body of unimplemented recommendations.”

“It would be one thing if the government were to say, there’s 40 studies and we’re going to sit down and make sure those recommendations are implemented.”

A federal commission of inquiry could yield “a consistent, coherent plan of action based on a genuine knowledge of what’s happening,” Benjamin added.

In September 2014, the Conservative government outlined initiatives to address violence against aboriginal women and girls including funding for shelters and family violence prevention activities, and support for police investigations and creation of a missing persons index.

The federal measures are inadequate and leave too many gaps, Benjamin said. For instance, the vast majority of First Nations communities lack women’s shelters.

Asked at an Oct. 1 all-candidates debate about the prospect of a federal inquiry, Montreal Conservative nominee Richard Sagala acknowledged “dark chapters” in the relationship with First Nations.

A recording of the event shows he went on to characterize the creation of Nunavut as a less than satisfying experience, with violence there comparable to South Africa.

The Liberals criticized Sagala, who posted a clarification Tuesday on his Facebook page.

Maloney, meanwhile, is focusing her efforts on encouraging aboriginals to cast election ballots. “I’m hoping to have more impact on voters than on Harper.”

By Jim Bronskill and Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press, Oct 6/15  


Harper Rally Draws Supporters, Protesters

More than 1,000 Conservative supporters showed up in Saskatoon Tuesday evening to hear Stephen Harper speak.

More than 1,000 Conservative supporters showed up in Saskatoon Tuesday evening to hear Stephen Harper speak.

CTV Saskatoon

Protesters and a rare slip-up from Stephen Harper didn’t dampen the crowd’s excitement at a Conservative campaign rally Tuesday evening in Saskatoon.

Harper, who was introduced by Conservative candidates Randy Donauer and Kevin Waugh, was speaking at Nu-Fab Building Products, in the city’s airport area, in front of more than 1,000 supporters.

He touted the new Trans-Pacific Partnership and said it would benefit Saskatchewan’s wheat, canola, uranium, potash and farm industries. He stressed his party’s economic plan. He promised to lower taxes, and he briefly touched on a few of his recurring campaign points, such as the fight against ISIS, cracking down on crime and the Universal Child Care Benefit.

Each promise was met with loud cheers from the pumped up crowd — except one. Harper slipped up when he accidentally called for “more taxes.” He quickly corrected himself and was just as quickly forgiven by the crowd.

“I won’t make that mistake too often,” he said, as the crowd laughed.

The atmosphere in the room never dwindled, and at several points, the crowd chanted, “Canada! Canada!”

A crowd protests Conservative leader Stephen Harper's speech in Saskatoon Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

A crowd protests Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s speech in Saskatoon Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

The mood was in complete contrast to the atmosphere outside the rally. A crowd of protesters turned up with ‘Stop Harper’ signs in an attempt to drown out the Conservative leader’s message.

“Stephen Harper’s got to go,” many yelled from outside the building.

The Conservative leader’s speech lasted less than an hour and concluded with Harper shaking hands with several supporters.

He will continue his tour through Saskatoon on Wednesday.


Ontario First Nation Chiefs Launch Who Is She‬ Campaign For Inquiry Into Missing Women


By Terri Coles | Daily Brew 

The Who Is She fundraising campaign, launched Wednesday in Toronto by Ontario’s First Nations, will raise money for a judicial inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The federal government has repeatedly declined to hold a public inquiry into the matter. Now Ontario’s chiefs will attempt to fund their own inquiry through the Who Is She campaign.

“It’s going to be designed by us as First Nations, for First Nations,” deputy grand chief Glen Hare of Anishinabek Nation told Yahoo Canada News. “It’s going to be our work for our women and our girls.”

The fundraising campaign’s launch follows the Ontario chiefs’ decision in June 2014 to organize their own inquiry into the tragedy. The fundraising aspect of Who Is She will raise money towards an aboriginal-run inquiry, but there is not yet a set financial goal or timeline, Hare said.

“We don’t want to put a dollar figure on it,” Hare said. “It’s something we’re starting as First Nations because nobody else is doing it.”

Hare acknowledges that an inquiry is an expensive undertaking, but said the Ontario chiefs believe Who Is She is a good starting point and a necessary step.

“There’s so much finger pointing, who’s responsible and who’s doing what. Enough of that,” Hare said. “It’s time to do something.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne gave the keynote speech at Wednesday’s campaign announcement along with Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer. Ontario First Nations have the support of the provincial government, Ontario police, and other aboriginal groups in this campaign, Hare said.

“I think any efforts we have to move towards an inquiry, to move towards addressing this crisis and resolving this situation are really, really important,” Dawn Memee Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, told Yahoo Canada News. “We can’t afford to have any more families in crisis, any more of our sisters go missing, while the federal government sits back and does nothing.”

According to an RCMP report released in June, 1,181 women and girls identified as indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012 with another 174 missing.

An updated study released by the RCMP in June found that there are 1,181 female aboriginal homicide victims known to Canadian police between 1980 and 2014, and 174 missing women.

Several national and international organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations, have also called for an inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has said that his government will not call an official inquiry. Multiple past studies into missing and murdered aboriginal women, along with crime prevention measures and other program, are sufficient, Harper has said.

An NDP government would call an official inquiry within the first 100 days of its term, Leader Tom Mulcair has promised. And Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he would also call an inquiry if he becomes prime minister.

The Who Is She website will include photos of missing aboriginal women, along with messages from their family members. The Ontario First Nations hope that relatives of missing and murdered aboriginal women will be at future Who Is She events and be involved with the campaign, Hare said.

“We want them to work with us and to speak out,” he said. “And for everybody to hear what’s going on here.”

Hare said he would also welcome the participation of other First Nations across North America or their own efforts towards a similar goal.


Fighting For Answers About Missing And Murdered Canadian Women

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

By Jessica Brousseau / Mid-North Monitor, August 25, 2015

The numbers are growing as the fight for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women continues.

A demonstration was held on Aug. 18 with the familiar voices for the United Urban Warrior Society (UUWS) being joined by new supporters who refuse to take the federal government’s “no” for an answer.

Gathering at Giant Tiger, the group walked down the road before coming to a stand at the junction of highways 6 and 17.

Isadore Pangowish, leader of the UUWS Manitoulin-Sudbury chapter, has organized demonstrations and rallies such as the one held on a humid Tuesday morning.

“Our numbers have grown over the two years,” Pangowish said. “The more we protest maybe, just maybe, we will get our national inquiry.”

A national inquiry has been demanded of the federal government.

“The more and more that we come out, maybe Stephen Harper and Bernard Valcourt will open their eyes.”

While online comments are a mix of support for the cause there is the presence of frustration at the highway being shut down momentarily. But the negativity will not deter the UUWS in any future events.

Pangowish said they were closing the highway a few minutes at a time, but there may come a day when it might be shut down longer.

“This is a government highway. We do not own this highway. It is not a First Nation highway.”

Just like the highway, the inquiry into the growing number of missing and murdered women isn’t a First Nation issue.

“This is for everyone, it doesn’t matter their race.”

His statement was echoed throughout the demonstration as Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare made the same remarks during one of the shutdown periods.

“This is for all women!” Hare exclaimed while pointing to the surrounding communities. “Not just Anishnabek (women), but the women in this community, and those communities out there.”

He called for community members to “stand with us.”

Hare said the demonstration is a political matter and they want leaders to “take hold” of the issue of missing and murdered women, starting with the inquiry.

“Politicians questioning what good would an inquiry be? For me, I think the role of the court system would be to strengthen up.”

Hare was referring to when a woman gets a restraining order against an individual, but the laws do not necessarily protect them.

“A restraining order, I truly believe, gives that individual more (power),” he said. “It’s a challenge. And it happens.”

He said it is sad for family members to grieve over the death of their loved one while the murderer is getting bail.

“That’s the hurting part.”

“It’s extremely important that the awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women, and all women is brought to the forefront,” said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing NDP incumbant candidate Carol Hughes, who was at the demonstration. “We need to have a comprehensive inquiry.”

Hughes said the national inquiry would help give closure to families. She also mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation report, which also supported the inquiry.

SheShegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas told the demonstrators that they are supported and be proud of who they are.

“It’s good that you’re here, support the cause,” he said.

Endanawas had a message for the women at the rally, saying they do not deserve to be talked down to or put down.

“We are human beings,” he said.

Still no answers

The hurt remains with family members, years after the death of a loved one.

It’s been two years since Michelle Atkinson’s daughter Cheyenne Fox was found dead in Toronto.

Fox came from the Loon Clan at the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation on Manitoulin Island and was 20 years old when she fell from the 24th-floor balcony.

The Toronto police called the incident suicide. But her mother says it was murder.

How she was informed of her daughter’s death left Atkinson feeling like it was “just another dead Indian” to the people who told her the life-changing news.

“That’s how I feel,” she said between sobs. “I am angry because nothing has been done to this day.”

Atkinson and family friend Jackie Bowerman describes Fox as a very funny, caring mother.

“She was lively and energetic,” said Bowerman.

“She had her struggles, but she was coming home,” said her mother.

“They had people who really loved them,” she said between tears. “People who still love them.”

“I lost a cousin way back in the 1950s, she disappeared and we never heard from her,” said Endanawas. “We still don’t know where she is or how she died. She must have died…”

The missing and the


Kassandra Boulduc, 22, of Elliot Lake, was found off the shores of Lake Ontario in 2013.

Tina Fontaine, 15, of Sagkeeng First Nation was found murdered in Red River Manitoba in 2014.

Meagan Pilon from Sudbury disappeared at age 15 in 2013. She has yet to be found.

These women are just a handful of Canadian women who have gone missing or have been discovered murdered in the past couple of years.

A report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated there have been more than 6,500 female homicides between 1980 and 2012.



Anonymous Leaks Documents, Says Stephen Harper Tried To Spy On Barack Obama

Leaked documents from the hacker group Anonymous appeared to reveal the breadth and scope of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) surveillance network. In this photo, a vehicle passes a sign outside the CSIS headquarters in Ottawa November 5, 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

Leaked documents from the hacker group Anonymous appeared to reveal the breadth and scope of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) surveillance network. In this photo, a vehicle passes a sign outside the CSIS headquarters in Ottawa November 5, 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

IBT Media

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group leaked confidential Canadian intelligence documents Tuesday, revealing the country’s spying activities abroad. The documents exposed the widespread reach of the surveillance network operated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Officially, CSIS only operates three foreign stations — in Washington DC, London and Paris — but the leaked document marked as “secret,” purportedly from the country’s Treasury Board, lists a total of 25 foreign stations, “many of which are located in developing countries and/or unstable environments.”

The stations handle about 22,500 messages a year, though that does not include “the high volume of extremely sensitive traffic from the Washington station,” the February 2014 document stated.

The classified document also includes a plan to expand CSIS’ intelligence network at a cost of approximately 3 million Canadian dollars ($2.3 million). The document criticizes the “inefficient and labor intensive data-processing and analysis systems [used] to process and report intelligence information obtained at it foreign stations. … These outdated processes result in delays that impact the Service’s operational effectiveness and jeopardizes the security of its personnel.”

The hacker group also posted a video alleging that the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) attempted to spy on U.S. President Barack Obama under the orders of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and, when caught, endangered the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta in Canada through Illinois, Texas and Oklahoma. There was no proof posted for this claim.

The documents and the video were put up after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police failed to comply with a previous deadline issued by the group, calling for the arrest of one of its members purportedly involved in the shooting last week of a British Columbia man who was allegedly an Anonymous affiliate.

In the video, an Anonymous member said that the latest leaks were the first of many to come in the near future.


“There is info … that’s explosive, we think, but we are not providing source documentation on that now or ever. If we did, someone would be in a police party van within 15 minutes,” the unnamed member says in the video.

“Canadian security forces and their Five Eyes partners in New Zealand, the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. have been extremely pro-active in developing and purchasing offensive hacking capabilities,” he adds.

“Fortunately for us, Canada has been far more lax in defending its own systems.”


Canada’s Police-State Bill Passes Final Parliamentary Hurdle

the Senate is seen in this file photo from Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

the Senate is seen in this file photo from Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By Roger Jordan and Keith Jones

With yesterday’s ratification of Bill C-51 by the Senate, the Conservative government’s police-state legislation requires only royal assent in the form of the Governor-General’s signature to become law.

Framed by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government as an anti-terrorist measure, Bill C-51 dramatically expands the powers of the national security apparatus to spy on and suppress opposition to the ruling elite’s agenda of austerity and imperialist aggression.

Bill C-51 will empower Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break the law and violate the Canadian constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in “disrupting” what it deems to be threats to Canada’s economic and national security, territorial integrity or constitutional order.

Under this “disruption power,” CSIS could break into properties, seize documents and other materials, tamper with bank accounts, press employers to fire “national security” suspects, forcibly detain them, or subject them to psychological torture. The only “dirty tricks” CSIS is expressly banned from mounting are those that would cause someone bodily harm, kill them, or impugn their “sexual integrity.”

In response to a public outcry, the government passed a minor amendment to this part of the law during parliamentary hearings, stipulating that all protests, not just “lawful” protests, would be exempt from CSIS disruption. This is no more than a fig leaf. CSIS can and will justify its use of “dirty tricks” against strikes in defiance of anti-worker laws and other mass social protests by claiming they are threatening economic or national security. Already, CSIS and the RCMP carry out blanket surveillance of protest movements on the grounds that some of their participants might engage in vandalism or otherwise break the law.

The requirement that CSIS obtain the permission of a judge, in a secret court hearing, before breaking the law represents no significant impediment to its targeting government opponents en masse. Those targeted will have no knowledge of the proceedings, let alone the opportunity to challenge CSIS’s designation of them as threats to Canada’s security. Moreover, the proceedings will remain secret, giving rise to a secret jurisprudence, where the security agencies working in concert with a handful of carefully vetted judges will decide which groups and individuals Canada’s premier spy agency can use criminal means to “disrupt.”

Bill C-51 also guts Canadians’ privacy rights. It eliminates virtually any restrictions on the sharing of information between government agencies and departments in “national security” investigations.

The legislation also creates a “speech crime” of promoting terrorism “in general,” not tied to the incitement of any specific terrorist act. Persons will be liable to a five-year prison term for anything they say or write, in public or private, that the state deems promotes terrorism. Combined with new powers permitting the courts to remove websites and ban other publications judged to contain terrorist “propaganda,” this will be used to target critics of government policy, such as Canada’s staunch support for Israel.

Under Bill C-51, the state is arrogating new powers to restrict the movements and activities of alleged terrorist suspects—persons who have not been charged, let alone convicted of any crime.

It is also significantly expanding its powers of preventive detention. Instead of the upper limit of 72 hours, police will now be able detain terrorism suspects for seven days and on a lower evidentiary basis.

In keeping with the bill’s antidemocratic character, the Conservative government steamrolled it through parliament. Debate was kept to a minimum at all stages, with many prominent critics of the bill denied the right to appear before the House of Commons committee tasked with studying it. Even the Conservative government-appointed Privacy Commissioner was excluded.

At the same time, the government stepped up its campaign of lies and disinformation, portraying Canada as under terrorist siege. Harper seized on the twin attacks by disoriented individuals last October to portray Canada as a country under threat from Islamic extremists so as to justify both the strengthening of the national security apparatus and the expansion of Canada’s role in the new US-led war in the Middle East. It was thus no coincidence that as Bill C-51 was being rushed through the House of Commons, the government pushed through a parliamentary motion extending the Canadian military intervention till April 2016 and expanded it to include Syria.

If the Conservatives have proceeded so ruthlessly, it is because the assault on democratic rights has the support of ruling circles around the globe and domestically.

In recent months, Britain and France have passed or announced new legislation that in the name of combating terrorism and extremism gives vast new powers to their national security apparatuses. US President Barack Obama, who presides over far and away the world’s largest spy network and who has baldly asserted the right to order the summary execution of US citizens considered terrorists, explicitly called for Washington’s allies to strengthen their coercive powers at an “anti-terrorism” conference in February.

This is only the latest stage in a systematic drive, initiated over a decade ago under George W. Bush, to gut basic democratic rights and erect the scaffolding of a police state under conditions of deepening social inequality and growing popular alienation in every major capitalist country.

Canada’s ruling elite is also fully on board with the project of expanding the already existing authoritarian state structures. The opposition Liberals joined with the government in voting Bill C-51 into law. While they claimed to oppose certain aspects of the bill, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals said its passage was necessary to protect Canadians from terrorism.

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “newspaper of record,” emerged as a prominent opponent of the bill. But its criticisms said nothing about the comprehensive spying network already in place in Canada, nor the fact that the Globe has stood firmly behind Harper over the past nine years, including backing his antidemocratic constitutional coup in 2008 and his campaign for a parliamentary majority in 2011. The Harper government has used this majority not only to attack democratic rights and expand Canada’s participation in imperialist wars, but also to effectively outlaw strikes in the federal-regulated sector, slash unemployment insurance, raise the retirement age, and cut tens of billions in social spending.

The Globe was subsequently joined in its opposition to Bill C-51 by four former Prime Ministers and various retried Supreme Court Justices and Solicitors-General. This opposition, as exemplified by the focus on the Conservatives’ refusal to provide for greater “oversight” of the national-security apparatus—was motivated by the fear that under conditions of mounting class tensions and social anger, such an outright break with traditional bourgeois-democratic norms would discredit parliament and the other key institutions of bourgeois rule.

The official opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) delayed taking a clear stance on Bill C-51 for almost a month. When it became clear that a section of the ruling elite felt that Harper was going too far, the NDP belatedly declared that it would oppose the bill in parliament. However, its opposition was purely on tactical grounds, as shown by the fact that it focused the majority of its attacks on the lack of “oversight,” whether by a vetted parliamentary committee or some third-party body of trusted ruling-class representatives, like the existing Security and Intelligence Review Committee.

The NDP proposed a series of amendments to the bill in parliament. But it made no appeal to the growing popular opposition, which has found limited expression in a series of demonstrations nationwide. Nor did the NDP use the debate over Bill C-51 to draw attention to the systematic spying on Canadians’ electronic communications being carried out by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

With public hostility to the Harper government’s sweeping attack on democratic rights mounting and the Liberals increasingly under fire for their support for Bill C-51, the NDP has cynically shifted its position in the expectation it will bring electoral dividends. Initially, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said an NDP government would not repeal Bill C-51, only amend it. But last month he changed his tune and vowed the NDP would scrap Bill C-51.

Such rhetoric is being employed even as the NDP persists in making overtures to the Liberals to form a coalition government after October’s federal election. Not only did the Liberals vote for Bill C-51, they implemented Canada’s first post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation and subsequently authorized the CSE to collect and sift through the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications.

The lesson to be drawn from the passage of Bill C-51 is that the defence of basic democratic rights falls to the working class. It is the only social force which has no interest in the maintenance of the vast national security apparatus built up to spy on the entire population, or the use of authoritarian state powers to suppress opposition to militarism and war. Only through the emergence of a mass working-class political party committed to a socialist and internationalist program can the unending destruction of social and democratic rights by the ruling elite be halted.


PM Harper Said He Opposed UN Declaration Adoption During Meeting With TRC Commissioners

(Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Murray Sinclair (left) and APTN host Cheryl McKenzie during an interview Tuesday)

(Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Murray Sinclair (left) and APTN host Cheryl McKenzie during an interview Tuesday)

APTN National News

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Chair Murray Sinclair said Prime Minister Stephen Harper remains unconvinced of the need for Canada to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In an interview with APTN host Cheryl McKenzie, Sinclair said he and the TRC’s other commissioners, Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild, met with Harper Tuesday afternoon.

When McKenzie asked if the prime minister expressed any disagreement with the TRC’s recommendations contained in a report released earlier in the day, Sinclair said the prime minister maintained his opposition to adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Well obviously the adoption of UN declaration, which the government just voted down a few weeks ago in the House,” said Sinclair, referring to a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash.

Sinclair said the TRC isn’t necessarily calling for the declaration to be written into law because it would require a more complicated process involving the provinces.

“We have indicated in our report, we think utilizing the (UN declaration) as a framework for reconciliation,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair said during the meeting Harper showed he is well versed in the history of residential schools.

“He had things to say about the issues around the evolution of residential schools in the country which led me to believe he is well up on the topic,” he said. “We didn’t agree on some of the (recommendations). He did agree there is an obligation that there be ongoing discourse.”

Sinclair also said Harper needs to read his commission’s report if he’s not yet convinced the Indian residential schools system was a central element in Canada’s policy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.

Sinclair said the report makes a clear case the intention of the schools was to wipe out Indigenous culture.

During question period Tuesday, Harper refused to back the TRC report’s conclusion on cultural genocide. Instead, the prime minister chose to use the words “forced assimilation” when pressed on the issue by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

“I think (Harper) needs to read out report. Our report is pretty clear about what was going on and what was intended,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair said it wouldn’t be a large leap for Harper to reach the same conclusion, given the language used in his 2008 apology to residential schools.

“(In the 2008 apology) he acknowledged that the phrase, ‘kill the Indian in the child’ was the intention behind residential schools,” said Sinclair. “It wouldn’t be a leap.”

Sinclair said the commissioners of the TRC also offered to be part of any efforts toward reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples.

“The conversation really needs to be between the Aboriginal community and the government of Canada and we think we can help that,” said Sinclair.

The TRC released a summary of its final report on Tuesday. The final report will be issued sometime later this year.


Does Canada Have Courage To Call What They Did To Indigenous Peoples Genocide?

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. ERIC LONG / NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. ERIC LONG / NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM

By Dan Lett

Commission’s report will offer stark evidence

In the elegant confines of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the bias is pretty clear for all to see.

The content in this government-run facility is robustly pro-Indian rights and unabashedly political. Elaborate displays of cultural art and culture are laid alongside shocking and graphic descriptions of seminal legal battles involving, and the atrocities committed against, indigenous peoples in the U.S.

Most striking is the frequent use of a quote from former U.S. Supreme Court justice Hugo Black who, in 1960, argued in a minority opinion on a treaty rights case that “Great nations, like great men, should keep their word.” That is a stark missive to a government from a government-run museum.

What you will not find in this facility is the word “genocide.” It is not completely absent; the museum and its website both reference activists, academics and other supporters who believe American Indians were the victims of a state-sponsored genocide. The U.S. government, however, has declined to officially adopt the label.

That is not, in and of itself, an unusual condition. Nation states often struggle to accept an incident in their history meets the criteria of a genocide. Most acknowledged genocides come as the result of legal decisions, either from a domestic or international court. In the absence of those decisions, voluntary self-labelling is very rare.

Canada, however, could find itself in the rare position of becoming one of only a handful of nations to admit to a historic genocide when the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is tabled June 2.

Struck as part of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement between the federal government and victims, the commission has spent the last five years collecting evidence on the atrocities committed in residential schools.

It is not within the mandate of the commission to formally attach the term genocide to residential schools. That would come from a court or from Parliament. However, that has not stopped Justice Murray Sinclair, a judge from Manitoba and chairman of the TRC, from reaching his own conclusions.

In interviews and published arguments, Sinclair makes it clear residential schools were part of a process of aggressive colonization of aboriginal people. And that this process is consistent with international legal definitions of genocide.

Sinclair’s argument will be bolstered by new, stark details of just how badly we treated aboriginal children sent to residential schools.

The broader Canadian public has always conceded the schools tried to eradicate aboriginal culture. And that some of the children were victims of sexual and physical abuse so severe, some died. At the outset of the TRC, it was believed about 4,000 of the 150,000 children who went through the residential school system died from mistreatment of one form or another.

However, as the TRC has gone through its work, other, more troubling incidents have been revealed, some by the commission itself and others by academics doing parallel research into Canada’s treatment of aboriginal people.

Deadly tuberculosis outbreaks in overcrowded school dormitories. Medical experiments on malnourished aboriginal children, who were kept in a state of starvation to serve the needs of researchers. Dozens of unexplained, unmarked graves of aboriginal children near a residential school in Brandon.

The total number of aboriginal children who died while in the care of a residential school is expected to rise exponentially when the TRC tables its final report. And that alone should create an opportunity for a national debate about whether it’s time to use the term genocide to describe what went on.

Whether the current Conservative government accepts that opportunity is unclear. In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a formal apology to aboriginal people for their treatment in residential schools and offered financial compensation. In addition, Harper launched the TRC to look more deeply into the reality of residential schools.

There will be those who will argue Ottawa has done enough to address this issue and any debate over labelling residential schools a genocide is gratuitous. They will be wrong.

Whether or not the prime minister had this in mind when he created the TRC, the final report will serve as an indictment of Canada’s role in residential schools and provide the evidence necessary to back up a charge of genocide.

The politics of the TRC report is difficult to anticipate. The country is still keenly aware of concerns surrounding missing and murdered aboriginal women and the calls for a national inquiry.

Those calls have already become fodder for campaigning parties. Will the TRC report itself become an election issue this fall?

Regardless of how politicians wade into the issue, we should be confident that for the first time in our history, we will know the full truth about residential schools. What we choose to do with that information will either define us as a courageous nation or a cowardly one.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press story, Do we have courage to call what we did to natives genocide? by Dan Lett, May 21, 2015