Power vs People

How many votes does it take to get a seat in Parliament?
How many votes does it take to get a seat in Parliament?

It’s hard enough for small parties to get elected under our miserably unfair winner-take-all electoral system.

Although the Trudeau Government won a majority of seats in Parliament on the promise of making every vote count as of 2019, it seems Mr. Trudeau has decided he would rather keep the system so disproportional that Liberal candidates only need 38,000 votes to get elected on average, but the Green Party needed 600,000+ votes to elect a single MP.

But that’s not the only institutional barrier to getting candidates elected in small parties.  The Main Stream Media (or MSM) — that’s the big TV networks and the major newspapers — support the status quo too.  Face it, it is a lot easier for them to give the lion’s share of the media coverage to only two candidates.  In a country where the single biggest advertiser is our government, the MSM knows which side butters their bread.  Nor does it stop there, as the Toronto Star tells us that’s just the tip of the iceberg: there are subsidies and tax breaks galore. (As a recipient of many of those government tax dollars, the Star is, unsurprisingly a big supporter.  Oh, and let’s not forget bail outs.  After doubling his own salary in 2013Postmedia’s Godfrey wants lifeline of tax breaks, bigger government ad spending,and then the poor man was forced to accept nearly a million dollars as a “retention bonus.”   Although the alternative media explains Government bailout of corporate media is not the solution to our crisis there is not a lot of listening going on.  Is it any wonder our MSM supports the status quo?

2017 By-elections

Although there are rules, small parties and independent candidates continue to get short shrift during elections.

The problem we often lose sight of is that when small parties and independent candidates get short shrift, it means voters do too. The reason small parties come to exist because citizens feel unrepresented by the big parties.  But every year it gets harder and harder to elect anyone else.

Voters need need to know who all the candidates who want to represent them in Ottawa are.  They need to know what’s actually on the menu so they don’t have to settle for second best.  But even voters who support the big parties have problems getting the representation they want from the inside.  When a party foists it choice of a candidate on an Electoral District Association it’s called “parachuting in” a candidate.  This top down process deprives the party members at the local level from choosing for themselves who will run in the election under their party.

In spite of Prime Minister Trudeau’s initial “real change” commitment to keeping his hands off the candidate nomination process in his own party, his fingerprints have been all over them pretty much from the start.  And it’s still happening.  You know it’s bad when the local Liberal candidates ends up publicly complaining about it in the MSM, as happened when PM Trudeau decided to impose one of his assistants on Markham—Thornhill.

Even when voters back the candidate they support in the Party they want, they can still find themselves disappointed or even feeling betrayed when the government they wanted turns its back on its commitments.

Big Guns

During a regular federal election, Prime Ministers and Party Leaders have their own campaigns to run, but they carve out some time here and there to drop in on candidates across the country to lend their name brand support to the electoral contest.  During a By-election period, they don’t have their own campaigns to run; which is how both the Prime Minister and Opposition Party Leader wound up in Calgary, stumping for their respective candidates in ridings recently vacated by ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ex-cabinet minister Jason Kenney (newly elected Alberta’s provincial Conservative Party leader).

Guess which party’s candidates are getting the most press?

Fair Representation

Democracy is supposed to give citizens a say in our own governance.

But when we don’t have equal and effective votes, we don’t get fair representation.

When the deck is stacked in favour of the big political parties so only their candidates can get elected, we can’t get fair representation.

When a political system doesn’t work for a majority of the voters, people stop voting so they get no representation.

Or when people are afraid to vote for who they want and vote for someone they don’t want to stop someone they hate from getting elected, there is no longer any hope for fair representation.

Without fair representation, democracy stops being democracy.

Mr. Trudeau has disavowed his promise for electoral reform, but that is not his decision to make.  It’s ours.  So we need to keep pressuring them.  If the Liberals fail to win any of the 5 By-elections, it would certainly be a very clear message to Mr. Trudeau.  And I’ve no doubt it would increase our chance of getting the promised Proportional Representation.

Smart Voting Tips:

  1. If we really want real change, we need to start voting for politicians who will actually deliver it.
  2. We need to vote… even the disenchanted need to vote.  Do you know, more people didn’t vote than voted for the Trudeau Government?  If all the eligible voters who don’t vote would vote, we would see real real change.
  3. The first thing to remember that opinion polls are just the opinions of a tiny sample of people, kind of like the surveys they cite on Family Feud.  Don’t vote for anyone but the candidate you want.
  4. Even votes that don’t count have power.
  5. The more voters who give up in frustration, the easier it is for the defenders of the status quo to keep things from changing.
  6. Unless we start voting for what we want, we will never get it.

Power To The People

Right now there is a shade more than a week left before the 2017 By-elections will be decided on April 3rd.  There aren’t enough by-elections to change the balance of power in Ottawa, so the usual arguments for strategic voting have no power.  Which means vote for what you want.

If there is a By-election in your riding, find out who your choices are.  You can even volunteer for the candidate you like best, and maybe even help her win.

I imagine there are a fair number of Liberal supporters living in Markham—Thornhill who are annoyed to have local candidates cast aside to make way for one of the PM’s friends.  Such shenanigans undermine the local representation Canadians want.  This would be an excellent time for angry Liberals to swing their votes.  

If I were a Markham—Thornhill voter, I’d be volunteering for Caryn Bergmann because she supports the things I do… including Electoral Reform and Climate Action, and I think she will fight for them in Ottawa.  But I’m not, so all I can do is cheer her on from the peanut gallery.

If you are a Markham—Thornhill voter, I urge you to attend Thursday’s All Candidates Debate to get a good look at the choices.  Find out where they stand, decide who will best represent you.

Then vote.

It’s time to take back our democracy.



Broken Promise Tour with Nathan Cullen

The ERRE Committee’s Nathan Cullen (NDP) will be crossing Canada making stops in Liberal ridings to demonstrate how much support there actually is for electoral reform!

“There’s one last vote on electoral reform in Parliament before the May deadline. After that, it could be too late to set up a new voting system in time for the next election.

This spring, MPs will vote on whether to accept the recommendations of the Canada-wide consultation tour, including that the government hold a referendum where Canadians can choose between the current voting system and a proportional one.

We just need 20 Liberal MPs to keep their promise and vote YES to electoral reform.”

Nathan Cullen

Visit the Website to find out the itinerary to find put when the Broken Promise Tour will be coming your way:

Help convince Liberal MPs to keep their promise and vote YES to electoral reform before the May vote.

Three Ways to Help Canada win this vote!

#1 Bring your family and friends out to your local event
(contact Nathan Cullen or your local NDP folk to get involved to help bring the tour your way)

#2 Circulate the Petition and ask your family, friends and neighbors to sign on.

Go door to door, or spend an hour or two with your clipboard outside City Hall, your grocery store, Speakers Corner etc.
Get signatures at family gatherinngs or local activities or events (ie after church, at PTA or service club meetings, fundraising events etc.)

Petition calling on the Government of Canada to keep its promise of electoral reform.

#3 Download & mail Nathan Cullen’s Postcard

Download the “Keep Your Promise” post card

Your local Fair Vote Canada chapter may have a post -card you can send, or you can make your own.  You can even send your own letter to your Liberal MP (better yet, say it is an open letter and send a copy to your local newspaper!)

Fair Vote Canada’s “Keep Your Promise” postcard, and our Waterloo Region Chapter’s postcard for Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini quoting his own words from the 2015 Election campaign.

Electoral reform is not dead, the movement is growing.
Because every vote should count.


NOTE:  The original title of this article was “Nathan Cullen’s Broken Promise Tour” which is the name of the tour I was given by my Fair Vote Canada friends.  

But I’ve been notified that the title has been truncated to “Nathan Cullen’s Broken Promise” on at least one third party platform preview.

This certainly gives the wrong impression!  Rather like the “Too Cool To Do Drugs” Pencil.  In future I will strive to ensure the first few words of the title don’t mislead if truncated.  ~ LLR

Trudeau Government: Omnibus Rules

An excellent tool to keep track of whether or not the Trudeau Government is fulfilling the promises made in its election platform is the non-partisan collaborative citizen initiative website called the “TrudeauMeter.”   We are reminded

Trudeaumeter On the use of Omnibus Bills: Parliament:

“Change the House of Commons Standing Orders to end practice of using inappropriate omnibus bills to reduce scrutiny of legislative measures.”

So far there has been absolutely no movement to keep this promise.

Instead, what we are seeing here is that the Trudeau Government has chosen to use an inappropriate omnibus motion to change the House of Commons Standing Orders, reducing what little power opposition parties in phony majority governments (eg Mr. Trudeau’s Government, which he likes so much he’s disavowed his clear electoral reform promise to replace our unfair winner-take-all voting system).

“We’re filibustering to protect the right to filibuster. Who would have thought it would be this government, under this prime minister” to try to use its majority to make changes to the Standing Orders without all-party backing, he said. “It’s not your House… we have rights, too.”

NDP MP David Christopherson quoted in Hill Times: Opposition MPs declare ‘war’ over feds’ efforts to ram through sweeping changes to House rules, ‘we’re filibustering to protect the right to filibuster’

Follow intrepid reporter @Kady O’Mally’s Twitter Stream:

Christopherson also suggests the committee consider "the Cullen model," a la #ERRE, where no one party has a majority.

You can read her whole twitter stream on this own article complete article behind the iPolitics paywall by logging in if you are a memnber or by signing up for a free trial if you are not.

Rather than making Parliament more transparent, this is yet another attempt to make it more efficient for a party with a phony majority to undemocratically impose its will on our nation.   Promising one thing and not doing it is bad enough, doing the opposite of what you’ve promised is unacceptable.  In a democracy, that is.

Although CPAC is not covering this, @Kady is LiveTweeting, so Canadians can follow along and watch this unfold…

[CORRECTION NOTE: In the original version of this article I incorrectly described the “Omnibus Motion” as an “Omnibus Bill,” which I have corrected in this version. ~ LLR]

Canadian Senate Blues

They call it “the Red Chamber” but it sure seems like Canadians have been singing the Senate Blues for most of my life.

In the dying days of the Harper Government, the misadventures of Senator Mike Duffy proved to be a major embarrassment for the Canadian Government.  By the time the dust settled, Duffy had resigned from the Conservative Caucus, the criminal charges against him were dropped, and Duffy, now an un-aligned independent, resumed his seat as Senator for PEI (even though he still doesn’t actually seem to live there). Then Prime Minister Stephen Harper was certainly mixed up in Mr. Duffy’s case, but was never properly investigated or held to account.

But Duffy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg. The Auditor General report identified thirty (THIRTY!) past and present Canadian senators or former senators as having “made inappropriate or ineligible expense claims.”  In addition to being implicated in the expense scandal, 39 year old Senator Patrick Brazeau had a host of still unresolved other problems.   About a year ago Press Progress shared an Angus Reid Opinion Poll that suggested only 6% of Canadians were happy with the Senate as is.

Senate Thrones

Real or Imagined?

Canada’s new Trudeau Government had ostentatiously promised, ahem, real change.

And yet, once again, there are Senators making news in ways that reflect very poorly on Canada’s Upper House.

Interim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose has called for the resignation of Stephen Harper appointee Senator Don Meredith after Senate Ethics Officer Lyse Ricard’s investigation exposed his inappropriate sexual relationship with a teen.

Senator Meredith has made it abundantly clear he has no intention of going quietly, even though the other Senators are determined to expel Don Meredith after his relationship with teenage girl.

It has become increasingly clear that a code of conduct that hopes miscreants will quietly resign in the face of exposure is simply not sufficient. Real change requires a framework that allows for summary suspensions of Senators (and MPs) accused of impropriety and/or lawbreaking, removing them from office if such charges proven. Our Westminster System of government was designed for a feudal society that allowed the nobility to get away with a great deal.  But in a society that aspires to citizen equality there is no place for such abuses of power.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, now we learn Senator Lynn Beyak, member of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples  has spoken up in defence of the “abundance of good” in Residential Schools.

I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants — perhaps some of us here in this chamber — whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part and are overshadowed by negative reports. Obviously, the negative issues must be addressed, but it is unfortunate that they are sometimes magnified and considered more newsworthy than the abundance of good.

Honourable Lynn Beyak, Senate Debates: Increasing Over-representation of Indigenous Women in Canadian Prisons

As might be expected, Senator Beyak’s attitude has not gone over well.  CBC reports Senator’s residential school comment ‘hurts the integrity of the Canadian system,’ survivor says.  The Liberal Indigenous Caucus issued a statement asking Senator Beyak to “resign from the Senate as her views are inconsistent with the spirit of reconciliation that is required in both chambers of Parliament.”  Committee Chair Senator Lillian Eva Dyck agrees Senator Bayek’s should resign after her ill-informed and insensitive comments.

Even the United Church had some strong words for the Hon. Ms. Beyak:

“Indigenous peoples and organizations have responded to Senator Beyak’s comments. As one of the parties responsible for the operation of residential schools, The United Church of Canada also feels a responsibility to respond.

“Senator Beyak spoke of the “good intentions” behind the residential schools system. Thirty years ago, The United Church of Canada apologized to First Nations Peoples for our role in colonization and the destruction of their cultures and spiritualties. In the process of preparing, delivering, and attempting to live out that Apology, we have learned that “good intentions” are never enough, and that to offer such words in explanation is damaging and hurtful.

“The United Church of Canada participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission not just as part of a legal agreement but also as part of a moral and ethical commitment to understand the impact of our role in the residential schools system, to atone for it, and to participate in healing and building of a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

— Moderator: Senator Beyak’s Comments on Residential Schools

Not everyone is right for every job, and it’s pretty clear to everyone but Senator Beyak that she is not a good fit for the Senate of Canada.  Again, there doesn’t seem to be any provision to remove her in spite of the growing outcry.  The longer this goes on, the worse the Senate, and, indeed the Government of Canada looks.

Canadians need a government capable of governing itself with decorum and accountability.

As often happens in Canada’s unrepresentative democracy, there is a Petition:

We demand the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak and issuance of a formal apology

It seems Canada’s unfair First Past The Post electoral system continues to engender a political culture of shameless entitlement even (especially?) in our un-elected Senate. A democratic government that fails to answer to its citizens is seriously dysfunctional.

Image Credits

Senate photos by Makaristos have been dedicated to the public domain.  Click the images to find the originals on Wikimedia Commons.

International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD

Women in Politics

In 2015 twelve members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet (approximately 30%) were women.

The Harper Government: 77 female MPs ~ 25%.

The Trudeau Government: 88 female MPs ~ 26%.

More women in Cabinet is undoubtedly better for women than under-representation.  Government Ministers are more influential than back bench MPs, which is why these figures are tracked by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

But we need to remember the reason Prime Minister Trudeau’s gender balanced cabinet was newsworthy —  it did not happen naturally.  Although Canadian women make up about half the population, electing 25% women to the House of Commons was a record when Mr. Harper’s government managed it, just as electing 26% was a record for Mr. Trudeau’s government.

Whoop de doo.

That’s not exactly fair representation, but that is what you get with a First Past The Post electoral system.

That’s why Canada is way down the list “at 63rd internationally when it comes to women’s political representation.

While Mr. Trudeau is to be commended for attempting to redress that wrong, implementing a gender quota is an artificial fix.  One side effect is that such a policy severely limits the pool of cabinet choices when half the cabinet must be chosen from a quarter of the MPs.  Whether true or not, whenever a quota system is used, there are always mutterings asking if those who are chosen may not in fact be qualified for the job.

Cabinet Ministers are chosen entirely at the discretion of the Prime Minister.  Any MP can be quickly scooped up for a Cabinet position, and just as easily turfed out again, all at the discretion of one man: the Prime Minister.

In Mr. Trudeau’s Cabinet, however, the male members are being chosen from three quarters of the MPs, so there will be no doubt they are worthy of the power and authority they’ve been given.   But female members are being chosen from a mere quarter of the MPs.   This certainly can be easily used to undermine the public perception of the value of female Cabinet Ministers.  The optics of this combined with a quota certainly undermines the idea that Ministers are chosen purely on merit.

The very existence of this quota is entirely at the Prime Minister’s discretion.  Which means it us not a permanent fix: it can be discarded at any time.  This Prime Minister could easily change his mind about gender parity (just as he did with his Electoral Reform promise).  Or the next Prime Minister may as easily choose to exclude female MPs from his Cabinet altogether.  Like any policy developed under First Past The Post, this could become a pendulum issue swinging back and forth between Liberals and Conservatives.

Women chosen to serve as Ministers are well aware they owe the PM a debt of gratitude for bestowing this honour on them.  When the man with the power tells the Minister of Democratic Institutions that Proportional Representation is not an option, what can she do but go along.   Because female Cabinet Ministers surely know the prize can be peremptorily withdrawn at his discretion for any reason.  Or none.  Such context will most certainly guarantee that some (if not all) women Ministers will be very careful to do as they are told.  Will they fight for what they know is right or will they toe the party line to protect their status and position?

On the other hand, if Canada elected women in more proportional numbers in a more natural way, such a quota would hardly be necessary.  There would be a reasonably large pool of women MPs from which Ministers can be chosen on merit.  If they share a level playing field, women and men could assert themselves with confidence (and hopefully do what’s right). Wouldn’t that be something!


It also seems the claims that Prime Minister Trudeau’s Cabinet is “the country’s most diverse” need also be taken with a grain of salt.

AS Rachel Décoste points out, “The previous Harper cabinet included women, Aboriginals, South Asians, East Asians, Quebecers and a person with a disability. If that’s not diversity, I don’t know what is.”  Ms. Décoste goes on to explain:

“For visible minorities, PM Trudeau’s inaugural cabinet is decidedly less diverse than PM Harper’s. The absence of East Asians (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) is jarring.

“The presence of black Canadians, the third largest racial demographic, is also deficient. Despite a record four Afro-Canadian MPs elected from a voter base blindly loyal to the Liberals, PM Trudeau shut them out of cabinet.

“Harper did not name any African-Canadians to cabinet. He had no black MPs to choose from. Despite a record four Afro-Canadian MPs elected, Trudeau shut them out of cabinet.”

Trudeau’s Cabinet Isn’t As Diverse As You Think

Kathleen Wynn, Elizabeth May, Andrea Horwath, Catherine Fife, Bardish Chagger, Lorraine Rekmans
Canadian Politicians:  Kathleen Wynne, Elizabeth May, Andrea Horwath, Catherine Fife, Bardish Chagger, Lorraine Rekmans

Electoral Reform

Instead of relying on the temporary fix of patchwork quotas, the Canadian Government’s continuing failure to reflect the diversity of Canadians in the House of Commons could be addressed in a more stable and balanced manner through adoption of some form of Proportional Representation. As demonstrated in my graph, as a rule it is the countries using Proportional Representation that outperform Canada in both gender parity and overall citizen representation.

Equal Voice thinks it could take the Canadian Government 90 years to achieve gender parity naturally if we continue on as we are.  Frankly, if we keep First Past The Post I think that’s wildly optimistic.  Any way you slice it, this is simply unacceptable in a representative democracy.

It’s great that the suffragettes fought for our right to vote; but it’s too bad they didn’t win effective votes for Canadian women.  On this International Women’s Day, it is important for all Canadian women to understand:  if the Canadian Government is serious about gender parity it must begin with Proportional Representation.

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the thirty-first article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRE

Proportional Representation Series So Far:• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

#Canada150 ~ #Colonialism150

The following series of articles should be required reading for Canadians in this 150th Anniversary year.

October 6, 2016

The long history of discrimination against First Nations children:
The unequal provision of health and social services for First Nations children has been documented for more than a century. Is this the moment when the wider public will demand action?
by Cindy Blackstock

The tribunal heard from 25 witnesses, including seven government officials, over 72 days of hearings held between February 2013 and October 2014. The historical significance of the hearings cannot be overstated. This is the first time I know of that a developed country was on trial for its contemporary treatment of Indigenous children before a body that could make enforceable orders. The evidence of the discrimination was overwhelming and shown most profoundly and poignantly by government documents. The federal government even pulled its own expert witness after its own report, conducted by KPMG, came within 1 percent of our calculations of the child welfare funding shortfall.

January 17, 2017

Ottawa was ordered to comply with the principle in January by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal after a nine-year battle led by Blackstock’s group, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and the Assembly of First Nations.

In the documents, the government describes the various choices as a “menu of possible options” for abiding by the tribunal’s ruling, including the cost and policy ramifications of each.

For Blackstock, those choices add up to nothing short of discrimination.

“They are exploring ways to make a public relations gesture on Jordan’s principle but falling short on compliance,” she said in an interview.

There remains a chronic lack of mental health services for Indigenous youth across Canada, Blackstock said. She cited the example of Wapekeka First Nation, a remote northern Ontario reserve where two 12-year-old girls died by suicide earlier this month.

“These mental health services are available for every other kid and they are not available to First Nations kids,” she said. “The government knows about it and yet they are not paying for it, with tragic results.”

Federal government fails on First Nations child health delivery, says advocate ~ By Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Wednesday January 25, 2017

Indigenous leaders give Trudeau government failing grade on delivering promises
“This was a legally-binding ruling where the Canadian government was found to be racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations children and they were ordered to immediately stop,” Blackstock tells Walker. “They didn’t do it.”

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has issued two noncompliance orders against the Canadian government.

Blackstock says that complying with the orders means an immediate investment of a minimum of $155 million for child welfare, “to give these kids a fighting chance to grow up in the families.”

“A second piece is they have to fully implement something called ‘Jordan’s principle’ which is to ensure that all First Nations children can access government services on the same terms as other kids.”

March 2, 2017

Internal documents challenge government’s funding claims for Indigenous children
by Anna Stanley

The ruling and subsequent contempt orders required an immediate injection of $155 million dollars for child welfare to make up the shortfall. The government was also ordered to immediately spend $120 million dollars implementing Jordan’s Principle which would give First Nations children living on reserve access to the same medical and therapeutic services and supports (things like wheelchairs and crutches) as non-Indigenous children.

The Liberal government and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) have spent over $500 thousand dollars fighting the issue in court, and continue, in the context of ongoing compliance hearings, to refuse mediation and contest the order. In the meantime Indigenous children as young as eight continue to die of suicide due to federal denial of adequate prevention funding and infants of rheumatic fever from lack of on-reserve medicine.

This example of racialized discrimination is far from singular. Rather it is evidence of the pernicious colonial fabric from which contemporary Canadian political-economy continues to be woven. The government’s ability to ensure and define property rights is dependent on the suspension of Indigenous territorial and jurisdictional authority, and this in turn is crucial to its ability to attract investment and generate resource revenues.

Canada’s is a national economy premised on access to contested lands and resources. And this (as Cindy Blackstock has well noted) is reinforced in fiscal policy. The government’s refusal to meet the terms of the HRT ruling reminds us that Canada’s economy systematically devalues Indigenous life.

March 2nd, 2017

Millions promised for Indigenous kids is subsidizing mining companies, internal documents show
by Press Progress

In a recent interview on CBC Radio’s The Current, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett boasted that the federal government was spending “almost $200 million” on the well-being of Indigenous children.

Not only is there no evidence Canada is spending $200 million, but internal documents obtained through Access to Information by York University’s Anna Stanley and reviewed by PressProgress suggest money Bennett claims to be earmarked for the well-being of Indigenous children is being spent to “attract mining investment” instead.

In January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the federal government discriminates against First Nations children on reserves by offering up to 38% less in spending for welfare programs.

Then last November, Liberal MPs voted unanimously in favour of an NDP motion to address the funding gap through an immediate injection of $155 million to make up for the shortfall.

Despite this, the government has continued to drag its feet while at the same time touting its record on indigenous rights.

According to the 2016 federal budget, the Liberals allocated $71 million towards “ensuring the safety and well-being of First Nations children” for 2016-2017 – only 54% of what’s required to close the gap…

Canada 150: What is there for Indigenous people to ‘celebrate,’ exactly?
by Doreen Nicoll, March 2, 2017

Stephen Paquette, a member of the Anishinaabe from Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, regularly meets with non-Indigenous individuals and groups to encourage truth and reconciliation between Aboriginal founding nations and Canadians. He’s co-chair of the Halton District School Board’s Indigenous Education Advisory Council. He sat on the Toronto Police Service’s Aboriginal Consultative Committee for 13 years.

In December, Paquette wrote to the prime minister and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, among others, on the language used by various levels of government to mark Canada 150 events.

In his letter, Paquette requests the word “celebrating” be replaced by the word “acknowledging.” He heard back from Wynne, but it was just to say that she has passed his letter along to David Zimmerman, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

“As an individual who goes into the school system on a regular basis to educate students and teachers about the realities of Canada’s last 150 years,” Paquette wrote, “it would be both an injustice and an insult to all First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples to suggest that we should ‘celebrate’ the last 150 years of Canada’s history.”

Hon. Carolyn Bennett

March 3, 2017
The Liberal Government Minister in charge of this portfolio is not actually helping when dodging her government’s obligation to make this right.
Ending Discrimination Against Indigenous Children Requires More Than Money
by the Hon. Carolyn Bennett

Surely Canada isn’t too poor to come up with $155 million? What can possibly be more important than the welfare of children? When children are denied the necessities of life due to the Federal government’s funding shortfall, money is most certainly the first step.

I can’t celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday when the Canadian government which supposedly represents me only pays lip service to Truth and Reconciliation while continuing it’s unrelenting policy of systemic and institutional racism toward First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.

The best I can do is acknowledge the last 150 years of Canada’s history.
And buy a t-shirt.

Last Full Day to Sign the Petition!

Petition e-616 (Electoral Reform) is doing quite well.  But time is running out… it will be closed to signatures tomorrow at 11:20 a.m. (EDT)

It’s up to 130,140 signatures!!

Sign The Electoral Reform Petition

Since people are more inclined to look at short videos, on occasion I’ve been putting together video soundbites. The goal is to keep these under five minutes, but on rare occasions more is needed (as with “Four Questions”) so I’ve let them run a bit over. I’ve been scrambling to make these in hopes of helping boost the signatures, so each video has a petition plug at the end, and links in both the video and the YouTube info box below.