Saturday, March 22, 2014

Will Canada survice another referendum?

The True North strong and free…; that can very well prove to be an illusion. The province of Quebec is yet again at the polls, trying to make sense of its future; either as a province or as a country.  Canadians living outside la belle province are weary. The incessant message by Pauline Marois and her cohorts expounding the virtues of independence is fuelling a rapidly growing sentiment among English Canada-enough is enough. If it were just a case of Marois and the PQ itself this issue of independent fervour could be easily dismissed; yet it is not…49.42% citizens in Quebec voted in favor of secession in 1995. Could Marois establish the “winning conditions” and garner 51% of the vote?
The underpinnings of secessionism in not only Quebec; but in other parts of Canada are intriguing. She must feel comfortable with the present state of affairs in Quebec; being elected the first female Premier in the province and within barely two years in her mandate, Marois feels that the time is conducive to push for a majority government; and with it a referendum. It is not out of necessity but rather a matter of making a statement. Marois like previous Quebec premiers; is defining her latest campaign on the economy. In this she believes that she has made the right choices and handpicked (Pierre Karl PĂ©ladeau) those who would see her agenda to the end.
    Those living in Quebec are not any less disheartened or jaded by the province’s inability to get itself out of the growing rate of unemployment and economic stagnation. Quebec is changing; and the outward face of its demographic with it. This is not a French-English issue; at least not directly. The Charter of Values (Bill60) introduced by Bernard Drainville in May, of 2013 made it an issue of Quebec losing its distinct French-Canadian identity.  Secularism is preferred above all else, and many references to Jewish, Islamist faith based practices are said to be, “influential”.

“What you have to see is that, when we have established a link between halal certification, an imam and a mosque, we have to go see what they are saying in these mosques and the ideology that lives there,”-Louise Mailloux.

Injecting anti-religious policies purporting them to be anti-modernist, and an infringement upon Quebec’s secularist future independent society; Marois hopes that a greater separation between what Parizeau described in 1995 (big money and the ethnic vote) be realized before any referendum. It further reaffirms the notion that “multiculturalism” espoused by Pierre Elliot Trudeau has never taken root in Quebec.  The ideology introduced by Cartier, and McDonald of harbouring nations within nations has been part of the Quebec political landscape since pre-Confederation.  The repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, Meech Lake (1987) Charlottetown (1992); attempted to reconcile its imperfection and lessen its ideologies that all future amendments-be unanimous.
   The Charbonneau inquiry has yet to release its findings into wide scale corruption at every level of government and labor syndicates in the province.  This might favor the PQ; but the absence of the inquiry’s report does not mean clear sailing for anyone-least of all Marois.  So we have a segment of the population that dearly wants to become a nation unto itself; we have a minority of Anglophones who insist that having the right to live and function in English; a fundamental right, and let’s not forget about the indigenous peoples of Quebec who assert the right to negate any future referendum on sovereignty- to be illegal.

 “Let us be even more clear: Quebec can decide what it wants in terms of its culture, its identity and its development, but it cannot claim sovereignty over a territory which is still, fundamentally, First Nation.”- Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard.

In the interim; discussions about Marois, her party and the prospect of another referendum is successfully igniting the Rest of Canada (ROC) in claiming that if the outcome is independence-it will not be at the expense of the ROC. The emotional responses, via social media and online discussion sites, run the gamut. I daresay, some of the statements posted lack any perspective or appear to have been written in haste without much thought involved. The issues that are being raised in Quebec are not exclusive to those living in the province. It affects us all. We cling to the ideal that we are inclusive, respectful, and welcome diversity.  We tailor our immigration policies to reflect our Charter, we welcome political refugees… and we also discriminate. There are multiple examples throughout Canadian history in which we find cases of anti-Semitism, and discriminative protocols entrenched in every facet of the Canadian example.
   When speaking of Quebec independence, or Alberta’s Americanism, nothing is more divisive than having to develop multiculturalist streams which do little in the way of uniting its citizenry. The realities are that any secessionist alternatives will in effect cripple Canada as a whole. Unfortunately, the youth represented within the demographic element of the province have yet to articulate strong objections to the process of secession. The continued discord between French and English lines, the increased infiltration of immigrants who choose to live in Canada but not be part of Canada, the continued rationalization that “immigrants” become like “us” will eventually lead to a cultural civil war.
   Quebec is at the forefront of this issue. They and those outside its borders await answers; more than that, they hope for a better future. If voting PQ (or any other political entity) which promises to bring about better prospects in its economy, more maneuverability in its language policies, and a better cohesive strategy in developing a demographic that moves away from the traditional French Catholic roots-so much the better.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Not all is reconcilable within First Nations and Canada.

For many non-indigenous Canadians; the recent pressures from the NDP and Liberal federal parties to force Prime Minister Harper to launch an inquiry into aboriginal missing and murdered indigenous women and girls; is negligible, not deserving of national attention.
In response to the Conservative’s assertions to the matter; the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) investigated and produced empirical data illustrating a greater issue.  Of the 582 confirmed and documented cases verified by the NWAC: 67 percent are murder cases, 20 percent are of missing indigenous women or girls and 4 percent are cases of suspicious deaths.

In relation to the Canadian national average, this represents ten percent of all female homicides in Canada. The figures are approximate and cover a period of eight years (2000-2008).  Of that ratio; indigenous women represent three percent. To better illustrate how NWAC correlates its data as to the overall numbers; one must understand that-to date-missing persons cases in Canada are not compiled. Hence any comparative data separating indigenous missing and murdered women; to other ethnic groups is not possible.

Statistics Canada pegs the national population of Canada as being 35, 295,770, as of October 2013. Taking NWAC’s current data and extrapolating it in relation to Statistics Canada’s numbers is interesting. Based on the murder and missing percentage -rhetorically speaking- of the 105,887 indigenous women in Canada-70,944 would become the overall number of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada.
As to the question: why this is not a major political or a greater societal preoccupation in Canada? There are no definitive answers. Non-indigenous Canadians who live in proximity to indigenous reserves have a unique perspective, and share common interests. Most municipalities and reserves adjacent to one another have experienced some form of racism, prejudice and violence throughout their existence. They also have (hopefully) bridged and made efforts to make amends with one another.

The outward manifestation of increased violence towards indigenous murdered and missing women is not a new phenomenon. It continues to be an acceptable racial behavior (by all accounts) and one of many other prejudicial observances in Canada and the United States. Politically correct policies, publications; protocols are devised by all authorities.  Will political correctness suffice?
If we are to judge responses on any Facebook page, online publications, or televised news broadcasts, the answer is no. Some Canadians are of the view that the increasing rate of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is self-imposed.

I agree with the government. I wouldn't spend any money either. First off before any person gets excited, I believe that there should be no preferential treatment to any particular race, Caucasian, Asian, Black or Aboriginal. The aboriginal women who are missing or murdered is a sad case, just like the other missing or murdered women of various ethnic or racial backgrounds. Why though are any of these women missing or murdered? Why is it only the aboriginal women the only group asking for the government to step in and not the other racial groups? Do not the other racial groups care about the whereabouts of their women? Maybe the other racial groups intervene more often into the lives of wayward women before they go missing and get themselves murdered. Maybe as aboriginals they need to be proactive in 'preventing' runaway/missing and murdered women. Maybe don't blame the government at all.”-Brian Heintz.

The “get themselves murdered” mentality is predominant within non-indigenous Canadians. As to the why…that in itself is exhaustive.  Simply put, indigenous Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Huron, Iroquois, Blackfeet (to mention a few) societies are not homogenous to post-contact ideals of governance, patriarchal, and economic structures. This is self-evident and we have tangible examples throughout Canada’s history.
We often dismiss First Nations issues today on the basis of past precedence. That is the genesis of Canada; its inception and whatever measures used and administered in British North America (BNA) should remain in the past. The issue of recognizing First Nations based on Treaty Rights made by the British Crown and assumed by Canada since 1870; is egregious and according to federal majority governments, a major impediment to a successful integration of indigenous First Nations within the political, economic, and societal dictates of Canada.

That has been and continues to be the one constant in Canadian policies from McDonald to Harper. Comments made by Heintz illustrate this reality. Political activist Michelle Tittler is the most recognizable public figure who’s racially charged messages on Facebook has elicited two probes by the RCMP.  Comments made by Tittler on her Facebook page and others who are pushing back since Idle No More (INM) is strong indicators that not all is reconcilable within First Nations and Canada.
Whether the NDP and Liberal federal parties are disingenuous and in fact playing the political game with respect to indigenous issues confronting First Nations; is a matter of perspective. We have had no official policies made by either party in regards to First Nations on full sovereignty political platforms, its continued desire to be distinct and apart from Canada, and be allowed to profit, and exploit natural resources on its treaty lands.

INM gave grassroots indigenous people a voice. It also miraculously bridged and incorporated non-indigenous Canadians under its banner-for a time. That is until the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) under the leadership of National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo-interjected itself and agreed to meet with Prime Minister Harper. Chief Spence’s political manoeuver and its aftermath, effectively removed the very real tangible unison of non-aboriginal Canadians under a First Nations political banner.

Therein lies the cornerstone of its deficiency; voting for or against recognized parties of Canada does little to mitigate First Nations issues and concerns-by First Nations people. Political outcomes do not rest within its powers; therefore scant attention or participation is made by First Nations people. Visible minorities are representative in every political party in Canada. This is to project a philosophy of inclusion and tolerance; although not as effective as minorities themselves would like to admit.
Implementing First Nations federal policies by indigenous peoples created the perception to Canadians that the time had come to “assimilate” once and for all. It through into question the very leadership existing on reserves as antiquated; rife with the smell or cronyism, embezzlement, nepotism, and corruption. The very system in effect under the Indian Act since its inception, and funded by AANDC formerly known as INAC. The Conservative Party of Canada until 2012 was very proficient in deflecting responsibility and targeting First Nation activists. This afforded Harper (and continues to do so) the ability to further foment dissent within First Nations who view Atleo and others who are likeminded; as “Selling First Nations interests out”.  If it continues to be indigenously driven; Harper can demonstrate that some form of FN representation is being acknowledged.

“People march, hold protests and demand justice, but can't affect them to the point of change,” commented CJ 1240 radio personality Jordan Krost.  This observation reflects a truth; and yet efforts to construct a federal indigenous party which can incorporate national policies across the board that appeal to non-indigenous Canadians have yet to materialize.  In addition, the question whether FN would favor such a construct is doubtful.
Being repulsed, indignant, and embarrassed by Harper’s continued FN assimilative policies and outright disregard in matters (in this case) of public safety. If no possible political answer can be made available to FN; rest assured that civil unrest will only escalate.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Barak Obama's gambit in the Middle East...

The Palestinian Question continues to provoke anger and international pressure.  President Barak Obama stated as late as March 3rd, 2014 that the window of opportunity towards a “peace” is dwindling. Obama’s state of address to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may become the primer which may alter Israel’s expansion into Palestinian occupied territory.
Political pressure from the Negations Affairs Department (NAD) arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); and the United Nations (UN) are making Israeli domestic policy difficult to ignore. It is compelling Israel to recognize Palestinian sovereignty in earnest- or face an uncertain future. Israelis have long memories...Forged in wars, cemented within its successive victories in 1967, 1973, and 1982; Israel will be hard pressed to find any shred of validity behind NAD’s efforts to vilify its actions within the West Bank.

We often hear of the 1948 Jewish War of Independence and the subsequent political and military foundering of Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon which created the exodus of 70 percent of Palestine’s population and the destruction of four hundred and eighteen villages. What is being omitted by NAD are the historical annals of war; the Palestine participation in retaliatory reprisals after the armistice agreements- on Israeli soil.

“…In the meantime they found what was considered a perfect tool to show their own people that the war was not over yet and at the same time both to harass Israel and embarrass her. Palestinian Fedayeen (suicide troops) infiltrated across the long and ill-protected border - and it should be recalled that no place in Israel was far from the border: infiltration's for the purpose of stealing farm equipment were followed by the laying of mines, the killing of individuals, and wholesale massacres. The Fedayeen were trained, equipped and paid for by Egyptian Intelligence, although they operated mainly from bases in Jordan, so that Jordan would bear the brunt of Israel's retaliation, which inevitably followed. And each time Israel retaliated, the Security Council condemned it; condemnation of an Arab government had long since become an impossibility, because of the Soviet veto.”- From "The Arab-Israeli Wars" by Netanel Lorch.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 did nothing to allay Israeli fears of reprisals from the PLO, Egypt and foreign interest; albeit the Straits of Tiran were made available and Israeli access to the sea preserved. As a point of contextual parameters, what Gamal-Abdel Nasser promised is something that he could not in good conscience deliver-the annihilation of Israel.
The Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars ushered the present modern day conflict within the region. The PLO cannot divest itself with the terrorist tactics of its political officers; notably Yasser Arafat. It cannot disclaim responsibility during the Munich Olympic massacre of eleven Israeli participants in the 1972 Games; and the continued harassment of Israel (supplied by Syrian, and Iranian intelligence) during the first and second Intifada.
The (Anwar) Sadat-(Menachem) Begin peace proposal brokered by the United States President Jimmy Carter in 1979 can be construed as a decisive moment in Middle East politics; until Sadat’s assassination in 1982. Ironically it was Begin himself and that of his cabinet which sanctioned Jewish settlements within Gaza and the West Bank.

There can be no disassociation between events unfolding presently in the Middle East without bringing attention to British, French, and American interest since 1900. Its aim obviously; to achieve maximum political and foreign influence within the region…Namely for its petroleum deposits.  The mess that is the Middle East was created by international economies dependent on OPEC producing countries; which mandated the sort of compromise…Imposing the harshest outcome upon one city alone-Jerusalem.
We speak of transgressions; of the continued bloodshed of civilians…Israeli and Palestinian alike. We clamor and issue proclamations demanding Israeli acknowledgement of Palestine as a sovereign country. We condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank without considering what if any meaningful considerations might be convincing enough for the PLO and other terrorist organization to cease and desist.

If there is to be a peace between Arabs and Jews; it must be done outside the realm of foreign affairs. It must be pursued by those who can reconcile the past…to understand that there can be no return to what was lost. Insisting the partition of East Jerusalem as the future capital of Palestine is futile; as is its demand on pre-1967 territorial demarcations.
Palestine must be created by parts of Jordanian, Syrian, and Lebanese territory; it is also in need of traditional territory within Israeli control.  Access to Muslim holy sites must be accommodated by Israel; including the affirmation and some basis of restitution for Palestinian born Israelis. Of course the premise to such and any future reconciliation efforts must first be accompanied by a lasting and continued ceasing of hostilities-from Arab controlled territories adjacent to its borders.

Netanyahu is weary; doubtful and mistrusting of any PLO led initiative. The same can be said by NAD and its political officers charged with furthering the Palestinian cause at the UN. The days of American determination and support for Israel is diminishing; Obama can no longer project American military superiority on a long term basis.

Russia’s military invasion of the Crimean peninsula is indication enough that it can inflict major economic chaos within Europe. Russian petroleum dictates what Russia can do; as its neighboring countries can ill afford to alienate Russia on this economic truth. In lieu of a full blown war; the effectiveness of the UN (its very existence) might very well be an indication of what future can be expected in the Middle East.