Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Doug Saunders observes that Syriza's strong election victory may signal a sea change as to whether austerity is inevitable, while Adnan Al-Daini notes that the financial sector can no longer take for granted that its profits will be placed above the interests of actual people. Which means that Joe Oliver may get even more lonely lecturing Canada's provinces that the economic beatings will continue until morale improves.

- Speaking of whom, Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how Oliver has long known that the Cons' income splitting plans represent nothing more than a giveaway to the high-income families who need it the least. And Barret Weber writes that it's long past time for Alberta to fund its public services through a progressive tax system, rather than regressive taxes and unstable resource royalties.

- David Cay Johnston highlights how the U.S. is still seeing growing profits and declining personal incomes. And Cole Moreton likewise notes that the UK's elections should see plenty of discussion about a growing wealth gap and continuing poverty. 

- David Suzuki writes that free trade agreements are increasingly resulting in Canada trading away any ability to protect its environment. And Glenn Kessley destroys the myth that free trade agreements bear any relationship to jobs even under the faith-based theory intended to promote them.

- Finally, Nancy MacDonald writes about the festering prejudice against First Nations in Winnipeg in particular. But Max FineDay is right to point out that Canada's shameful legacy of racism continues to affect systemic relationships far beyond the boundaries of any one city:
Being so deeply immersed in both Native and non-Native communities I knew from a young age that these two worlds did not fit together. I remember some of my friends telling me that their parents didn’t want me over at their home for fear I might come back and rob it later. This prejudice was normal growing up nêhiyaw in Saskatoon. I don’t bring these issues up because they defined my childhood – they didn’t – and they certainly don’t define me today. But these are the types of stories that you will hear from Native people, if you take the time to listen.

If you asked a Native person, whether in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Caledonia, or Halifax, if there is a tension between Native and Canadian communities, few would hesitate to say yes. Our story, the story of Canada, is one of both mistreatment and indifference. That mistreatment and indifference have lead to Native peoples being on the negative side of almost every statistical category. No one relishes the fact that there’s still racism in our communities, but ignoring it as we like to do isn’t making anything better.

Maclean’s is right that Winnipeg has a race problem, but wrong to deflect the focus from the underlying, systemic issues that are almost always the cause of bad outcomes for Native peoples everywhere in Canada. The article reports that much of the violence we hear about is perpetrated by Native people against other Natives without further analysis into the systemic inequalities that affect Native peoples in every part of society. That’s what Canadians need to hear.

More than individual acts of prejudice or of violence, they need to hear about the systemic inequalities that they themselves never see. Individual acts of racism, violence, and intolerance are powerful, yes, but systemic racism is what maintains Canada’s ongoing settler colonialism (which depends on dispossessing Native people of their land and sovereignty).

In an article dealing almost exclusively with racism directed toward Native people, the only mention of colonialism was a quote from the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations that put colonialism in the past tense. There was only one sentence about treaties. Maclean’s understands that racism is taking place, and that it is destructive, but it has very little understanding of why.

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