Friday, March 27, 2015

On common ground

The Progress Summit's panel on First Nations has included plenty of discussion of the need to identify commonalities between First Nation issues and other groups within Canada. And I'd add that there are plenty more opportunities to draw further connections.

The recognition that the federal government tried to eradicate aboriginal culture (and celebration of that fact that it failed) can surely be linked to the latest attempts to intrude on individual beliefs and practices. And the development gap between First Nations and Canada at large is largely paralleled by a similar divide between other rural or isolated communities which are treated as lacking economic value, and current profit centres.

With that in mind, I'd think it's worth examining the arguments which can be made to address those issues together. And a couple of related ones can be put forward.

First, Canada (in contrast to the U.S.) is relatively lacking in a meaningful "pro-Constitution" movement. And it's not hard to see how one could be developed which would encompass both treaty and constitutional recognition of First Nations, and the protection of minority rights which are threatened by cynical political intrusions.

In turn, that movement would be all the stronger if we seek recognition and enforcement of greater social and economic rights - which would provide a basis to mandate even reluctant governments to give effect to those rights.

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