Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Daniel Wilson discusses how Stephen Harper's antipathy toward First Nations is making a failure of his time in office:
On the global stage, he stood almost alone in opposition to 144 other countries in voting against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Domestically, he has tabled bills that diminish First Nations jurisdiction to that of administrative agencies of the federal government.  His party has consistently claimed that First Nation governments are corrupt or mismanaged.  He killed the Kelowna Accord. His steadfast refusal to fund First Nation child welfare agencies at the same rate as provincial agencies -- a gap of 22 per cent according to the Auditor General -- is the subject of a human rights complaint for discrimination. The cap of two per cent funding growth per annum for education, housing, infrastructure (like drinking water) and other essential services means that, while keeping up with inflation, First Nations are further impoverished each year at the same rate as they have children (approximately 3.5 per year).  To make his purpose obvious, he has legislation aimed at selling communally held reserve lands to private interests and the now infamous Bill C-45 created new arrangements for the leasing of reserve lands to non-band members.

Each of these steps is aimed at diminishing the power and capacity of First Nations to function.  Each is calculated to drive people off reserve. Like Harper's legislative attacks on environmental protection, each serves the goal of eventually allowing oil, gas, mining, and other resource extraction industries to go about their business unhindered.

But people stood up to the bully and in his first real test, he blinked. In reluctantly agreeing to meet this Friday, he has shown his nervousness. In the maliciousness with which his people have attacked Chief Theresa Spence this week, he has shown his fear.
- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom discusses the real story behind Attawapiskat's dire straits - as much-ballyhooed resource development has done nothing to improve the lot of the community. Heather Mallick writes about the importance of First Nations activists standing up for themselves. And Pat Atkinson laments the Harper Cons' utter failure to consult First Nations.

- Ian Austen reports on a new study showing that the harmful by-products of tar sands exploitation are spreading much further than previously known.

- And finally, Jim Guy is the latest to question the Cons' choice to single out organized labour for punishment and the eradication of member privacy.

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