Harper Watch – January 8 to 14, 2013

CBC – Energy industry letter suggested environmental law changes
A letter obtained by Greenpeace through access to information laws and passed on to the CBC reveals the oil and gas industry was granted its request that the federal government change a series of environmental laws to advance “both economic growth and environmental performance.”

Within 10 months of the request, the industry had almost everything it wanted.

CBC – Alberta lakes show chemical effects of oilsands, study finds
A new study released today suggests chemicals from 50 years of oilsands production are showing up in increasing amounts in lakes in northern Alberta. And the effects are being felt much farther away than previously thought.

The joint study between scientists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and Environment Canada looked at core samples from five lakes close to the oilsands mining and upgrading operations in Fort McMurray, Alta. They also studied samples from Namur Lake, 90 kilometres northwest.

CBC – Should the military charge for emergency relief services?
Billions for stealth jets that are no good in the arctic but if your community is the victim of a natural disaster, you’re going to have to pay the troops for help!

CTV – Bureaucrats scrambled to save some refugee health benefits: documents
Civil servants in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration had to scramble to make the case for preserving some refugee health-care benefits destined for the government’s cost-cutting axe, newly released documents show.

The series of emails and memos released under Access to Information laws seem to contradict Kenney’s assertion in June that benefits for resettled refugees were never meant to be axed.


CBC – Native bands challenge omnibus budget bill in court
Two native bands are attempting to challenge parts of the federal government’s omnibus budget bill in court….

They are asking for a judicial review of the environmental provisions in two budget bills — Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 — because of proposed changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

The bands are basing their application on past Supreme Court of Canada decisions that have recognized that the government has a constitutional duty to consult with aboriginal groups about decisions that may adversely impact lands, waters and resources that are subject to aboriginal or treaty claims. And consult doesn’t mean just polite listening: the court has said that the government has the duty to consult, and where appropriate, accommodate.


Canada.com – Some progress made in meeting
The Assembly of First Nations entered Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister  Stephen Harper with eight demands.

Here is checklist on how they fared:

Agreed – Commitment to a high-level process on treaty implementation.

Agreed – Commitment to speed up resolutions of land claims and affirmation of inherent rights.

Agreed – Designate decision-makers within the Privy Council Office to specifically oversee the Crown-First Nation relationship.

Partial headway – Harper agreed talks on resource equity should be part of the high-level process on treaty implementation, but also need to include provinces.

Partial headway – Make funding for First Nations sustainable, in line with growth of the population.

Harper agreed this would be part of the treaty and comprehensive land claims discussions.

Partial headway – Guarantee schools for every First Nation. Harper agreed education is important but didn’t make firm commitments.

Little headway – All legislation needs to be compatible with indigenous rights, and the parts of Harper’s budget omnibus bills that contravene aboriginal rights need to be repealed.

Harper agreed the government has a duty to consult with First Nations, but  will not repeal the omnibus bills.

No – Set up a public commission to focus on murdered and missing aboriginal women.

(In summary, they were promised more talk but nothing of substance.)

(Below are two very different opinions on the division in the First Nations communities as to whether or not the AFN should have met with the government.  Both agree that nothing was gained.  Both offer valuable insights and are well worth reading.)

Rabble (Derrick O’Keefe) – Idle No More, Enbridge No More: On ‘divisions’ and the power of social movements
After Friday’s meeting, all the government really did was vaguely talk of meeting again and re-announce funding that was already allocated for First Nations water treatment. So Idle No More will continue and grow. There’s already a callout for another global day of action of January 28, joining in with new allies.

ipolitics (Micheal Harris) – Atleo humbled, native solidarity shattered — advantage Harper
Atleo compounded his already desperate situation when he tried to put a positive spin on a meeting many of his own people see as an act of treachery. Minus the BS, here’s what Atleo actually got out of his trip to the Langevin Block: a promise to move a little faster and to secure talks with people more important than John Duncan — who, by the way, should resign after this humiliating outcome. Shawn Atleo was served warmed-up leftovers from last year’s meeting, nothing more.

G&M (Gerry Caplan) – There is still time for #IdleNoMore to learn the lessons of Occupy
Does Idle No More signal that a sustained new campaign for aboriginal rights is finally under way, or is this just another in a long tradition of false starts? Obviously no one yet knows. But this can be said: One of the reasons for whatever successes African Americans achieved 50 years ago was the participation in their campaign of millions of white Americans. It was a black movement, no mistake, with leadership, strategy, inspiration and numbers all provided by black men and women. But it was significantly bolstered by the active support of whites. Like it or not, that made white politicians pay more attention.

ipolitics (Elizabeth May) – The Attawapiskat audit: Distracting us from a legacy of failure
Numerous Supreme Court decisions make it clear that the federal government, as well as private sector corporations with an eye on First Nations’ lands and resources, have a duty to consult. Yet numerous legislative changes made by the Harper Conservatives over the last year had no advance consultation, despite deep impacts on First Nations.

Both omnibus bills, C-38 and C-45, had significant effects on First Nations, and were passed without consultation. The Canada-China Investment Treaty, signed by the prime minister in early September and not yet ratified, also could have huge impacts on First Nations — again, no consultation.

Rabble.ca – The true scandal of First Nations’ funding — not the Deloitte and Touche version!
Finally, the former Auditor General points out the challenges that small and relatively poor First Nations communities face in providing complex services that, elsewhere in Canada, are provided by larger, well-resourced entities such as school boards:

“The federal government established each First Nation band as an autonomous entity and provides separate program funding to each. Many of these First Nations are small, consisting of communities that often have fewer than 500 residents. There are more than 600 First Nations across Canada. Many of them are hampered by the lack of expertise to meet the administrative requirements for delivering key programs within their reserves. They often do not have the benefit of school boards, health boards, or other regional bodies to support the First Nations as they provide services to community members.”

G&M – Natives don’t need ‘accountability.’ Show us the money
Chiefs across Canada are saying that the real lack of “accountability” lies in the Prime Minister’s Office and not at the level of individual first nation governments.

Indigenous people across Canada are owed well in excess of $100-billion, the immediate payment of which Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to make a national priority.


CBC – 3 prominent Canadians reject Diamond Jubilee medals
Maude Barlow, the head of the citizen’s group Council of Canadians, says she plans to send her medal back to the office of Gov. Gen. David Johnston, who oversees the awarding of the copper-silver medals emblazoned with an image of the Queen….

And Barlow isn’t alone in returning the award. Author Naomi Klein and singer Sarah Slean said Friday on Twitter they are rejecting offers to receive the medal as a show of support for Idle No More.

HuffPost – Feist, Broken Social Scene, Blue Rodeo Show Support For Idle No More Movement
According to the CBC, Feist, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Blue Rodeo, former Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page and The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie have signed a petition backing the movement.


First Nations audit of Federal Government reveals billions in mismanaged funds
The Canadian Government has been mismanaging funds for over 140 years according to a damaging audit commissioned by the First Nations released this morning. ….

According to a portion of the audit, “the practice of diverting funds to corporations and individuals” without properly accounting for them is a practice that “has plagued all branches of government across the country since its existence, from former and current city mayors, to MPs, to the very first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, who accepted bribes in return for federal investments.”


About TheAlektera

I am a Canadian who, like many is upset at the state of our country under the Harper Regime. I do not wish to see Canada change into Harperland under the Harper Government. This blog will help document the actions of the Harper government which are eroding Canada's democratic process.
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