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Wet’suwet’en Dispute: Be Careful What You Wish For

March 5, 2020

By @MsAmyMacPherson

 

I will begin this topic by declaring my conflict of interest, that in some ways facilitates my insight into the dispute about Indigenous hereditary chiefs, and in other ways may contribute to an unintentional bias. Due to that peril I submit this as an opinion-editorial, although facts will still be supported with hyperlinks throughout.

 

It’s been uncomfortable to watch the mob of Caucasian journalists attempting to cover this story when they know little-to-nothing about Indigenous affairs and are limited to the Crown’s point of view, whether sympathetic or indifferent. I didn’t want to be another ‘white’ person speaking above Indigenous voices, in an effort to frame their complaints in newspeak that ultimately silences them. Repeatedly I’ve stated that I don’t wish to pick sides and I’ve attempted to caution netizens against defining those sides, because it’s clear they’re unable to appreciate the full dynamics and destructive outcomes if their wishes are granted. But here we are and after much deliberation, I decided it was necessary to speak up before this situation devolves any further.

 

There is more at stake than anyone knows from their respective but insular silos, and that includes the Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller, as well as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett. More than anyone, they need to grasp the legal landmines that await them and some of the hidden players who are interfering behind the scenes. This Coastal GasLink project in British Columbia will have severe ramifications for Ontario hydro but like all Indigenous affairs, this matter is also complicated. Please be patient as I explain something that is dear to my heart and has the potential to negatively impact all Canadians as well as First Nations. I’m taking a leap of faith that Miller’s personal experience with Mohawks and the Canadian Forces will enable him to see where I’m coming from and make the vitriolic blowback from all sides worth the risk to put my hand up (original / archive).

 

Full Disclosure

 

As for my disclosure, I was once engaged to a Mohawk hereditary chief’s grandson. It was nearly half my lifetime ago and our relationship began around the time of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, that established Indigenous rights and title for the Wet’suwet’en people (original / archive). For the sake of respect and privacy, I will refer to my ex-partner as “EM”.

 

That relationship lasted for five years and prior to meeting EM, I had grown up in foster care with several Indigenous girls, who outnumbered Caucasian Crown Wards by at least two-to-one. I’m familiar with the most intimate details about their time in protective care and the way those situations are now portrayed by adults, advocates, newspapers, and much of government is utterly abhorrent. Over the past four decades I’ve seen the many ways our democratic system dehumanizes their struggles, to be little more than statistics and ones that only count after they are gone. But during those tender years in foster care together, there was no apparent racism to confront because we were all part of a sisterhood that bonded deeper than skin colour or either of our cultures. We were also too young to recognize the historic and societal racism that caused their family breakdowns.

 

Needless to say, my time with EM would be an incredible learning experience for both of us. Although EM barely escaped foster care in an extension of the Sixties Scoop (arguably it still happens today), he did suffer abuse that plagued his identity and led to numbing with substances on his journey to making peace with the past. I will not break confidence to describe his ordeal and my intent is not to shame anyone, but the polite terms for inter-generational trauma are a compounding factor in suffering from it.

 

As EM and I entered the adult world we both had to learn about racism. It was only then that I discovered the true identity of my country, in contrast to everything I was taught about Canada in school. In the left-leaning city of Hamilton, Ontario and seat of the provincial NDP leader, we were kicked out of restaurants for being a bi-racial couple, along with my toddler son. We were denied the ‘privilege’ of renting movies from certain convenience stores, and followed around in shopping malls that frequently ended with security guards wanting to search us for suspected theft. The majority of stores denied his ‘Indian’ status tax card and in one dispute about its legality, the police were called to have us removed from Sears. Once the police were called because I needed to use a bathroom at a sports complex and I wasn’t welcome to enter due to my ‘dirty Indian’ companion. The police always told us they agreed it wasn’t fair, but they had to enforce private business rules and we should take our complaints to the brick wall known as government.

 

Walking down the street together with a baby wagon in tow, we were regularly confronted with racist slurs from all manner of Canadians. I was the target as often as EM and attacks from foreign exchange students were particularly confounding. Racism was more common than acceptance, so when younger people with linguistic accents put us down it stuck out like a sore thumb. For years I wondered if relations were this volatile because of our close proximity to the Six Nations reserve, but a lifetime of experience that was enriched by the internet proved location had nothing to do with it.

 

EM knew this would happen in Hamilton, though he was unprepared for the racism we’d have to deal with on his reserve as well. His mother was incredibly supportive of us, but the same wasn’t true of nearly anyone else. When EM proposed to me at Six Nations on a visit for Christmas Eve, his family was disgruntled that a hereditary chief’s grandson would consider marrying a white woman. They felt the Mohawk warrior bloodline had to remain pure and they were incensed beyond belief that EM would give his mother’s ring to me. They further warned that I couldn’t live with him on the reserve and if he was making a choice to be with me, EM would have to abandon his Indigenous claim and basically become a Caucasian. On a couple of visits warning shots were fired in our general direction as a more forceful statement of disapproval. Thankfully I grew up with farming heritage so it didn’t scare the wits out of me.

 

Growth spurts can be painful and neither of us was comfortable, but as tragic love stories go, it was us against the world together. I consoled him, he consoled me, and the blindness of our youth caused us to believe that we could educate others about how to coexist. I enjoyed learning the details about his culture and the Two Row Wampum so much, that I encouraged EM to be heard in my Caucasian world by participating in venues such as elections and the long-form census. He gave crucial input for my letters to various authorities that explained the threats and consequences of our system to Indigenous relations. Little did I know how badly I was harming him by projecting my identity onto his, when his was in absolute crisis. Little could I appreciate the legal claims of the Two Row Wampum as an original treaty that purportedly granted sovereignty, over folktales and the way Caucasians approach Indigenous peoples as some sort of mystical entity (original / archive).

 

At the time of the Wet’suwet’en’s Delgamuukw case, the government still referred to “Indian Affairs”, but I knew from EM that “Indians are from India and Christopher Columbus was lost when he discovered the Americas”. It was funny to us then but more than twenty years later, his people are still governed by the Indian Act that hasn’t been updated to reflect our geography. I wasn’t even old enough to grasp that calling all brown people Indians was a racist slur against India in the same breath. Before the widespread use of internet, Gen X and Baby Boomers were confined to growing up myopically with whatever our televisions and governments told us.

 

I also knew from EM long ago about the division between First Nations band councils and their inherent incompatibility with the system of hereditary chiefs. After all, this was EM’s legacy to protect in a bloodline hierarchy that he nearly abandoned to be united with me. In a Caucasian nutshell, I was his Meghan and he was my Harry. (I mean no offence to Indigenous readers and I ask that they accept me as a white person, speaking to a predominantly white audience, in white terms they’ll find relatable. I might make small errors but my intentions and respect are genuine.)

 

EM never stopped complaining about Six Nations and Mohawk elected chiefs from a number of different angles that are paramount to resolving the rail blockades occurring today. I don’t claim to know all their grievances and this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s what I learned from EM that was exacerbated by the landmark Delgamuukw court decision at the beginning of our relationship.

 

Elected chiefs are an affront to most Indigenous tribes, or at least the families of clan leaders who became displaced by the imposition of colonial government over their way of life. Those who wish to remain true to their traditional ways call First Nations elected representatives “Indian agents” in the most derogatory sense. EM viewed band councils as sellouts who became an extension of the oppressive colonial government that’s lied to them for hundreds of years. For this reason it’s extraordinary that Jody Wilson-Raybould offered to mediate the current Wet’suwet’en dispute, because she was part of that illegitimate First Nations structure in the eyes of hereditary supporters who are now protesting across the country (original / archive).

 

I haven’t spoken with EM in more than a decade, but I’m positive that Jody Wilson-Raybould is one of the most inappropriate people to negotiate this situation. She may want to be the second coming of Joseph Brant for colonial history books, but the traditional narrative doesn’t favour Brant in the same way that Caucasians do.

 

Although the former attorney general claims to champion UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), Jody Wilson-Raybould abandoned her own effort to implement these measures within the Department of Justice upon exiting that position. It was her most important work that she never bothered to mention and neglected to defend when Michael Wernick made it an issue during the SNC Lavalin affair (original / archive).

 

Given the importance of understanding Mohawk and hereditary history to resolve the blockades, I strongly advise studying a basic background at the very least, to be able to gain one’s bearings. For that purpose I will link three Wikipedia entries that assist with an overview. I accept that Wikipedia is no authority and it’s subject to biased edits, but there is no comparable example of an overview on a single page with references. Readers are further encouraged to visit the copious reference links to original materials and mentally note all the times there is conflicting or absent information, due to the extermination of Indigenous languages and cultural history. Early and continuous efforts to force the assimilation of Indigenous tribes has a longstanding impact that undermines even their ability to legally defend their rights today. What’s clear through Wikipedia is the severity of that destruction and how it’s impeding the current reconciliation effort, but to its credit there is ample explanation of many of the points I will be touching on.

#1. Six Nations of the Grand River (original / archive)

#2. Iroquois/Haudenosaunee Confederacy (original / archive)

#3. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory (original / archive)

 

The next parts may offend my Indigenous friends and I apologize, but some of the Mohawks the government must negotiate with are direct relatives of EM. Therefore explaining EM’s point of view as cautiously as possible can illuminate some of the sticking points that Canadians don’t understand. All they see are court injunctions, either opposed or supported, and my colleagues in the Canadian media industry who keep pushing the government for an unreasonable and imaginary timeline to gripe about. Everyone wants publicity for their ‘hot take’ and this callous behaviour couldn’t be more damaging to sorting out one of the greatest problems facing our entire country (original / archive).

 

I warned about this during the federal election and despite my article going viral, it was quickly forgotten since the votes were tabulated. Now there’s more context and rail blockades to force everyone to do their homework, because failure to resolve the Wet’suwet’en dispute from a functional perspective will result in a domino effect that ripples across Ontario, Quebec, and the main artery of all Canadian energy, shipping, and transportation points. That means the business community will need to listen carefully too. This issue isn’t a simple matter of accommodating hereditary chiefs. Bullying won’t resolve this and neither will greasing anyone’s palms with a bit of extra cash or favours. The way business consults with Indigenous tribes is at stake and the ability of Canada to conduct business as a contiguous nation.

 

To drive the point home, here is a map of all 630+ Indigenous reserves in Canada. We can’t weave any national infrastructure around them and they can’t establish entirely sovereign services without going through colonial territory as well.

 

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Source: Government of Canada (original / archive)

 

Time with EM taught me there are deeper divisions between First Nations band councils and hereditary leadership beyond the legal legitimacy of either to govern their nations. When one sees the other as a traitor to the people, negative words and actions ensue that have now been compounding for several decades and generations.

 

In EM’s case a different family took the helm of elected band council and this resulted in discrimination against EM and much of his family. The elected first family had running water, a paved driveway, new vehicles, and a newly built house; whereas EM’s family didn’t receive funding for running water, sanitation, or insulation, let alone a new structure. When we visited the home of his hereditary chief grandfather (deceased, RIP) we had to urinate in a bucket and the disparity between homes was visibly apparent while driving through neighbourhood streets. Some families were evidently prosperous and others were treated like second class citizens, depending on their relationships with band council. Eventually as EM’s grandmother grew older, she was forced into a rental accommodation within the City of Brantford. She had to leave the reserve because it became too hard to do maintenance tasks, like emptying the feces bucket far enough away from the garden and children’s play area.

 

It was hard for me to comprehend at the time, but as the years passed there were ample photos on social media of Indigenous families from across the country who are wrestling with similar issues. I always ask permission to share their content when it crosses my path because I don’t want to objectify or exploit their struggles. But every time it touches me deeply and I’ve experienced this degradation as a firsthand witness. I’ve seen what we’ve done to them and how badly they must fight to keep their dignity intact. They don’t run to the news with their stories and photos because it would weaken their position with government. Canadians already treat Indigenous peoples like second class citizens and revealing the reality of a third class can be too demeaning to recover from.

 

If you need a glaring example then consider Attawapiskat and what becomes of those who challenge the third class phenomenon. It invites scrutiny and blame, the opposite of reconciliation. It can result in third-party fiscal management that revokes Indigenous authority over the First Nation in question. During eras of Conservative government there can be extensive campaigns to undermine and emotionally destroy Indigenous leaders. The political right-wing absolves itself of wrongdoing and twists the narrative to accuse Indigenous leaders of stealing or hoarding the tribe’s (non-existent) riches (original / archive).

 

In fact, the previous Harper government went so far as to delegitimize First Nations by pitting off-reserve Indigenous populations against the families that remained. That was the purpose in naming Patrick Brazeau to the senate, to elevate the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples above the Assembly of First Nations. That was also the alleged purpose behind the controversial Wobtegwa Métis Nation (bi-racial), that was accused of diluting the Indigenous population with colonizers and the threat of overlapping land claims with legitimate Mi’kmaq to oust them from the region (original / archive).

 

The Métis themselves will complain of being treated like third class citizens, in comparison to full-blooded tribes. A few years ago I was forced to witness Métis contributors being banned from Idle No More groups, by a small handful of overzealous social media administrators. In the minds of many, the Métis are to First Nations what the Muggles are to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. The original Métis peoples from the prairies further decry other Métis claims that arise in Eastern Canada as impostors.

 

These divisions represent a paradox that occurs frequently when any oppressed demographics are kept in poverty. They may wind up standing on each other as a means of getting out, when everyone is really fighting for the ability just to feed their own children. The Conservative Harper government thrived on exploiting that human condition and it wasn’t pretty.

 

But for as much as it hurt EM to see band council homes thriving, it’s not due to an excess of First Nation riches like right-wing colonials have tried to convince him. The unvarnished truth is there isn’t enough to go around because Indigenous trust funds, of their own money, are controlled by the government and released in dribbles as if all Indigenous peoples are foster kids in perpetuity. This is an illness that impairs the colonial mindset in all political parties, exacerbated by extensive misinformation that suggests First Nations operate with colonial taxpayer handouts (original / archive).

 

When families on the reserve have to be prioritized there are winners and losers. Naturally the most popular who are closest to the purse strings will benefit before their perceived enemies, and sometimes this dynamic develops between elected band council and hereditary leadership that has oftentimes opposed them. No elected leader of any population will ration a nation’s income equally among its citizens. Even Bernie Sanders wouldn’t propose this type of extreme socialism in a capitalist society, because it would obliterate the incentive to be successful. But this is one of the ways Canadians contribute to dividing tribes like the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk Nations, by keeping the leash so short that their people aren’t treated equally within the same reservation.

 

In my early twenties everything EM said was gospel because he was my only source of Indigenous political information. I fell into the trap of division that plagues First Nations and remains at the centre of the Wet’suwet’en dispute that has spilled across Canada with an ultimatum to take one side or the other. This same division is used to split the left and it does so with alarming speed and efficacy. The left says, “protest” and the right says, “lock them up”. The left says, “environment” and the right says, “jobs”. All the while each side points at the middle and blames the Liberals for attempting to find balance and coexistence in the present day. The outcome is usually silencing the moderates and completely losing sight of Indigenous equality. So long as they’re kept unequal to one another Canada can keep squabbling and release the government from its duty to make them whole again, which will take more time than money to readjust our relationship with 630+ nations. This situation will be further compounded by the views of new political party leaders, inexperienced or opportunistic members of parliament, and partisan changes in government.

 

That’s hardly the only source of division that confronts our Indigenous neighbours. I also learned from EM about the impact of religion. I can only speak to Mohawk history but it does appear relevant because they’re the ones engaged in rail blockades. For the most part everyone is respectful of Christianity and it’s not a battle that non-believers invite because it can split the Mohawk Nation as a whole and reach straight into their families.

 

Some of EM’s family is religious while some of it is loyal to traditional spirituality, and others do their best to incorporate both belief systems. But it does present another source of division that represents yet another historical injury, that persists with damaging inner relations to this day. This was plainly apparent in a Globe and Mail editorial about the Wet’suwet’en, that was penned by an idyllic and Christian Indigenous professor (original / archive). He was not at all careful about the arrival of religion and its forced implementation through tortuous brainwashing in the residential school system (original / archive). Some of them accepted, some of them rejected, and it will continue to cause a ruckus in some of their families with every passing Easter and Christmas.

 

The Mohawk Nation was caught first in the battle between Canada and the United States before our countries formally existed. Their natural home spanned both sides of the eventual border but famine, smallpox, and consistent wars for land acquisition eventually pushed them back from what became upstate New York. Then battles ensued within the early stages of pre-Canada between the British and French, in what became Ontario and Quebec. If you’re lucky you might have spent one week in elementary school grazing over the 1600 and 1700’s, when none of this information would have impressed upon you. Most Canadians have never been taught the actual history of Indigenous tribes in the formation of our country and immigrants are entirely in the dark about the gratitude owed to them.

 

The Mohawk Nation in particular was a roving warrior tribe and they were split between Quebec and Ontario. Each allied the respective French or British forces and mostly kept a pact not to war with their own people despite the colonizers’ expectations. They concerned themselves with defeating competing tribes to become the dominant merchant in the lucrative fur trade business. But with the French came Catholic Jesuits and with the British came Anglican (Protestant) missionaries. Both played a significant role in colonizing Indigenous peoples and one of only twelve Royal Chapels in the entire world was constructed on their Grand River reserve in Ontario. That Grand River reserve (known as Six Nations) also contained the oldest, continuously operated residential school in Canada.

 

So EM’s ancestors were split by location, split by religion, and split from their families as children, to be violently conditioned against their culture. EM’s mother had to run away with her baby to the City of Hamilton to protect him from being taken – and that was as the hereditary chief’s daughter. She was additionally ridiculed by members of her family for leaving and taking up residence in a white man’s Canada. As far as I can tell, she couldn’t win for losing no matter what she did and I respect her unreservedly for making those difficult choices. I was too young to fully appreciate the ramifications when I knew her and for that I extend my apology.

 

EM’s childhood was then spent between the reserve and the city. He grappled with identity issues upon becoming an adult, but no one knew who or what to blame exactly. She bore the brunt of it and so did his mind, whenever he’d relapse into substance abuse to kill the pain. I did my best to support and encourage him, but eventually the effects of inter-generational trauma can cripple the best intentions of most people and extinguish the trust needed for recovery. I cannot emphasize enough that “inter-generational trauma” is a nice phrase Caucasians use to whitewash the awful details that impact entire families, entire tribes, and entire nations. Although I never caused this harm, I’m still sorry that Canadian voters don’t know how to stop the excruciating oppression of Indigenous peoples.

 

Adding insult to injury, the Ontario-based branch of the Mohawk Nation is split between the Grand River (Six Nations) and the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga). This happened because they lost traditional lands throughout the American, British, and French wars and these two parcels were the replacements, granted by colonial masters for assisting in battle at the incredible cost of their homes and formerly large presence in New York. But even rewards were backhanded, in that the new locations had to be settled and they would need to learn subsistence farming in harsh conditions to survive.

 

Joseph Brant And The Haudenosaunee Confederacy

 

Joseph Brant, a celebrated Indigenous leader and Canadian folklore hero, further divided the Mohawks at the Six Nations reserve. I learned a little about Brant again in elementary school, but the greatest lessons were taught to me by EM and the hereditary leadership point of view (according to EM and a selection of Canadian historians).

 

Whereas Canadians generally respect Brant and many landmarks reference his influence in establishing Southern Ontario (the politically coveted 905 region), EM saw this Mohawk giant as a sellout who ultimately betrayed his people. Joseph Brant wasn’t an Indigenous chief, but he did become a ‘war chief’ and paid army captain for the British. He studied at a missionary school (willingly, in comfort, entirely different from the residential schools that befell the Mohawk Nation) and proudly supported the Church of England. Brant also dedicated part of his life’s work to translating Anglican scripture into the Mohawk language.

 

During luxurious trips to Britain he became a Freemason. Brant was also a master of the scorched earth tactic and he burned several villages to the ground, including some that belonged to his Indigenous allies in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (aka Iroquois Confederacy, Five Nations and/or Six Nations). When Joseph Brant was flexing his muscles he participated in what can be described as the genocide of fellow tribes, whether they were friend or foe. He did it for land when the Mohawks over-hunted beavers in their own territory and he did it for colonial wars. Brant even killed one of his sons and kept slaves to service his mansion, while benefiting from riches bestowed to him by the Crown that elevated him above hereditary chiefs in his own tribe. One of his wives was a prisoner of war who was forced to assimilate with the Iroquois, before she was gifted to Brant to bear children. Tyendinaga is named after him (Brant’s traditional name), where the Mohawk hereditary chiefs are currently engaged in protests.

 

Although I’m trying to form the basis of the Wet’suwet’en dispute, it’s quite important to grasp the history of Joseph Brant and why the Mohawks are intervening in that situation. What’s unfolding now is reminiscent of Brant and the tactics he employed are being somewhat emulated. It’s as if someone took a page from his legacy to breathe new life into an old mission, that could potentially see strategic lands along the Canada-US border acquired by a Republican faction by way of Aboriginal title, hereditary control, and a bit of manipulation. It sounds far fetched, but stay with me.

 

Joseph Brant is the immediate cause of a modern Canadian land claim dispute brought by the Mohawk Nation. The Tyendinaga reserve was granted to Brant, but it was done by the Crown purchasing that land from a different First Nation. There are questions if that tribe gave its free and informed consent. The Six Nations reserve on the Grand River was also granted to Brant, as thanks and payment for his service in the British army. It’s at the latter location that he kept African-American slaves (original / archive).

 

More important is the fact that Brant sold large parcels of the Six Nations reserve to colonial settlers from New York. He tried to recreate his childhood with German, Irish, Scottish, and British friends who were his neighbours in the United States, but lost their own properties during the American Revolution. It’s a sordid affair that deeply altered the treaty and cost the Haudenosaunee people much of their land, including what became the colonized Town of Brantford. Today the Mohawk want their land back or proper payment for it and this claim is complicated by a scandal that confirms they were defrauded for much of this asset by the British, prior to the establishment of Canada. It’s also not their traditional lands since time immemorial, but rather a replacement for them. As a result, modern Canada was left with perhaps the most complex and contentious land claim that remains unresolved (original / archive).

 

EM blamed the Crown for taking away his land, but history puts some onus on Joseph Brant for betraying their interests and scholars debate if the responsibility lies with Canada or Britain to repay the defrauded amount. Indigenous scholars also debate Brant’s legal authority, given that he wasn’t a hereditary chief with the capacity to enter into treaties or land sales within the traditional system at the time. This is particularly troublesome, in light of the same dispute happening today within the Wet’suwet’en Nation and others.

 

EM was also in his early twenties when he shared this oral history with me and I couldn’t know if his viewpoint became more informed over the next two decades. What I do know is that after the Crown tried to stop Joseph Brant from selling Indigenous land to colonial settlers, he tried to play Canadians against the Americans, as well as a plot to play Canadians (British) against the French, in an effort to benefit himself first and foremost. Brant attempted to upend peace treaties between major countries by agitating to reignite wars, and sell his allegiance to any foreign power that would add to his bank account more than pre-Canada had already done. This is after he acquired colonial-type mansions and turned his back on Indigenous peoples, refusing to assist them in tribal wars when they had previously assisted him.

 

People have a way of romanticizing the past, but the details about Joseph Brant’s legacy include treachery and even the murder of non-combatant civilians and children. He embraced colonial settlers and betrayed the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on more than one occasion. He was called “Monster Brant” by some, for his depraved tactics in war such as the scorched earth policy. As with any historical figure there are disputes about certain points and he did good things for the Mohawk Nation, by keeping them alive and prosperous in the course of his lifetime. No one is all good or all bad, but Canadians are woefully unfamiliar with the negative aspects because our school system doesn’t teach them.

 

As I continue to bring these issues to the present day, I strongly advise reading something about Brant’s history to be able to understand what Canada is faced with. I’m including a link to his Wikipedia page, again with caution that it’s not an authority and it’s subject to biased edits. But the reference section contains an abundance of links to original material from historians and war memorials, and skimming through this single page will prepare you better than skipping over it. Some of Joseph Brant’s history is in the process of being repeated because Canadians have neglected to study and resolve it (original / archive).

 

UNDRIP Based On Two Row Wampum

 

Few Canadians know the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is predicated on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Mohawk Nation (original / archive).

 

Before the United Nations existed there was the League of Nations, that Mohawks lobbied for membership and recognition as a sovereign nation. Tyendinaga and Six Nations asserted the Two Row Wampum as the original treaty between the Haudenosaunee, Britain, and subsequently Canada. They argued that governors and the Department of Indian Affairs couldn’t override that agreement, because it was a nation-to-nation contract that recognized the Haudenosaunee as an ally and not as British subjects.

 

From EM I learned the Two Row Wampum to mean something like ‘two boats travelling in the same river, with a vow not to steer each other’s ship’. In many ways it guided the way we approached our relationship, from respecting our different belief systems to splitting household chores as equals and paying common bills. I could get behind that ideology because it made so much sense and it treated me more fairly than any boyfriend that came before him. EM’s struggles with identity and substance abuse caused our union to be on-again-off-again, but he never lost sight of the Two Row Wampum and trying to get his boat in the parallel position. To us it was less of a treaty than a philosophical approach to life.

 

But the Two Row Wampum is a political instrument designed by the Haudenosaunee people and I don’t mean to take away from that. What I’m trying to say is this treaty represents an Indigenous law that the Mohawks have never abandoned. It is so ingrained throughout every generation that regardless of one’s path, they do not lose sight of it. It is the founding principle for their relationship to Canada that would become adopted by the United Nations as a matter of human rights. It’s a beautiful concept, at least until it’s subject to government consideration when the issue of sovereignty arises.

 

Therefore I was not surprised when the Mohawks of Tyendinaga asserted the Two Row Wampum amid the current standoffs at transportation junctions in Ontario and Quebec. I even note that descendants of Joseph Brant are speaking with media to inform Canadians about their Indigenous legal justification. Anyone adhering to the Two Row Wampum can’t accept court injunctions from Canada as having legal force on their lands. Nor can they abide by any colonial police force attempting to set foot on the reservation as a sovereign nation, in their long held opinions and interpretation (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive 3. original / archive).

 

A particular sticking point for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is the history of UNDRIP and how today mirrors their thwarted application to the League of Nations almost identically. Back in the 1920’s there were political hijinks that tilted the process, along with interference by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to subdue their aspirations (original / archive).

 

The Mohawk people have never given up, nor will they. And not only is UNDRIP based on the Two Row Wampum, but so is the United States Constitution as acknowledged by the US senate (original / archive). The only problem is that both provide for human and political rights, but neither extend full sovereignty to Indigenous nations within state, provincial, and/or international borders. The original Two Row Wampum does.

 

Contrary to wisdom from the global conservative movement that demands complete assimilation of Indigenous peoples, implementing UNDRIP is the only way to avoid these head-to-head confrontations over ultimate sovereignty. Rest assured that work on Indigenous rights at the United Nations has as much to do with maintaining national security as it does with treating anyone with respect.

 

I encourage Indigenous readers to inspect my prior investigation into Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Indigenous Rights Framework (based on UNDRIP). It was opposed by Conservative lawyers within the Department of Justice, in addition to figureheads who come from the old INAC and balked at this reconciliation effort (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive).

 

I would suggest to everyone (Indigenous and colonial) that they’re unaware of their own blind spots and approaching this situation without a realistic long term goal and strategy could prove costly. These standoffs are not ad hoc dilemmas and there are no piecemeal magic solutions.

 

Moreover, revival of a push to assert sovereignty through the Mohawk’s Two Row Wampum and the Wet’suwet’en’s Delgamuukw case is being driven by Gen X, now in its prime and assuming positions of leadership. If there is an inability to repair the fractured relationship between Indigenous peoples and colonial governments at this time, the problem will rise again through Gen Y and Gen Z, just as it’s dogged every generation that kept us in this holding pattern since the late 1700’s. Colonials might not know their history, but Indigenous people sure do.

 

Reluctance and foot-dragging might have also been possible to avoid the hard lifting in earlier times, but procrastination can’t work in a digitally connected world that influences and organizes.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

That concludes the relevant background on the Tyendinaga and Six Nations Mohawks. I’m sure there are details missing because the establishment of Canada, the United States, and Indigenous reserves can’t possibly fit in one entry. I regret that portion had to be written from a personal perspective due to my conflict of interest, but I took the time to explain because those Indigenous protesters are human beings who deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of anyone’s sentiments about the Wet’suwet’en crisis. I don’t know if EM is participating in a blockade but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was there, because he did attend Oka. Whether or not EM is present, his family is part of the negotiation process due to positions they hold. They also deserve to be humanized and any person engaging with them needs to be mindful of the serious damage caused by racism and betrayal that ever led us to this flash point.

 

In the end EM and I parted ways, due to massive historical wrongs and consistent clashes between our cultures. Eventually I came to see that love for love’s sake is not enough to heal either of our nations and that no two people can solve the deeply embedded divisions that dominate the entire ecosystem we found ourselves trying to navigate. This requires a concerted team effort on all sides that is committed to lasting peace.

 

As I learned from EM, you don’t have to be the person staring down the barrel of a gun to be harmed by the never-ending dissension. If you heard the slurs they have to put up with on a daily basis, it would change your entire opinion about Canada. I continue to wish him and his family well, regardless of how I may be cast by activists from all corners. For the record, EM was a professionally trained chef but due to racism that pervades all things, he was unable to get an apprenticeship to finish his red seal certification. Dejected and continuously injured by my colonial world, he then turned his focus to becoming a police officer to help Indigenous youths avoid the pitfalls that come with facing a Canada that confronts them with hatred every time they step off the reserve.

 

In the meantime, hereditary chiefs, First Nations, and Canadians will need to decide what UNDRIP and nation-to-nation means in this country. At some point all 630+ nations will need to be invited to the same table because the ‘divide and conquer’ approach is set to backfire spectacularly until we get this right.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

During The Federal Election

 

During the most recent federal election (Oct 2019), the Mohawk Nation came to my attention. I published an investigation about foreign interference from the fake news project led by the Buffalo Chronicle. Surprisingly it revealed connections to political trickster, Warren Kinsella, as well as American Republicans that include Roger Stone. But the most amazing development was that it connected to the hereditary chiefs that oversee Six Nations and Tyendinaga.

 

There were plenty of reports citing the Buffalo Chronicle for fake news attacks on Justin Trudeau. All of mainstream media attempted to warn audiences against believing anything published by that source. But they didn’t dig deep enough to investigate the publisher who has these contentious ties to political operatives. They also didn’t discover the Buffalo Chronicle was posting articles about hereditary chiefs for the same duration as their campaign against Justin Trudeau (pre-writ and throughout the writ, including voting day).

 

What it boils down to is an alt-right plot to exploit the legal void that was created by the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision, regarding the Wet’suwet’en’s confirmation of Aboriginal title (that neglected to define how the land title could be exercised, or by whom). The characters behind the Buffalo Chronicle published a detailed plan for what amounts to a hostile takeover of Six Nations’ land and resources, by asserting hereditary superiority over elected band council and claim to sovereign nationhood with respect to Aboriginal title.

 

It’s a re-imagined battle from the time of Joseph Brant, involving some descendants of the original rival clans. Except the modern version involves a plan to gain control of the transportation and energy corridor from Southern Ontario to Quebec (encompassing the entire interior Great Lakes region), and US President Donald Trump’s cronies with their fingerprints on this endeavour.

 

Cutting through the implausibility is the fact that a Buffalo Chronicle backer, who is loyal to Trump and best friends with Roger Stone, already gained control of Niagara Falls tourism on the Canadian side by exploiting our legal and political systems. The same people have their eye on manoeuvres to gain control of hydro-electric energy from the Niagara River. The propaganda they published about Six Nations and hereditary chiefs involves hostile manipulation of Indigenous band councils to get a piece of Hydro One as well.

 

My article about the Buffalo Chronicle went viral barely ahead of voting day.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

There are a few updates since that major investigation:

 

The Six Nations free press was firebombed immediately after the federal election and the plan for Indigenous land in Canada is flexing through the current standoffs, as it was similarly proposed by well-connected Republicans. I am not assigning blame or suggesting collusion, but my Indigenous friends will need to determine what’s happening. I hope no one wants to see Indigenous journalists harmed and this was a serious act of violence that could have easily resulted in death (original / archive).

 

The Mohawk warriors who are supporting hereditary chiefs are also being co-opted by a group of anarchists that appear to be based in the United States. Many interest groups are attempting to piggyback the Indigenous sovereignty cause, but this one is particularly organized, it operates anonymously, and it’s funded by untraceable Bitcoin. They’ve begun publishing about the Two Row Wampum as inspired colonials, in their efforts to spark a “revolution” in Canada. Our Indigenous friends will need to be cognizant and clear if the Mohawk Nation condones this association, because Canada and the United States may consider this element to be a threat to national security that has the potential to quash Indigenous aspirations should either country respond from a defence perspective as the right-wing has been urging (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

It came to my attention that Warren Kinsella was further employed by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (hereditary chiefs), adding another layer of curiosity to his relationship with the Buffalo Chronicle, the plot against Six Nations, and the current standoff at Tyendinaga (archive only, original is now password protected). It is therefore important to mention his potential conflict-of-interest, having worked for INAC (Indian Affairs) in a government capacity, as well as First Nations and Mohawk hereditary chiefs (original / archive). Even that detail is reminiscent of Joseph Brant’s legacy and the amount of parallels in this whole saga is truly remarkable.

 

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Source: Daisy Consulting Group (original / archive)

 

Untangling Truth About Wet’suwet’en

 

Regarding the Wet’suwet’en dispute and untangling the vast amounts of misinformation, we should start with how the Coastal GasLink agreement began to unravel.

 

In 2014 the Christy Clark government issued an environmental assessment certificate with approval for the project to proceed. This was after Indigenous consultations occurred, according to standards set by the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). It also took the Supreme Court of Canada decision for the Tsilhqot’in Nation into consideration, that was released before the EA assessment completed. For all intents and purposes, the government believes it performed proper due diligence and it was an early adopter of the carbon tax to mitigate emissions (original PDF).

 

As part of that process, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs submitted a 122-page rejection, that was in turn rejected by the BC government (original PDF).

 

The hereditary chiefs listed numerous reasons for declining the Coastal GasLink project that include:

 

A demand to resolve the Wet’suwet’en land claim before any environmental assessment could be performed

 

For those who are unfamiliar with the land claim terrain in British Columbia, there are several that overlap each another by different nations. Resolving one means resolving many and sorting out the boundaries of various nations. This can’t happen overnight, but arguably there should be more progress since the 1997 Delgamuukw decision that pertains to Aboriginal title.

 

A demand that the environmental assessment process formally include recognition of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ ownership and control of the Aboriginal title

 

This is an inappropriate venue to negotiate title claims and this appears to be an attempt at establishing a backdoor, to circumvent elected band council and tribal citizens from having any stake in the claim.

 

A claim that Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are the rightful owners of the Aboriginal title because they were the moving parties in the Delgamuukw case

 

Although they were indeed the judicial applicants, I understood the Delgamuukw decision to apply to Indigenous nations and not individual people (evidence will be addressed in a subsequent section). The case was between the Wet’suwet’en and government, not the hereditary chiefs versus their citizens and band council.

 

A demand that hereditary control of Aboriginal title means the Wet’suwet’en chiefs have the right to complete sovereignty and veto of any projects

 

The reason given was a misinterpretation of the Delgamuukw decision, arguing that it established tribal sovereignty above and beyond Canadian law when it did no such thing. This was another attempt to nullify the elected band council as illegitimate in the Wet’suwet’en territory through the environmental assessment process and not a court of law (original / archive).

 

A demand that the BC government must challenge the hereditary chiefs legally to establish any constitutional authority over their land title

 

As far as I understand, Indigenous tribes possess Aboriginal title and unique rights within the constitution, but they still fall under the Crown’s jurisdiction with respect to land expropriation. Careful consideration and concessions must be made should the government need to infringe on those Section 35 rights afforded to Indigenous peoples.

 

A demand that the environmental assessment acknowledge the hereditary chiefs’ place in the governance structure

 

Several arguments are made to delegitimize the Wet’suwet’en band council as having no authority. This is another example, but it doesn’t hold with Indigenous experts that indicate it’s the hereditary chiefs who lack any recognized legal power (the Delgamuukw precedent is dissected in a subsequent section). Given the countless disputes about this very issue, it seems pertinent for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to release a statement addressing the Delgamuukw decision to resolve this impasse and misinformation that is wreaking havoc with Indigenous identities and leadership (original / archive).

 

A claim that all waterways passing through the Wet’suwet’en territory belong to the hereditary chiefs

 

This is an unrealistic demand because waterways also pass through colonial land and other Indigenous nations.

 

A claim that each of the 38 clans (Houses) within the Wet’suwet’en territory must receive individual environmental assessments specific to their exact locations in the same geographical area, followed by a claim that Indigenous consultation didn’t occur until that demand is met

 

If this rule was adopted, no environmental assessment process could be completed within decades. The goal seems to be gaining the ability for every family to veto an industrial project and/or for every family to be individually compensated in separate deals with any corporation that passes through the territory. Logistically this could make any development impossible due to individual holdouts and cost 38 times more for any business with Wet’suwet’en peoples. Don’t forget, the same rules would have to apply to the installation of solar farms and windmills.

 

A claim that Coastal GasLink must provide an inventory of every plant and tree used by the Wet’suwet’en people to fulfill a proper environmental assessment

 

There is no principle to back this up in any provincial, federal, or Wet’suwet’en law. Even environmental scientists can’t count every living thing in a region. This is a vexatious demand that can’t be met, likely concocted to deny the project.

 

A demand that Coastal GasLink must rehabilitate all waterways that carry fish consumed by the Wet’suwet’en people, including damage from past naturally occurring landslides and over-fishing by colonial canneries since the 1950’s

 

This is another unrealistic request that has nothing to do with the project, nor would it succeed in a legal challenge.

 

A demand that Coastal GasLink rehabilitate an old mine that belonged to an unrelated company because the Wet’suwet’en people weren’t compensated by the proper channels historically

 

Again, this has nothing to do with the project and TransCanada/TC Energy can’t be held responsible for corporations that operated in the area previously. It’s either an unflattering cash grab, or a reason to deny the project by making it impossible to meet their terms.

 

A demand that Coastal GasLink mitigate widespread climate change, including rock acidification, ocean quality, fish populations, forest fires, historical logging, floods, and earthquakes

 

No government in the world has been able to do all these things and no single corporation could afford them or be held liable.

 

A demand for assessment of the cumulative effects posed by Euro-Canadian settlers over the past 150 years, also for each season

 

The legal terminology for this is ‘frivolous and vexatious’. While I agree these studies need to be done as part of a reconciliation effort, that duty doesn’t belong to Coastal GasLink or as a condition to approve any industrial projects.

 

A demand that the environmental assessment for Coastal GasLink take into consideration the historical wrongs suffered by the Wet’suwet’en people, including disease brought by settlers, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, racism, and residential schools

 

My heart goes out to them and I feel crass trying to write about it. I’m not an insensitive person and I did walk in their shoes to experience the pain firsthand. It’s apparent that healing is needed. It’s just that an environmental process isn’t the place to find it and Coastal GasLink is an inappropriate respondent. That hereditary chiefs would include this in an EA tells me the province should offer several long term counsellors. Surely they’re speaking in grief, among many other emotions that are the result of colonialism.

 

A claim that any access roads are unacceptable in the pristine wilderness, with this view supported by the Tsayu clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation

 

A few days ago an open letter to the hereditary chiefs was written by the Tsayu clan and published in the Vancouver Sun. It appears they’ve reconsidered their support and they accuse the chiefs of profiting from the Delgamuukw case in relation to logging, as they use the same argument to prevent young people from earning a living now that they’re comfortably retired. The letter continues to accuse dissenting chiefs of breaking Indigenous laws to manipulate the Coastal GasLink outcome. Ultimately it’s a plea to stop the hypocrisy that calls on tribal members for assistance and an honest respect for Wet’suwet’en traditions (original / archive).

 

Finally, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs reject the Coastal GasLink project because the company didn’t accept their alternate route through the McDonnell Lake area in the environmental consultations

 

This argument has been asserted by left-wing partisans, as well as the mainstream media, and some members of parliament. On February 16, 2020, former Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Green MP Paul Manley, and NDP negotiator Nathan Cullen all hit the circuit hard to misinform the public. Nearly all media outlets neglected to fact check their statements, preferring instead to produce fake news that tarred and feathered TransCanada/TC Energy and the federal Liberal government.

 

The common refrain was that Coastal GasLink ignored and disrespected the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. They claim the alternate route was declined because it would have cost $800 million more and delayed the project by a year. Some sources insinuated it was due to the proximity of colonial towns as well. Global News carried this propaganda (original / archive). The Globe and Mail carried this propaganda (original / archive). Only CBC News got it partially right, but limited bits of the correct information were buried at the end after the article reinforced the same inappropriate arguments (original / archive).

 

It was never possible for the Coastal GasLink pipeline to take the McDonnell Lake route, regardless of who it inconvenienced or the whopping addition to a final price tag. That space was already committed to the Pacific Northern Gas Looping Pipeline. The company has residential gas service that supplies the surrounding communities and it’s transported in a 12 inch pipe. An upgrade is in the works to twin that line with a second pipeline that is twice the size, with a 24 inch diameter to cover 525 kilometres (original / archive).

 

The Coastal GasLink commercial pipeline is 48 inches in diameter and there is nothing anyone could do to make it safe to run the three lines together. This could even raise liability issues between the two companies that PNG wouldn’t consent to, but on drone the rumours that this had something to do with disrespecting the hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en. Elizabeth May and Nathan Cullen really pulled a fast one, but all this posturing has to stop because it’s preventing the facts from getting to the people who need them most. I’m just so sick and tired of seeing all the ways colonials look at Indigenous people as some kind of weapon to exploit for their causes.

 

Pertaining to accusations that hereditary chiefs broke Wet’suwet’en law, there appears to be some validity. The Tsayu clan went public with allegations and a local website posted supporting documents that outline the nation’s rules. It’s a scathing indictment of four male hereditary chiefs who stand accused of misogyny and illegally stripping three female hereditary chiefs of their titles, as punishment for supporting the Coastal GasLink project. Male chiefs who supported the women were also stripped of their titles in what’s being dubbed a hostile takeover of the Wet’suwet’en Nation (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive, 4. original / archive).

 

Technically that means Minister Bennett is negotiating a pipeline agreement and Aboriginal title rights with alleged criminals who stole that authority by holding the Wet’suwet’en people administratively hostage, according to traditional governance law. It’s expedient for the government but rest assured it will divide the community more, because colonials interfered and without legal justification, the Crown chose who holds the power over others in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. This same problem keeps recurring since the point of first contact (original / archive).

 

The further anyone digs, the issue only gets worse. The whole fiasco was initiated by Warner Naziel and his wife, Freda Huson. He laid claim to a hereditary chief title that does not belong to his clan and she was the spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en people of the Dark House clan. Together they set up the first protest camp to prevent Coastal GasLink workers from attending the construction site.

 

It was part of the hostile takeover that broke Wet’suwet’en law, because the Naziel family was already represented by a hereditary chief for their House. No clan is allowed to interfere with another family’s leadership or usurp it from another House. The hereditary title must be passed down within the same bloodline, but Warner Naziel stole the position from Sun House as a member of the Owl House clan. He was a replacement for one of the female chiefs who was illegally stripped of her title for supporting the pipeline project. So not only is the government negotiating with alleged criminals – they’re also supporting this social violence against the rightful female leaders (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Warner Naziel and Dark House have tried everything to prevent the pipeline from being built, against the overwhelming majority of Wet’suwet’en people who support it. He’s used hostile administrative force against women and led an encampment to cut down trees as well as set fires (in a wildfire zone), in the effort to defy a court order that already took into consideration the dispute about powers between hereditary and elected leadership. He’s also getting a divorce from his wife and manipulating media to spin his story by misinforming reporters about his hereditary status and alleged dubious actions (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive).

 

Dark House recently made headlines for obtaining a 30-day pause in construction due to a recall by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to provide more information. Because media hasn’t done its homework to figure out what’s going on, the headlines were presented as if the Coastal GasLink project did something wrong. An article addressing this by CBC News was predominantly filled with misinformation (original / archive).

 

The truth of the matter is that Dark House refused to participate with Coastal GasLink’s Indigenous consultation and they thought they could delay the process by refusing to respond to invitations and correspondence that were needed to perform a government assessment. But part of the regulatory process required the company to keep track of all its attempts and responses, so Coastal GasLink was able to prove that it fulfilled the duty-to-consult. A formal record was submitted to the EAO and the project received environmental approval because they did everything asked of them by the regulator and no one could force the Dark House clan to participate (1. original PDF, 2. original PDF).

 

It was only during the height of rail blockades that Warner Naziel’s (ex)wife complained to the EAO that Dark House wasn’t consulted, as a means of buying more time to delay the project and exploit violence that was spreading across the country. In the spirit of goodwill and reconciliation, the EAO and Coastal GasLink agreed to try one more time and on February 19, 2020 the environmental process was paused for 30-days to provide time for that communication.

 

A letter was sent to Dark House by the BC government that outlined the many ways Coastal GasLink complied with the environmental assessment. In very kind words it was communicated that several of the complaints lodged by Dark House were properly addressed before the approval was granted. The mitigation efforts were shared in the letter, along with numerous encouragements for Dark House to communicate with GasLink representatives. All the technical aspects were already underway and the only part left was this extension for Dark House to contribute its traditional knowledge and concerns for the healing centre that Coastal GasLink was always prepared to accommodate (original PDF).

 

It’s unclear and discouraging how that letter could be flagrantly misrepresented by the mainstream news. It was framed as hope the project could be stopped in the environmental process and that Coastal GasLink had run afoul with the regulator. Media deliberately concealed the letter from the article and took extreme liberties to portray it as some sort of private document that was obtained by an intrepid reporter. It was always available on the BC government website but that misinterpretation spread across all of social media like a virus intent to dis-inform the public, as well as negotiators and legislators (original / archive).

 

The hack jobs surrounding every facet of the Indigenous protests should become mandatory study material in journalism courses across Canada. It doesn’t matter which side or political persuasion, every last part of these Wet’suwet’en disputes have been severely misrepresented.

 

Still on a mission to set the record straight, Warner Naziel and his uncle filed a lawsuit against the federal government (based on the authority of stolen/fraudulent hereditary credentials). These two rogue chiefs are now being portrayed as the popular opinion in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. They won’t challenge the Coastal GasLink project in a proper legal venue. They won’t challenge the band council in a proper legal venue to test if the elected body can be declared illegitimate. They won’t pursue the Supreme Court for a decision to clarify who controls the Aboriginal title. But they did ante up to sue the feds for failing to meet targets within the non-binding Paris Agreement as a matter of constitutional obligation. It’s another frivolous claim that is guaranteed to fail and the only purpose is stalling the pipeline long enough to make the project too expensive to be viable. They’re also seeking to have energy projects cancelled across Canada retroactively (original / archive).

 

This disingenuous narrative is bolstered by a former BC treaty negotiator. The news is running with the word of Brian Domney, as if it’s gospel and he has any knowledge about sovereignty or constitutional law. The Wet’suwet’en Nation has been negotiating a land claim with British Columbia since 1997 and Domney worked on the file for the last seven years before retirement.

 

In articles that have gone viral with the misinformed left-wing, he claims the government knew it was hereditary chiefs who control the Aboriginal title all along. This is absolutely false and the Supreme Court of Canada decision will be dissected further on. Domney misrepresents that situation and accuses the provincial government of ‘shopping for Indians’, with racist implications that are meant to impugn them. He also reinforces the misconception that band councils lack the authority to sign agreements with industry (original / archive).

 

Opposing these few men who’ve taken the Wet’suwet’en Nation hostage are a greater number of women that include hereditary chiefs who claim the men are abusing their traditional tribal law. It caused them great pain to step forward and air the problems in their community, but things are so far out of control they felt obligated to correct the record (1. original / archive – Wet’suwet’en, 2. original / archive – Wet’suwet’en, 3. original / archive – Haisla, 4. original only – Skin Tyee, 5. original / archive – Witset).

 

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It’s a sorry reflection of Canada when matriarchs ask for help and everyone ignores them because the angry din of a few rogue men is preferable to honest women. The layers of exploitation against these fearless leaders are many, and they culminate with federal and provincial governments negotiating a deal with their oppressors in a desperate bid to keep colonial partisans and politicians happy.

 

This is not what reconciliation looks like and I’m stunned that Minister Bennett would capitulate to the men, after everything she absorbed during the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. These matriarchs are just as capable of entering an agreement and nothing should have been negotiated in their illegally forced absence. The NDP and Green Party will also need to examine how they turned their backs on the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s legitimate hereditary chiefs who are women. Perhaps someone can explain to them how this arrangement meshes with UNDRIP.

 

Right-Wing Escalations

 

It’s hard to tell if Conservative parties across Canada are aware of the full implications of their adversarial behaviour in the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk disputes, or if they can only see in terms of an electoral cycle. In any event, their severely divisive and escalatory agendas should disqualify them from participating in negotiations about or between Indigenous and colonial governments, at least until they can get with the program (original / archive).

 

Although this is a highly partisan statement, it is not motivated by a partisan interest on my part. I’m speaking strictly to the futility of brutal assimilation policies that continue to be promoted by right-wing proponents, frequently resulting in the encouragement of systemic and vigilante violence.

 

Of all the measures needed, warfare is not one of them. Subjecting Indigenous residents to altercations, gun threats, and calls for vehicular manslaughter when they’ve already survived torture in residential school electric chairs is simply beyond the pale – so depraved that the only comparison is dictatorships in the Middle East.

 

Conservative parties used to be in lockstep with the Canadian business community, but their blatant racism toward the Indigenous plight has caused them to become tone deaf to that traditional base. Companies and even states are divesting from our economy due to the rise of technocracy that requires social license to operate. Partisans can bang their fists on the table however hard they please, but it can’t change the fact that larger corporations with the ability to invest also have entire departments dedicated to reputation management that are risk averse to blatant racism and violence.

 

Conservatives of every ilk can also deny this with a litany of excuses, but the proof is in the pudding that kept them out of government in the last federal election. It was theirs to lose and that’s exactly what they did, because CEO’s beyond the oil patch aren’t beholden to political masters at any cost. The pivot to hardcore social conservatism has come at an extreme cost to fiscal conservatism and nowadays there are few companies that would stand beside a Conservative leader to bear the brunt of this partisan-branded hatred. This behaviour can’t be justified to shareholders and that’s the bottom line.

 

It behooves right-wing partisans to take a look at what they’re selling and how that message is packaged, if they ever expect to be stably employed. The lack of a plan for climate change isn’t the only reason they had to campaign without traditional, high-powered endorsements in the last federal election. The following examples will serve as a mirror to demonstrate how they’re perceived by others.

 

Outgoing leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer, believes the small group of American-led anarchists is responsible for denying Canadian prosperity. He blames Indigenous nations on the Canadian side for their cause. No matter what colonials do it must be the red man’s fault, including the policies of provinces that generate higher unemployment rates for his fellow white man.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate, Peter MacKay, endorsed physical confrontation by constituents against Indigenous supporters. As a former justice minister, he encouraged the public to meddle with a court injunction by taking the law into their own hands. After great backlash he deleted the controversial tweet, but proceeded to fundraise in the same vein (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Peter MacKay’s campaign manager, Alex Nuttall, conflated his religion with opposing Indigenous protests, in addition to shooting guns (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

After public intervention, the church was forced to denounce Alex Nuttall’s insinuation (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate, Erin O’Toole, proposes federal legislation to criminalize public protest without a court injunction. He claims to support the right to protest, just not anywhere the public will see it by Indigenous peoples. He would also revoke charitable status for organizations that challenge his rules, as well as appoint RCMP officers to monitor Indigenous peoples specifically (original / archive).

 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (of the United Conservative Party) tabled the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act to criminalize the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk protests in the spirit of O’Toole’s proposal. It remains to be seen if this legislation can withstand a constitutional challenge, for revoking the right to associate, the freedom of expression, and Indigenous rights, while circumventing the need for a court injunction.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, called for the head of the RCMP to be fired if she won’t abandon peaceful negotiations, order officers to use force against Indigenous peoples, and ignore their nation-to-nation claims based on UNDRIP (original / archive).

 

Québec Premier François Legault (of the Coalition Avenir Québec) suggested that Mohawks possess AK-47 machine guns at the Kahnawake blockade. Despite denials from the Mohawk police force (that is recognized by provincial and federal governments), he refused to retract the inflammatory rumour or apologize. Many interpret this as provoking a fabricated military response to Indigenous peoples on their territory (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Also in Québec, political strategist Luc Lavoie mused about shooting Indigenous protesters between the eyes with a .45 calibre handgun. The Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador are looking into filing a professional complaint, as this violent speech transpired during a mainstream media broadcast (original / archive).

 

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Source: Le Devoir (original / archive)

 

Due to the violent provocations in Québec, an emergency meeting was held among the Mohawks of Kahnawake. Schools were closed and Indigenous children were transported home on buses that had to conceal the Mohawk logo for their protection from right-wing vigilantes (original / archive).

 

Conservative member of parliament, Pierre Poilievre, characterized the Indigenous protests as a “war on working people” in the House of Commons, as if Indigenous people don’t work and they’re an irritant to the Caucasian population (original / archive).

 

Conservative celebrity investor, W. Brett Wilson, who backs the Buffalo Project, urged a civil war against the Tyendinaga Mohawks with military force (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Near Morris, Manitoba a transport truck was caught on video driving into Indigenous protesters. One person was allegedly hit and the driver was stopped by police, but immediately released to carry on with his or her journey (original / archive).

 

An Alberta man is selling decals that depict a train running over Indigenous protesters. He claims it’s only a joke, but the sticker also displays the “Alberta Strong” stamp that belongs to the alt-right movement (original / archive).

 

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Source: Toronto Star (original / archive)

 

At a bathroom somewhere in Canada, an Indigenous journalist’s family is taught step-by-step how to stop being ‘dirty Indians’ (original / archive). I experienced similar racism on a near daily basis with EM, so nothing has changed in the past twenty years.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

In Ontario, a bomb threat was issued against Casino Rama that resulted in a full evacuation. It’s billed as “Ontario’s only First Nations resort casino” and it’s located on the Chippewa reservation. All of mainstream media misreported the location as the adjacent colonial City of Orillia (original / archive).

 

International news organization Al Jazeera compiled a ‘mean tweets’ video that had Canada’s Indigenous people read a selection of racist tweets they’re forced to endure, to participate in social media amid the Wet’suwet’en dispute. The vast majority are implied death threats (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

In Vancouver, British Columbia an Indigenous man was sucker-punched out of the blue at an intersection. The assailant allegedly threatened him over the Coastal GasLink pipeline and fled the scene immediately. In the same city a mom and her son were attacked in their vehicle while dropping the boy off at school. On that occasion a man is alleged to issue a death threat and smash a child’s wagon on their car for several minutes while spewing obscenities. The only apparent motive is the mother and son’s indigeneity (original / archive).

 

Speaking to the Vancouver reports, even a well-intentioned director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network downplayed physical altercations and death threats as not posing an imminent risk. Despite wanting to help, his attitude is dismissive of all the missing and murdered Indigenous women that other agencies classify as cultural genocide, now compounded by the racist uprising in response to the protests regarding Indigenous rights.

 

A school in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta was recently placed on lockdown due to a group of teenage boys who recorded a video while allegedly drinking and driving as they threatened to harm Indigenous students (original / archive).

 

A second video was discovered of the same alleged boys threatening to “scalp” Indigenous peoples (original / archive). It’s unclear if they understood the term to represent a death threat and desecration to a dead body, but what is apparent is they learned this racism from their families and/or community. According to research at Harvard University, racism can be learned by the tender age of 3-years-old (original / archive). That means the path forward will take at least two generations to rectify this injustice and that’s if everyone is committed to reconciliation from this point forward.

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Meanwhile, if anyone wishes to harbour anti-Indigenous hatred and interfere with court injunctions, Ezra Levant and Rebel Media will provide them with a free attorney when his organization isn’t busy campaigning for the Conservatives (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

The last example that demonstrates how right-wing partisans appear to big business arises from Andrew Scheer and the threat of a non-confidence motion to throw Canada into a snap election. It was pointless and immature grandstanding to keep the public on edge, because the Conservative Party of Canada hasn’t chosen a new leader to even put a candidate on the ballot. It’s just more instability with the sole intention of stirring up more hatred toward First Nations, whether they agreed to a pipeline or not. I doubt executives overseeing the Coastal GasLink project appreciate endangering their allies in the Wet’suwet’en territory for little more purpose than indulging blatant racism (original / archive).

 

Left-Wing Escalations

 

Unfortunately left-wing leaders and partisans understand less about Indigenous rights than their political counterparts. As a result, their grandstanding on the backs of Indigenous tribes is trivial and selfish, in a way that ends up being communicated as misinformation to cloud the minds of voters.

 

Take for example the actions of Jagmeet Singh, as leader of the federal NDP. He has not been vocal against the swell of racist attacks, but he utilized them as a means of showboating against the prime minister for his own benefit. There are no calls for police to enforce criminal charges in response to the countless death threats and physical altercations that have become the norm against Indigenous peoples. Instead he produced a TikTok video that makes light of the situation, in what some described as a feeble attempt to become a social media celebrity (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Singh also misled the public about what was transpiring between the Wet’suwet’en and federal government. He claimed the Indigenous nation couldn’t get the ear of the prime minister, while ignoring the fact that the Coastal GasLink project is a purely provincial matter within British Columbia. The dispute only became a federal issue when NDP Premier John Horgan refused to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and NDP mediator, Nathan Cullen, failed to make progress as the province’s representative.

 

Instead of being honest about impending meetings between the chiefs and federal government ministers, Singh sought to hide shortcomings of the NDP that caused this dispute to spill across the country. Instead of being forthright he added to the public’s confusion about matters of jurisdiction and it’s only due to the NDP’s failures that federal government intervention became necessary (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

On the same day, NDP Premier John Horgan inflamed the situation by predetermining an outcome for the government meetings with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs that he refused to attend himself. As the federal government dispatched Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett to mediate with disenfranchised tribal leaders, Horgan declared through mainstream media that the Coastal GasLink project is proceeding no matter what, undercutting her efforts to ease the tension (original / archive).

 

No honest broker can enter mediation with a fixed outcome that entirely denies one side of the equation and what’s missing from partisan propaganda is the inner contradictions faced by this party that are causing it to behave badly. On one hand, the NDP relies on support from environmentalists who’ve piggybacked their cause onto the Wet’suwet’en people. On the other hand, the NDP is founded on labour unions that have a close relationship with the party. Those unions in turn are funded by worker dues from the oil and gas industry that are funnelled to NDP causes in solidarity with getting them elected. Although there’s a new ban on direct union donations, they still run third-party issue-based campaigns that support the interests of the party.

 

Behind the curtain the NDP is firmly on the side of industry because labour can’t exist without capital. That isn’t a partisan insult – it’s merely the truth of a complicated relationship. There could be no grander dilemma for the party when it forms a provincial government and has to negotiate with Indigenous nations about issues that involve industry, rights, and the environment (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

These inner conflicts are what explain the awkward responses from Jagmeet Singh, that have now inspired calls for a new party leader by a growing number of dedicated partisans. They’re confused because the NDP can’t reconcile these ideological collisions between their own activists.

 

This Twitter thread speaks volumes about the exodus of disappointed supporters (original / archive).

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

In the absence of realistic leadership on the left, university students have conflated Indigenous rights with climate change and joined the protest in support of divestment. The extreme polarization of all issues in Canadian politics has deprived them of an education about Indigenous nations and the complex state of modern treaties, or how the people they think they’re campaigning for predominantly support themselves by facilitating oil, gas, and mining industries (original / archive).

 

I’m not saying the policy to link First Nations with fossil fuels as a primary path to prosperity is a sustainable choice, but so long as younger generations are kept in the dark they won’t brainstorm another way to help these tribes they claim to support.

 

Without realizing it, they’re victimizing Indigenous nations in an opposite but equal way to the Conservatives. The Wet’suwet’en people are torn straight through their families due to pressure tactics employed by the left-wing to abandon hope of middle class jobs if they infringe on climate issues. No one has a solution to ‘keep it in the ground’ that would offset lost income and replace one of Canada’s larger contributors to the economy. Nor do they have a solution to raise the billions of dollars needed to retrofit all homes and buildings with greener alternatives. Nor could they generate a charitable fund large enough to provide everyone with electric vehicles.

 

Canada and the world-at-large are in an incredible predicament. The middle of change is the most uncomfortable state of being, especially when the outcome remains undefined and unable to provide a specific goal to reach. The rampant dishonesty and hatred of opposing sides further clouds everyone’s vision, to the point that left and right persuasions had a conniption fit when the prime minister asked for patience.

 

What the country needs is for parties to work together to ensure a brighter future, but the parties would rather threaten to take down the government to keep Canada in limbo and avoid doing the hard lifting. Worst of all is that both sides exploit the Indigenous cause to use it as a proxy and dumping ground for colonial vitriol. First Nations already have enough problems to sort through the meaning of reconciliation, and rehabilitation from the centuries of abuse that we’ve already overburdened them with. It is therefore disheartening that we hold them up as human shields and tokens of colonial self-righteousness on matters of climate and economy. As much as people might hope, they’re not our saviours and they’re not responsible for presiding over Canadian disputes.

 

Ellis Ross is the MLA for Skeena in British Columbia. He’s the former chief councillor for the Haisla Nation and a respected Indigenous leader. His tribe signed the deal for a Kitmat LNG plant to be built on the reserve and he speaks to the damage caused by colonial proxy wars being fought through his people. Have a listen:

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

The left-wing isn’t as innocent as it likes to portray and there have been acts of violence attributed to the wholesome warriors as well. The public is aware of assaults during a protest at the BC legislature, but it’s not cognizant that colonials committed them by appropriating the Wet’suwet’en name (original / archive).

 

Racism on the left takes a more obscure form but if partisans were brave enough to inquire with First Nations, they would learn it’s just as dangerous as the blatant displays by Conservatives. This might have been the most valuable lesson I learned from my time with EM, that appears to be reconfirmed today by the Mohawk leadership in Kanesatake. As the full power of news media descended on the BC legislature it did not amass at the Indigenous reservation west of Montréal, where the grand chief was also locked out of his government building and threatened for his job. This confrontation ensued because he asked for peace and patience (original / archive).

 

Band councils across the country are being silenced by supporters of hereditary chiefs, climate activists, and even anarchists, who far outnumber Indigenous protesters that are already wrestling with the legitimacy of elected chiefs within their own nations. Colonials have split Indigenous tribes so starkly that some of them are turning against the concept of their own democracy.

 

To be clear, it is not my position to decide what’s best for them and this is only a recap of the events that are transpiring. But it’s appropriate to be concerned when colonial placards and anarchist flags blot out Indigenous regalia at protest sites that result in dramatic repercussions for the Mohawk and Wet’suwet’en people (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

The Wet’suwet’en Nation has also experienced left-wing violence that could have endangered lives, equally threatening as the gun threats by aggressive pro-oil activists. A bridge on the service road in their traditional territory had its support beams severed and bolts loosened, so the structure would collapse if any Coastal GasLink workers, Indigenous local vehicles, or RCMP tried to cross it. I believe it’s fair to say the proxy war is getting out of hand and none of the factions manipulating Indigenous nations on either side of the equation have their best interests at heart (original / archive).

 

Media Still Promotes Racism

 

A few years ago the media was confronted with a racist scandal. In a magazine issue that was supposed to promote Indigenous writers, a non-Indigenous editor contributed an editorial that turned the industry on its head for revealing how deep the racism runs in Canadian journalism. He suggested a ‘cultural appropriation prize’ to encourage more stories about Indigenous peoples by colonials. He didn’t see anything wrong with it and was surprised when the debate exploded (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Numerous reporters and editors weighed in on social media, making the controversy worse. Some of them offered to contribute their own money to the prize pool and they doubled-down on the right of colonials to steal Indigenous voices. It was a rowdy session around the proverbial water cooler that the public doesn’t normally witness, yet these entitled attitudes persist in every corner of the industry. Most of the degenerates who revelled in the chance to flaunt their racism in the mainstream press went on to be promoted and continue to dominate the political discourse across Canada (original / archive).

 

It could have been an important learning opportunity, but that concept was lost on a blue blood culture that hijacked the topic and re-framed it as an issue of free speech. Ojibwe journalist and advocate, Jesse Wente, made a prescient comment at the time. He said:

 

“The biggest challenge coming out of this for the Canadian media is going to be how you re-approach the Indigenous community after this.” (original / archive) 

 

It’s now three years later and instead of getting better, the anti-Indigenous racism is more overtly entrenched. This can be seen today in the devil-may-care approach to covering the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk protests and how little it matters to get the story right when portraying their history and concerns. I don’t think any colonial reporters have bothered to research their stories before submitting for publication. The Twitterverse is even reluctant to check with APTN to verify information with Indigenous sources.

 

As mentioned earlier, the entire cadre of Canadian journalists couldn’t bother to report correctly about a bomb threat involving Casino Rama. They mislabeled the location as Orillia, Ontario, unaware of the Chippewa tribe and Rama reservation with its own Indigenous police force. This includes the social justice champions at Toronto Star, the venerable Canadian Press, and CBC News that had promised to do better after the cultural appropriation issue. None of them ventured to make a connection with the racist uprising surrounding the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk protests either. The story was entirely whitewashed and focused on restoring colonials’ ability to gamble and have fun (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

At CTV News, a story aired about a train derailment during the time of Indigenous rail blockades and tense counter-protests. They said an anonymous source claimed it was a deliberate act of sabotage, but CN Rail would not confirm and the rumour couldn’t be substantiated. The story was printed anyway, with no justification for protecting a source that also couldn’t be corroborated. This amounts to a racist insinuation that was meant to scare the public, void of any journalistic integrity. There was also no mention of Canada’s crumbling rail infrastructure that is resulting in regular derailments across the country (original / archive).

 

No one at Postmedia was able to figure out that a cartoon depicting ‘drunk Indians’ was racist before it was published. It took a public uproar to force them to reconsider, after the fact (original / archive).

 

Canadian news media has observed an influx of racist and violent comments on stories related to the Wet’suwet’en dispute. They’ve reached a consensus about how to handle them and comment sections may be closed if lines are crossed. Those lines include specific death threats, talk of shooting up public protests, vehicular manslaughter, and genocide by gas chamber. When this happens on social media, a post can be reported for moderation and possible removal (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

But notice how no one is reporting these crimes to police, and how police are reluctant to lay charges when they become aware of this material. These are criminal acts of hate speech, uttering death threats, and stalking/harassment that are widely condoned by closing our eyes to them. Instead of being responsible citizens, the industry would rather spin the racist feedback into a clickbait story that will fetch profits. This behaviour represents an incredible psychopathy and it’s in charge of informing the entire public. Is there any wonder why the Indigenous population doesn’t trust colonials?

 

The police will however arrest Indigenous protesters and commit alleged acts of excessive force when cuffing journalists who are trying to cover their protest events (original / archive).

 

Canadian media is additionally guilty of fabricating the news in their efforts to steer public opinion. It’s such a widespread problem that major outlets have their own pollsters to concoct headlines that are nothing more than fake news. The problem is that not all polls are created equal and the ones used by media procure results from ‘online panels’ that are neither legitimate nor scientific, no matter what they say in the methodology. It’s not a case of the old school rejecting modern technology. It’s because of biases, dishonesty, and anonymity that can’t be controlled in a limited digital pool (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive, 4. original / archive, 5. original / archive).

 

For example, anyone can sign up and lie about their age, gender, income level, and location. Anyone can create multiple accounts with fake information as well. Hacking scripts can be written to interfere with online polls. It also depends where the person found a link to join the panel. If ads are placed on partisan pages, you can be guaranteed that responses will skew a certain way (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive).

 

One of these corrupt polls was done on behalf of Global News and it trended on social media. It reported that 61 percent of Canadians are opposed to blockades related to the Wet’suwet’en cause (original / archive).

 

It was conducted by Ipsos and to make a point, I joined the online panel from an American website that was soliciting participants who hated Justin Trudeau. As far as Ipsos is concerned, I’m a 55-year-old man with a $100,000 salary and I have four kids living at home. (That would really surprise my family and throw Mother’s Day a curve ball.) But I’ve received these ‘random’ invitations that would result in corrupting the Ipsos data and some American guy, who happens to be an accountant for Koch Industries, has offered to pay me $5 every time I do (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Disclaimer: I do not intend to interfere with Ipsos polling and this was only done for the sake of investigation, to test how easy it is to skew online polls.

 

Needless to say, we still don’t know how many Canadians support the Wet’suwet’en people but Global News took that propaganda to the bank when its story went viral. This is another form of racism and exploitation against Indigenous peoples.

 

The National Post did the same darn thing with DART & Maru/Blue. They fabricated a headline that also went viral, claiming 69 percent of Canadians think the country is broken under Justin Trudeau’s leadership. It was conducted recently during the rail blockades by polling an online panel (original / archive).

 

Surely this news discouraged the Mohawks in Tyendinaga and made them believe that most of Canada is deeply racist against them. It made the prime minister stop asking for patience and the police engage in arrests, when otherwise they were trying to pursue a peaceful resolution. That’s how powerful fake news can be and even our officials don’t know how to spot it.

 

News also forms the basis of many events in parliament. These polls were used to dupe the public into supporting a Conservative motion against the Indigenous protesters. Then it was repurposed to raise vast sums of money for the party, causing partisans to think that more Canadians were coming around to their way of thinking (original / archive).

 

The other side of the coin isn’t any better. Ricochet is a media organization run by left-wing partisans and it produced fake news that was designed to intimidate Indigenous supporters of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. It gave false hope to environmental activists that the project could be stopped and will no doubt be used to raise money for someone’s cause as well.

 

I’ve already addressed the issue of Dark House, Warner Naziel, and the BC Environmental Assessment Office, so I won’t go into too much detail. But Ricochet falsely framed Coastal GasLink as a delinquent company that didn’t fulfill its duty-to-consult or the EA requirements. They claimed this could delay the project by months! They implied Coastal GasLink treated Dark House and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs disrespectfully, except it’s not true and the 30-day extension was established to give Dark House a final chance to participate when it had previously boycotted the consultation process. I have to wonder if Ricochet read the EAO letters it reported on, or if they’ve never seen a technical process in writing before to understand what one looks like (1. original / archive, 2. original PDF, 3. original PDF).

 

The reason technical data is still needed for the area surrounding a healing centre is due to the blockade by Warner Naziel and his (ex)wife Freda Huson, popularly known as the Unist’ot’en Camp. Coastal GasLink has been respectful and not attempted to cross that barrier. They’ve kept track of all the times they attempted to receive traditional knowledge from Dark House about its interest in the centre. The accommodations for Dark House will be generated once they respond and suggest what those mitigation efforts should be. The environmental certificate has not been cancelled in the meantime. This is one component in a very large process and construction continues at other sites where blockades are not preventing entry.

 

If Dark House doesn’t participate at this point, Coastal GasLink will be allowed to proceed without their input and the court injunction will be enforced by the RCMP. They only have to show that reasonable attempts were made to satisfy the EAO. It is everyone’s hope that Minister Bennett will be able to negotiate a peaceful resolution so the RCMP doesn’t need to enforce the injunction. I’m not saying this is an ideal process for the holdouts, but it is the reality of the situation and work has already resumed (original / archive).

 

Even when the media is making its best effort to propose a path forward, it hearkens back to a plan from twenty years ago that warned the status quo is not sustainable. CBC News brought attention to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) that was spawned from collapse of the Meech Lake Accord. That implosion occurred partly because First Nations elected leaders were excluded from the process (original / archive).

 

That same alienation is repeating now in the negotiations between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the government. One elected chief is already expressing frustration that nothing has changed since the Delgamuukw decision that encouraged both Indigenous governance structures to work together. It’s shaping up to be another obstacle that could result in at least one affected First Nation rescinding support for the Coastal GasLink project, as the hereditary chiefs are brought on board and put in charge of a possible land title agreement to the exclusion of band councils and fully democratic ratification (original / archive).

 

Part of the problem with trying to apply the royal commission report to the Wet’suwet’en dispute is that it’s stuck in old thinking, based on a racist concept that obligates First Nations to accept a power sharing agreement with Canada. The idea doesn’t release Indigenous trust funds (of their own money) to their care and control and still envisions Canada as Indigenous money managers with supreme authority. That’s not a nation-to-nation relationship as envisioned by UNDRIP.

 

In a nutshell, the grand vision from twenty years ago recommended what exists today. It called for a new Indigenous affairs ministry that is split between Crown relations and services, but fundamentally serves the same purpose as the old INAC. The only difference with the RCAP is the Crown expected to have First Nations introduce Indigenous taxation so colonials could keep a greater amount of resource revenue that’s derived from Indigenous land as the middleman (original / archive).

 

Suggesting that we reconsider implementing recommendations from the royal commission is offensive to Indigenous nations, the same as it was when it was first written. The report contains no magic wands and would lead to the same impasse that’s being challenged now. It also dictates a need for colonial-style government to be imposed on, or with, hereditary governance, that both the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk Nations are trying to resolve without much success. Colonial courts continue to be the arbiter between band councils and traditional leadership, as a byproduct of resource contracts and determining who has the authority to enter agreements.

 

If Canadian journalists don’t learn to research before publishing arguments and resolutions, we will ensure Indigenous peoples continue to distrust our agendas. That makes for an awful starting point in any negotiation.

 

Nisga’a Not A Panacea Either

 

Columnists and pundits have mentioned the Nisga’a First Nation as a possible template for Indigenous tribes moving forward. They were the first group to sign a modern treaty in British Columbia with fee simple, municipal-type ownership that adopted taxation and allowed for colonial residents on the Indigenous territory. In many ways it resembles Joseph Brant’s approach that seriously backfired on the Mohawk and Six Nations (original PDF).

 

At the time this treaty was established (in the year 2000), British Columbia was led by the NDP and Canada was led by the Liberal Party. Hereditary chiefs within the Nisga’a Nation were disenfranchised as a result of the agreement because it removed their powers from a legal perspective and gave full control to an elected band council. The treaty recognized hereditary chiefs, but only in their capacity to provide advice on cultural matters. The nation embraced full democracy with elections every five years (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Politics often make for strange bedfellows and a legal dispute ensued about the constitutionality of extinguishing traditional governance rights for the hereditary chiefs. It was partially instigated and funded by Ezra Levant, in his younger years at the Canadian Constitution Foundation (original / archive). Today Levant is offering to pay for lawyers on the opposite side of the equation, to stymie hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. This disparity can be explained entirely by partisan politics and Levant’s commitment to Conservative Party interests.

 

In 2011 the Nisga’a hereditary chiefs were unsuccessful at the Supreme Court of British Columbia (original / archive). In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the case and let the provincial decision stand as a precedent (original / archive).

 

That outcome could mean that Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs wouldn’t be able to challenge the elected band council for legal authority over Aboriginal title matters, despite the social peacocking and emphatic claims by the political left-wing and environmental protesters. It also means if Minister Bennett negotiates an agreement with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the absence of elected chiefs, the latter may have grounds to legally challenge it. The Wet’suwet’en aren’t operating within the confines of a treaty yet, but it stands to reason there can’t be extreme adversity between the constitutional rights of one First Nation over another.

 

Since band council won at the BC Supreme Court, the Nisga’a elected government has come under fire regarding accusations of nepotism and financial mismanagement. An IT worker photographed documents pertaining to alleged excess spending on consultants and lawyers. The tribal government denies wrongdoing and calls the allegations malicious. It then obtained a gag order, so the details remain unavailable to the community that began protesting for a forensic audit (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive).

 

Only twenty years into its treaty, it appears the Nisga’a Nation is still struggling to merge Canadian law with its culture. The whistleblower scandal has in turn led to allegations about the lack of a free press and press freedom issues with Indigenous governments in general (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Financial independence through a taxation system has also stumbled. Economic conditions were reportedly worse under the new treaty compared to the Indian Act, and the community had a difficult time with reduced services through the Indigenous government. The president of Nisga’a Nation rejected the study that resulted in these findings, however (original / archive).

 

I don’t proclaim to know which side is correct, nor am I attempting to vilify the Nisga’a government. My point in addressing the Nisga’a community is only to explain the legal precedent they set, how it may affect the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk situations, and to demonstrate how it’s a dog whistle whenever someone in the Canadian media points to this nation as the blueprint for a solution.

 

Federal Government Missteps

 

Proving that I haven’t written this analysis with any political bias, the federal Liberal government does not escape scrutiny either. Needless missteps have occurred because parliament is prone to knee-jerk reactions and the prime minister is best advised to steep himself in the Indigenous history, over taking direction from wayward or manipulative opposition parties. There is too much at stake to allow partisan hijinks to derail sober thought and if Indigenous nations lose any more confidence in the Crown’s commitment to reconciliation, Canada could be impeded from any national strategies for the foreseeable future.

 

Cabinet ministers must be reeled back in because some of them are casually fanning the flames without recognizing the harm it causes in a situation as delicate as this. Attorney General David Lametti didn’t need to insult Mohawk warriors by calling them ‘stupid’ for throwing debris at trains passing through their protest area. It was said in defence of the Mohawk Nation when the Conservative Party pushed to classify them as terrorists, but there were thousands of other respectful words to use that wouldn’t have added to the tension (original / archive).

 

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett will need to be informed of all the legal precedents that could interfere with her intentions. I’ve outlined cases that I’m aware of previously, but another decision arose from the BC Supreme Court regarding the Haisla Nation (also part of the Coastal GasLink project). It came in the form of a libel lawsuit that involved a dispute about the authority to represent, between elected band council and supporters of the hereditary system.

 

I’m not saying whether it’s right or wrong, just that the Canadian justice system appears to come down firmly on the side of elected band council in most disputes that make it to court. Hereditary supporters will cite this as colonial oppression, but the Canadian government can only operate within the bounds of Canadian law and it won’t help anyone if her draft agreement with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs could be vulnerable to a legal challenge. A setback like that could cause immense delay that would backfire politically and deepen the wedge between Wet’suwet’en peoples that she’s trying to help overcome (original / archive).

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was correct when he sought patience pertaining to the enforcement of rail blockade injunctions. When he became hyper-sensitive to opposition criticism and caved to pressure in support of police intervention, it was an ill-considered mistake that comes with serious consequences (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive).

 

Here is how that decision appeared to Indigenous peoples, Canadian voters, and international media:

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

As an influential Indigenous person explained, he’s not sure if Canada realizes what it did:

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

That’s because of the tactical disaster that Canada inherited from the British. Early colonizers placed Indigenous nations all along the Canada – US border as a means of insulating settlers by using Indigenous peoples as a barrier. I know I’ve already used this picture for reference, but now it’s time to study it carefully to let the implications sink in.

 

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Source: Government of Canada (original / archive)

 

The Indigenous protest response was mild compared to what is possible and it still paralyzed the Canadian economy as well as transportation. A new protest closed the border between Ontario and New York. A new protest closed Route 344 and the Mercier Bridge on Montréal’s south shore. A new protest closed the border between Ontario and Michigan. And a new protest closed a busy intersection in the heart of Ottawa (1. original / archive, 2. original / archive, 3. original / archive)

 

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Source: Twitter (original / archive)

 

Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair also didn’t need to add insult to injury when Mohawk police offered support to help de-escalate the standoff in Wet’suwet’en territory. As a colonial police officer himself, Blair sought to bolster the image of the RCMP by rebuffing Indigenous officers who are trained and recognized the same as federal police. The minister said:

 

They’re [a] very good and competent police service and the people in that territory deserve the very best in police service that can be provided. And today that’s by the RCMP (original / archive). 

 

Colonials can be unaware of their demeanour and harsh insensitivity toward Indigenous peoples because that prejudice has been ingrained for the past few hundred years. If the Liberal government wishes to avoid accusations of racism, they will need to overcome those biases and stop being so abrasively careless.

 

Reconciliation isn’t only about treaties and rectifying the past. It involves correcting the present mindfully as well. I appreciate the pressure that everyone is under, but they all promised to lead to gain the confidence of voters and this is what the job entails. I’m not perfect and I may have slipped in the course of drafting this editorial, but the point is I’m trying hard to respectfully communicate these difficult issues.

 

The Rule Of Law – Unspun

 

All the opposition parties keep barking about the rule of law, yet all the people pushing this point have little awareness about the law’s intricate details. The best place to start is with the Two Row Wampum, because it’s one of the original tribal laws that influenced the foundation of Canada. Everyone wishes to forget this, but that pesky little detail is what motivates the Mohawk, as well as the majority of Indigenous nations that claim they have a right to sovereignty.

 

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy may be the only entity that could attempt to pursue a claim of Indigenous sovereignty, because the Supreme Court of Canada already decided that Aboriginal title does not confer this status. Still, it is likely the Two Row Wampum would fail because British documentation of the arrangement was a Crown instrument known as the Haldimand Grant, that is governed by Crown sovereignty and fiduciary duty over the Mohawk lands. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice, rather it is an educated opinion.)

 

Former Green Party leader, MP Elizabeth May, was once a trusted member of parliament who had an acute handle on legal matters. But that academic and congenial stance has gone out the window, for her chance to infect the Wet’suwet’en Nation with a dose of toxic partisanship. It appears that May has chosen her fight against the energy industry over Indigenous rights, because she hit the television circuit to spread a whack of misinformation (original only – video).

 

May wrongly informed media that the Delgamuukw case recognized Indigenous sovereignty existed on the Wet’suwet’en territory. It absolutely did not. Instead, the landmark Delgamuukw decision said the following:

 

“As a result of the flexibility and uncertainty of the customs and rules, McEachern C.J. rejected the appellants’ claim to jurisdiction or sovereignty over the territories, (original / archive)” 

 

As well as:

 

“Macfarlane J.A. essentially agreed with the trial judge with respect to his analysis of the jurisdiction, or sovereignty issue. He characterized the claim as the right to control and manage the use of lands and resources in the territory, as well as the right to govern the people within the territory… He stated that the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en peoples do not need a court declaration to permit internal self-regulation, if they consent to be governed. However, the rights of self-government encompassing a power to make general laws governing the land, resources, and people in the territory are legislative powers which cannot be awarded by the courts. Such jurisdiction is inconsistent with the Constitution Act, 1867 and its division of powers. When the Crown imposed English law on all the inhabitants of the colony and when British Columbia entered Confederation, the aboriginal people became subject to Canadian (and provincial) legislative authority. For this reason, the claim to jurisdiction [and Indigenous sovereignty] failed (original / archive).” 

 

As well as:

 

“The aboriginal rights recognized and affirmed by s. 35(1), including aboriginal title, are not absolute. Those rights may be infringed, both by the federal (e.g., Sparrow) and provincial (e.g., Côté) governments. However, s. 35(1) requires that those infringements satisfy the test of justification (original / archive).” 

 

Elizabeth May then falsely claimed that the province and RCMP are breaking the rule of law (by entering the Wet’suwet’en territory for the purpose of Crown enforcement and development). Again an actual reading of the Delgamuukw decision proves her to be absolutely wrong. It says:

 

“In other words, notwithstanding s. 91(24), provincial laws of general application apply proprio vigore to Indians and Indian lands. Thus, this Court has held that provincial labour relations legislation (Four B) and motor vehicle laws (R. v. Francis, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 1025), which purport to apply to all persons in the province, also apply to Indians living on reserves (original / archive).” 

 

As well as:

 

“In the context of the present case, I agree with the Chief Justice that the general economic development of the interior of British Columbia, through agriculture, mining, forestry, and hydroelectric power, as well as the related building of infrastructure and settlement of foreign populations are valid legislative objectives that, in principle, satisfy the first part of the justification analysis (original / archive).” 

 

As well as:

 

“Under the second part of the justification test, these legislative objectives are subject to accommodation of the aboriginal peoples’ interests. This accommodation must always be in accordance with the honour and good faith of the Crown. Moreover, when dealing with a generalized claim over vast tracts of land, accommodation is not a simple matter of asking whether licences have been fairly allocated in one industry, or whether conservation measures have been properly implemented for a specific resource. Rather, the question of accommodation of “aboriginal title” is much broader than this. Certainly, one aspect of accommodation in this context entails notifying and consulting aboriginal peoples with respect to the development of the affected territory. Another aspect of accommodation is fair compensation. More specifically, in a situation of expropriation, one asks whether fair compensation is available to the aboriginal peoples; see Sparrow, supra, at p. 1119. Indeed, the treatment of “aboriginal title” as a compensable right can be traced back to the Royal Proclamation, 1763 (original / archive).” 

 

As well as:

 

“In summary, in developing vast tracts of land, the government is expected to consider the economic well being of all Canadians. But the aboriginal peoples must not be forgotten in this equation. Their legal right to occupy and possess certain lands, as confirmed by s. 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, mandates basic fairness commensurate with the honour and good faith of the Crown (original / archive).” 

 

In the video interview, Elizabeth May also parrots the few rogue hereditary chiefs. She claims it’s acknowledged by law that elected band council oversees the reserve area (only) and hereditary chiefs oversee the larger traditional territory. But the Green Party is wrong again because the Delgamuukw decision said this:

 

“It does not matter, in my opinion, that the present case is concerned with the interest of an Indian Band in a reserve rather than with unrecognized aboriginal title in traditional tribal lands. The Indian interest in the land is the same in both cases (original / archive).” 

 

Additionally clarified by this:

 

A further dimension of aboriginal title is the fact that it is held communally. Aboriginal title cannot be held by individual aboriginal persons; it is a collective right to land held by all members of an aboriginal nation. Decisions with respect to that land are also made by that community. This is another feature of aboriginal title which is sui generis and distinguishes it from normal property interests (original / archive).”

 

The last paragraph seems intent to create problems for Minister Bennett, in that she had no business negotiating with the hereditary chiefs to the exclusion of elected band council. The following section further indicates that any land agreement with the Wet’suwet’en people must include the other First Nations that have an overlapping interest. No quick fix was appropriate for this situation and the resulting agreement, even if ratified by the Wet’suwet’en Nation, can still be challenged by other Indigenous tribes because the Delgamuukw decision said the following:

 

“I conclude with two observations. The first is that many aboriginal nations with territorial claims that overlap with those of the appellants did not intervene in this appeal, and do not appear to have done so at trial. This is unfortunate, because determinations of aboriginal title for the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en will undoubtedly affect their claims as well. This is particularly so because aboriginal title encompasses an exclusive right to the use and occupation of land, i.e., to the exclusion of both non-aboriginals and members of other aboriginal nations. It may, therefore, be advisable if those aboriginal nations intervened in any new litigation (original / archive).”

 

As well as this:

 

“Finally, this litigation has been both long and expensive, not only in economic but in human terms as well. By ordering a new trial, I do not necessarily encourage the parties to proceed to litigation and to settle their dispute through the courts… Those negotiations should also include other aboriginal nations which have a stake in the territory claimed. Moreover, the Crown is under a moral, if not a legal, duty to enter into and conduct those negotiations in good faith. Ultimately, it is through negotiated settlements, with good faith and give and take on all sides, reinforced by the judgments of this Court, that we will achieve what I stated in Van der Peet, supra, at para. 31, to be a basic purpose of s. 35(1) — “the reconciliation of the pre-existence of aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown”. Let us face it, we are all here to stay (original / archive).” 

 

In the video interview, Elizabeth May followed up by invoking the Tsilhqot’in decision as a modifier. But that case isn’t what she claimed it to be either. Here is a direct quote that corrects the Green Party position:

 

The Court is not able, in the context of these proceedings, to make a declaration of Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal Title. The Court offers the opinion that Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title does exist inside and outside the Claim Area.” (original PDF)

 

What’s been decided is that Aboriginal title does exist and it wasn’t relinquished (ceded) to the Crown, but these precedents didn’t go far enough to precisely determine who has legal control of the land title, or who within the Indigenous government has authority between elected and hereditary chiefs. Instead the court indicated that all Indigenous members share an equal interest.

 

A reading of these cases implies malicious misrepresentation by Elizabeth May, so egregious that she could be at risk of complaints to the BC Law Society. As a lawyer she should be ashamed of dis-informing the public and Wet’suwet’en Nation, for the sake of advancing her own cause that opposes their participation in the resource economy. It’s still possible to protest fracking without manipulating anyone and tampering with Indigenous rights to make a point.

 

Several articles in mainstream media are guilty of the same, that I have to wonder if any of them were vetted by libel lawyers before going to print, as used to be standard in the journalism industry. It could be argued that many of them libeled the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as the Chief Justice. As a country we used to be better than this and I am severely disappointed. It shouldn’t be up to me to perform this fact checking service unpaid, but I felt compelled to do this because my Indigenous neighbours and friends are being sold a fake bill of goods and my government has become scatterbrained trying to please everyone in the opposition.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

All in all it seems that Canada isn’t having the correct discussions about Indigenous rights and relations. The facts are being constantly derailed by anyone with an agenda and the fixers that have been dispatched to appease every faction are treating the symptoms instead of the infection. Nothing can be resolved if we can’t be honest with one another. It’s difficult, discomforting, and requires massive amounts of integrity, but it remains the only viable way forward.

 

We have no choice but to respect the law when sorting through the minutiae, but it also does no good to enter anyone’s venue with guns blazing and ultimatums. In addition to the legal facts there are tactical facts as well, that have polka-dotted the entire country forcing us to find a way to live together.

 

The Supreme Court has already ruled on Indigenous sovereignty, but let’s propose for a moment that it was possible. How many reservations could build their own infrastructure and staff their nation with only local tribal members? If Canada was transformed into 630+ sovereign nations, what would the import fees cost for mailing a package from one coast to the other? What would a train ride cost to pass through a few hundred countries to visit a relative? How would each nation afford things like medicine and health insurance? Would all the people living off-reserve accept being forced to come home? And could every one of those 630+ nations defend itself against American conquest?

 

Likewise, how would Canadians afford up to 630 tariffs on every product they purchased that wasn’t locally generated? How expensive would the commute to work become if we had to pay tolls every time we crossed an Indigenous piece of land? What would happen to all the mining, gas, and oil workers when the vast majority of deposits are found on Indigenous territory? Could our senior citizens survive if their pensions imploded because they were heavily invested in natural resources? How would the logging, construction, and real estate industries fare if we had to purchase our wood from Indigenous nations that didn’t like us very much? And what would be the damage to our GDP if we had to pass through Indigenous land to export to the United States? Could our country afford socialized health care anymore, or even the grain for a loaf of bread?

 

Very few people, regardless of race, would be able to turn the lights on or heat their homes if energy transmission lines had to account for Indigenous sovereignty. The same would be true for telephones and internet. Basically we would all get punted to the Dark Ages if we can’t learn to work with each other.

 

Tolerating racism is one of the biggest things that must change. The right-wing complains when injunctions aren’t enforced, yet we have hate speech law that isn’t being enforced either. Maybe if colonials didn’t take so many vicious liberties, the police would be in a better position to attend Indigenous land to peacefully and respectfully communicate.

 

Allowing this to spiral out of control comes at a great cost to everyone. Our country is predicated on immigration and we need foreign experts in many fields to fill important gaps that Canadians can’t cover alone. We are an extremely large country with a small population. But the current snapshot of Canada portrays an angry and violent culture that could cause anyone to rethink the upheaval of relocating here. I’ve seen just as many left-wing activists attack immigrants for asking questions about the Wet’suwet’en dispute, as there are right-wing activists who threaten to run over Indigenous women and children.

 

It defies all logic for those on the left to alienate other racial minorities, as they try to learn about our controversial history and oppression of every Indigenous tribe that was here before us. Any sentient being should want to understand how we can continue to harm the Indigenous fabric that underlies the entire country to the present day. It’s so bad that politicians can become heroes for promising to allow them access to clean drinking water, or curtail a few of their deaths in our wildly prejudicial criminal justice system. The Crown-Indigenous relationship is the most complex Pandora’s box that the majority of colonials born here are still unable to grasp. If the left continues behaving this way, all it will accomplish is ironically reinforcing Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Black, and anti-Asian racism.

 

Equally disturbing is the right’s inability to take responsibility for its own actions and the negative consequences that come along with them. They could re-record Led Zeppelin’s hit and call it Anybody’s Fault But Mine. The obsession with hating Justin Trudeau because his father was prime minister four decades ago for a whopping four years is super unhealthy. If your main engine is hate and your only plan for the future is threatening to kill Indigenous people along pipeline routes, then expect investors to abandon you like the plague. Planning to get elected based on inflaming Indigenous relations is a guaranteed losing strategy.

 

Voters told this government to work together. They didn’t say to blame the Wet’suwet’en or Mohawk and hold them hostage for climate change, nor did they say to punish them because your province may be landlocked. They’re already on the hook for a dying fossil fuel industry because it’s the only prosperity we would allow them. They’ve now reminded us of their mettle because they were pushed to the limit from every possible direction. Exploiting and dividing their families to fight for colonial causes is reprehensible.

 

Moreover, they shouldn’t be contemplating a draft agreement with any government until everyone, including nations with overlapping land claims, has independent legal counsel to advise them about their interests. The law already favours the Crown in these matters and that lopsidedness could constitute duress. The Assembly of First Nations also shouldn’t abandon the band councils in their greatest time of need. If activists on either side of argument truly wanted to help, they would establish a legal fund and donate to this Indigenous cause so they can be adequately informed about their rights and limitations.

 

I see you, Canada, and it’s your legislated duty to be honourable negotiators.

The Granddaddy of Government Scandals #cdnpoli #onpoli

Note from the author: Originally this report was set to explore the federal government’s hand in the anti abortion lobby. Surprisingly it grew to include an anti gay lobby, anti aboriginal lobby, anti prostitution lobby, anti human rights lobby, anti green energy lobby, anti tax lobby, among other issues.

 

These developments are so widespread, they had to be expressed in a timeline to alleviate confusion and allow the reader to reach their own conclusions. Numerous hyperlinks lead to the documents cited and supporting multimedia appears throughout.

 

While each of these topics deserves a dedicated headline, it is the collaborative nature and coordinated efforts of a particular network that is gaining the support of government. The issue that needs to be addressed is the sum of these parts that would normally be lost in a 24 hour news cycle if examined individually. With that said, the report patiently continues.

 

The 2014 March for Life began Thursday on Parliament Hill, marked by a handful of FEMEN activists being carted away by police. A topless convoy crashed the rally in support of women’s rights, but apparently their message was too avant-garde for the masses. It’s a story of disparity when anti-abortionists are permitted to flood the streets with photos of mutilated foetuses and the female body it comes from is censored by law enforcement, but this situation depicts the polarized views that dominate Canadian discourse.

 

Credit: Tony Caldwell, QMI Agency

Credit: Tony Caldwell, QMI Agency

 

Credit: Tony Caldwell, QMI Agency

Credit: Tony Caldwell, QMI Agency

 

Justin Trudeau came out the day before, to warn anti-abortionists they needn’t apply for candidacy in the federal Liberal party. Aside of political platforms and moral persuasion, this decision was in keeping with a Supreme Court precedent that determined a woman’s right to choose under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

On the surface these sentiments appear to be shared by Prime Minister Harper, as he worked to quell anti-choice motions from Conservative backbenchers in his own party. The government claims to respect the legal status quo, but an investigation has led to serious revelations that challenge that outward appearance.

 

Several documents retrieved from Conservative MP’s and supporting sources will illuminate a contentious matter on the Hill. For years the media has been chasing rumours about the existence of a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus (PPLC) and historically it’s been denied as an unofficial gathering of MP’s with similar preferences.

 

Everyone appreciates there is a heated difference of opinions as they relate to these human rights, but there is greater concern if this caucus is operating as an official branch of the Harper government, in defiance of the Charter and Supreme Court position. Consistent denials from members of parliament who engage with the anti-abortion group have helped to keep the issue at bay, but their words are incongruent with caucus literature and the many real actions they’ve taken.

 

In addition to the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus having an office on Parliament Hill, it became apparent they’re working with a private lobby that has used this access to infiltrate ministries and the PMO. The lobby itself describes the operation as “infiltrating the government” and success has been so great that they’ve replicated the process for provincial legislatures in parallel campaigns.

 

Some of their goals include abolishing social welfare programs for every walk of life. They include Native assimilation, censoring television and media, widespread privatization, controlling women, facilitating hate speech and rescinding human rights. A common response is disbelief that it could be anything more than ideas, but the following challenges that inclination toward apathy by outlining this government-supported lobby’s significant progress.

 

A Timeline

 

1989, October – The Campaign Life Coalition mentions sub organizations such as Tories for Life and Liberals for Life, referring to Canadian political parties. The movement is planning to infiltrate the Liberal leadership convention, to facilitate anti-abortion legislation by selecting representatives who are friendly to it.

 

1998, September – The Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus is re-established, according to the movement’s newspaper. The first co-chairs are MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, now Employment Minister), MP Tom Wappel (Scarborough West, LPC, departed government in 2008 to become legal counsel for Campaign Life Coalition) and MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John, CPC, retired in 2004 but continued to chair the Conservative election campaign in Atlantic Canada).

 

In the announcement, Campaign Life Coalition is described as the “political arm” of the movement and they vow to complete their work in the background “from now on”. Their services will include assisting MP’s draft private member bills to achieve anti-abortion legislation. Under Prime Minister Chrétien (Liberal majority government), they plan to lobby for less stringent treatment of private member bills and the first March for Life rally attracts “almost 50 MP’s and senators” to planning meetings on the Hill.

 

It should be noted that Jason Kenney made history by trying to suppress pro-choice activists in the university setting, pre-dating this caucus by more than a decade. The Walrus attributes his religiously motivated government aspirations to that defining experience with the American movement.

 

1999, May – The first anti-abortion March for Life is a two day rally on Parliament Hill. It’s hosted by the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus (PPLC) and a press conference is held by co-chairs MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, now Employment Minister), MP Tom Wappel (Scarborough West, LPC, retired 2008, Campaign Life Coalition counsel) and MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John, CPC, retired 2004).

 

At this time Kenney made accusations against the Calgary Foothills hospital, that nurses claimed mothers were being induced prematurely and the babies were left to die. The hospital sought a court injunction to stop these reports and Kenney responded by compelling a police investigation.

 

When the hospital wasn’t found to commit infanticide as Kenney alleged, the technical arguments about abortion were re-asserted. This time the future minister of employment suggested the police failed to properly investigate and he may compel the Attorney General to engage in a province-wide probe. At issue is whether the foetus is technically alive in the surgery removal process.

 

After this press conference the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus held a luncheon for anti-abortion MP’s and activists to network. In attendance were the co-chairs as well as MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, CPC), MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East, LPC, retired 2011), MP Ken Epp (Edmonton-Sherwood Park, CPC, retired 2008), MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC), MP Norman Doyle (St. John’s East, CPC, became senator in 2012), MP Mark Muise (West Nova, CPC, retired 2000), MP Reed Elley (Nanaimo-Cowichan, CPC, retired 2004), MP Janko Peric (Cambridge, LPC, retired 2004), MP Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, CPC, retired 2000), MP John Nunziata (York South-Weston, LCP turned Independent, retired 2000), MP Pat O’Brien (London-Fanshawe, LPC turned Independent, retired 2005), MP John O’Reilly (Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes-Brock, LPC, retired 2004), two unnamed senators and additional members of parliament.

 

2001 – Social and Cultural Archives prepares the fonds for Campaign Life Coalition, itemizing all lobbying correspondence with schools, hospitals, community organizations and members of government. It covers the years 1967 to 1993 and notes communication with MP Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC) since 1986, before he became the Justice Minister and current Defence Minister of Canada.

 

2001, May – The Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus holds a press conference in conjunction with the March for Life rally. They share their praise of co-organizer and lobbyist, Campaign Life Coalition. The group spoke briefly about the PPLC’s work and noted MP Garry Breitkreuz‘s (Yorkton-Melville, CPC) motion to redefine the meaning of a human being to include unborn children. The rest of the PPLC’s projects had to be kept private.

 

In attendance were MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC), MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John, CPC, retired 2004), MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008), MP Reed Elley (Nanaimo-Cowichan, CPC, retired 2004) and MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East, LPC, retired 2011).

 

2001, May – The Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus elects new co-chairs. MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John, CPC, retired 2004) remains the same; while MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) replaces MP Tom Wappel (Scarborough West, LPC, retired 2008) and MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) replaces MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, now Employment Minister).

 

Vellacott introduces a “conscience bill” that would allow health care workers to opt out of job duties related to abortions. Wayne is working on a bill to de-fund abortion and MP Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon-Humboldt, retired 2004) is re-introducing a similar de-funding bill from years ago.

 

Pankiw was also embroiled in controversy due to a public letter condemning the University of Saskatchewan for policies related to First Nations enrollment. He compared supporters of affirmative action to a modern day (reverse) Klu Klux Klan and he would later be convicted of drunk driving in 2014.

 

2001, December – In the Canadian Alliance leadership race between Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper (pre CPC), the future prime minister lodges a complaint against his challenger for the unethical procurement of memberships. Day was reprimanded for allowing the Campaign Life Coalition to sign up party members directly through their website and feed them into the political campaign without oversight from officials. This lent to distrust and Harper emerged the victor.

 

2003, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) commemorates the sixth annual March for Life in parliament. Anti-abortion activists complained about a media blackout hindering their event, but together they celebrated an increase of 1,000 participants, for a total of 3,500.

 

2003, DecemberPrime Minister Paul Martin succeeds Jean Chrétien as he steps down and the Liberals appoint a new leader from within. It remains a majority government.

 

2003, OctoberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC), MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) and MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John, CPC, retired 2004) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address. The letter denounces Bill C-13 and claims a majority of Canadians do not support embryonic stem cell research. They state that human babies must be killed for this scientific experiment and follow with similar accusations in the parliamentary press gallery, but it doesn’t appear the media covered this appearance. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives and has disappeared from the original source since the date of discovery.)

 

 

2004, OctoberPrime Minister Paul Martin wins election, to a Liberal minority government.

 

2004, OctoberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address. They advocate for the anti-abortion conference occurring in Winnipeg and the Silent No More campaign that focuses on women who later regretted having an abortion. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives and has disappeared from the original source since the date of discovery.)

 

 

2004, DecemberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, that compels federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (LPC) to intervene in the Saskatchewan NDP government. He cites a Supreme Court decision that allows marriage commissioners to deny gay unions, based on religious conscience. He goes on to say the highest court determined that gay marriage is not a human right and asks the federal government to ensure the provincial counterpart can’t force anyone to perform the ceremony. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives and has disappeared from the original source since the date of discovery. A backup file can be found here.)

 

2005, FebruaryMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, accusing the Martin Liberal government of “discriminating” against Canadian parents for trying to establish a national daycare program. He states that 75 percent of families would rather have stay-at-home parents or relative babysitters, instead of government intervention that allows them to work. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives and has disappeared from the original source since the date of discovery. A backup file can be found here.)

 

2005, FebruaryMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, in cross-party support of MP Paul Szabo‘s (Mississauga South, LPC, retired 2011) Bill C-206. Szabo is a fellow member of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus and this legislation is intended to regulate alcohol labelling with health and maternal warnings, similar to cigarettes today.

 

Vellacott explains that alcoholic beverages are consumed by 30-40 percent of pregnant women and this is the “leading cause of mental retardation in Canada”. According to this government presser, he says that 50 percent of inmates suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and alcohol related birth defects. Then, he attributes 50 percent of hospital emergencies, 65 percent of child abuse and 60 percent of homicides to alcohol abuse. These claims are not supported by cited studies and it’s unknown where these statistics originated. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives that has since disappeared and a backup file can be found here.)

 

2005, AprilMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, arguing against Bill C-38, The Civil Marriage Act, to recognize same sex unions. He warned this will result in ruinous lawsuits against his constituents and cause them to lose employment due to religious conscience. This legislation passed two months later by a vote of 158 to 133. (A copy was obtained from Vellacott’s archives that has since disappeared and a backup file can be found here.)

 

2005, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address for the PPLC. The topic is titled Violence No More and it calls on physicians to justify the reason for each patient’s abortion, to ensure the medical community isn’t supporting domestic violence by keeping it secret from the government.

 

A study coinciding with this year’s March for Life determined that repeated sexual abuse was responsible for many of these decisions and the caucus felt government should be alerted to support victims of molestation to deliver their babies instead of aborting.

 

Another conference was scheduled in the parliamentary press gallery, but again no record of media coverage could be located. (A copy of this letter was obtained from Vellacott’s archives and has disappeared from the original source since the date of discovery.)

 

 

The annual March for Life is a product of the Campaign Life Coalition. This non-profit is also a registered lobbyist (see here and here and here) and lobbying constitutes a vast majority of the group’s work and purpose.

 

003.xLobbySenatorPlett

 

2006, January – The Harper Conservatives are first elected to a minority government.

 

2006, MarchMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, accusing the Canadian Cancer Society of lying to the public on CBC. He cites a scientific report that proves birth control causes cancer and so do abortions. That report arises from an American agency that is staffed by known anti-abortion activists and was discredited as biased by the global cancer community, as well as the World Health Organization.

 

He goes on to educate about female breasts in pregnancy, but this MP is not a doctor and rather holds a Master of Divinity (to church minister). This government press release closes with another suggestion against the Canadian Cancer Society, that it may be failing to adopt this (discredited) study due to a monetary relationship with Big Pharma, that would rather see cancer prevail for profit and mutual benefit. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2006, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address. The information claims that breast cancer is caused by abortion. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives.)

 

 

2006, May – Sun Media National Bureau Chief, David Akin, reports members of parliament who attended this year’s March for Life on his personal blog. Supporting evidence cited in this piece has been removed from internet, but he describes “many Conservative MP’s” including Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister). Kenney was joined on stage by fellow Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus speakers, MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008), MP Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, LPC, retired 2011) and MP Tom Wappel (Scarborough West, LPC, retired 2008).

 

2007, May – A secret Conservative party handbook is leaked to reporter Don Martin at the National Post. It’s a 200 page document that includes instructions on how to bring government business to a halt, as well as how to select Conservative friendly witnesses to give committee input.

 

2007, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address. In recognition of International Women’s Day, the caucus condemns sex-selective abortions and alleges a Canadian epidemic in six pages of footnotes, that compare this country to China.

 

The literature also confirms the PPLC will hold a conference in the parliamentary press gallery (Centre Block), to kick off the annual March for Life. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives.)

 

 

2007, May – The annual March for Life occurs in Ottawa, to Parliament Hill. The group’s anti-abortion banners are endorsed by the Government of Canada logo. This cannot be done without permission and it’s unknown if the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus approved this request or provided funding. It’s not possible to track their business or disbursements because the caucus operates in secret.

 

004.x2007picMarch4LifeCanadaLogo

 

2007, May – Due to complaint from the public and a former MP, the Treasury Board Secretariat investigates the Campaign Life Coalition lobby, for use of the Canadian government logo (aka word mark) on anti-abortion signs. The original story by Macleans magazine has since been removed from internet.

 

Kady O’Malley’s story from the following year remains hosted and it confirms the 2007 debacle. She reports the government sent a cease and desist order, but March for Life organizers say they used the logo for five years without ruffling any feathers. Ultimately they agree to remove the symbol and blame the incident on volunteers.

 

2007, May – At the same March for Life event in Ottawa, a number of officials attend as the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. They include MP Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC, Independent since 2013 due to Elections Canada charges), MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC), MP Bev Shipley (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, CPC)MP Jeff Watson(Essex, CPC), MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, CPC), MP Dave Anderson (Cypress Hills-Grasslands, CPC), MP Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC), MP James Lunney (Nanaimo-Alberni, CPC), MP Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC), MP Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, CPC, retired 2008), MP Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga, CPC), MP Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, LPC, retired 2011) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008).

 

While some of these legislators decline to speak, Steckle addresses his private member Bill C-338, to criminalize abortion after 20 weeks gestation. The footage pans to Dr. Morgentaler’s medical office, where he and staff faced firebombs and attempted murder for their willingness to provide abortions in the past.

 

 

2007, MayMP Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, CPC, now Independent) was Prime Minister Harper’s parliamentary secretary when he gave this speech at the March for Life, on behalf of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2007, August – The Abortion Rights Coalition produces a list of anti-choice members of parliament.

 

2007, OctoberMP Ken Epp (Edmonton-Sherwood Park, CPC) introduces private member Bill C-484. It’s titled the Unborn Victims of Crime Act and would eventually be defeated.

 

2008, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008) issue a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus press release, on letterhead that identifies the Justice Building and House of Commons as the official mailing address. The information explains the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a priest and anti-abortion activist (representative of Silent No More).

 

This year she will attend the March for Life in Ottawa with caucus MP’s and address the parliamentary press gallery to kick off events. Again there is no record of media coverage, despite the government hosting such a high profile figure who is also a Republican employed by a Conservative think-tank. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives.)

 

 

2008, May – Although the Treasury Board Secretariat claimed to issue a cease and desist order, the Canadian government logo re-appeared on anti-abortion signs. This time they explained it was due to the printer’s oversight and the government was considering if it would take action in response to complaints.

 

Credit: Kady O'Malley

Credit: Kady O’Malley

 

2008, May – Ezra Levant posts a blog that unabashedly slams the Human Rights Commission. The piece accuses investigators of obtaining “illegal warrants” and downright “hacking” the targets of complaint instead of following proper legal procedure.

 

It reveals an email from then Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC, became Defence Minister in 2013) in support of a motion from MP Rick Dyskstra (St. Catharines, CPC), to have the commission reviewed. MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, now Minister of Employment) is also feted for “stickhandling” the matter and resolving that it be heard by the government’s justice committee.

 

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2008, October – The Harper Conservatives are re-elected to a second minority government, with a slight increase improving upon the first.

 

2008, DecemberMP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) is newly elected to co-chair the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, replacing MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, LPC, retired 2008). Both chairs are now Conservative MP’s.

 

2009, March – An event is organized on Parliament Hill for MP’s and senators by ARPA Canada (Association for Reformed Political Action). The organization is a registered lobbyist and the evening was co-sponsored by MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, LPC).

 

Legislators were greeted by an expert in the Old Testament (Old Testament aka “eye for an eye”, New Testament aka “turn the other cheek”), Dr. Cornelis Van Dam. His speech was titled God and Government: A Biblical Perspective on the Role of the State (full audio available here and text available here).

 

The ARPA lobby reports that fifteen MP’s from Conservative, Liberal and NDP parties attended, as well as one senator and staff for MP’s that weren’t available. Trinity Western University’s Laurentian Leadership Centre (TWU) was also present and according to another priest, the event was held in an NDP committee room in the West Block.

 

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After a lecture defining God’s ultimate sovereignty over government, the church and lobby representatives say they were encouraged by MP’s to have ‘their people’ search for jobs within legislative offices.

 

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2009, MayMP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) issues a press release on letterhead that identifies the West Block in the House of Commons as the new Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus mailing address. This media advisory argues for freedom of speech on behalf of anti-abortionists and informs the PPLC will appear in the government’s press gallery the following day to elaborate.

 

A common complaint from these activists is they cannot protest within the “bubble zone” surrounding medical clinics to harass abortion patients as they come and go. Some have faced repeated criminal charges for purposely breaking this rule. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives.)

 

 

2009, May – Corresponding with the item above, MP’s in the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus were joined by students in the parliamentary press gallery. This time they were filmed as an act of government led by PPLC Chair, MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC), but all major media outlets failed to cover the event.

 

This clip is telling from both perspectives, in that the caucus succeeded in making the anti-abortion plight become government business and the press continues a near-blackout, so their actions aren’t seen by the public. To schedule time in the government press gallery it must be booked with the bureau chiefs who cover it, so every major outlet was aware but simply declined to attend. Of the reporters who did show, no hard questions were asked; but the caucus did reveal there may be members from the NDP and other parties on the Hill.

 

A 2007 article about the PPLC was written by Kady O’Malley and published by Macleans magazine. It was titled Lust for Life, but has since disappeared from the internet. (A backup copy can be found here.) This is the only known video of the caucus’ government pressers and it does a good job of speaking for itself in lieu.

 

 

2009, May – Signs at this year’s March for Life don’t bear the Canadian government logo. The word “National” replaced “Canada”, but the lobby continued to use the identical font with flag placement, mimicking the trademark instead of replicating.

 

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2009, DecemberThe Hill Times publishes a story about the Tory Anti-Abortion Caucus Committee. MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) writes a letter to correct (page 8). He informs it’s the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus and it’s a “multi-party caucus of parliamentarians”, “open to MP’s of the House and the Senate”. He identifies MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) as the new caucus chair and mentions a former Liberal, but will not divulge the roster of names because it’s a member’s choice to go public or continue in secret.

 

2010, MarchCampaign Life Coalition is accused of associating with groups that employ violence to achieve the anti-abortion agenda, by the Canadian Bishop’s Conference. In a 10 page report, the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace alleges the lobby is a “militant anti-abortion group” that has targeted some of their priests with “slanderous attack campaigns”, for the appearance of supporting a woman’s right to choose. These bishops say the lobby “continuously misrepresents facts and distorts reality to serve their purpose,” but the lobby proudly defends these actions. It has not admitted the use of violence however.

 

2010, AprilMP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) proposes Bill C-510. It’s An Act to Prevent Coercion of Pregnant Women to Abort.

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, former CPC, now Independent) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Kelly Block (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, CPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga, CPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Royal Galipeau (Ottawa-Orleans, CPC, former Deputy Speaker) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Gurbax Singh Malhi (Bramalea-Gore-Malton, LPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

 

2010, May – At the annual March for Life rally, MP Brad Trost(Saskatoon-Humboldt, CPC) addresses the crowd with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. He celebrates their success in convincing government to cancel foreign aid to the poorest countries that provide abortions. Even the ones with an epidemic of molested child brides, just as the lobbies requested.

 

 

2010, September – ARPA Canada develops an “EasyMail” service. ARPA is a sister registered lobbyist to Campaign Life Coalition and they will tackle larger legislative projects together in the future.

 

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EasyMail is created so lobby supporters can assist the group with email campaigns to MP’s and senators. They publish policy reports to advise the government and have fellow activists forward copies to elected officials “in a matter of seconds”, without needing to add personal comments.

 

In total, ARPA provides 78 different form letters with their own policy attachments to affect federal laws and provincial matters in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. Some of these topics include kindergarten, sex education, gender identity, human rights, green energy, anti-bullying, WSIB, abortion funding, prostitution, euthanasia, Aboriginal rights, income splitting, pensions, public service and physical discipline. (This is only a sample and some topics will be discussed in detail as the investigation progresses.)

 

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2010, SeptemberMP Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines, CPC) films a video campaign on behalf of lobbyist ARPA Canada. Together they push a second motion for a parliamentary committee to assess the Human Rights Commission for alleged abuse of Section 13. One infamous Conservative dubbed this tribunal the “thought crime” police when it comes to hate speech. Others in the anti-abortion movement feel the interpretation of human rights stifles their ability to express displeasure at women entering medical clinics and against gay sexuality.

 

 

Of interest, the executive director and head lobbyist at ARPA is Mark Penninga. He interned with MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) as the latter was chairing the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. In a book by Marci McDonald, the author notes that Penninga graduated from Trinity Western University’s Laurentian Leadership Centre. This is the same TWU that participated in private parliament events hosted by the lobbyist. They’re also at the centre of a current controversy, for trying to create a religious law school that can deny admission to gay students.

 

Another student, Jared Kuehl, went straight to work in Prime Minister Harper‘s office in the issues management division (leaving in 2013 to become head of government relations for Shell). Thirty more Trinity Western graduates would staff the Harper government, whether working for other MP’s or through permanent positions in policy departments.

 

2010, November – ARPA Canada takes their anti human rights project across the country. Mimicking the true government tribunal, they promote a website titled HumanRightsCommissions.ca, with the goal of abolishing them altogether.

 

The website publishes quotes from MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt, CPC), MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, CPC), MP Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC), MP James Rajotte (Edmonton Southwest, CPC) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC) that appear to support the endeavour.

 

012xARPAhumanrightscommissions

 

The ARPA advertisement provided by MP Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines, CPC) is featured on the site’s multimedia page, in addition to clips from Ezra Levant and Rex Murphy. The launch of this project is also covered by the Campaign Life Coalition news site, Sun Media and AM980 (audio). All promote the material as a “grassroots” movement called Stand Up For Freedom Canada without mentioning the ARPA lobby whatsoever.

 

The public relations campaign to abolish human rights tribunals is touted in defence of Macleans magazine, Ezra Levant and those accused of hate speech against gays. Going by this grassroots pseudonym, ARPA explains the commission has been overtaken and manipulated by “leftist” activists to “target Conservative citizens” and organizations. They encourage the public to pressure politicians for swifter action through the EasyMail service, as an investigation was initiated by parliament and they needed to convince the government there was strong public will behind this ARPA concern.

 

The lobbyist managed to get the plight covered by fourteen large newspapers and they thank followers for assisting with letters to the editor that get them additional free coverage.

 

2010, December – ARPA Canada produces a video to incite political pressure for the second reading of Bill C-510 in parliament. The organization is clearly a registered lobbyist,

 

013xARPAlobby

 

with a Christian anti-abortion mandate, but the director asserts they’re a non-profit entity when it presents a problem for Tories in the Ontario election (federal and provincial campaigns intertwining). At least one funeral home accepts memorial donations in the name of ARPA as a charity as well.

 

014xARPAmission2

 

This ARPA campaign is then hosted by the national president of Campaign Life Coalition – a sister registered lobby. Both supported MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) as Chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, but the legislation they promoted was defeated by a vote of 178 to 97.

 

 

2011, March – Escalating from last year, a Quebec Catholic priest sues the Campaign Life Coalition news service. Media describes the battle as pitting “two extremes of Canadian Catholicism against each other”. Father Raymond Gravel was also an MP for the Bloc Quebecois in the riding of Repentigny and he was open about his younger years as a sex trade worker in Montreal’s Gay Village. It’s believed this history and open-mindedness attracted numerous articles against him.

 

One campaign by the anti-abortion lobby resulted from Gravel’s lack of support for a PPLC member’s bill. MP Ken Epp (Edmonton-Sherwood Park, CPC) proposed C-484 to make it a separate crime when a baby is harmed in the womb, in addition to the mother who is already protected by law. When the modern priest stood opposed, the Campaign Life Coalition began publishing his contact details, as well as associates and superiors within the Church.

 

As a result of this relentless publicity, Gravel reports he was warned by the Vatican that he would be de-frocked if he bothered to seek re-election. At the same time the anti-abortion lobby proudly took credit and praised supporters for ousting a member of parliament. (All claims remain alleged as the case is unsettled and Gravel retired from politics.)

 

2011, AprilPrime Minister Harper announces he will create a religious freedom office if re-elected.

 

2011, May – The Harper Conservatives are re-elected, this time to a majority government.

 

2011, May – Campaign Life Coalition distributes a wire announcement. They advise media of their presentation in the government press gallery to kick off the March for Life (Centre Block), but the lobby is speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus and MP’s who are eligible to schedule the government’s press events.

 

2011, May – At least four MP’s speak on behalf of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, at the annual March for Life rally that occurs under their sponsorship.

 

 

2011, July – Lobbyist ARPA Canada partners with the Holland Shopping Centre in British Columbia, to offer $500 in prizes for letters to the editor in mainstream media. They note their success with a similar drive in Alberta regarding the repeal of human rights and hope to inspire additional editorials in response to the new campaign. In this way they won’t appear to come from the lobby and are made to look independent.

 

2011, August – Lobbyist ARPA Canada consults on the federal budget. The report is accepted by the House of Commons standing committee and recommendations include de-fuding and disbanding the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal.

 

ARPA calls for a 90 percent reduction to arts funding for a few noteworthy reasons. The lobbyist sees no point in the National Film Board and they take special offense to Telefilm for objectionable content. In this government report they complain of “lewd and crude” material, like a “poo testament” with an image of Jesus ascending to Heaven as a piece of feces. The album was titled “Holy Sh*t” but they failed to see the humour in it. In fact, they say every Canadian is mortified and therefore art should not be encouraged by the government.

 

They also complain of a movie titled “Year of the Carnivore” and suggest the main character engaged in sexual activity in a room full of children. ARPA points out that child pornography is a criminal offense imply the actor should be charged, but a review from the Globe and Mail didn’t get anyone’s libidos or fists pumping.

 

The last concern noted is producing a balanced budget by reducing the role of government. ARPA believes citizens relinquish their personal responsibilities when they look for handouts like childcare and forms of social support. They believe business and charities can handle these needs more efficiently and ask the government to defer. They also promote income splitting as a fairer way to treat families that want to keep one parent at home.

 

2011, SeptemberMP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul, CPC) proposes private member Bill C-304, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act; to repeal Section 13 entirely and any mandate over hate speech. As noted by Slaw legal magazine, there was little if any debate from opposition parties. The assessment goes on to describe the consequence of allowing racism and bullying to flourish online. Although the bill was promoted as a vehicle for freedom of speech, there are countless examples of white supremacists, anti-abortionists and anti-gay activists celebrating the move. MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul, CPC) was also green-lighted by the Campaign Life Coalition as being onside with the lobby’s agenda.

 

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2011, September – Lobbyist ARPA Canada publishes a policy report on prostitution, calling for the federal government to enact legislation that criminalizes johns, “rather than risk the Supreme Court creating another legal vacuum” due to the case that’s being argued from Ontario.

 

Ultimately they wish to see prostitution eradicated, but they’re willing to classify the female service provider as a victim of violence if the male is still incarcerated for a crime. ARPA bases this position on the writings of Dr. Melissa Farley, who was arrested 13 times in 9 different states as a prolific, American, anti-prostitution activist. She also led a “Rampage” campaign to destroy copies of Penthouse and Hustler in book stores.

 

ARPA asks followers for help to lobby the government in another EasyMail campaign, but this time they’ve created three different form letters so MP’s don’t receive “ten that look identical”. Another branch of ARPA operates in Tasmania and they lobbied that justice department for similar intervention, accusing the government of becoming a pimp if they sought to decriminalize.

 

2011, October – Campaign Life Coalition distributes a press release through the wire service. It announces a protest at the Ontario legislature to de-fund abortions; the first of its kind in the province. In this literature the lobby claims that 60 percent of Ontarians “oppose the status quo of paying for all abortions” and this is based on an Abacus poll of 1,015 people, from an online panel in which Roman Catholics and Conservative voters account for the majority of respondents (Ontario has a Liberal government). Abacus is also the house pollster for Sun News and Sun Media.

 

After examining the data it might be said that claims were misleading, in that 60 percent didn’t wish to de-fund all abortions and the responses supported health coverage in emergency procedures, even when a panelist appeared to be opposed. Only 10 percent opposed abortion completely. Furthermore, Bloomberg Businessweek has written about the accuracy of online polling and there is still an issue of reliability due to sampling pools of biased “enthusiasts”.

 

2011, October – Registered lobbyist ARPA Canada is invited by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Ottawa West-Nepean, CPC) to consult on the establishment of a religious freedom office. In their response, ARPA describes itself as a representative of the Reformed Church community. The Reformed Church is commonly referred to as Calvinism, that believes all humans are depraved but some are elected as righteous, regardless of their actions and good deeds. It also believes in theocracy (a God based government) and the faith accomplished this feat in Geneva, Switzerland, circa 1500’s.

 

ARPA’s recommendations include:

 

  • Ignore “political correctness” when it comes to monitoring and assistance. They state that Christians constitute 75 percent of the world’s persecuted and therefore 75 percent of resources should be dedicated that faith.
  • Assist “emerging democracies” with implementation of religious freedom.
  • Continuous monitoring of countries where Canada has contributed military support “of any magnitude or length”. This includes Libya and Afghanistan.
  • Escalate sanctions, withhold foreign aid and pursue military intervention “should the circumstances warrant”. (It’s unknown how adhering to this philosophy would impact the situation between Israel and Palestine.)

 

2012, JanuaryMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, berating CTV for an investigative report on pregnancy crisis centres. He makes allegations against the broadcaster that cite ethical impropriety, because they didn’t report similarly undercover from medical clinics that provide legal abortions to find wrongdoing.

 

He continues to intimidate the interviewed sources with comments about their charity designation, officially as a member of parliament. He states it is his duty, but one might question if Vellacott penned the complaint independently, in light of three pages of footnotes that suggest additional legal intimidation and the lobby’s prior statements that indicate they would assist. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2012, February – ARPA Canada publishes a report that determines environmentalism is a religion and proceeds to explain the doctrine. The lobby labels David Suzuki its “High Priest” and lambasts the CBC for stories about climate change “as if it is an objective science beyond repute” and not a religious doctrine that’s really used to program children in the school system.

 

ARPA contrasts this environmental religion with true Christianity and determines that God made man the stewards of His earth, therefore we must trust man’s judgement because to question human actions would be equivalent to questioning God. This assertion is supported by an EasyMail campaign that promotes a Fraser Institute report against green energy and calls for a moratorium against wind and solar production in Ontario.

 

2012, FebruaryMP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC) introduces Motion 312, to determine the definition of a human being and when life begins in the womb. It causes much controversy and is criticized as a backdoor to re-open the abortion debate.

 

2012, FebruaryMP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC) appears in a multimedia ad for lobbyist ARPA Canada and together they produce material to advance Motion 312. This is the second ARPA video that is hosted by the national president of the Campaign Life Coalition lobby, Jim Hughes.

 

 

2012, March – Campaign Life Coalition shares a press release with the wire service. They create a website to assist MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC) with advancing Motion 312.

 

2012, MayMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, pressuring the federal government to include abortions under the popular anti-bullying campaign. He cites an Oregon doctor who claims the foetus is able to feel the pain of being attacked. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2012, May – The annual March for Life rally occurs on Parliament Hill. At least five MP’s spoke on this video, as well as students from Catholic schools who were covered for the trip by their boards of education. A pro-life mass coincides with the march and the Church says, “they need to challenge the false idea that abortion is a private, personal decision.”

 

The director of Campaign Life Coalition who worked with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus to advance Bill C-510 and Motion 312 also appears on the clip. He explains his group is there to see that MP’s who stand in the way of the anti-abortion movement are “removed from office in the next election”.

 

 

A second video arising from this event captures at least twelve MP’s addressing the crowd on behalf of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. A new addition to the public face of this group is MP James Lunney (Nanaimo-Alberni, CPC).

 

 

2012, June – Campaign Life Coalition begins community presentations against Ontario Bill 13, the Toronto District School Board and Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, for adopting gay-straight alliances and “homosexualizing school curriculum”. Bill 13 was anti-bullying legislation and it passed despite the lobby’s objections.

 

A second video from the same event berates a handful of gay, Liberal and NDP members of provincial parliament.

 

2012, August – The ARPA lobby congratulates supporters for creating a stir in parliament. A petition campaign to support Motion 312 was devised (regarding the definition of a human being) and the group bombarded MP’s with numerous, separate petitions to be read in the House. Many only contained 25 signatures, but MP’s from every party stood to read them into Hansard.

 

Participating doesn’t indicate support, but the majority of MP’s didn’t present them. Others rose multiple times to address every paper individually and this includes shadow cabinet members from opposition parties. In all, these MP’s might have represented petitions more times than signatures appeared on each document.

 

2012, SeptemberMP Stephen Woodworth’s (Kitchener Centre, CPC) Motion 312 is defeated. However, there is much ado in the media resulting from Conservative cabinet ministers who voted in favour. They include MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast), MP Peter Van Loan (York-Simcoe), MP Julian Fantino (Vaughan), MP Gerry Ritz (Battlefords-Lloydminster), MP Gail Shea (Egmont), MP Ed Fast (Abbotsford), MP Peter Penashue (Labrador, defeated 2013), MP Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill), MP Alice Wong (Richmond) and MP Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove).

 

Ambrose took the most heat for siding with anti-abortionists as Minister for the Status of Women. But these Conservatives were joined by a few Liberals who include MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), MP Lawrence McAulay (Cardigan), MP Kevin Lamoureaux (Winnipeg North) and MP Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt). Visit here to see the 91 MP’s who supported the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus position.

 

2012, OctoberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) nominates two anti-abortion activists for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. One of them was in jail for violating laws that are supposed to protect women who are entering abortion/medical clinics. Regardless, both are selected by the Harper government to receive the award for this “civil disobedience” that was deemed criminal.

 

2012, October – WeNeedALaw (initiative of ARPA Canada) publishes a paper on the Overton Window. It’s promoted as a theory to shift public thinking from the impossible to the inevitable.

 

Joseph Overton was an American Tea Party Libertarian from Michigan. He established the Mackinaw think-tank that pushes for charter schools, right-to-work legislation, low tax – no government, extreme right-wing policies. This is accomplished by use of the Overton Window, that in practical summary may resemble this:

 

Begin by asking for the unfathomable. It gains attention and infects the public dialogue. With a long term vision, gradually pull back from the extreme by increments and make the proposals a little more bearable. With each proposal, it keeps the dialogue going and entrenches the language in popular society. It then becomes an issue for politicians as the consistent language in media and their communities. Now the unthinkable gains some amount of consideration. By repeating this process it can shift public perception and bring them to the negotiating table.

 

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An example from your children might also resemble this:

 

Mom says no snacks before dinner and Joe says, “But I want a whole cake!” Mom responds with a scowl so Joe compromises, “Well how about just one piece?” Mom still denies, but she tilts her head to the side and Joe can see he gained at least one iota of sympathy. Eventually the child asks for a “tiny cookie” and swears he’ll starve to death without something to put in his belly. Mom raises her eyebrow and agrees in frustration, because at least it’s only a small treat. But Joe has learned how to shift his mother’s window of what’s considered reasonable and now he can push for a treat before dinner every night. Once he gets the cookie, he can also push for larger snacks in the future.

 

This ARPA paper describes the strategic purpose of tabling consecutive private member bills, in an effort to shift perception about abortion and what the public considers normal (within the “window” of being acceptable). This piece also documents the group’s achievements, in shifting government attitudes and controlling the mainstream media.

 

2012, October – Lobbyist ARPA Canada is heard by the BC Finance Committee, in advance of the 2013 budget. They encourage the government to withdraw from early learning education programs. They request mandatory repayment of debt and phasing out the BC Human Rights Tribunal. They also implore legislators to de-fund abortion, so patients who can afford private surgical costs are the only ones who would have access to this medical care.

 

2012, October – Three Ontario Progressive Conservatives sponsor a Campaign Life Coalition press conference, to de-fund abortions through the public health care system. MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington), MPP John O’Toole (Durham) and MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Essex) didn’t attend the event despite hosting it. Liberal Education Minister Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, OLP, retired 2013) was described by Sun Media as “self righteous” for accusing the Tories of trying to re-open the abortion debate.

 

2012, October – The president of Campaign Life Coalition writes an editorial about the need to stack parliament and senate with anti-abortion supporters, if they’re to pass legislation the lobby group is seeking. He mentions the Harper government’s opportunity to appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court of Canada, in an effort to help the process along judicially. He closes by noting an interesting tidbit about the group’s history.

 

Campaign Life Coalition takes credit for establishing the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus back in 1986, when it was often chaired by Senator Stanley Haidasz (Liberal, deceased 2009).

 

2012, October – ARPA congratulates supporters for helping to ensure the Alberta Education Act would not be subject to compliance with the Alberta Human Rights Act. The lobbyist claims parental freedom is at stake and encourages additional support for the overall human rights campaign, to abolish these laws and tribunals completely.

 

2012, NovemberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, promoting an email from a communications rep with the Toronto Right to Life Association. His office is used as a media centre on behalf of the anti-abortion movement and together they condemn MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, LPC, retired 2013, former leader of the Liberal party) for defending the Supreme Court and his concern that awarding criminals with the Diamond Jubilee Medal may incite more unlawfulness. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2012 NovemberMacleans publishes an article about the death of an infant that was heard by the Supreme Court. This frames a discussion about renewed action from members of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus and adapting the lobby’s language to be more acceptable to the public.

 

MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt, CPC) follows by vowing there will be repeated attempts at anti-abortion legislation that “might be every six months”, until they accomplish the caucus mandate. ARPA is also interviewed to make the human rights argument, but a hardline on Muslim immigration is also noted. Finally, MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, LPC) contributes his sympathy and opines the anti-abortion issue is “a vote mover” that gets people to the polls.

 

2012, DecemberMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, praising an anti-abortion blogger for releasing heath statistics the lobby interpreted to support a homicide allegation in relation to abortions. These conclusions are cited as a reason to compel the RCMP and the matter is re-ignited under the title of “infanticide”, nearly identical to the move by MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC, now Employment Minister) in 1999. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2012, December – Campaign Life Coalition attempts to interfere in the federal Liberal leadership race. The lobbyist pressures a Catholic high school in Sudbury, Ontario to cancel an appearance and communication with MP Justin Trudeau (Papineau, LPC), because he doesn’t represent anti-gay and anti-abortion ideals. The say, “The Board may be inviting spiritual harm to children,” by allowing Trudeau near youngsters in a widespread press release. If the Board doesn’t back down, the school will face embarrassing demonstrations.

 

2012, December – ARPA Canada publishes a report on their 2012 lobbying successes. It’s described as manipulation of the Overton Window to shift the public psychology and some of these advancements include favourable attention from Macleans magazine. After their consultation regarding Native affairs (explained in detail at 2013 Sidebar), ARPA found the government listened and began to legislate private property on reserves. They convinced the CBC to cancel racy content after a campaign of complaints. They obtained private group meetings with multiple MP’s and the Ontario Human Rights Commission asked for ARPA to present a legal opinion.

 

In the same communiqué, ARPA receives thanks from MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul, CPC), for helping to pass Bill C-304. Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was officially repealed and would no longer apply to hate speech.

 

In a second entry ARPA explains how MP Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC) approached them to co-sponsor events between these politicians and the lobby. Storseth also contributed to an ARPA video that is ultimately used to solicit donations.

 

2013, JanuaryMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC), MP Leon Benoit (Vegreville, CPC) and MP Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East-Streetsville, CPC) write the RCMP commissioner on House of Commons letterhead, requesting a homicide investigation for each abortion where the foetus might have exited a female’s body (after 19 weeks) without being technically dead first. (A copy can still be found in Benoit’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2013, FebruaryMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, chastising the Canadian Press and CBC for reporting the story above. He clarifies his position and re-asserts the call for homicide investigations, if the foetus is more than 19 weeks and not yet technically dead in the removal process. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2013, February – Campaign Life Coalition publishes a press release celebrating the “demotion” of Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, OLP, retired 2013). They claim it was a response to her sex-ed classes being forced on Catholic school boards, but in reality the minister was switched to a different portfolio under the new premier. The lobby goes on to warn the next Minister of EducationLiz Sandals (Guelph, OLP), not to meddle with religious curriculum and a similar rebuke of outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South, OLP, retired 2013) was expressed in a scathing press release.

 

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2013, February – The Office of Religious Freedom is established by the Harper government. It will promote religion as a “Canadian foreign policy priority”.

 

2013, February – The Whatcott decision is rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada and it upholds key parts of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, as it applies to hate speech. Whatcott is a religious anti-gay activist who distributed disturbing flyers with strong language that resulted in complaint.

 

Although ARPA applied for intervener status, it wasn’t granted. Instead legal counsel for the lobby contributed video analysis of the decision. In it they suggest the presiding Supreme Court Justices should be criminally charged for case exhibits they included in the reasons. ARPA goes on to justify hate speech as a fundamental need for Christians to critique others’ sexual lifestyles and warns they will need to lobby provincial governments for new laws to protect these rights.

 

 

2013, March – Campaign Life Coalition begins a crusade against Bill C-279, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity). This legislation to prevent discrimination and violence against those with alternative gender identities is still before the senate, awaiting Royal Assent.

 

As such, the lobby is focusing on senators in an effort to have the bill denied and they’re targeting Prime Minister Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC) with a letter writing campaign, encouraging him to use his authority over the Tory caucus.

 

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2013, MarchMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, regarding his Motion 408 to condemn sex-selective abortions. He bases the reason on a CBC investigation, after attempting to discredit the broadcaster a month before. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2013, MarchMP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) issues a press release on House of Commons letterhead, on behalf of a private research group from Chile that determined abortion is violence against women. While the report cites Chile as having a low maternal death rate they attribute to the government’s anti-abortion stance, it fails to mention that Canada has less than half the deaths per 100,000 women. Regardless, it’s promoted to media as a member of parliament. (A copy can still be found in Vellacott’s archives, in addition to here.)

 

2013, March – ARPA Canada attends the Manning Institute Networking Conference as an exhibitor, promoting itself with right-wing political celebrities such as Preston Manning, Tea Party founder, Ron Paul, and Conservative party legal counsel, Guy Giorno (PM Harper’s former chief of staff).

 

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2013, March – Campaign Life Coalition releases a newsletter that details a new endeavour to host De-fund Abortion rallies at the Ontario legislature. In March they attended with words of support from MPP Joe Dickson (Ajax-Pickering, OLP), as he accepted their petitions to cancel this health care funding. Similar encouragement was sent by a federal counterpart, MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, CPC) from Saskatchewan.

 

2013, April – Mark Penninga (former Vellacott intern, TWU grad, turned exec director of ARPA) publishes an update on the lobby’s use of the Overton Window. He cites MP Mark Warawa‘s (Langley, CPC) motions M-312 and M-408 and how they garnered massive media attention with public sympathy when the MP was muzzled.

 

From the NDP to Margaret Wente, this lobby claims to have won their support, if not in a backhanded way. As a result of this fiasco the Liberals filed a motion that would allow backbenchers to speak freely and Penninga describes this as playing into their hands. MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt, CPC) then thanks the PMO in Question Period, for drawing greater attention to their cause. Global News reports that he’s speaking from an informal pro-life caucus.

 

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2013, April – ARPA submits a policy paper to the federal government in support of corporal punishment for children. It’s in response to Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette‘s (Liberal) Bill S-204, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).

 

This time the lobby claims that hitting kids is beneficial, akin to the benefits of martial arts. They claim all science proving a negative effect is wrong and they assert contrary reports to debunk. However, new “science” cited by the lobby arises from anti-abortion activists and their letters to the editor. As in previous examples, when letters submitted by fellow lobbyists are published by a newspaper, they become cited as fact in subsequent policy papers and ARPA declines to mention this conflict.

 

The report also accuses the government of playing God by assuming any rules over children. They state that parents are accountable to God directly and this does not require “Orwellian” oversight from bureaucrats. The lobby then encourages followers to use their EasyMail system, to overwhelm MP’s and senators with a copy of the same report.

 

2013, April – The Canadian Catholic News applauds Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, CPC), for his ruling on MP Mark Warawa‘s (Langley, CPC) complaint that parliamentary privilege was abused when the whip quashed his statement about an anti-abortion motion. It opened the door to getting anti-choice opinions debated on the floor and Scheer was previously noted as being supportive of the PPLC cause.

 

2013, May – At the annual March for Life rally on Parliament Hill, MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, CPC) tells the crowd they must get involved in politics and stack nomination meetings to select anti-abortion candidates. Although the Canadian Press produced this story, very few outlets carried it. There was little coverage this year except for the lobbyist news service that estimates there were 25,000 in attendance and a CBC piece explaining how they’ve re-framed the movement as a human rights issue that discriminates against the foetus by giving women a choice.

 

At a prayer meeting before the march, a Baptist church compared abortion to the Holocaust and quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in support of their plight (but the quote is blatantly taken out of context). They also note the movement had been struggling for a decade, but it gathered momentum in the past six years (coinciding with repeat bills from PPLC members in the Harper government). The main commentary in this Campaign Life article is also provided by legal counsel for the sister lobby, ARPA.

 

In related news, the PMO refused to comment or commemorate the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler. That space was filled by MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) who asserted that victims of sexual assault are abused when their tormentors drag them to abortion clinics. He says many of these victims are children and their “immeasurable” suffering is attributed to Dr. Morgentaler (not the sexual abuser).

 

Only MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre) rose for the Liberals and MP Niki Ashton (Churchill) for the NDP, to honour the doctor’s courageous work in women’s and patient rights.

 

2013, MayMP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC) receives a lifetime achievement award from the Campaign Life Coalition lobbyist. It’s titled the Joseph P. Borowski Award, in recognition of that cabinet minister leaving the Manitoba NDP to stay true to anti-abortion causes. Only eight Conservative and Liberal MP’s have received this honour.

 

2013, JuneMP Brian Storseth’s (Westlock-St. Paul, CPC) private member Bill C-304, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, receives Royal Assent and becomes law. Sections that prevented hate speech have now been repealed. ARPA and Campaign Life Coalition also noted contact with MP’s and senators during this period, in the government lobby record.

 

2013, JuneMP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) celebrates the first National Aboriginal Prayer Breakfast in the House of Commons (as unspoken Chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus).

 

 

Aboriginal Sidebar

 

Deeper investigation of this event produced unsettling material that requires explanation as a group, as opposed to chronologically.

 

Indigenous cultures have traditional, spiritual beliefs that do not resemble the trinity of Christianity or narrative of the Bible. This isn’t meant to disparage Native peoples who subscribe to organized religion, as many of them do and it’s an individual’s right to choose without judgement from any person.

 

It’s when one group speaks for the other that issues may arise and this very scenario clouds the parliamentary prayer breakfast. Thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their homes by government and the Church and the history of residential school abuse didn’t stop until the early 1990’s. Therefore a great number of Canada’s First Peoples still have distrust for both the government and religion.

 

With that said, in June 2012, ARPA Canada submitted a report to parliament that lobbied for changes to the Indian Act. It was titled “Respectfully Submitted – Aboriginal Affairs”, similar to all the lobbying reports before it. Because they’re all generically titled “Respectfully Submitted”, it makes it extremely difficult to locate these documents through a general search on the internet.

 

ARPA supporters would have received an alert at the time, urging them to visit this page and EasyMail extra copies of the report to their members of parliament. This is how the lobby group gets coordinated action from anti-abortion activists and why they thank supporters for defeating bills or helping them oust elected officials. But this time a Christian appeal would be applied to Indigenous interests.

 

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This particular report can only be summarized as a comprehensive call for Native assimilation. Based on Bible scripture from Romans 13, the group believes that First Nations can’t heal until they accept God and pay taxes.

 

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In the same Aboriginal file containing government submissions, ARPA publishes a ditty from their “resident poet”. It’s titled “Call to Discriminate – A Moral Responsibility!” and it explains how Psalm 1 instructs Bible followers to discriminate against those who mock the Christian God. It says those on the “right” will be helped by God to “thwart the wicked’s might” and the enemy that refuses to believe will be “blown away” like “useless chaff”. This lobby rep also believes that no one has the right to retire from working, according to the book of Genesis.

 

ARPA goes on to argue that Natives must become indebted through mortgage and sell their lands to enjoy prosperity like everyone else. They approve of the infamous 1969 white paper but due to the contentious Charter, the lobbyist realizes they can’t nix land claims and therefore the best option is converting them into municipalities.

 

The report says Native peoples must forget about the past and forgive their oppressors to move forward. It chastises the Supreme Court for conveying the idea that Aboriginal ancestry entitles anyone to victimhood. They claim “every Canadian can point to their past to get the same label”.

 

ARPA blames the First Nations struggle on collective “spiritual brokenness” and believes “the ultimate goal of poverty alleviation is not to see our standards of wealth and prosperity applied to others, but to see people restored to what God created them to be”. The document closes with reference to an Aboriginal organization named Gathering Nations, who they applaud as getting that message.

 

 

The lobbyist was pleased to update that MP Rob Clarke (Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, CPC and First Nations RCMP) responded to ARPA’s recommendations with Bill C-428, Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act.

 

Gathering Nations International led to a number of surprising pages in support of ARPA. It begins with Kenny Blacksmith who was a Deputy Chief to the Cree Nation of Mistissini, near James Bay in Quebec. A missionary went to live on the reserve in the 1960’s and Kenny with his wife were converted to Christianity by 1991.

 

In 1997 the family left the reserve for Ottawa inspired by a prophetic vision and they converted the Bible into Cree, so they could teach the un-ministered to find salvation and adopt the settlers’ way. Ever since relocating to Ottawa, Mr. Blacksmith became politically involved and these activities are related to both lobbyists and the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus.

 

In June 2006 Blacksmith created The Covenant of the First Peoples of Canada and a conference was held in the capital with other religious leaders. The Cree pastor is consistently addressed as an ordained minster, but at no point is a school named and there is no record of training or seminary college. No denomination is ever stated to inquire with a regulating body.

 

Twenty-four signatories and twelve witnesses endorsed the document on National Aboriginal Day in Ottawa. It’s unknown who they are and there is no record beyond a photo of the signatures. Despite being a First Nations contract, the content was solely about God and supporting the people of Israel.

 

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When this document was signed, Blacksmith claims the group was free from carrying an Aboriginal grudge and they rejoiced in the church plus the government, enough to sing the national anthem twice (something most Indigenous peoples will not do). This was also done without approval from the Assembly of First Nations or any Chiefs who can be found on record.

 

In 2009 Blacksmith returned to the reserve to run for the Grand Chief position. In an interview with the Cree Nation news he boasts, “I know Jean Charest and many of the ministers and the government leaders on a personal level – not just in Quebec but also in Canada, in the federal government”. He didn’t win the honour and Chief of the Mistissini Cree is Richard Shecapio, but Blacksmith is called the chief by himself and everyone in parliament.

 

By June 2010, Blacksmith organized a National Forgiven Summit at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Religious leaders and Christian Aboriginals met with MP’s and senators, to engage in an elaborate ceremony that ran parallel to the first Truth and Reconciliation event.

 

MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South, CPC) was pleased with the gesture, as was Senator Nick Sibbeston (Liberal, former premier of NWT). The latter reported to senate that Aboriginals forgave the prime minister and showered him with gifts, as a Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom was presented to the government on behalf of Native peoples.

 

AFN Chief Shawn Atleo took a more hesitant approach, asking the group to be “very careful” while reminding a Grand Chief had already complained they weren’t ready for this. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hadn’t finished its work and Atleo countered the prime minister’s apology with examples of program closures.

 

But AFN did not intervene in Blacksmith’s event and the three day conference included special segments. There was the forgiveness summit itself, where The Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom was unveiled. This is another document concocted by Blacksmith to release the government for Native abuse. No text can be located on the internet and again there’s only a photo of signatures.

 

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It was presented to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl (Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, CPC, retired), who attended. Of note, Strahl left this cabinet position to become the top watchdog over CSIS, but he had to step down when the press revealed he was performing double duty as a lobbyist for the Enbridge pipeline. The Northern Gateway project has been met with opposition from First Nations and CSIS was additionally convicted in the media for spying on Indigenous peoples and sharing the intelligence with major oil companies. Strahl is also a graduate of Trinity Western University (TWU) in the company of fellow parliamentarians and he was appointed to mentor at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation.

 

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After the forgiveness summit, organizer Kenny Blacksmith had the opportunity to meet personally with Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC). Another copy of The Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom was presented to absolve the government and then it was off to the Pastors and Leaders Gathering.

 

The second event was held by Blacksmith and a co-host from the 700 Club – an evangelical ministry that prays and raises funds on Christian television. It’s unclear what transpired at this gathering, but leaders and teachers were invited in addition to “prophets and apostles”.

 

On the following day there was a National Aboriginal Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast that was co-hosted by “Members of Parliament and with the Senate of Canada”. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl (Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, CPC, retired) was a keynote speaker along with Blacksmith and the theme of this meeting was “Beyond Forgiveness”. First Nations peoples who wished to participate and forgive the government were charged $55 admission to accept their sorries.

 

This prayer breakfast in 2010 occurred at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, at 1 Rideau Street in Ottawa. This is the same address ARPA uses in suite #700, that otherwise rents as a virtual office. ARPA uses this virtual address on the lobby registry, as well their work with the Supreme Court of Canada. Technically speaking it has no legal, physical address, unless the alternate PO Box number is considered and a business registration that lists Alberta is no longer valid.

 

Adding to the confusion about ARPA’s address is a claim to have an office on Parliament Hill. According to web data company Zoom Info (relied upon by Google and Dow Jones), this lobby’s base can be found in Room 574, Confederation Building at the House of Commons. The phone number provided belongs to MP Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent-Essex, CPC) and the fax belongs to the PMO. The only way for Zoom Info to present this data is by crawling the internet for places it was listed, and/or if the company entered a business listing itself. This parliamentary location was further confirmed by seven different sources from 2011 to the end of 2013.

 

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ARPA’s director, Mark Penninga, is listed with the same government address, in addition to a home base in West Virginia.

 

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ARPA’s legal counsel is listed with the same government address and in cached pages, Andre Schutten is described as ARPA’s “parliament contact”.

 

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On the federal registry, ARPA lists Mark Penninga, Andre Schutten and Mike Schouten as paid lobbyists (see lobbyist details tab).

 

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2013, June – Coming back to the chronological date, pastor Kenny Blacksmith obtained a position on the board of directors for Canadian Race Relations. Here he was listed as an Aboriginal management consultant; providing services in rights, education, negotiations and Christian leadership training.

 

That leadership brought Blacksmith to open the Canada Celebrates Israel conference, where parliamentarians met with the “Jewish, Christian, Zionist” community to discuss the country’s commitment to a Jewish state. He beat the Native drum, sang Indigenous chants and offered Christian prayer, as others in the group complained of apartheid allegations becoming the new anti-Semitism.

 

For context, Blacksmith devised the new Indigenous Charter and Covenant to honour Israel as the number one priority. He teaches that First Nations must respect the political state and Israeli people to find Indigenous salvation, even though traditional beliefs do not embrace the biblical trinity (and neither does Orthodox Judaism that relies solely on the Torah).

 

2013, June – The first National Aboriginal Prayer Breakfast is officially recognized. Despite earlier events that were similar, this one is a matter of public record and will continue to be promoted as a yearly event. It’s co-hosted by Kenny Blacksmith on behalf of First Nations (without their consent), along with MP James Lunney (Nanaimo-Alberni, CPC) and Senator Don Meredith (Conservative). The Ontario Minister for Seniors, MPP Mario Sergio (York West, OLP) represented the provincial government and speakers included the co-host of 700 Club.

 

Meredith is the same official who recently came under fire as one of the senate’s top spenders, also boasting degrees from non-accredited institutions. One of those degrees is an honourary Doctor of Divinity he received from the Christian television program, 100 Huntley Street. Huntley was established by the same creator of the American 700 Club mentioned prior. Since that exposé Meredith stopped calling himself a doctor, to shield Prime Minister Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC) from criticism regarding his appointment.

 

Credit: Huffington Post

Credit: Huffington Post

 

At the prayer breakfast, newly retired Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Chuck Strahl gives the keynote address. Both he and Kenny Blacksmith discuss the duty of First Nations to forgive the government under God. Blacksmith says the work of missionaries 500 years ago was not in vain and the black book (Bible) would yet teach his people. This was reinforced by Strahl’s belief that a Christian God would help with the power of forgiveness because he couldn’t write legislation that would force Native peoples to become the government’s friend. Both men spoke as if they forgot it was Christians who placed Aboriginal children in electric chairs and sexually abused them, en masse.

 

The Catholic Register ran a feature article but took their site offline as this investigation was being written. Luckily a backup copy was saved before this happened, because the piece displayed a poignant photo that is likely to inflame First Nations. During this event Strahl stood at the podium wearing a Native headdress while making his assertion that forgiveness was owed to the government, in order for Aboriginals to heal. Behind Strahl is an Israeli flag, a Canadian flag and an American flag, but nothing to represent Indigenous cultures.

 

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2013, November – Kenny Blacksmith attends a religious event on Parliament Hill with Mennonites. He’s described as the Chief of Cree Nation in Mistissini, but he doesn’t hold this position and hasn’t lived on the reserve for sixteen years. He prays with the group encouraging “shalom”; a Hebrew word signifying peace and the underlying principle of the Torah and Judaism. It’s expressly important to the Jewish religion, but it’s not traditionally spoken or known by First Nations.

 

As a result of this prayer the Mennonites were overcome with guilt for past racism and indifference toward Aboriginals. The event organizer apologized to Blacksmith on behalf of this religion and Blacksmith accepted on behalf of all Natives.

 

2014, February – The Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association announces their official partnership with the ARPA Canada lobby. In the extensive newsletter, Bill Whatcott of the earlier Supreme Court case (to allow hate speech against gays) is noted as a regional representative. A number of paid ads appear from law firms, in addition to MP Ed Komarnicki (Souris-Moose Mountain, CPC), MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-Humboldt, CPC), MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) and MLA Greg Ottenbreit (Yorkton, Saskatchewan Party).

 

2014, March – Campaign Life Coalition begins a project against doctor assisted suicide and bills addressing compassionate patient rights in parliament. MP Steven Fletcher (Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, CPC) was paralyzed from the neck down, but he became a target of the pro-life movement when he proposed legalizing euthanasia (bills haven’t been tabled yet).

 

MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) came out against him and Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt (Halton, CPC) cited her Catholic faith as a barrier to supporting. Sister lobbyist ARPA Canada has also taken up the cause, while congratulating its supporters for quashing previous euthanasia bills. They warn their masses to remain vigilant, in case a call to action is needed to defeat the next attempt.

 

2014, MarchMLA Shayne Saskiw (Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, Wildrose, Justice Critic) proposed motion M-502 in the Alberta legislature. It called on government to repeal sections of the Alberta Human Rights Act with respect to hate speech, similar to what was accomplished at the federal level. This initial attempt had support from the provincial Conservative justice minister, however it was defeated.

 

2014, March – Legal counsel for ARPA Canada, Andre Schutten, makes a submission to the Law Society of Upper Canada compelling certification of a Trinity Western University (TWU) Christian law school. At issue is the intention to deny gay students admission, that ARPA believes is a justified requirement.

 

A second piece is distributed to the ARPA community, filled with unrelenting criticism of respected lawyers Clayton Ruby, Gerald Chan “and others like them”, for speaking against proposed, discriminatory enrollment provisions.

 

2014, MarchThe Loyola case is accepted to the Supreme Court of Canada. It’s about a private Jesuit boys’ high school in Quebec that was required to teach Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum, as mandated by the Ministry of Education. This course also requires a secular approach that conflicts with the private school’s Christian purpose.

 

Legal counsel for ARPA Canada, Andre Schutten, is also acting as legal counsel for the Association of Christian Educators and Schools Canada, that achieved intervener status. This case is being promoted on the ARPA website as one of their own, but ARPA isn’t named anywhere in the Supreme Court file. Mr. Schutten then supports this project with an article in the Ottawa Citizen, that states ARPA is an intervener. It’s unclear if this statement means the educators’ group is another entity within the lobbyist organization.

 

2014, March – Lobbyist ARPA Canada releases a new policy paper titled “The Supremacy of God”. It’s sent to every senator and member of parliament, followed by a campaign to have supporters discuss these concepts involving the EasyMail program.

 

The paper begins with explanation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms preamble. “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law,” they reason that a Christian God is the basis for all laws. ARPA asks legislators to consider the powers bestowed upon them were given through the Bible and forsaking that would bring an end to the rule of law. It would bring an end to slavery and racism protections, because these laws were proposed by religious leaders. It would end human rights and the Criminal Code of Canada. It would also disrespect Magna Carta and the basis of constitutional law.

 

ARPA finds that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin errs when she says the law is supreme, because laws can change and it’s the power of God that remains constant to reign supreme. They say Christianity is responsible for civilized society and attributing an MP’s power to religion is hardly as radical as it sounds. They also find the premise of law is built on the Ten Commandments and therefore secular courts and governments are hiding behind a veneer to conceal their true purpose.

 

Tucked in the middle is how this ideology applies to make anti-bullying legislation inappropriate. ARPA continues to explain how “feminist” MP Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP) is really no less religious than Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC). They use this opportunity to push support for their Loyola Supreme Court case as well.

 

2014, May – The focus of this year’s March for Life includes gendercide and criminalizing abortion, with “gendercide” taking root in the public vocabulary due to the PPLC and lobbyist efforts. Two new campaigns are launched to compliment that progress. The first is meant to ban “abortion drug RU-486” from becoming available in the Canadian market. The second is meant to establish Silent No Moreas a Canadian staple (imported from the US, the same as Campaign Life Coalition), to bring the anti-abortion plight mainstream and nudge the Overton Window a little further.

 

A list of MP’s and senators in attendance is published by the Campaign Life Coalition. In 2014 they doubled their numbers and the roster includes 23 names, but this wasn’t covered by mainstream media. These elected officials are presumably part of the growing Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, as the PPLC hosts this lobbying event, according to historical press releases.

 

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2014, May – ARPA publishes God & Government 2014: A Huge Success. The write-up celebrates their “infiltration” of parliament and claims 70 ARPA lobbyists met with 50 MP’s and senators in the week leading up to the March for Life event. Three days of activity included a reception that ARPA hosted for members of parliament, a speech to ARPA from Employment Minister Jason Kenney (Calgary-Southeast, CPC) and a mutual prayer service.

 

ARPA had access to Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green officials, to discuss their lobbying concerns about prostitution, palliative care, abortion and sports betting. They were invited to attend government committee meetings beyond the standard Question Period and pictures weren’t taken to protect the identity of the MP’s hosting them.

 

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In the same article ARPA mentions spearheading a political tour through Alberta on behalf of MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC) of Ontario. It’s unclear how a registered lobbyist can run a campaign for an active member of parliament and this appears to resemble Prime Minister Harper‘s complaint against Stockwell Day during that bitter leadership cycle.

 

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They close by offering thanks to a “generous company, which does not wish to be singled out for its financial sponsorship of this venture”. Whether it’s related or not, the Knights of Columbus have long been known to foot the bill for ARPA’s sister lobby, Campaign Life Coalition. That doesn’t signify a correlation to these particular events, but they were part of the annual March for Life and Knights have traditionally subsidized the endeavour. The lobby has also enjoyed joint publication in Knights of Columbus newsletters. The jet-set MP from Ontario, Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, CPC), is also a longtime member.

 

2014, May – The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, publicly scolds Liberal leader MP Justin Trudeau (Papineau, LPC), for the party’s new policy that disallows anti-abortion candidates. Six days earlier the cardinal hosted an anti-abortion mass in conjunction with Campaign Life Coalition events. This left Trudeau to defend his pro-choice convictions as a matter of human rights against excessive pressure from the Catholic Church.

 

2014, MayMP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, LPC) reacts to the Liberal leader’s news above, in the Catholic Register (site abruptly taken offline but with patience a cached copy may still load from archives – a backup can also be found here). During the interview McKay laments about the party position, but says they needed to react to an influx of anti-abortion activists who pursued nomination without any Liberal, political history. He believes the issue needs to be handled “ambiguously” in the political arena, without fundamentalism inflaming the dialogue on either side. McKay remains an anti-abortion proponent and closes by questioning the Liberals’ lack of position on “ethnic politics” as well.

 

2014, MayMP Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP) proposes a motion for the government to affirm a woman’s right to abortion as a fundamental question of equality and human rights. She also moves to reverse a policy that rescinded foreign aid to countries that perform abortions. The media sees this as a bid to gain political points against Trudeau that has the potential to backfire, especially as the NDP didn’t make this a priority for years since the policy was enacted.

 

ARPA rejoiced immediately as an opportunity to re-open the debate. Within a few days they put together an EasyMail campaign, supported by a new telephone campaign that comes with a script and computer auto dialing to reach every member of parliament. The lobby is using this break to show vocal support for the anti-abortion cause and their ranks were ready for this gift to mobilize, whereas pro-choice activists weren’t prepared with their own campaign to refute. Ashton may very well stand for women’s rights, but using them as a political weapon against the Liberals who are in the middle of addressing the issue may only weaken the plight of females.

 

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Both ARPA and Campaign Life Coalition have an inventory of reliable soldiers (including MP’s) who are professionally ready (audio) to commandeer the discussion with little more than a moment’s notice. The NDP also fails to address its history of privately hosting these same lobbyists in parliament. The courts and a majority of Canadians support a woman’s right to choose, but these reactionary and self serving tactics make it look they don’t because females were never invited to speak for themselves. It’s either a lobby that stands against human rights or a party that’s trying to inflict partisan damage that’s doing all the talking.

 

After examining the evidence, the fable of a Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus is hardly built on fiction. There seems to be a concerted effort to keep the project private, but the result of this work has altered significant pieces of Canadian and provincial legislation. It extends well beyond the topic of abortion and has grown to become an unparalleled, right-wing operative. Shielded by a religious front, it has also escaped legal scrutiny.

 

Moreover documents that display PPLC information on House of Commons letterhead were obtained under unusual circumstances. An initial check of MP Maurice Vellacott‘s (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, CPC) government press releases came up empty, until a cache was stumbled upon from 2003. It appears every one of these items was tucked into that file and removed from site menus at a later date, except for the memory indexed by Google that remained accessible through web archives. This did not involve leaks or any sort of malicious hacking and anyone could have found the same if researching hard enough.

 

Aside of confirming the existence of an official Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, this investigation reveals a multi-pronged effort for MP’s to reverse Canadian law as coordinated by lobbyists. Members of Parliament produce ads for lobbyists on the government’s dime, from their elected offices. The Justice Block has become a communications headquarters and when The Office of Religious Freedom was created, it came with help from ARPA to make religion the new priority of foreign policy. When 70 lobbyists were given special, extended and private access to MP’s and senators, at the very least it represented an unaccountable playing field. The incessant bragging about media manipulation is an indictment of the fourth estate as well.

 

ARPA Canada and Campaign Life Coalition are registered as non-profits and they’re directly linked in partner projects with MP’s from the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. Both openly boast of their lobbying offices on Parliament Hill, but addresses are impossible to confirm due to secrecy. The vast majority of their work is however lobbying and this doesn’t mesh with regulations that govern the activities non-profits.

 

Campaign Life Coalition also encourages followers to stack political nomination meetings, to ensure a social conservative candidate emerges.

 

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They take further credit for pioneering anti-abortion lobbying at the United Nations. Campaign Life Coalition became one of the first approved lobbies of this ilk and it remains one of few to achieve this status.

 

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This is complimented by a UN contingent of youth delegates that is speaking for Canada and the world.

 

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Sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act were repealed to allow for hate speech. Some Native reserves have become municipalities. The criminalization of abortion has appeared in Hansard in one way or another, every year of the Harper administration. A Supreme Court decision that found abortion was protected by a female’s Charter rights hasn’t done anything to quell these bills, or the media frenzy when Justin Trudeau unequivocally stands up for it. In this way the lobby may be right, that the Overton Window has been skillfully shifted.

 

The Harper government participated from another perspective by impugning the Supreme Court with malicious, unprecedented accusations, regarding developments throughout its term. Supporting every one of these baseless criticisms is the ARPA lobby, with lawyers to take each of these items to the Supreme Court for a decision. As Marc Nadon didn’t make the bench, it appears the campaign to discredit Canada’s Chief Justice has been fired up, right when the highest court needs the public confidence most and ARPA is standing before it.

 

These successes are being measured by the lobby’s proverbial yard stick and now that everyone is aware, they’ll have to decide if they want to keep abetting it.

David Suzuki Empowers 8,000 Youth To Wake Up Canada

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/david-suzuki-wake-up-canada_b_3212833.html

 

David Suzuki Empowers 8,000 Youth to Wake Up Canada!

Posted: 05/05/2013 10:16 pm

The saying goes, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? According to 8,000 Ontario youths it surely does. You just wouldn’t know from media outside this Windsor community despite their resounding hollers and applause.

 

On April 25, 2013, renowned scientist Dr. David Suzuki attended the WFCU Centre to empower the crowd with his Wake Up Canada call. It’s a campaign organized by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC) to support a day of action, encouraging kids to advocate for their environmental future through the very media that overlooked them this time around.

 

The event was broadcast province-wide with the help of TVCogeco, but still there was little response from adults or acknowledgement of this priceless opportunity for students across Ontario. Guest speakers came all the way from British Columbia to help unite Canadians and foster our understanding that we’re all in this together — that the legacy we leave our children really does matter, especially to them.

 

This jam-packed hockey stadium hosted fellow speakers in the Wake Up Canada entourage. They included a First Nations activist with Greenpeace, Melina Laboucan Massimo. She explained the damage of Alberta bitumen harvesting practices and oppression that caused her to leave the reserve she always knew as home.

 

Pictures of tailings ponds shocked the crowd on the overhead screen. Although most of the kids were high school students, some of them were a bit younger. Explaining the threat of chemical leachates contaminating drinking water wasn’t lost on any of them though.

 

Next was Sam Harrison, from Kids for Climate Action. His message was politically focused and it packed a memorable punch. He’s only a young fellow and talking politics to children might have seemed out of place, until he riled his peers with tremendous enthusiasm for what he came this far to say.

 

Six-million children will turn 18 in time to vote in the next federal election. If they all participate, these newly minted adults could be the difference between a minority or majority government of their own doing. He proudly sported a button saying “Future Climate Voter” and the idea of kids having a say in their destiny penetrated deeper than society gives them credit.

 

Some may see our children as playing in parks without a care in the world; but the truth is we uprooted the trees, paved over the grass and polluted the air so badly that they can’t breathe during summer. We replaced their time at parks with a reliance on air conditioning and slathering their bodies in sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. It’s not so much that kids are maturing faster in modern times, as we’re responsible for forcing them to grow up and solve the issues they’ve inherited.

 

Mr. Harrison’s message dovetailed with Dr. Suzuki’s description of the environmental challenges we’ve bestowed upon our children. He candidly offered,

 

“You see, my generation and those that followed, we partied like there was no tomorrow and forgot that there were consequences. We now see the results of living so extravagantly in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. My generation left a legacy that you will have to deal with.”

 

He also mentioned that he was speaking with students as a concerned grandfather, after political bullying forced him to abdicate his own board of directors at the David Suzuki Foundation. He wasn’t shy to explain his challenges and this example of muzzling Canada’s scientists brought a rare moment of silence to the arena. Suzuki was genuine and heartfelt in his delivery. The effect was disarming and somehow more real than hearing these issues discussed by concerned pundits on television.

 

But the guests of honour wouldn’t let this gathering end on a sore note. The sobering moments were perhaps so powerful because the rest of the time was filled with laughter, hope, a ton of cheering and a positive plan for the future. On May 30, 2013, kids will share their Wake Up Canada messages to let us know how much they care and that we can all do something about it! It’s a national event, there’s enough time for schools to get involved and the only thing they need from us is a moment to truly listen.

 

Following the grand production a smaller group broke away to meet with Dr. Suzuki and the cast of traveling speakers, barely five minutes away in Tecumseh, Ontario. At the local museum they were joined by Cameron Fenton from the CYCC and Kevin Millsip from Next Up, known for youth leadership training.

 

The purpose of this detour was meant to inaugurate a very special project that was co-founded by the CAW’s Ken Lewenza Jr. (Full disclosure: Lewenza Jr. organized the larger event in Windsor and both were planned together. I’m connected to the latter through social justice initiatives.)

 

The Canvas Campus is a “street tank” of sorts, akin to a think tank but for ordinary people. Young, old, experts and beginners are welcomed to sign on. Its purpose is to offer free education and the Dean of Canvas Campus is the respected Len Wallace, a professor from the University of Windsor.

 

With blessings from David Suzuki and a collective pledge of $50,000 from the labour community, things were off to a good start. The Ontario Federation of Labour‘s Antoni Shelton stopped by for the celebration as well.

 

The Canvas Campus is situated in an Aboriginal Tipi adjacent to the museum and it was launched through consultations with First Nations elders. They cautiously lent Indigenous support and friends of the project attended for the inspiring grand opening. Native art adorns the interior of this culturally respected structure and teaching is shared in the spirit of Tecumseh. (See pictures below)

 

The Tipi is cherished by locals in the Windsor-Essex area, but the initiative isn’t limited by its physical location. Equipped with audio, video, Internet and Skype; the Canvas Campus began its first class by reaching out long distance.

 

Fifty-five students were present with Dr. Suzuki and the many guests who came to share their knowledge. A classroom from Peel Region joined them on a screen set in the centre and this is where the real magic happened, as youths were able to interact and ask questions.

 

Here’s one of the more poignant answers regarding the corporate agenda, the politics of environment and the power of children in this equation:

 


In case anyone thought our kids didn’t care about corporate responsibility, here’s another glimpse of the business minds and curiosity that propelled their teach-in forward:

 

(A full list of video clips can be found on the Canvas Campus website here and photos from the inauguration with links to all speakers is located here.)

 

In the end these grand ideas and global challenges circled back to our own communities. As Dr. Suzuki explained in his experience, it’s been too overwhelming for individuals to contemplate climate change on an international scale. Trying to solve the problems of entire industries or continents can become daunting in a hurry, but it doesn’t need to be that way if we focus on issues in our neighbourhoods.

 

The overarching theme that tied everything together is we can each do our small part and combined it makes a difference. Training ourselves to pick up a piece of garbage each day can equate to 33-million plastic water bottles or cardboard sandwich containers being recycled, also in a single day (Canada alone).

 

The Canvas Campus will continue to provide free learning opportunities and it hopes to grow through membership. Upcoming guests include quantum physicist Bill Baylis and while this educational street-tank began with scientific issues, experts from social justice fields will be added to the roster shortly.

 

If you wish to share your expertise or request a class in the physical and/or Skype audience, you’re invited to contact the Canvas Campus. Topic proposals will be accepted and they’ll do their best to provide an appropriate instructor to meet your needs.

 

This project is dedicated to uniting knowledge from all across the country, as well as fostering a sense of unity and strength at the local community level. Eventually there may be satellites and those interested in expansion should direct their inquiries to Ken Lewenza Jr. Finally, here’s a photo album to demonstrate what all the hype is about.

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