Canada’s Leadership On Human Rights Is Going Down The Drain – How Many Canadians, Other Than Our Aboriginal People, Still Care?

By Mark Taliano

In relatively short order, Canada has been condemned by three international humanitarian agencies. climate change flag

 The United Nations criticized us for our failures to provide food security  to Canadians.

 UNICEF condemned us for stopping a bill that would have provided developing world countries with cheaper drugs, thus sealing the fates of a multitude of victims who might otherwise have been cured.

 Amnesty International criticized us, this time with reference to Bill C-45, stating that “changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Act, and the proposed Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act   have profound implications for the rights of Indigenous peoples as set out in treaties, affirmed in the constitution, and protected by international human rights.”

 Additionally, the international community has condemned us as being the first and only nation to drop out of the international KYOTO agreement.

 It’s no wonder that more and more Canadians are discarding their shackles of passivity and rising up to confront the retrograde leadership of this once great country.

 Idle No More is the most recent manifestation of the discontent pulsing just beneath the surface of Canada’s stolid veneer, and it might be our last best chance for making the necessary shifts to turn the tide and become a more humane and productive nation.idlenomore[1]

 The First Nations’ respect for a sustainable environment and cooperative existence is at odds with Harper’s neoliberal agenda that transfers wealth upwards and disregards the external consequences, including the people left dead and dying in the aftermath of  unregulated  corporate anarchy.

 While the First Nations’ peoples are amongst the first victims of Harper’s anarchical “governance”, more and more Canadians are finding that they are next, thus explaining the widespread appeal for Idle No More.  The First Nations fight is everyone’s fight.

 The anti-democratic Omnibus Bill C-45 is the most recent of a series of events which ultimately ignited the spark that gave birth to Idle No More.  The bill is also a microcosm of what is wrong with the Harper Regime.

 Like its predecessor, Omnibus Bill C-38, it bunches a mountain of unrelated bills into one with the intent to obfuscate, deny democratic debate, and recklessly impose a divisive agenda on the Canadian people.

 Basically, the bill is the final death knell for decades worth of sound environmental protections that had been legislated over the years.

 The prelude to the bill was the governments attack at the source scientific information: federal scientists have been muzzled, censored, and fired, while independent and internationally renowned research centers have been put on the chopping block. The government’s intent was clear: shut off the source of information that might prove contrary to the wishes of international extractive industry corporations.

Next came Bill C-38, which repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, as well as the National Roundtable On The Environment And The Economy Act, and the Fair Wages and Hours Labour Act.  It also alters core provisions of other laws such as the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, National Energy Board Act, Species At Risk Act, Parks Canada Agency Act, Canadian Oil And Gas Operations Act, Nuclear Safety Control Act, Canada Seeds Act, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.your-oil-addiction-is-killing-us[1] 

Bill C-45 finishes what C-38 started by replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Act with the Navigable Protection Act.  Effectively, the federal government “vacates jurisdiction” of federal parks, waters, and fisheries and  removes federal environmental protections from all but a small number of Canadian waterways, thus enabling industry (i.e pipelines) almost unimpeded access. The legislation reduces the need to consult First Nations at every turn, and, when federal jurisdiction is “vacated” to provinces, the need to consult is less vigorous and less consistent.

But Harper didn’t stop there.  Buried in the legislation are further attacks on our First Nations peoples.  For example, in violation of treaties, it unilaterally, and without pior, informed consent –   

  • makes changes to the Indian Act
  • incorporates provincial laws into education funding on reserves. 
  • enables reserve properties to be sold to non-Indians and corporations in such a way that the required “informed consent” stipulation can be circumvented to make way for pipelines etc.
  • And perpetuates chronic underfunding (of the money allotted to First Nations, about one third goes to the Indian Affairs bureaucracy)

The unilateral changes are also at cross-purposes with the U.N Declaration Of The Rights Of  Indigenous Peoples, but, as we’ve seen earlier, that doesn’t seem to be much of a bother for this regime.

Our First Nations peoples daily face housing, sanitation, water, and food scarcity crises, but they are also facing environmental racism. Many First Nations communities are disproportionately located near extractive industries where the health dangers are elevated.

The responsible protection of our natural resources is a concern to all Canadians though, and this can’t be done without strengthening our First Nations communities. 

Protecting the sovereignty of our First Nations peoples, including reserves and unceded territories, may also be our best last chance to address man-made climate change.  If we can prevent the government from “unlocking” these lands for development, then we can also impede the reckless expansion of some pipelines, and some extractive industries.

Fulfillment of Chief Theresa Spence’s request that the Crown deal with our First Nations on a respectful nation to nation basis may well be our country’s salvation.  Canada’s three pillars: French, English, First Nations, are meant to travel together for the benefit of the people and the country, not just for the benefit of a handful of transnational corporations.

 Mark Taliano is a Niagara resident and regular contributor of news and comment

(Niagara At Large invites you to share your views on this post below. Only comments by individuals who are also willing to share their first and last name will be posted.)


17 responses to “Canada’s Leadership On Human Rights Is Going Down The Drain – How Many Canadians, Other Than Our Aboriginal People, Still Care?

  1. Share it? I will send a copy to Harper myself because I don’t see a word I disagree with……


  2. I care,Heir Harper and his Cons are destroying Canada,1 piece at a time


  3. Thank you for a well written, and imformative article. I am sick of hearing non-indigenous people make racist anddisrespectful comments about Idle No More, when it clearly involves the future of Canada as a whole, and not just First Nations people.


  4. Reblogged this on idlenomoreniagara and commented:
    Canada is a uniquely beautiful nation for reasons including Mr. Taliano’s take on this great land. I hope that the people of Canada can see how the special status of First Nations can be the best thing for all of us who call this land home.


  5. Bradley Wabi-Mukwa Robinson

    GitchiManitou bless you for some truth and journalistic integrity here, unimpeded by the corporate-owned mainstream canadian media which serves the conservative oligarchy by plastering falsehoods or by not reporting at all, no journalistic ethics, and erosion of freedom of the press. Idle No More is not just a First Nations issue; Bill C-45 impacts every Canadian, and why aren’t these Canadians who voted Liberal, NDP, or Bloc Quebecois not out there protesting Bill C-45 with us? harper got in with just 39% of the vote, yet he’s able to sell out Canada and First Nations down the river. Wake up, Canada, before it’s too late.


    • Why aren’t more Conservatives out there protesting with us? Even Conservative MPs have, privately and otherwise, expressed concern at things their own government is doing – and yet they seem unwilling to do anything to stop it. I don’t believe this is what even many of the 39% minority who voted for them wanted. Let’s not make this partisan – let’s invite their (former?) supporters to join us too.


  6. I don’t understand why there is not more support from non-Native Canadians…Ignorance to the issues, I guess, and racism too, I suspect.




  8. Gail Benjafield

    Spot on, Mr. Taliano. I am forwarding this to many people, hoping, even those Conservative Party friends of mine whom I respect, might read this, —and just think a little harder about it all. I am embarrassed for my country.


  9. I not only agree with every word I applaud this fine article and its author. None of us can afford to be Idle No More!


  10. I support Idle No More. I supported it when it was Defend Our Coast and I supported it when it was VinFest and the No Tankers Ball, and I will continue to support it under all of its banners, even if it’s based in Texas as the Tarsands Blockade. I support it under the names of the Occupy movements, the Arab Spring and all the other names it has taken on and will continue to take on. In other words this is more than just a first nations concern. This is all of our concern because growing income gaps, degrading social programs and safety nets, and the erosion of our environment in pursuit of oil profits are ALL of our problems.

    *Solidarity* and may this movement continue to grow


  11. Sadly, simply Harper et al are raping this country for short-term gains. Kudos to those who are bringing this issue to the forefront.


  12. Consider it shared.


  13. People in Canada should be all equal, we have become a country that has different levels of equality.! First Nations 2 French 3 all minorities and 4 white people. This Idle no more, is more about more money, for First Nations who want someone else to pick up the tab. If they want independence, then they need to support themselves instead of always wanting more from the TAXPAYER..Why do First Nations, which the name in itself is racist, not want to contribute to the well being of the country they love. If we give money to the Indians, than do you not think it is right that they give full disclosure on how the money is distributed to the community. It seems right now that no matter how much they get the want more more more. Maybe if you give us the information we art looking for, you will get more consideration from the Canadian Taxpayer. AS for this hunger strike, she doe not look like she has lost a pound, and fish soup is FOOD!!! If you people had jobs, you would not have time to PROTEST..You came get a good education on the taxpayers dime get a good job, and stand on your own 2 feet and be the proud nation you once were before the white mqn took your land. Take a look at Europe, over the last 1000 years, there have been more changes than you can believe with countries and boundaries. That was then this is now!!!




  15. Thank you Roy for your opinion. Excuse me, as a FN (Indigenous human), I have paid taxes and worked all my life. I have not lived on the taxpayers dime as you say, please do no generalize. I have many non-indigenous friends who are struggling, are on welfare, suffering from addictions, live in poor housing, do not have an education and are struggling in life. You do not know what a person has gone through in the past and where it may take generations before they recover from the past abuses. The fact is many FN people have suffered abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and other denominations and are recovering. The future with Idle No More is the start of a new generation where people are coming together, both young and old, FN and non-FN , which is how it should be. We are all human beings with the same need and concerns for the world. Right now, it is the water, the environment, the land that we need to be concerned about. Please read more about what the government is really doing to this country that was once pristine, green and you could drink water from the rivers, lakes, waterways. Now, it is being polluted with the large corporations building pipelines, mines for corporations who are making money off Canada. Have you read what fracking does to Mother Earth? These corporations and foreign owned companies do no give a dam about the future generations, that includes your children and grandchildren. Watch and listen to David Suzuki and you will find out where we are now. Then it was a good clean and safe world, now it is polluted, we have global warming, it is not safe to breathe the air and drink the water. All for corporate benefits. Have a good life!


  16. I do see one word I disagree with: neoliberal should be neoconservative. Or just plain republican.


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