10.19.2016 02:43 PM

October 19: one year later (updated twice)

One year ago today, the Liberal Party won a big, big election victory.

One year later, what do we know?

We know that Justin Trudeau and his party are still popular – very popular. Polls say so. Against his opposition – both leaderless, both (seemingly) directionless – he seems unbeatable.

We know that, when compared to the ugly election taking place to the South, Trudeau’s “sunny ways” still works. When we are obliged to consider the relative merits of the likes of Donald Trump, Trudeau can’t help but look good.

We know that he has done many of the things he said he would do. He said he’d stop bombing ISIS, he said he’d admit thousands of Syrian refugees, he said he’d run deficits. Despite predictions of calamity – despite the numbers, as seen here and here and here – he did all those things, and his popularity soared.

We know that some of the things he said he’d do – like fixing C-51, or restoring home mail delivery, or keeping deficits modest and a middle class tax cut revenue-neutral – he just hasn’t. He has plenty of time left, of course, but some big promises haven’t been kept, and a few have been broken.

We know that he is not perfect, of course. He makes mistakes – sometimes big ones. He seems to have a tin ear about those unkillable Liberal twins, arrogance and entitlement.

We know that he brilliantly campaigned from the Left, as Liberals have been known to do – and he has mainly governed from the Right. As Liberals do. It has enraged his opponents, on Left and Right, but it sure hasn’t hurt him.

That’s what we know.  There’ll be lots of coverage today, as Justin Trudeau makes the rounds of the media, celebrating the first year.

But here’s what I know, this morning, one year later: I don’t give a damn about any of that stuff. I don’t care.

Here’s what I care about: a year ago, Justin Trudeau said that his biggest priority was improving the lives of First Nations in Canada. He said that, over and over. In his Throne Speech, that solemn vow was the centrepiece. He promised First Nations “recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

And, a year later, almost to the day of his big win, a ten-year-old indigenous child committed suicide in Northern Saskatchewan.

The media – preoccupied as we are with Donald Trump and marking anniversaries of elections – barely noticed. Try and find the story about that dead child in Google. It will take you a while. It did me.

Two things.

One, there is nothing Justin Trudeau is doing today – nothing – that should matter as much as a ten-year-old in Deschambault Lake committing suicide, because (to her) life isn’t worth living.  It should get his full attention.

Two, when a ten-year-old girl ends her life – because we haven’t fulfilled our collective promise to that girl – when that happens, there is no anniversary worth celebrating.  None.

Because, when something horrible like that still is happening in Canada, when the duty Justin Trudeau (and all of us) owe that child is unmet – well, it sure isn’t “2016,” is it?  It sure isn’t “sunny ways,” is it?  It’s the bloody dark ages.

And everyone who is decent knows that, too, one year later.

UPDATE: One of my favourite politicians agrees.

UPDATED: A powerful politician also seemingly agrees. Good.  Now do something about it.



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    Brian Potts says:

    I do agree.I’m a life-long Liberal supporter but they have done little to improve the lives of our indigenous peoples. It’s way beyond time to get moving and be doing something tangible. It’s heartbreaking with every child suicide.

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    BRIAN Potts says:

    It’s way beyond time to get moving and be doing something tangible. It’s heartbreaking with every child suicide. I’m a life-long Liberal supporter and it’s shameful of this and previous governments.

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    Vancouverois says:

    Don’t count on him doing anything. It’s very clear that Trudeau simply says whatever he thinks will make him look good, without worrying about the practical matter of actually keeping the promise.

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      Rick Thomson says:

      Carly Simon’s ” Your so Vain” describes Trudeau, perfectly.

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    Vancouverois says:

    Also, let’s remember that in fact he DIDN’T keep his promise about refugees. He promised that they’d accept 25,000 by the end of the year, and berated his opponents for saying we could only handle 10,000 in that time. And by the end of 2015, he’d accepted 10,000. He deserves no credit for demonstrating that his opponents were actually telling the truth and he wasn’t.

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      Richard says:

      Settle down a little bit. They missed the target of 25,000 by two months: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/syrian-refugees-by-the-numbers-1.3469080

      That’s not a case of “actually telling the truth” vs. lying, it’s a case of well-stated intentions not being able to be fulfilled. There is a vast distinction there. Per the article:

      25,000: Total number of Syrian refugees, both government-assisted and privately sponsored, the Liberal government set out to resettle between Nov. 4, 2015, and Feb. 26, 2016, under the plan that was rolled out once they took office.
      25,080: Total number of Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada as of Feb. 27.

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        Matt says:

        Well, it kinda was.

        Even after it became clear to everyone they wouldn’t be able to get the 25,000 by then end of 2015, McCallum was still out there every week saying they were on target.

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    P. Brenn says:

    There is politics and there is life ..life should trump politics – this canadian is ashamed of the situation WE have let children fall into over generations of failing our indigenous brothers and sisters.

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    BillBC says:

    I agree with all these sentiments. It’s a horrible situation.

    But let me ask then, what, specifically, would you do? Now.

    Not generalities, not best wishes and sentiments. What would you do tomorrow, next week? You’ve have plenty of time to think about it and plan. What IS the plan?

    Specifics, please. And if it’s just promises and more setting up of committees…well, then…the answer is, not much…

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      Warren says:

      Read it.

      I doubt you (or most) will, but the answers to your – hopefully sincere – question already exist.

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        james elder says:

        I’ve rewritten the Hip’s ahead by a century to honour gord downie

        it’s called “behind by a century

        second verse

        “I’m sick of the same train / leaving the station
        filled with the coffins / of suicide’s children
        victims of ignorance / and humiliation
        their final act one / of desperation
        cuz we’re behind by a century
        behind by a century
        behind by a century
        behind by a century
        I don’t know where these words came from yesterday but their genesis is
        tears of rage.

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          james elder says:

          after reading your post of today

          third verse

          no more speeches / using words with no meaning
          no more free passes / now get off your asses
          get on the first plane / to those reservations
          and don’t come back / till you fix the situation
          cuz we’re behind by a century
          behind by a century
          behind by a century
          behind by a century

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      BlueGritr says:

      To BillBC: well stated. Sadly, I’m inclined to think that this Government, like previous governments, will find a way to make this matter go away — or divert our attention in another direction.

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    godot10 says:

    Justin Trudeau is a lapdog for the global elites, and is hell bent on making ordinary Canadians the “downstairs staff at Downton Abbey” to serve them. Trudeau’s economic policy is straight from the globalist bankster textbook about how to set up rentier income streams for the global 1%, by inserting themselves between the easy money is going to come from the Bank of Canada and the federal government via extreme low interest rates and large deficits and the projects that that easy money is going to fund.

    Gerald Butts trialled this in Ontario, where the favoured Liberal friends on Bay Street were give windfall guaranteed profits on their alternative energy projects for decades, leaving ordinary Ontarians with massive electricity bills, and to top it off Ontario ends up selling cheap electricity to its economic competitors in Michigan and New York, because the electricity from the alternative projects is available at all the wrong times.

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    Steve T says:

    Everyone who has influence on these young people should be ashamed. That includes the government, for sure, but quite frankly it also includes people in the indigenous communities. I know that’s not a popular or politically-correct viewpoint, but it’s the truth. Shovelling more money into these communities, or signing more symbolic land deals, or opening more casinos, or opposing more pipelines – none of those are long-term solutions on their own. They have to be complemented by a system of purposeful spending, accountability, and assurances that funding does not simply go to enrich the lives of a few privileged community members.

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      Steve T says:

      Forgot to add: also should not go to enriching the lives of government bureaucrats and NGOs who oversee or lobby “on behalf of” the indigenouos people. Surely, those people should not be living better lives than those they purport to protect/represent.

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        james elder says:

        give your head a shake before you trot out tropes and stereotypes and look around at your surroundings. look where trudeau lives then look at pictures of Deschambault. I wouldn’t last a month there and neither would you. imagine a child living there for ten years.

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    Greyapple says:

    If his recent interview with Le Devoir is any indication he’s also preparing to back off on his electoral reform pledge. His rationale for doing so reeks of that arrogance problem you mentioned above.

    “Under Stephen Harper, there were so many people unhappy with the government and their approach that people were saying, ‘It will take electoral reform to no longer have a government we don’t like’. But under the current system, they now have a government they’re more satisfied with and the motivation to change the electoral system is less compelling.”


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    dave constable says:

    Run from the left, and govern from the right…true, that.
    They have been doing a couple of things here in BC.
    The BC Liberal government here seems to want to push the building of the third dam on the Peace River so far even an NDP upset next May will not stop it. Local 1st Nations had a court proceeding going on to stop the construction. The federal Libs were asked to hold off releasing work permits until the court case was decided. The federal Libs did not wait; they released the work permits on a Friday evening (the clever rascals). 2 and 1/2 years ago the premier said that the dam’s power would be used for LNG projects on the coast.
    Speaking of which:
    In summer of 2014 the BC Libs government here signed a Memo of Understanding with Petronas (Malaysian state owned energy conglomerate) saying that on any LNG project in BC, Petronas could hire its own contractors and workers form outside Canada. When the Lelu Island LNG project was approved by the federal Libs (on a Friday evening…unbelievably clever) I asked around and was told that the federal Libs knew about the Memo, and signed off on it. Local First Nations were against this project on Lelu, but, they are not the government that Canadians overwhelmingly approved.

    So, First Nations in a couple of areas here in BC can tell you that the federal Libs have been doing something regarding their lives.

    (Small added point: the current justice minister was up on the Peace with the groups opposing the Site C, and made a public statement supporting rights of local bands. She has not said much about it since becoming Justice Minister, though.)

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    Jill Fairbrother says:

    Hard to argue with that Warren. And I posted about the anniversary on Facebook this morning. Impossible to imagine a 10-year old child so hopeless.

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    Maps Onburt says:

    Well put Warren. Unfortunately, this was never a problem that any PM (Harper or Trudeau) could wave their magic wand over and make disappear. Simply throwing more money at this isn’t going to help. These kids are desperate because they have no future. Their chiefs and the standard aboriginal cries for more money aren’t helping. These kids need to be given opportunity not handouts and kept in virtual prisons just to keep what meagre assets they have. It’s despicable. Unfortunately people are playing politics with this and it’ll be another generation before anything positive happens.

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    Brammer says:

    This should put a damper on the honeymoon: “Trudeau says government’s popularity has dampened public’s desire for electoral reform”


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    Luke says:


    Would you consider writing a post or column about your ideas on how to proceed with the raft of problems facing indigenous Canadians? I find it near as well impossible to disagree that the the current state of affairs is the biggest domestic political issue of my time. But I haven’t got the faintest idea of what politicians should be doing to make real, meaningful, lasting improvements. I have a loads of half-thoughts that kind of make sense individually but also seem mutually irreconcilable. It seems a very difficult topic to grasp without a great deal of knowledge in terms of demographics, history, powers of different levels of government, health care administration, education…. the list goes on. I don’t even know where to begin, and I can’t, realistically, as I have a bunch of other stuff in my life that takes time.

    I want indigenous Canadians’ issues front and centre where they should be, but if they were and became the major election issue, for example, I would not know how to make a choice between policy proposals on offer.

    Anyway, I would like to read your thoughts on the kinds of policy actions you think would be advisable.

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      Luke says:

      Just saw your above link. Will give it a look.

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    lou says:

    My reaction to the Dauphin’s comment that electoral reform is now longer urgent due his election struck me two ways. Firstly, I felt (as I’m sure you did Warren) that my initial feelings of Justin being a spoiled, entitled, self centered sperm lottery winner were actually underestimated. The stones it takes to say that your 39% is more representative than their 39% is as pathetic today as was a year ago. Secondly, reminds me of Gadaffi’s claim that “his people love him”. That didn’t turn out very well for him. Even Liberal Public Relations firms are wondering what is going on. How long till Sophie says “let them eat cake?”

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      Kevin says:

      The Dauphin. Let them eat cake. Gaddafi. Wow. You certainly know how to keep your perspective.

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