, 09.29.2021 03:53 PM

My latest: no truth. No reconciliation.

Neither truthful nor reconciling.

Justin Trudeau, that is.  With Canada’s Indigenous peoples, he promised to be both.  He hasn’t been either.

Tomorrow, on one day of all days, the day the Trudeau government itself designated as the “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” it’s important. But not for the reasons Trudeau typically likes to cite.

Because that day is emblematic of his failure to address the priorities of Indigenous people. Politically, socially, legally.

Politically?  Well, as this writer has noted in these pages in the past, the Indigenous vote is significant.  In tight electoral contests – like the one we just had – Indigenous voters can make the difference.

Fully 5% of Canada’s population identify as Indigenous — which is close to two million people. First Nation, Inuit and Metis voters, age 18 and up, can number as many as a million voters.

But as no less than Elections Canada has acknowledged: “A significant number of Aboriginal [sic] people, as individuals and communities, still regard participation in non-Aboriginal elections or plebiscites as a threat to their unique rights, their autonomy and their goals of self-governance. Such persons hold a philosophical belief about the legitimacy of Aboriginal self-governance that differs fundamentally from that of the Canadian government.”

It’s not just a “philosophical belief,” either. Indigenous systems of government existed for centuries before white Europeans got here.  When those colonialists arrived, they started to impose European-style government on Indigenous communities, by force.

In the intervening Centuries, not much has changed, either.  Trudeau’s minister in charge of Crown-Indigenous Relations has repeatedly refused to meet with Chiefs and clan mothers who don’t accept colonialist rules about elections and representation.

Not very reconciling, is it?

Socially, too, Justin Trudeau’s actions have not matched his soaring rhetoric. He promised, repeatedly, to better the lives of Indigenous people. His 2015 election platform, for instance, solemnly promised to provide clean water to Indigenous communities – thereby ending the so-called boil water advisories. But Trudeau’s government hasn’t done that.

As Indigenous activist Jonny Bowhunter has noted on Twitter, there are 45 long-term and 35 short-term boil water advisories in place in Canada right now, today.  As Bowhunter puts it: “The Trudeau government talks of reconciliation, but breaks every promise they made on the ongoing [Indigenous] water and housing crisis.”

His failure doesn’t include just water and housing, either.  Trudeau and his ministers pledged to make Indigenous lives safer and better.  But, at places like Grassy Narrows, mercury still poisons the environment and the people who live there.

And, when a single female protestor tried to draw attention to that fact at an exclusive Liberal Party fundraiser in 2019, Trudeau had her ejected, sneering: “Thanks for your donation.”

That’s not reconciliation.

Legally, too, there has been little truth, and no reconciliation at all.  On Wednesday, the Federal Court threw out Trudeau’s attempt to deny or delay a landmark human rights tribunal compensation order for First Nations children.  That means the federal government may need to pay out billions in compensation for their failures to help poverty-stricken Indigenous children.

But Wednesday’s ruling didn’t stop Trudeau from spending astonishing $100 million on legal fees, fighting that human rights decision for half a decade.  One hundred million dollars: think how reconciliation could have been advanced with that much money.

But Indigenous truth and reconciliation – even on this, the day dedicated to both – has never really been Justin Trudeau’s priority.  Yeah, sure: up above our heads, he flies the flag at half-mast to remember thousands of Indigenous children killed at residential schools.

But down here on the ground, where it matters, he spends millions on lawyers to fight them in court.

Kinsella was a federal ministerial special representative to Indigenous communities from 2003 to 2015. His Daisy Group represents First Nations from B.C. to Ontario.

12 Comments

  1. Campbell says:

    I’m legitimately curious: what goals of reconciliation or of policy towards indigenous peoples could have been advanced in any serious way with the $100M noted in your article? It strikes me that, at 2M indigenous people, $50 of spending per person would have the proverbial impact of piss in the ocean, given the magnitude of the problems that were outlined.

    On another note, despite Trudeau’s shortcomings in this area – and you have correctly captured many of them – are you of the view that these files would have been handled in a manner more advantageous to our indigenous people had we had a Conservative government since 2015, 2019, or currently? If so, what convinces you of that?

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Campbell,

      Your question is hypothetical which means there is no definite answer so I’ll help with the obvious correct one: maybe yes, maybe no.

      And you of all people must know that Prime Minister Phoney Baloney will do what he always does — appeal it to the appelate division and/or then go before the SCOC. Another 100 million to guess who? Why federal Liberal Party friendly law firms naturally, rather than paying up. Typical day, typical Trudeau patronage…

    • Pedant says:

      Warren is not psychic, Campbell. He, nor anyone else, can answer your question about a hypothetical Conservative government. We can only go by what has occurred in actual fact under the current government. I presume you are a Liberal trying to justify your support?

    • I am quite sure 100M could have solved the clean water problem on a couple of reserves at least.

  2. jj gibbons says:

    Name a Prime Minister that has done more for First Nations peoples than J Trudeau.

    • Phil in London says:

      I think Warren’s old boss may be one that comes rather quick to mind. It won’t take anyone with a 1st grade command of history to name a dozen or so others.

      Unless, of course you view photo ops and fancy prose without action as “done more”. In that case this fuckup is top of the totem pole (surely posing in costume as opposed to regalia)

  3. Peter Williams says:

    Justin’s schedule says he’s in private meetings. In reality he’s flying to Tofino to be with his family.

    Isn’t BC recommending only essential travel during the pandemic?

    Justin has a summer home at Harrington Lake. Why not vacation with his family there? Remember Justin bought eight boats for Harrington Lake with tax payer money.

    Perhaps Justin was unhappy with the $7 million in renovations done to Harrington Lake last year?

    Or maybe the Harrington Lake water isn’t up to snuff?

    And Justin reminds us all to spew out less CO2. But he’ll keep flying for vacation, during a pandemic, on a national day of reconciliation. But he says thank you for your contributions.

    • Jeff says:

      Couldn’t agree more Peter! What an ass!

    • Andy Kaut says:

      The watchwords of this fellow’s administration have been and will continue to be two quotes.

      “Good for thee but not for me.” – Unknown

      “Justin Trudeau doesn’t give a fuck about Indigenous rights.” (paraphrased, but not the way you’d think) Romeo Saganash.

  4. J.Ph. Brunet says:

    Pierre Trudeau’s personal motto: “Reason Before Passion”
    Justin Trudeau’s personal motto: “What Can I Get Away With Today?”

  5. Robert White says:

    Given that the Government of Canada has already spent $100 million CDN in legal representation to fight the facts of systematic genocide of First Nations that Canadians are already aware of factually it would seem prudent to surmise that the Government of Canada is still very much engaged in a campaign of denial of reparations and therefore still engaged actively as a government that is intentionally genociding First Nations people for myriad gains financial and via collonial control structured through Parliamentary participation in this scheme.

    We need a public inquirey or some sort of federal commissioned investigation of this all pervasive genocide campiagn that our government has been actively engaged in over our collective historiograpy.

    Trudeau may be the vaccuous face of the Federal Government of Canada and their bureaucrats, but the Federal Government of Canada is still the responsible party to blame in an adversarial manner via the courts and financial reparations, as well as political reparations via seats in Parliament and the Senate.

    The Government of Canada has very poor representation with the insincerity of Trudeau as persona for professionalism in government.

    Canada’s leadership of government is in crisis mode IMHO. I would not want the kinds of optics the Government of Canada has to deal with on this or pretty much any file of late.

    Mangement wise I give them a clear F grade.

    RW

  6. Wayne says:

    Canadian history in a nut shell (as followed by all parties) comes down to 3 things;
    1- Keep the USA out,
    2- Keep Quebec in; and
    3- Keep ignoring First Nations issues.
    This is something I recall learning back in the early 80’s well sharing a drink or three with a friend on the Wabamun First Nations reserve. Have yet to see anything that proves this wrong.

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