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October 28, 2017 3:59 am

Will there be truth and reconciliation this fall?

Thursday, June 4, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

By Bill Phillips

Over the last year or so, pundits near and far have bemusedly bemoaned the timing of the Mike Duffy trial.

The fear, of course, was that the trial would affect the federal election. There was even a hint last fall that Stephen Harper would call a spring election to avoid the skeletons that will come out of that morass. It didn’t happen.

As it turns out, there was a bigger issue lurking in the winds for which the timing sucked, at least for the federal Conservatives.

This week’s release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report could eclipse the Duffy trial in terms of affecting the federal election.

It all depends on what the Conservatives do in response to the huge report containing 94 recommendations. Rather than jump on the bandwagon, like some of those who would like to take Harper’s job, the prime minister has remained non-committal on the recommendations. They want to have a good look at them first, said Harper. That may be a prudent course of action, however, Harper and the Conservatives’ track record with the First Nations has been up and down.

One of Harper’s first actions as prime minister back in 2006 was to scuttle the Kelowna Accord. Of course, that was engineered by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, so it had to go.

Then came the federal government’s 2008 apology for the residential school system, hailed as one of the watermark moments of Harper’s time at 24 Sussex. Harper certainly got it right there and the apology was a giant step forward. If he knew it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to resolve the issue, he might have had second thoughts.

While there are close to 100 recommendations with some major, some minor, there are couple that have emerged this week as possible lightning rods for the Conservatives.

The first is the call for a national inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered First Nations women in Canada. The Highway of Tears, that rolls right through the heart of Prince George, is a part of a bigger national issue.

Harper and the Conservatives, however, seem adamant that a public inquiry is not on the table. Harper made headlines earlier this year when he stated that each case of a murdered or missing First Nations woman or girl is a separate case and that they are not linked. While that may be true, he kind of missed the point that a disproportionately high number of First Nations women and children get murdered and/or go missing. That’s the issue.

But the Conservatives made it pretty clear that a inquiry isn’t in the works. When Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair read the recommendation calling for a national inquiry, the room erupted into a standing ovation … all except one person right at the front of the room. That person was no other than Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.

Some might view his actions as insulting, but one thing is certain, it was a clear message that the federal government isn’t keen on a national inquiry.

The other hot button issue is the federal government’s reticence to endorse the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People. When the U.N. passed the resolution in 2007, 143 countries supported it with four voting against … Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia.

Harper has said the declaration is an “aspirational” document, but maintains it run contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which, in itself, enshrines aboriginal and treaty rights. More specifically, the federal government is concerned that the U.N. declaration may result in First Nations consent being required on matters of public policy and that it may open the door to re-opening land claims that have already been settled.

The question, as we head into full election-mode, is whether the government’s action, or inaction, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report will stir voters this fall.

Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at billphillips1@mac.com




Like many Canadians I am commenting on a report that I have not read.

I think Harper is wrong about a lot of things, but as it pertains to this issue I think he is not far off base.

No politicians today is responsible for the sideways nature of the residential schooling policy that lacked any protective policy direction, or proper oversight protecting the dignity of those involved. This was an institutional failure of our nation enabled by a bygone era of inept politicians.

Harper can however and should take ownership of his lack of consultation with natives on their traditional territories, failure to advance treaty settlements, and complete failure to replace the Kelowna Accord with something that would improve native health and education opportunities.

On the missing women front… this is a completely separate issue from the residential schools. With I think I heard 1100 missing women (over the last 50+years I would presume)… Harper is right to say this is not the work of a single serial killer. Its more likely this is a result of a cultural failure, as well as a form of apathy racism, and the deranged individual deeds of opportunism against those most vulnerable.

So the first step in any call for an inquiry should be to be a realist about what it is that is the problem, and have a goal on how those issues can be addressed. If its about using labels, politics, romanticizing a narrative, or as a publicity stunt… then what would be the point of going forward is what the government has to be asking?

I think the highway of tears label is not helpful to the issues they are trying to address. It smears an entire area with serial killer on the loose publicity… impacting property values, tourism potential, the dignity of the people that use the highway, and the perception anyone from outside of the region has of this part of the province. Yet not all cases are native women, and a good portion are not even near highway 16 with some being as far off as Kamloops and south on highway 97… and more people are killed in one month in Baltimore than this represents over 60-years in an area the size of Germany. Yes every life is a tragedy, but to lump it all into a easy label as if limited to a small geographical area over a serial killer like time line… I think does nothing to bring justice to the lives of those women and how their lives lead to their condition of being on this ghastly statistic.

So why not focus on the missing aboriginal women issue as a national issue, with a realist approach to finding common cause and solutions and guidance on how cultural changes can take place… how public institutions can become more accountable for their part dealing with everything from child services, enforcement, investigations, prostitution, and issues around mental health priorities of predators. One would think by now people would get their act together and deal with specifics that can provide some comfort for the loss these girls represent. Not every case will be solved, but some kind of meaning can come of it and I think that would be something government would support.

As long as this does not turn into a money payout I fully support the report

Find out what has happened to missing native women? Ask their native partners. That mystery has been solved. Spousal abuse is rampant amongst those who may not be mentioned, lest we offend some naval gazing progressives. To find a solution, one would have to be able to table a report that demonstrates just what the evidence has borne, without being labelled a racist. Good luck with that.

Governments are famous for getting these reports and then doing nothing. We shouldn’t expect to see any big moves towards addressing the recommendations. This government is more interested in blowing taxpayer money on foreign aide and participating in foreign wars than addressing aboriginal issues.

A correction –

“So yes – high murder rates among their community. Which our society most likely caused.”

I think this is just another irrational anti Harper post. Native issues and there are many has mainly turned into a well paying industry in which the unconnected natives are again victims.

Bill wonders what the Conservatives response will be while totally ignoring the Libs, NDP and the greens. While these parties can puff out their chests right now I am sure it would be a different story if one of them formed government. He ignores the time when Liberals formed government and no action, brings up Duffies name while ignoring the crooked liberal senators.

Those in the native issue industry cry out for a national inquiry which makes me wonder what their true motives really are? It seems the police report is ignored because if accepted how would money be made off the industry.

Eagleone has nailed it, emotion has to be taken out of the equation but the industry uses emotion and useful idiots to promote their industry.

Yep just another rant.

In spite of the general tone of some of my comments, I do feel for F.N. There’s is a miserable situation to be in.

Damaged – a person who through trauma in their development years is now addicted to drugs/alcohol and other substance abuse problems, and incapable of functioning at a productive level.

You have reserves, who have no resources, or their resources were stripped away long ago by others. Their people live in poverty, there is no work, and even if there was, the people are so damaged they wouldn’t be able to do it. They live off the generosity of Her Majesty.

You have reserves, who have resources, but again, so many of their members are damaged, they can’t effectively exploit them, and end up making deals with others where a huge amount of the potential is lost. And then what profit there is, generally filters to a select group.

Then there’s the reserves that have resources, and enough members to exploit them profitably, and surprise surprise, don’t share it with the members who have been damaged.

And then there’s the FN people who have been kicked off their reserves because they are so damaged they can’t be managed, and drift around mainstream society in and out of jail.

I mean, I’m all for apologizing, but really, how do you fix this. Even if you offered unlimited drug/alcohol rehab – many of them wouldn’t take it, because they are happy as they are. And then, those same people, have children, and it never seems to end. I mean, does anyone know of any legal method in Canada to compel a woman to stay off drugs and alcohol while pregnant.

Bill Philips article states; “Then came the federal government’s 2008 apology for the residential school system, hailed as one of the watermark moments of Harper’s time at 24 Sussex. Harper certainly got it right there and the apology was a giant step forward.”

Let’s set the record straight here; Harper’s residential school apology, to Canada’s First Nations, was NEVER Harper’s, nor his Conservative government’s, idea! Please read the following excerpt from the Official Parliament of Canada transcript!!!

“Last, but certainly not least, I do want to thank my colleague, the leader of the New Democratic Party. For the past year and a half, he has spoken to me with regularity and great conviction on the need for this apology. His advice, given across party lines and in confidence, has been persuasive and has been greatly appreciated.”

www. parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=3568890

Jack Layton was, and always will be, a bigger man than Stephen Harper!!!

Eagleone, well said! You are the voice of reason!!

Sophic, you still here? Must be Harper’s fault!!

Jimmy Hughes, the RCMP tried that (releasing the disproportionate numbers of native women killed by family members), the outcry was huge. The problem with thoughtful criticism of anything native is that the critic is almost invariably & immediately labelled racist. Until that barrier is gone there can be no real meaningful discussion on how we move forward from here.

Oh, and great post Eagleone.

Jack Layton was a crook, as is his wife. Living in subsidized housing with a combined salary of close to 200,000 dollars per year. What hypocrites. The citizens of the GTA saw through her façade and sent her packing.

Jack Layton never sat in the Prime Minister’s chair, so we’ll never know for sure how great or how not great he would have been. It’s easy to be opposition leader – you can promise everything, and have to deliver nothing. I’m hoping all the parties release their platform on how they plan on dealing with the FN’s in our country, and I’m very interested in seeing if they actually follow through. Sometimes I think the NDP’s worst nightmare would be getting elected, and having to put up or shut up. PS, prior election I voted Green so please don’t call me a Harperette – it’s demeaning to women.

You noticed that Harperette thing too? With every post it enlightens all who can read that ataloss is a male chauvinist. They have simply never been called on it, because the choir that it sings to, consists of spineless progressives, who have been taught that the nail that sticks up, gets hammered. It is also certain that if women in BC would vote lock step, as it is certain they did in Alberta, the males who can’t elect a dipper on their own, might have their dream realized. This is the hypocritical mindset of progressives, they don’t even know when they are acting offensive.

Jimmy why don’t you get lost . you have never had a good idea. All you is complain about the posts of others.

Retired 02, are you complaining about Jimmy’s post! Why don’t you get lost, haha!

Oops, forgot……Cheers!

Harperettes has nothing to do with women . I use it to describe harpers little helpers . I thought it would be a little more palatable than is useful idiots . When I use the term harperettes I’m actually thinking useful idiots .

Okay Ataloss – well ette is the feminine form of the diminutive suffix. So by using it, you attributing a Harper follower as feminine – which is ironic, because women don’t like him as much as men. At least idiot might fit – it means two things: (archaically) mome is an intellectually disabled person, or someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way.

Maybe the last one fits :)

Ski look up Useful idiot in wiki . It’s a term coined in the CCCP about a hundred years ago . In Canada the term is even more applicable than it was back then . The neocon gov we have supports the one percent but one percent of the voters could not get anyone elected without millions of Useful Idiots voting against their own self interests . It’s really simple . Scarce the dummies with a straw man or at least that’s what Stevie thinks will work because he can’t run on his record .

Bill Phillips staes; “But the Conservatives made it pretty clear that a inquiry isn’t in the works. When Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair read the recommendation calling for a national inquiry, the room erupted into a standing ovation … all except one person right at the front of the room. That person was no other than Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.”

Factually correct Bill, and here is the proof again:

www. youtube.com/watch?v=sOGu4p1ftFM

Copy and paste the link to your address bar, and delete the space between the www. and the y

Oh, and yes, many of us viewed his remaining seated as insulting!!! Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt shows no respect for our Aboriginal people, just another loser among many in Harper’s cabinet.

Hey Ataloss, the video is up to 18,664 views, that’s twice the 9,557 views when I posted it yesterday. Nice to see this insulting Conservative video making its way around social media before an impoerant election. Perfect timing. ;-)

Hmmm… I noticed no one has disputed my assertion that the Residential Shcool apology was the NDP’s idea. Proof that when you back up your comments with a facts and the truth, it will trumping ideology every time.

Come on all you Harper supporters, join the side that believes in facts and truths, we also have coffee and doughnuts. :-)

CCCP – but weren’t they COMMUNISTS!!!!!!! I can’t listen to them. Or did I just prove your point :(

All kidding aside, we can’t just keep letting this FN situation go on. There has to be a point in time where it’s settled. Fact is, the demographic of Canadian society is changing decade by decade – hence the term Hongcouver. Currently FN are negotiating with guilt laden descendants of European descent. Given enough time, they’ll be negotiating with descendants of Asian descent, and I suspect any deal they get now, will be far more palatable than the one they’ll get then.

Hartguy , you have been lost for a long time.
Cheers Cheers

I do have to agree with you ski on that comment.

At which point does this end. I keep hearing that FN want Justice. We have had apologizes from government leaders, the church, heck, several years ago a bunch of FN leaders went to Rome on a expense free trip to personally hear the Pope apologize. and we are still hearing about this today.

I really wish someone could define the word ‘Justice’ in which way the FN see it.

I am starting to feel it won’t stop until a specific dollar value is placed on the table. Even then, it most likely won’t go away

Nobody is disputing the fact that the party lead by a middle aged white sycophant, was fishing for votes when he offered to apologize for anyone, if it means a few extra votes. Funny how the NDP, who were founded by a Baptist minister, felt the need to expunge their collective guilt for supporting residential schools during the past century.

Bill Phillips states; “The question, as we head into full election-mode, is whether the government’s action, or inaction, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report will stir voters this fall.”

From a Prime Minister, and Government, who called over 100 First Nations, who dared oppose the Enbridge Pipeline, “terroists and enemies of Canada”… what are the odds Harper, and his government, would do anything with the report’s 94 recommedations? Step right up and make your bets folks!

Jimmy Hughes states; Funny how the NDP, who were founded by a Baptist minister, felt the need to expunge their collective guilt for supporting residential schools during the past century.”

Umm… you do realize that the NDP only came into existance in 1958, so how could they have any collective guilt “during the past century”?

Words that make me ignore a post as blather:
“Crispy Clark”

…umm, I’ll take Lame Progressive Responses for 100 Alex. Another lefthard turfed onto the junk heap. Next. That was quick and easy. Wonder how long it will take before the next liberal arts student posts on here?

Aside from all the personal sniping going on here, just a comment. I’m reminded of sometime in the ’90s, coming home from a hunting trip on the Willow-Cale, listening to Cross Country Checkup on CBC. It was the year Preston Manning was running federally, and the programme had all the party leaders answering folks’ questions. At the end of the show, they were all asked how their government would deal with questions of the Indian Act, and the history of the native residential schools. Not one of them had an idea or wanted to talk about it. I remember turning the radio off in disgust.

Oh Sage there you go cherry picking again,” who called over 100 First Nations, who dared oppose the Enbridge Pipeline, “terroists and enemies of Canada” you left out the part of threatening violent action by the natives.

Easy for the opposition to puff out their collective chests being they are not the sitting government, posturing.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission: By the numbers


Cool ! A link that I don’t have to cut and paste . Thanks twofivezero.ya !

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