Archive for category Canada
The last Federal Election have been an eye opening experience for me as I learned about the plight of the First Nations and the conditions of the reserves. While First Nations is legally under the jurisdiction of the federal government, health and education are left in limbo with provincial government being only partly involved. The aboriginals felt neglected and sense that both government are passing the bucks. The result of this half-hearted involvement on both levels of government is a neglected reserves that ends up with conditions similar to a third world country. Issues on the reserves is often treated like a can of worms that nobody wants to touch.
The Idle No More movement was spurred by the Federal government’s Omnibus bill C-45, which the First Nations felt bypasses the normal environmental protection of their lands and waters. They also claim it violates the treaty and changes the Indian Act. But aside from C-45, the movement is now bringing the reserves issues into the Canadian public view. The movement is growing so is the finger pointing. A report from a government hired auditor was leaked showing lack of paper trails on spending at the reserves, specifically Attawapiskat reserves. It is not clear from the report whether there was malicious intent or just band of local officials not used to accounting standards accepted as a norm in most modern government. The report highlights the importance of open government to ensure government spending are transparent and that there is accountability. Lack of transparency leads to corruption and misappropriation of funds. Corruption and lack of transparency is something the current federal government is not immuned to as previous scandals have shown. In one particular case, a person close to top federal government officials have attempted to profit illicitly from the First Nations fund through water filtration contract.
Canadians should step back and not get agitated by medias and politicians from whatever sides trying to pitch one against the other. Media post claiming First Nations is getting a free ride from the millions that we give to them, or aggressive actions similar to defacing of John A. MacDonald’s statue would only inflame the situation. Canadians (including the aboriginals) should instead focus all efforts on finding solutions to the First Nations issues.
So what are the challenges? In considering what aids the First Nations deserves, Non-Aboriginal Canadian should remove from the equation the fact that lands have been designated as reserves. Common comments from people after watching report from a certain media outlet, which have been accused of being the Canadian equivalent of Fox News, is we should revoke the treaty or the First Nations tax free status. Being envious of perceived “entitlements” of the First Nations will get us nowhere unless we want to return to the bloodshed of the colonial era. We should not hesitate to grant aboriginals aids on education, health and other basic needs normally accorded to Canadians. The reserves are the price we pay to original settlers of the land and is not an excuse to wash our hands away from any responsibilities. First Nations should set aside mistrust of outsiders and try to integrate their education, health and government with other Canadian communities. This does not means surrendering their sovereignty or lands but it means working together with other Canadian government to find a better way to govern in an open and efficient manner. This includes seeking ways to deal with the challenges of providing for education, health, housing and basic needs of a rural or remote communities. No doubt there will be more issues that must be tackled. Chief among them is to help make First Nations self reliant without violating their treaty or status. This calls for innovative approach and for the aboriginals to make good use of what they have, the isolated reserves. Creative solutions can only be attained by working together in good faith and not by trying to turn Canada into a nation of us against them.
Canada’s government claims about being for ‘Open Government’ got a reality check today as the Auditor General released a scathing report on the government’s non-transparency, and possible corruption in Tony Clement’s riding. The Treasury board and other government agencies did not keep any paper trail making it hard to investigate how the project was awarded and why disproportionately large sum went to Clement’s riding of Muskoka. Not to mention the fact that Parliament was lied to and was told that the funds were for US/Canada border.
Can Tony Clement, who is now being labelled “Prince of Pork” for pork-barrelling, be trusted to head his new position as head of the financially critical agency of Treasury Board? An agency that holds the purse string of Canada’s government?
You are not alone if you did not even know there was a public consultation on cross-border talks.
Link to Pirate Party of Canada Press release: Transparent Public Consultation Needed for Cross-Border Talks.
With Sheila Fraser’s 10 year term ending, Harper would have to appoint a new auditor general. For lack of a better system, the government is the one who appoints the person who audits them. We can only hope that Harper won’t appoint another Christian Ouimet. She have seriously undermined the integrity of a government agency after being appointed to the Public Service Integrity Commission. She failed to protect whistleblowers and instead retaliated against employee who complained to the Auditor General.
Fraser’s disparaging report slammed Ouimet for failing to properly do her job and found the office — which has an $11-million budget — investigated only five of 228 complaints filed during Ouimet’s three-and-a-half-year tenure.
Ouimet also berated, intimidated and yelled and swore at her staff, the report said. (fairwhistleblower.ca)
I will be busy campaigning for the Pirate Party of Canada during the upcoming Federal Election. As a result, I won’t be blogging as much on this site until the election is done. I would like to encourage everybody to check out Pirate Party of Canada’s website and each of the Candidate’s site.
The latest scandal besetting the Prime Minister Office (PMO) involved a former top advisor of Harper – Bruce Carson. Carson was lobbying on behalf of an Ottawa company. He allegedly lobbied with Indian Affairs Minister on behalf of H2O Pro to sell water filters to First Nation reserves. APTN’s (Aboriginal People Television Network) Jorge Barrera and freelance reporter Kenneth Jackson were asking the PMO for comments and was shocked at the speed at which Harper called in the RCMP. It forced them to air the news one week ahead of the March 25 scheduled air date. The allegations claimed that Carson contacted Harper and Indian Affairs ministers to obtain contracts for H20 Pro. Carson’s Aug. 6, 2010 e-mail to H2O Pro’s Patrick Hill, obtained by APTN shows Carson saying:
“I spoke with the PM last [night] and with [Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn] Atleo—the movement of John Duncan to INAC does not slow anything down,” wrote Mr. Carson
Carson was referring to the ongoing cabinet reshuffling where MP Chuck Strahl of Indian Affairs was being replaced by John Duncan. In an interview with APTN later, Carson claimed he spoked with someone else.
Carson was also said to be involved with oil lobbyist – Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. But in light of the latest allegation, the oil and gas industry is distancing itself from Carson saying he is not on their payroll.
Carson was a key individual driving a controversial government and industry communications strategy to boost the image of Alberta’s oilsands sector. A recently released briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in the federal government highlighted his presence at a special meeting last year between senior officials from the federal and Alberta governments as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry lobby group, Postmedia News reported last week. (Montreal Gazette)
Carson left the Prime Minister’s office in 2009. It is illegal for Senior staffers to lobby government officials on behalf of their clients for five years after leaving their office. Long before becoming Harper’s top advisor, Carson was disbarred for forging a client’s signature on a document transferring a cheque to him. A year after being disbarred, he was again charged with “theft and forgery”, which landed him in jail.
I’ve been following the nuclear debate online. I have not blogged anything about Japan’s nuclear plant crisis because there is not enough information coming out (as far as the plant’s condition is concern). Some people on both sides of the nuclear debate have wasted no time in using the crisis to express their nuclear sentiments. By “some” I mean a few people, not all of the pro or anti nuclear people. Some pro side were quick to say “nah it’s safe”. I think that is a little premature for an ongoing development. Some anti people were quick to say “see that’s why there should be no nuclear ever”.
For me, transparency should be mandatory in nuclear industry. So when Japan was covering up their minor nuclear mishaps not too long ago, I was really worried. Because that’s how things get out of hands. They should acknowledge the problem and take care of it head on, leaving no stone unturned. Covering up will just increase the problem exponentially. I am not saying the current crisis have anything to do with their previous non-transparency. Current unconfirmed report indicates tsunami might have swept their backup generator away.
When Harper fired Linda Keen of CNSC, I was equally concern and worried. Sure you can say there is 1 in a million chance that there will be a nuclear accident. But our nuclear industry are operated with very little tolerance for risk. And it should stay that way. Political distractions should play no role in nuclear safety. So Rick Mercer hits the bulls eye with his criticism of Gary Lunn and Harper’s handling of Chalk River’s NRU reactor.
Another troubling action by Harper is keeping the privatization of AECL in limbo for so long. So AECL is essentially prohibited from signing new contracts and making new commitments until they sell AECL off. And that have been going on for so long. There are countries who are interested in signing contract with AECL. But they won’t be able to, due to the freeze arising out of the prolonged government’s inaction. An enterprise that can’t conduct business for few days would lose a lot of money. AECL not being able to conduct business for months, possibly half a year to a year, will surely see its losses mounts. Next time Harper wants to proclaim that there are no incoming revenue at AECL, he should look down his feet and step off AECL’s fingers and let them move again. No wonder some industry insider is claiming that Harper is letting AECL or the nuclear industry “die by thousand cuts”. Harper’s officials claimed that AECL is a sink hole. That will just be a self fulfilling prophesy of increasing magnitude the longer he prevents AECL from conducting its business.
We need to establish an independent Scientific Research Agency. This agency will be independent and free from political interference. Part of AECL’s problem is the constant re-organization and selling off part by part to private organizations. New election, new party, new political appointee at the top, new re-organization. Medical isotope distribution sold off to private company Nordion under Mulroney. In my personal opinion, that took away a potentially lucrative income source for AECL. So it was instead relegated to just producing the isotopes with Nordion distributing them and profiting from them. AECL should at least have a decent share of the profit.
A new scientific institution should be independent and not have the restriction of a Crown Corporation. Which means they will not be restricted from seeking external funding. So private individual can donate for research towards cancer cure. Different funding streams could be setup so that people can target where they want their donations to go to. Such institutions could also coordinate various ongoing research and allows more efficient sharing and exchange of results from their studies. And provide better coordination and gathering of resources to jointly work toward similar research goal (whether it is looking for cures, clean energy sources or future technologies). Everything, especially funding and expenses, would be transparent as all government agencies should be. Independent researchers from different universities and institution under the umbrella of this agency will be preferable over the creation of a new big bureaucracy. A research laboratory with reactors, facilities and equipments will be maintained and available for scientist to use.
If we want to live in a progressive society, status quo or paralysis is not an option. Those two will only lead to stagnation and regression. We must foster continuous innovations for the betterment of our society.