• Now is the time for Ottawa to create a path to progress with Indigenous people

    On this day in 2007, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets out minimum standards necessary “for the dignity, survival and well-being of Indigenous peoples,” was adopted by the UN General Assembly. Let this be the year that sees the leaders of all federal parties agree to work with each other and with Indigenous peoples to make the full and effective implementation of the declaration a priority.

  • Get sexist language out of the Indian Act

    … the Liberal government is insisting on passing a law that fails to fully address sex discrimination in the Indian Act. It is defending a version of the bill that goes only part way and will be vulnerable to a court challenge as soon as it is passed… members of the newly feisty Senate… are insisting that Bill S-3, the law in question, be amended to remove all vestiges of sexist language that affects who qualifies to be legally regarded as a status Indian.

  • Canada’s Impossible Acknowledgment

    … acknowledging traditional lands… is beginning to emerge as a kind of accidental pledge of allegiance for Canada—a statement made before any undertaking with a national purpose…. the process of reconciliation between Canada and its First Nations has stalled, repeating the cycles of overpromising and underdelivering that have marred their relationship from the beginning… Nonetheless, the acknowledgment is spreading. No level of government has mandated the practice; it is spreading of its own accord.

  • Looking to move beyond the Indian Act, can Canada shed its ‘colonial structures?’

    “It looks like they’re using the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples as a blueprint to move forward, with the cabinet committee on decolonizing Canada’s laws and now this bifurcation of the ministry… But nothing else fundamentally has changed at this point.” … “Getting out of the Indian Act is desirable, but if what replaces it is basically the same thing in a de facto sense, with these little communities with little access to land and resources, then what’s the point?”

  • New federal jobs program targets students from underrepresented groups

    Ottawa is launching a new work-placement program for postsecondary students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business that includes extra incentives for underrepresented groups. Companies in these fields that provide placements for first-year students, women, Indigenous students, people with disabilities and new immigrants will be eligible for wage subsidies of up to 70 per cent or $7,000. All other student placements will be eligible for funding of up to 50 per cent of the wage, or $5,000.

  • Sir John A. not the only prime minister who wouldn’t pass muster today

    For now Macdonald is safe. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has pledged not to strip his name from any schools. But I’d be surprised if any new government buildings were named after the first prime minister. In fact, it might be less controversial to avoid naming anything after anybody. At least until we can find someone who will remain flawless for all time.

  • Reflecting on the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald

    Changing school names is not going to help Indigenous Canadians in any meaningful way. If the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) wanted to do something meaningful, it should tell all MPs: “We want clean water on all reserves to be a national priority of the federal government… This is feel-good faux activism designed to make the members of the ETFO look like progressives without actually using their considerable political muscle to effect real and meaningful change.

  • Saddened by Sir John stance

    In his day, Macdonald was a moderate and liberal-minded man who had excellent relations with the Indians of Eastern Canada… Macdonald sponsored a bill to give the vote to Eastern Canadian aboriginal men despite widespread opposition from the public and the Liberals. The bill passed but was rescinded… Macdonald also introduced a bill – never passed – to give women the vote, an idea that was decades before its time.

  • Canada suffers from unimaginative government. Here are some radical ideas

    There is no serious discussion of health-care reform, though Canada is one of the few countries in the world that claims to ban private medicine. We are in fact rationing medical care for many victims of chronic health problems, and have failed to advance any policy option except throwing more tax-paid funds at the question… There has been no attempt to make welfare and poverty-reduction more effective…

  • Aboriginals deserve a fair deal, but enough with us hating ourselves

    Despite the fact that many hundreds of billions of public dollars have been spent with constructive intent in Canada in this field since the Second World War, and for decades Canadian courts have generally been very sympathetic to the petitions and legal demands of native groups and individuals, it is not discernible that their condition, quality of life, or socio-economic levels of achievement have progressed much. Everyone regrets this and very few people claim to have much idea of what to do about it.