Friday, November 18, 2011

Do YOU have a shadow?

          This one is a little too bizarre to be true but then, with the Harperites, you never know..

           Cindy Blackstock is a small, middle aged, non-radical, non-separatist aboriginal activist working for children's rights and services on reservation (a Federal jurisdiction). For some unknown reason she managed to get herself on someone's surveillance list. When she showed up for a meeting with the feds, she found herself barred from access and even had a security guard assigned to watch over her while her colleagues conferred with the feds. Why? What was her crime?

              The only thing anyone can come up with to date: a complaint with the human rights commission accusing the feds of willfully underfunding child welfare services on First Nations reserves.

              To get to the bottom of things, Ms Blackstock filed under the freedom of information act. She discovered that she had a thick dossier. As Professor Papillon, an expert on Aboriginal autonomy issues, argues, it is normal that government employees attend meetings relevant to their area of expertise and take notes. Check the audioclip from CBC radio program, The Current, 17 nov, 2011:

                 What is not normal, though, is that Ms Blackstock alone be singled out. Files released under the freedom of information act contained verbatim notes of Ms Blackstock's presentations at meetings but not those of other activists. Ms Blackstock seems to have grown a tail! Shades of the MacCarthy anti-communist "witch hunts" back in the 1950s and early 1960s in the USA..

                  Another expert, appearing on The Current, Tom Powers, himself a Conservative party strategist, and who worked with aboriginal affairs also found the behavior of the government puzzling. And this on the part of a government who ran on a platform of responsible democracy and transparency! What, oh what, is the world coming to?

                   Just wondering. Have you  done something to find youself with a tail, an extra shadow. Have I got one for posting these blogs..

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bilingual / shmilingual - who cares?

         The conservative government's choice for auditor general, Michael Ferguson, does not speak French well. So what, what does it matter?

          We hold it does matter for at least three reasons.

1- When you choose to play a game, you play by the rules or you go home. Else you screw things up for everybody. The Conservatives chose to get themselves elected. The AG's job requirements require French. Tough titty..

2- The Harper government, be it not forgotten, was elected on a platform of law and order, good / responsible government and transparency. This was in reaction to the waste, boondoggles and scams of former Liberal governments. This, we maintain, holds the Haperites to a higher standard than the discredited Liberals. Are they living up to the higher standards they set for themselves? It has, already, been remarked that the Harperites "break the rules when they feel like it", giving the unfortunate impression that they might actually consider themselves above the law. And this, of course, is exactly what they accused the Liberals of doing..

3- While this may appear to be hitting below the belt, we feel it is a legitimate concern for those interested in Canadian national unity. The Ferguson nomination is sure to rub Québécois nationalism the wrong way when there is already evidence of a growing rift between Québec and the ROC (rest of Canada: the fact that Québécois use this term fairly often these days is itself indicative of the rift). In addition, one suspects - fears - that the nomination is, if not a conscious, intentional play to populist, anti-French feelings in the ROC, at least a gaffe which, potentially, plays into the hands of such elements. At the very least, "it doesn't look good"..

             There is, of course, nothing stopping the federal Conservatives from operating within the framework of parlementary procedure and working openly and above board to change the law regulating the AG's proficiencies. But would such a transparent procedure raise the ire of too many? Have the Harperites - once again - stooped to talking from both sides of their mouths at the same time: preaching fairplay and transparency while dealing the cards in a way to send a covert -and contrary - message to their populist core constituency? Once again, things are not clear but it does not look good..

             And in this cynical era of political vacuity, appearance is indeed everything!