Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau: Accountability for Thee, Not For Me UPDATE: Senator Brazeau in Jail, Removed From Tory Caucus

Update: Holy shit:

Senator Patrick Brazeau is in jail following an alleged domestic assault, sources tell CBC News, and has been removed from the Conservative Party’s caucus.

Brazeau, who has weathered several controversies since his appointment in 2009, will continue to sit in the Senate as an Independent.

It’s not clear whether any charges have been laid. Brazeau was arrested at 9:10 a.m. ET Thursday at his residence in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa.

Marjory LeBreton, the government Senate leader, sent a letter to Brazeau’s office and caucus members in the morning informing them of his removal.

“In light of the serious nature of the events reported today, Senator Brazeau has been removed from the Conservative caucus. As this is a legal matter, I cannot comment further,” LeBreton said in a statement.

A senior government source says Prime Minister Stephen Harper was saddened and shocked by the latest Brazeau developments, and took action immediately.

Developing…

Original post:

CTV News:

Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau used his former father-in-law’s address in a First Nations community when he claimed an aboriginal income tax exemption from 2004 to 2008, CTV News has learned.

Brazeau, who has publicly called on aboriginal leaders to be more financially accountable, listed the residence on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec as his mailing address for four years, unbeknownst to his ex-wife’s father.

“I was not aware of that,” Daryl Tenasoco told CTV News.

Neighbours said it did not appear that Brazeau lived in the community.

“I’ve never seen him,” Jean Guy Whiteduck said. “It’s right across from my place. I’ve never seen him there. He may have visited. That’s about it.”

But documents show that income tax exemptions were applied to Brazeau from 2004 to 2008 when he listed the Kitigan Zibi home as his address.

DJ rewind:

Brazeau, who has publicly called on aboriginal leaders to be more financially accountable, listed the residence on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec as his mailing address for four years… .

[...]

Neighbours said it did not appear that Brazeau lived in the community.

Hypocrisy is a real B, huh Senator?

(h/t)

Idle No More: Baseless Stigmas Are An Unwelcome Distraction

Idle No More

by Sara Mai Chitty

I wanted to let people know a couple things about my heritage as a First Nations woman, about what is being said about the Idle No More movement (and there is much more to be said), and what I feel is EXCEEDINGLY DISTRACTING from the other VERY potent issues at hand regarding First Nations politics.

First of all – my life, like yours, is not easy. It never has been and probably never will be. I got good grades in high school and applied to a grant offered (not entitled) to me through my reserve. I want to remind you that you had every opportunity, every chance I had up until that point (If you want me to elaborate I can; I possibly had less opportunities than you, depending on who YOU are). I applied for university, much like you might have. And much like you could have, I applied for a grant. I keep up good grades and apply for the same grant every year, but there are no guarantees. I understand there are thousands of grants and scholarships for kids who work hard in high school, be it sports, grades, writing, drama, etc. Lots of people are happy to send kids to post secondary school. Other kids have rich parents that pay for it. Regardless, the most important thing is that there are more young people of any race or religion attending post secondary school today than ever before who are now gaining higher skill levels. This is great!

Idle No More

Second of all, I pay Government Sales Tax (GST) and, for the most part, Provincial Sales Tax (PST). I like taxes (when I know what they are paying for). I also approve of what they are being used for, just like every other Canadian. The only things I haven’t paid PST on are a few “big ticket” items. I don’t whip it out to buy tampons at the drug store. Yes, I guess I am “entitled” to — but that’s not how I feel about it. And it’s not just because I am actually really embarrassed to use it because of people who say we don’t deserve it; that they pay for me to go to school, pay for me to live and pay for my stuff because they pay taxes. I have never had anything in my life paid for by social services – native or otherwise, except school (see above). I pay for rent, food, clothing, with my own money that I work for. I shouldn’t even have to justify this because it’s part of a treaty agreement that is older than Canada’s constitution. I don’t just get a “hand out” from the government; I work hard for my money, just like you.

I also want to point out there are tax breaks for people in the military, single parents, parents who put their kids through sports/arts, elderly seeking to renovate their homes for accessibility etc.

It’s arguable whether any tax “breaks” should occur at all if we are all to be equal right?

Thirdly, First Nations people are not all system abusers. A lot of us are veterans, entrepreneurs, educators, etc. There’s not as many of us as there are you, so it’s really easy to see the ones that fell through the cracks and point them out as failures who are draining the system. What you fail to recognize is there’s a lot more people of various ethnic backgrounds who surpass the level of “system abuse” seen in First Nations populations, or have also succumbed to vice – be it welfare, alcoholism, obesity, unemployment, etc. They just happen to be scattered all over the country. Regardless, pointing the finger and saying “it’s your own fault, deal with it” does not a) solve the problem nor b) make First Nations populations feel like we would get it if we were to seek help.

Paradoxically, if we seek help for these issues we are proving YOU, the hegemony, to be right.

First Nations peoples didn’t screw up. We all screwed up. We let people of all nationalities fall through the cracks of the system, all kinds of people. We ignored the issues and we are all paying for it now.

Idle No More

Lastly, no one in this country is paying for the actions of their ancestors in the sense so many imply. We are indeed all paying for the actions of the Industrialists and the Capitalists. However it is us, the young, who will continue to pay for the detrimental actions of the Canadian government after the baby boomers have all passed on, the irresponsible consumption of non-renewable resources in our unsustainable economy.

In fact, if your grandparents weren’t even living in this country when it was being colonized I don’t give a flying fuck.

Because the last residential school closed in 1996. Because within the past six decades there were forced sterilization programs of indigenous women and other marginalized cultures. Because there are First Nations people who are being kicked off of land they were told was theirs, that they have made their home, and they are not being given another option.

Because there are laws being passed to diminish not only First Nations rights, but YOURS as well.

Let’s make Canada OUR home and native land and stop this racist bullshit. Inform yourself. Educate yourself. Revitalize democracy. Care about YOUR environment. Protest for ALL government transparency, including that which is under First Nations control. It is so easy to pretend like none of this affects you — but it does, and I do not know how to stress that enough to you. By telling me that I am “so lucky” because I get to go to school for free and don’t have to pay taxes is an attempt to diminish and stigmatize my pride in my heritage.

Idle No More

NO – I am lucky because I AM a First Nations woman living in Canada, with a voice and a heart to protect what Canada means to me. I am lucky because I got to grow up under the care of my own mother, unlike the hundreds who grew up in residential schools. I am UNLUCKY that my grandfather lost his ability to speak Ojibwe when he was forced into an English speaking school – but I AM lucky he got in touch with his roots again and is still alive to teach me about my heritage.

I am lucky because I live in a First World country where I have access to clean water and food. I am lucky because I had an upbringing that kept my mind open and gave me the hope I could strive for infinite possibilities. I am lucky because no matter what you say, “free” education and tax exemption WILL NEVER EVER define who I am and where I come from, what my culture is all about. I have the teachings of my elders to respect this Earth and the people that walk with me upon it.

I would be more than happy to teach you too.

Sara Mai Chitty is a journalism student at Western University and an intern at LondonFuse. Follow her on Twitter.

#IdleNoMore: What Do Protesters Want?

Dr. Dawg:

The other day, I got into it a bit with John Ivison, who expressed polite disdain for the allegedly “hapless” Chief Theresa Spence—and then admitted that he had no idea what her demands actually were.

That’s all too typical.

But not all of us who support #IdleNoMore are as informed as we should be either. Let’s start with the Harper government’s current treaty-breaking campaign—and yes, a flurry of bills in the House of Commons, rammed through without consulting indigenous peoples as the Constitution requires, counts as a “campaign.”

Here, to save us all time, is an excellent compilation of the effects of these bills, taken from an address by aboriginal Constitutional scholar Pam Palmater. Or you may wish to hear this straight from her own mouth, delivered with clarity and a wealth of detail.

WATCH:

(x-posted)

A Sober Assessment of Canada’s Disregard for Social Injustice

by matttbastard

Even though Stephen Harper has pledged to pull out Canadian combat troops from Afghanistan in 2011, the ongoing economic consequences of Canada’s Afghan policy are still being felt domestically by Canada’s First Nations communities, says Assembly of First Nations national Chief Phil Fontaine.

The Globe:

Mr. Fontaine, wading into the federal election campaign, called on all political parties to build on the June 11 residential schools apology and work toward a reconciliation with native people. That reconciliation will require what he called a “Kelowna-plus” solution, referring to the accord reached three years ago by the previous Liberal government that promised $5-billion to raise the standard of living of aboriginal people to that of other Canadians by 2015. After they were elected, the Conservatives dismissed Kelowna as a flawed press release.

“There’s been $22-billion expended on the Afghan war, and so what is there for first nations people?” Mr. Fontaine asked. “The response we’re looking for from each of the parties is next steps in regards to the eradication of first nations poverty.”

[...]

Mr. Fontaine said the absence of any discussion of native issues in the campaign for the Oct. 14 election is a disservice to all Canadians, and urged the political parties to address those issues in their platforms.

“First nations poverty is the single most important social justice issue in the country and we would expect that each of the parties would do the responsible thing, and that is to engage Canadians,” he said.

There are 27,000 native children in state care, 40 communities without schools, 100 communities under boil-water advisories and serious concerns about housing and health care for people living on reserves, Mr. Fontaine said.

$22 Billion. That kind of cash would sure go a long way to help alleviate crippling levels of poverty among Canada’s First Nations peoples.  Of course, all (hollow) apologies aside, one could argue that the Conservative government’s true sentiments with regards to our Aboriginal citizens may have been laid bare earlier this week by an aide to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, who, according to the Globe, was caught on tape telling a group of native protesters in Cannon’s riding that a meeting with Cannon could be arranged “if you behave and you’re sober.” No word on whether the aide was wearing a sweater vest at the time, which, in my estimation, would have at least put a kinder, gentler veneer on this latest expression of an all-too-familiar (and disturbingly casual) racism that lurks below the surface of so-called ‘civil society’ in Canada.

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Quote of the Day: On Saying Sorry

by matttbastard

…I had a chance to watch the prime minister’s apology for the residential schools and the subsequent speeeches [sic]. I wish I were in Canada to take part in a moving moment in Canadian history. I hope, as I am sure almost all Canadians do, that as a society we can collectively start to tackle the problems that so many aboriginal communities face.

But, please, let the apology not become an icon, something that we pull out from time to time and admire and then put away again. Let it not be something that makes us feel good about ourselves so that we can avoid thinking about the things that should shame us.

Apologies are a fashion today, and on the whole a good one. This past February, the Australian government finally said sorry for the decades-long practice of seizing its Aboriginal children from their families and giving them to white families to be brought up “white.”

Apologies are good both for those who are admitting their past sins and those who receive them. Accepting the past, as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed, is an important step towards moving into the future. But words are cheap if they are not preceded by serious thought and followed by serious action.

What did it really do when Tony Blair apologized for the Irish potato famine? Or when the descendant of the notorious Elizabethan Sir John Hawkins apologized for slavery? Are such apologies anything more than easy sentimentality? And what do apologies mean when they are not accompanied by any significant acts of restitution? Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said “sorry,” but significantly did not explain what his government was going to do about the lot of present-day Aboriginals.

What is Canada going to do for today’s Aboriginals? I am still waiting to know. I don’t want to think that dwelling on the past a way of avoiding dealing with the present.

- Margaret MacMillan

It’s a bit of a mystery…why Stephen Harper is only apologizing today for the residential schools program. The program certainly merits a plea for forgiveness, but it was only part of the program aimed at eliminating Indian culture and completing the European domination of the country.

You could argue that, since Canada didn’t exist as an independent country until it was already too late for the natives, the broader campaign wasn’t really our doing. That would make it the fault of somebody in London or Paris, since they were the ones calling the shots at the time. But stealing an entire country demands more than just a government order; it requires the enthusiastic participation of the general population, which in Canada’s case was willingly given.

So, strictly speaking, the apology given in the House of Commons today should be for the overall willingness of Canada’s founders to participate in the subjugation and humiliation of the First Nations before, during and after 1867, viewing it as a necessary evil towards establishing a new nation in their place. It derives from the same sense of guilt the Catholic church plays on, the need to recognize the roots of the entity you belong too [sic].

I don’t know why the government isn’t doing that. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact the subjugation and humiliation goes on to this day; that the government, and Canadians in general, are embarrassed and frustrated that the poverty of so many native communities continues to resemble third world countries rather than prosperous, pleasant Canada. It may also reflect the continued lack of a clear understanding of what to do about it. Begging forgiveness might highlight too much that the government doesn’t have a solution.

- Kelly McParland

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Popcorn Sunday: Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide

by matttbastard

“…This documentary reveals Canada’s darkest secret – the deliberate extermination of indigenous (Native American) peoples and the theft of their land under the guise of religion. [A] never before told history as seen through the eyes of this former minister (Kevin Annett) who blew the whistle on his own church, after he learned of thousands of murders in its Indian Residential Schools…”

hiddenfromhistory.org

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