Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A New Millennium But the Same Old Reform Party

Now that the Conservative Party have decided to take a trip down memory lane with Michael Ignatieff, to find fodder for attack ads; I thought a little trip down their shady lane might be appropriate.

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Windspeaker News in April of 2000, when the Reform and Alliance parties merged, and elected Stockwell Day as their leader. A few months later he would illegally purchase a seat to get into the House of Commons, but for now they were concerned with the merger.

Apparently Day and his sidekick Jason Kenney, had concerns about Aboriginal self government, believing it would be the breeding ground for Communism. The Aboriginal communities suggested that the Cold War wasn't yet over for these old Reformers, and Peter MacKay has proven that they haven't changed their views.

But before sharing the article, I'd like to parallel what the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, was up to at the time.

In 2000, his book 'The Rights Revolution' was a national bestseller. It was derived from a series of Massey lectures which he conducted for the CBC, while teaching and acting as director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

In the book he speaks of the deplorable condition on some reserves, and how their rights have to be more than just talk. He speaks of forced assimilation and how aboriginal people could only become Canadian citizens to early settlers, if they ceased to be aboriginals. He acknowledges that they were given a raw deal and suggests real solutions to the problems.

But good old Stocky and his gang were convinced that they were being courted by Commies.

New name, old attitudes - CRCAP
By Alex Roslin
Windspeaker Contributor

So you thought the Cold War was over and communism was dead. Not according to Canada's great right hope, the Canadian Alliance. The new right-wing party believes the red menace is lurking in First Nations communities across the land, and promises to stamp it out.

The Canadian Alliance, which unites Reformers and Conservatives and has set its sights on winning the next federal election, has a platform on Aboriginal issues that promises to bring relations with Native peoples to a boil.

It wants to eliminate Native people's historic tax exemption, invoke the notwithstanding clause to overrule Supreme Court decisions favorable to First Nations and get rid of "special laws" for Native peoples. The new party also has an interesting view on Aboriginal self-government: it should be eliminated because it is "communistic."

But don't call the Canadian Alliance anti-Native. The party insists that most Native people support its platform. It believes the only people who might oppose it are a small "elite" of chiefs, lawyers and consultants who make up the "Indian industry."

Reformers and Conservatives are now voting by mail-in ballot on whether to accept the new party and its platform. The results were scheduled to be announced March 25 (after deadline).

The party's full name was originally the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, but this was changed because of its unfortunate acronym, CCRAP. Its new name is the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party, or CRCAP.

Though not as detailed as Reform's, the new party's Aboriginal platform is more pointed in some areas. Whereas Reform would make all Native people "full and equal participants in Canadian citizenship, indistinguishable in law and treatment from other Canadians," the Canadian Alliance spells out what this would mean: liquidating Native self-government.

The new party also wants First Nations to have no more powers than Canadian municipalities. This means running garbage collection, fire fighting services and public works, but decades of progress in gaining control over resources, education, health care and culture would be scrapped.

Also new in the Canadian Alliance platform is opposition to "race-based allocation of harvest rights to natural resources." This particular position brings the party into conflict with numerous recent Supreme Court decisions and international legal norms.

Diane Ablonczy, a Reform MP from Calgary who is co-chair of the Canadian Alliance's policy committee, said she hasn't heard any concerns about its Aboriginal platform from First Nations, party members or anybody else. "I think it's fairly balanced."

Ablonczy is concerned about treaties like the one just approved with the Nisga'a people of British Columbia, which grants the Nisga'a some self-government powers over a small fraction of their traditional land and has negotiated away their tax exemption. Such treaties create a "third order of government" in which Canadians are not all governed by the same laws, she said.

And here's where the communism comes in. "Nisga'a and other treaties set up a communal, communistic system which Indians are forced to live in," Ablonczy warned. "They are ruled by a very strong central committee - the chief and council. They don't have the same freedoms as other Canadians do, particularly when it comes to private property rights."

Ablonczy, who is the Reform human resources critic, insisted that the Canadian Alliance is especially sensitive to Native concerns because "one of our MPs is married to an Aboriginal."

She claimed Native people actually like the Canadian Alliance platform, including the idea of paying taxes. "They need to have the dignity and power to have meaningful control over their affairs," she explained.

Ablonczy also said the Canadian Alliance would invoke the notwithstanding clause - the device used by the Quebec government to sustain its unconstitutional French language law - to overrule court decisions affecting First Nations and any other issue the party doesn't like."

The notwithstanding clause would be appropriate when there is a court decision that conflicts with Parliament," she said. "We believe in the supremacy of Parliament. They are the ones who are accountable to the people of Canada."

There's only one hitch: under the Constitution, the notwithstanding clause can't be used on Native issues, according to the Reform Party's own justice researcher, Greg Yost. " I'm going to have to talk to her [Ablonczy]," he said. "[The clause] has absolutely no application to Aboriginal rights."

Yost explained that the Canadian Alliance does plan to use the clause on rulings in the other areas where it can be applied; for example, freedom of expression, religion and thought, and the right to life, liberty and not be detained or searched improperly by police. Just not on Native questions.

The Assembly of First Nations looks at the Canadian Alliance as an ominous development, and plans a campaign to fight the new party. "They are saying they would just disregard treaties," said Jean LaRose, an AFN spokesman."

They are just as extremist as before, but now they are trying to form a party that would stretch across Canada and form the government. That, for us, is very worrisome.""Here is a party that wishes to place itself above the law and above the courts," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine in a statement. "I wonder if Canadians understand the implications of such a movement. It could override any legislation or court decision if it chose to, using nothing more than its own judgement."

And we've seen it coming into play over and over again with the Harper government, even to try to avoid charges of alleged fraud against 66 members of the party. They just do what they want and continue to get away with it.

More Postings on Reform Party and Racism:

1. How the West Was Won Opposing Multiculturalism

2. Ex-Reform MP Jan Brown Reveals Racism in Reform-Conservative Party

3. A Bright Light Attacks Bugs, But as My Father Might Say ....

4. Roots of Reform and More Than a Few Bad Apples

5. Roots of Reform: NCC, Racism and Ethnic Indigestion

6. Shame Faced Conservatives Refuse to Apologize to Suaad Hagi Mohamud

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