Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Bruce Carson Story Reveals Far More Than Sex

In George Ignatieff's Memoirs, I was struck by a story he told of an altercation between himself and then leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent.

This is no slight to Mr. Broadbent. He is still one of my all-time favourite Canadian politicians, a list that includes Tommy Douglas, David Lewis, John Diefenbaker and Pierre Trudeau.

Apparently Broadbent was displeased with Canada's failure to help a small nation that would become targeted for genocide. But the NDP leader was looking for a simple solution to a complex issue (how neighboring communities would react, other major powers, etc.) And the way that Ignatieff explained the situation was quite an eye opener.

He asked Mr. Broadbent how we would react as a nation, if foreign visitors showed up at our borders to rescue our Aboriginal people, many of whom live much like those in third world countries.

A similar situation took place in the United States following Katrina. The nation and the rest of the world, caught a glimpse of how many Americans live. Movies and television programs suggest affluence, but these "victims" were "victims" long before the levies broke.

Victoria Salvas writes for This Magazine: Three real reasons the “Carson Affair” is scandalous (none of which involve escorting)

The first thing she mentions is the "shockingly bad state of water quality in First Nations and on reserves".
The Aboriginal population has 1.5 times higher risk of heart disease, a 3 to 5 times higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and at a 8 to 10 times higher risk for Tuberculosis infection
So what Carson and his girlfriend were doing, was exploiting the poor water conditions for financial gain. I believe that members of the First Nations should have been handling this and reaping any rewards.

She then brings up the horrendous "Indian Act"
Enacted in 1868, as part of the Constitution, the Indian Act gives the federal government exclusive authority to “Indians and lands reserved for Indians.” It also defines who qualifies as an “Indian.” Reports of the Carson scandal note that Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo was about to go into talks to negotiate the termination of the Act when Carson contacted him about the water deal. The day after this, Atleo announced that he would work to abolish the act within five years time. In exchange for help in getting rid of the Indian Act, Carson wanted Atleo’s support in promoting H20 Global Group. The abolishment of the Act was used by Carson as a pawn in getting his deal to go through with the Assembly of First Nations.
Further exploitation.

And of course the third thing to focus on is "influence pedalling", that is currently under investigation by the RCMP. I'm sure had there not been an election on the horizon, Stephen Harper would have handled this scandal in the same way he handles all political scandals that his party are engaged in. With a broom and a rug.

When Harper made his apology to the First Nations for the residential schools, many felt that it was not enough.
Indigenous people seek remedies to a long list of injustices that go far beyond the residential schools' direct and collateral victims addressed in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology this week. The closing of the residential- school door leads down a hallway lined with other doors most Indians know about. The partnership now involves walking down that hallway together.
We can't possibly preach about human rights abuses to anyone else until we deal with them at home.

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