Thursday, April 23, 2009

Manitoba's First Nations buy museum kiosk space

So the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) has decided to "donate" $1-million to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). Because, according to Grand Chief Ron Evans, it "is a great opportunity for us as First Nations to educate the citizens of the world, not only on the historical injustices that we continue to endure, but also the resilience of our people, the teachings we can offer related to peace and justice, and the great progress we have achieved in protecting and advancing our rights.''

Yeah, okay.... but the donation is, nevertheless, a mistake.

Look, First Nations leaders repeatedly and rightly are critical of Ottawa's "irresponsible" appraoch to their needs. Further, they are constantly calling on Ottawa stop perpetually underfunding First Nations bands who wish to protect their communities from such things as flooding. As such, the AMC should put its money where its mouth is and spend this $1-million elsewhere? Hmm, ... like perhaps on Manitoba's Peguis reserve that just suffered "$1 million in damages to several hundred homes"? No?

Well, if this is the current reality on First Nations Reserves:
  • On the Human Development Index, First Nations on-reserve would rank 62nd, some experiencing Third World conditions, while Canada as a whole consistently ranks near the top.
  • Almost half (47%) of First Nations people on reserve live in poverty, with an income of less than $10,000; three out of five Aboriginal children under six years of age live in poverty.
  • Unemployment and poverty rates are three times those in the non-Aboriginal community.
  • Suicide is now among the leading causes of death among First Nations children and youth.
  • The suicide rate is 40 per 100,000 among First Nations as compared to the national average of 13 per 100,000.
  • The First Nations population is increasing by 2.3% annually.
  • Aboriginal children die at three times the rate of non-Aboriginal children.
  • First Nations birth rate is two times the comparable rate for Canada.
  • Canadians have one of the world's highest life expectancies but Aboriginal people can expect to live a decade less on average.

THEN how the fuck can the AMC possibly rationalize using money raised from its gambling enterprises to buy a kiosk at the CHRM? Talk about "irresponsibility" - the donation reflects badly on all concerned.

The AMC's misplaced priorities in this matter speak volumes about the sad disconnect between what passes for First Nations political leadership in this province and the ongoing plight of those who have a right, a human right, to expect more from their elders. The AMC's Grand Chief Ron Evans should give his head a shake and reconsider the donation. He should do the right thing and immediately redirect the funds in question to where they are needed most - on Manitoba's First Nations reserves.

Let the insular social elite running this museum find funding for their vanity project elsewhere. Christ what's next? A picture of Gail Asper accepting donations from starving Sudanese school children and/or underage Thai hookers? Bloody absurd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture in Perspective: Rachel Maddow, April 20, 2009.

On the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth, it is important to reflect on 'lessons learned'. Watch this.

There is no excuse for state sanctioned torture.

[n.b. - Maddow's comments in the first five minute of this clip are not so much priceless - they're just accurate.)

Nuff' said.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lies our forefathers told - R.B. Bennett

"Capitalism is your servant, and must never be your master, but Capitalism should be treated fairly. When it goes wrong, as it has gone wrong, it must be corrected; and when it goes right, might it not be applauded? ... We will get nowhere by recklessly & stupidly clouting capitalism into a paralysis of ineffectiveness. ... treat capitalism decently, not for its own sake but for your own sake, for it can serve you well. Make it work, and make it work hard for you. Get all you are entitled to out of it; that is far more sensible than shooting it dead." - Prime Minister R.B. Bennett - September 11, 1935

Don't know about you - but I'd rather shoot it dead!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

McGuinty to Harper: Tag You're It!

Wouldn't wanna be a retired auto worker today!

Premier Dalton McGuinty's admission yesterday that "Ontario's pension plan safety net isn't large enough to cover auto workers if GM goes bankrupt" signals a new round of TAG YOU'RE IT in Canadian politics.

And in this case, PM Stephen Harper is the 'it'.

Effectively, McGuinty gave notice to the federal Tory's yesterday that Ontario "is moving to limit the amount of money it would have to pay in a pension bailout." Ergo, come what will for Canada's auto sector (hell, high-water, or bankruptcy) the ball is now in Ottawa's court. In case there was ever any doubt, McGuinty made it clear that it is Harper's government that is going to have take ownership of the mammoth catastrophe that may await the ten of thousands of auto retirees who depend on their pensions to survive.

Of course, Ontario "is partly responsible for the pension crisis at GM Canada because of 1992 legislation that enabled the company to underfund its own plans." It was a change that all but guaranteed that if GM were ever to fail, her long serving employees and generations of pensioners were bound to find themselves where every worker man and working woman finds themselves at the end of the day amidst an economic collapse - Shit-out-of-Luck. While McGuinty did admit Ontario had "a political and moral responsibility to pensioners"; he also confessed that, really, the province has no capacity to meet the needs of those "experiencing troubles with their pension plans". According to the Report on Business, the problem is that Ontario's Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund, mismanaged for decades, is running a deficit. Though to be fair, even had the fund been administered properly, it was never designed to meet the demands created by a wholesale collapse of the auto sector. Simply put, if GM goes bankrupt, there is no way Ontario will be able to step into the breech to fix a "total pension shortfall may exceed $6-billion".

"Tag" Harper - you're it!

No worries though, Harper's federal Industry Minister Tony Clement is doing his best to help prepare pensioners for their possible fate by "offering words of warning" that they "need to be prepared for possible bankruptcy filings in the auto sector." But tell us Tony, how do 70 and 80 year old auto retirees "prepare" themselves for the disappearance of their pensions? What do you recommend? Do they take to the pavement in search of work with their walkers, wheelchairs and oxygen tanks?

As one retiree shouted at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday in Oshawa: "Your government asked me to take a haircut as a retiree, ... I took the haircut, but, dammit, I'm not going to let you scalp me on my pension, too." Frustrated by the retirees questions, Dim-Jim Flaherty responded to their concerns with this observation nugget; "Listen, this is a very serious time! ... All of these issues being raised about jobs, about pensions, ... these are very major questions that are being discussed right now in a serious way."

"Serious"? No kidding. Again Harper - "Tag you're it!"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Harper goes Potty at G-20

Canadian Prime-Minister Stephen Harper craps out a lot. But if the BBC is right, he's going to have to get himself a pair of depends. After all, missing the official photo at the G-20 because you're on the potty is just bad optics. What is he? In kindergarten?

Not the kind of PR we need right now.

It might even give some credence to assertions that he flushing our country's future down the toilet!

Take 2: G20 group photo snapped again after Harper's absence

CBC: Thursday, April 2, 2009 | 9:24 AM ET

The traditional photo of the G20 leaders was reshot after Prime Minister Stephen Harper missed his opportunity Thursday to be in the first snap.

Harper met with his officials following the first working session in London on Thursday morning when the picture — dubbed the family photo — was scheduled to be taken.

Officials said the prime minister was getting a quick briefing on changes to the communiqué that is expected to be released by the G20 at the end of the summit.

The BBC, however, is reporting that Harper was in the bathroom while the photo was being taken.

The other leaders initially waited for Harper but then went ahead with the photo without him.

Harper was scheduled to stand in the right flank of the group next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the original photo.

A second attempt to gather the leaders for the photograph was made about an hour later with Harper there.

Some of the other leaders ribbed Harper as they gathered for the second take, reportedly calling out, "Harper, Harper, is Harper here? Harper, this one's for you."