Money managers should prepare for a flood of climate lawsuits, the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said yesterday. Canadian courts to date have dismissed liability claims by environmental groups: “Hard to predict.”
The labour department says a proposal to mandate free sanitary products for women employees at federally regulated job sites is contentious. “Not providing these products in a private manner could be discriminatory towards gender diverse employees,” wrote staff.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson for the first time acknowledges climate change programs will see Canadians pay higher net costs for fuel. Wilkinson also called the carbon tax a “carbon tax,” a phrase never used by his department: “Politicians have an obligation to the public to tell them the straight goods.”
Taxpayers have paid pandemic relief to five banks operating in Canada including branches of the state-run Bank of China Ltd. The Prime Minister’s Office did not comment: “It’s not good news for anyone if local businesses have to close shop.”
The Department of Environment in an educational program for schoolchildren recommends kids avoid party balloons as pollutants. Cabinet proposes to list plastic as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act: “You are never too young or too old to start taking climate action.”
An all-white, female RCMP civilian board says cabinet should appoint an Indigenous member and “consider” appointing a Black person in the aftermath of Black Lives Matters protests. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission made its recommendation to the Commons public safety committee: “The only way the public complaint process works is if people trust the system.”
Immigrants are more likely to apply for citizenship to vote rather than to seek a Canadian passport, says in-house research by the Department of Citizenship. Foreigners said they prized the country’s freedom of speech: ‘It was for my children.’
You caught me
surfing the web.
I only wanted to read
the top stories.
It’s not my fault
they were topless.
(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)
Justin Trudeau, friend of Indigenous people, is descended from “Indian” fighters. A street plaque in southeast Montréal once commemorated the 1662 exploits of Etienne Trudeau in a local skirmish with First Nations.
Prime Minister Trudeau shed a tear for Chief Poundmaker, yet in 2019 cut short Grassy Narrows protesters who crashed a Liberal Party fundraiser with the snide remark: “Thank you for your donation!”
Juxtaposition is a recurring theme. The Prime Minister says often, “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous peoples.” Yet he will not appoint any First Nation, Inuit or Métis person as Governor General and representative of the Queen. It is hardly ground-breaking; a Cree man was named Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in 1974.
Such contradictions are commonplace, historian Donald B. Smith writes in Seen But Not Seen. Smith recalls a deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs who ruled over 100,000 Treaty Indians yet “had no close Indigenous friends.” He quotes the Anglican bishop of Toronto in 1891: “Not a man in a thousand is apt to give a spontaneous thought to the Indians all year round.”
Overtly racist and homicidal anti-Indigenous outbursts are uncommon in Canadian history. We know enough to say the right thing. No less than John A. Macdonald as a 24-year old lawyer defended a Tyendinaga Mohawk at a murder trial in Kingston. As prime minister he appointed a Mohawk woman to a civil service position and had “mixed views of Indigenous peoples,” writes Smith. Here is Macdonald speaking in 1880. But for the arcane language, the sentiment is Trudeauesque:
“We must remember they are the original owners of the soil of which they have been dispossessed by the covetousness or ambition of our ancestors. Perhaps if Columbus had not discovered this continent, had left them alone, they would have worked out a tolerable civilization of their own. At all events, the Indians have been greater sufferers by the discovery of America and the transfer of it to a large white population.”
Seen But Not Seen is a meticulously-researched and beautifully written documentary of the great contradiction of our national life. The same prime minister who hailed Indigenous peoples as original owners of the soil would call them savages and cut their food ration. “Without any doubt Canada has treated the Aboriginal peoples badly and continues to do so today,” says Smith. “Writing as historians, we must record this.”
Seen But Not Seen presents striking bookends to this fact.
On the one hand, famed writer Stephen Leacock in 1941 mistakenly claimed First Nations in pre-Confederation Canada were “too few to count.” In fact they numbered 175,000 in the West, alone. “Their use of the resources of the continent was scarcely more than that by crows and wolves,” wrote Leacock.
On the other hand, Professor Paul Wallace of Toronto in 1946 published The White Roots Of Peace, a history of the Iroquois Confederacy so profound Wallace was made an honourary member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne. His book remains in print to this day. “The White Roots Of Peace acted as a counterbalance to the contemporary image of North American Indians as ‘bloodthirsty primitives’,” notes Seen But Not Seen.
The yin and yang continues.
By Holly Doan
Seen But Not Seen: Influential Canadians And The First Nations From 1840s To Today, by Donald B. Smith; University of Toronto Press; 488 pages; ISBN 9781-4426-27703; $24.71
Governor General Julie Payette yesterday in a YouTube address to the nation appealed to Canadians to follow her example of self-sacrifice and “stay home except for necessities and essential work.” Payette made no mention of a cross-country, business class flight by her secretary last August: “I appeal to your sense of duty.”
The Privy Council Office at the height of Black Lives Matter protests confidentially polled Canadians on whether to take guns from police. Research was conducted after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knelt at a demonstration on Parliament Hill: “The Privy Council Office wanted to assess the perceptions of Canadians on government priorities.”
The Department of Agriculture yesterday defended a sole-sourced training contract to a company led by a former cabinet minister’s brother. Staff said they hired Victor Tootoo’s firm after Googling websites of his competitors: ‘It appeared to be a good fit.’
The national archives refuse to declassify cabinet records from Pierre Trudeau’s last tumultuous term as prime minister though secret files were to be unsealed years ago. The agency gave no reason: “They are first evaluated against privacy considerations.”
The federal Business Development Bank approved a $100,000 taxpayer-backed loan to a delinquent borrower in a twenty-minute breakfast meeting at a Smitty’s Restaurant, according to court records. The loan was approved so quickly a Bank officer did not print paper copies of the contract: “The transaction appears to have been done hastily.”
The Privy Council Office in a scramble for pandemic relief programs confidentially polled Canadians on whether to send free money to everyone in the country, all 37 million of them. Authorities later dropped the idea: “Yes, there are limits.”