Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson yesterday weighed consequences of an Alberta Court of Appeal decision striking cabinet’s signature climate change plan, the carbon tax. “What’s your Plan B if the Supreme Court rules against the government?” asked a reporter. “I’m not going to speculate on what the Plan B is,” replied Wilkinson.
An MP yesterday disclosed records indicating the federal spy agency in 2019 warned the University of British Columbia of its close cash dealings with Huawei Technologies Co. Conservatives demanded an investigation of China’s reach into Canadian universities: “I have a couple of hundred pages of emails.”
Cabinet has apologized after concealing from Parliament nearly $183,000 in contracts it awarded to an environmental group. The figure was reported as “nil” in a statement signed by Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan. A Conservative MP spotted the error: “This shows no respect for the process.”
The chair of a Department of Canadian Heritage panel advocating mandatory registration of internet news media yesterday mistakenly claimed the nation’s largest newspaper chain is already federally licensed. It’s not: “Let me be clear.”
Rewriting a continental trade pact follows years of job losses that saw automakers “go to the cheapest place you can”, a Unifor executive yesterday told the Commons trade committee. The Department of Industry in internal memos acknowledged Canada lost auto jobs to Mexico under the old 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement: ‘It’s decades of damage and neglect.’
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller will not disclose names of private New York donors who contributed to his 2019 election campaign. Under the Elections Act candidates must divulge all contributions over $200: ‘It was at a Canadian citizen’s home in New York City.’
New green fuel rules expected to raise the price of gasoline are coming soon, says the Department of Environment. Cabinet has disputed claims the regulations will have four times the price impact of the carbon tax: “This is not some left-wing, radical policy.”
The RCMP is introducing an online ethics course for members after acknowledging it receives hundreds of complaints a year to a confidential hotline. The initiative follows a Federal Court go-ahead for a billion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging widespread harassment in the force: “The RCMP is expected to uphold the highest ethical standards.”
The Department of Transport is studying labour shortages in maritime shipping after a union caught regulators licensing migrant workers in breach of federal law. The case was settled out of court last December 16: “This has been coming for a long time.”
A federal panel has struck the Bake-Off cooking contest off Canada’s trademark registry for “inactivity”. The Pillsbury Company ran the famed one-day competition for sixty-five years: ‘It is clearing the register of dead wood.’
A paper-thin résumé
could come in handy
Opponents may find it difficult
to dig deep,
hunting for dirt.
(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)
“We know ourselves only through stories,” writes Prof. Daniel Heath Justice of the University of British Columbia. Canadians define themselves through stories of pipelines or Catholicism or the fisheries or our grandparents’ ethnicity. In Why Indigenous Literatures Matter Justice tells a poignant story of discovering his Cherokee roots through a 1976 bestseller The Education Of Little Tree by Forrest Carter, the biography of an Indigenous boy raised by Tennessee mountaineers.
“I read it every year,” writes Justice. “I suggested it to others. It told me a story that was so familiar; it became part of my story of self. But it wasn’t until I was an undergraduate that I learned the shattering truth.”
The Education Of Little Tree was a literary hoax. The author was Asa Carter, a Ku Klux Klan organizer and former speechwriter for Alabama Governor George Wallace who turned a quick buck with a false account of “simplistic, noble savages”, writes Prof. Justice.
“Many of the stories about Indigenous peoples are toxic,” he says, from the romantic German novels of Karl May to Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves and Disney’s Pocahontas. Faux Indigenous literature is so popular it’s corporatized, and as corrosive as depictions of Chinese culture in a Charlie Chan movie.
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter examines colonialism through popular culture. It is devastating. Prof. Justice depicts it as an act of vandalism. “Without those ancestors, without their stories, there is nothing to carry forward,” he writes. “There is nothing to bring to future generations. Fortunately, our storykeepers are also our storytellers, and the possibilities for restory-ing those connections are limited only by our imaginations and the futures we envision.”
Even legitimate Indigenous literature is scrubbed to the point of misrepresentation, writes Prof. Justice. Mohawk poet Pauline Johnston in 2017 was shortlisted by the Bank of Canada for depiction on a banknote. Johnson’s nature poems were a staple of high school English courses for generations. Lesser known, the author notes, are the “scathing lines” of Johnson’s The Cattle Thief that tells of the hanging of an Indigenous man:
- “You have cursed and called him a Cattle Thief, though you
- Robbed him first of bread –
- Robbed him and robbed my people – look here at that shrunken
- Starved with a hollow hunger, we owe to you and your race.”
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is more than an eloquent protest. It is a damnation of the subtle propaganda that turned First Nations, Inuit and Métis into literary caricatures.
“Today’s Indigenous people in North America are the descendants of those who survived the colonizing apocalypse that started in 1492 and continues today,” writes Justice. “We are more than just ‘of descent’ from those initial survivors, however – we’re survivors, too, every one of us.”
By Holly Doan
Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, by Daniel Heath Justice; Wilfrid Laurier University Press; 260 pages; ISBN 9781-77112-1767; $19.99
A Senate committee chair yesterday disclosed multiple complaints of harassment are pending under a new zero tolerance policy against workplace bullying. No senators were named: “I’m afraid that’s confidential.”
The CBC in a bid at rebranding has trademarked the word “Oh”. Network lawyers filed the claim with the Department of Industry as a Conservative Party leadership candidate called for privatization of the English TV service: “Radio-Canada Oh-dio.”
Green tech firms are nearly three times more likely to rely on taxpayer subsidies than most small and medium-sized businesses, says a federal report. Department of Industry researchers noted other small companies “report difficulties in accessing financing”.