Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AAND Under Harper Government

I will be the first to admit this post is somewhat speculative.  However, given the blatant actions of the Harper regime over the years I don't think I'm going to be proven wrong.  Additionally, the Harper regime may not be the first Canadian government to enact this type of campaign but it is certainly the most brutal.

Consider recent events.

Harper government involved in a myriad of tiny scandals from poor accountability, spending boondoggles, astroturf (faux grassroots) organizations, massive CPO communications (propaganda) staff, and so on. We aren't exactly dealing with an ethical organization here.

We can see them getting control of media. We see them muzzling scientists. We can see the government attempting to shut down environmental monitoring for the majority of waterways while we are seeing reports of tar sands impact. We can see them "streamlining" the approval process for energy projects.  We see them deciding that we don't really need census information anymore. We see them cutting funding for public broadcasting. We see them cutting funding for science.  We even see them involved in social media. Basically, anything that might stand in the way of their policy decisions has either gotten the axe or has operatives assigned to it.

So, what does this imply for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND)?

It's clear that Canada has long recognized treaty obligations towards AFN communities. While these have been loosely defined they have been supported by the courts and explicitly mentioned in the constitution in order to allow for ongoing improvements.

It's also clear that Harper does not like impediments to commerce. He is working hard to find ways to smooth the path for increased resource exploitation -- as per many of the steps defined above.  The biggest impediment now is that Canada has obligations with respect to First Nations.

So, in a manner true to form Harper's communications arm has been working very hard to discredit the First Nation communities. Nowhere is this more evident than Attawapiskat. In this case we have seen all manner of invective applied to Chief Spence in order to discredit her personally. Nobody in the CPC propaganda arm seems to be attacking the message -- they are all attacking the messenger.

What I suspect is that the Harper regime has enacted policies that will ensure that First Nations cannot succeed.  You see, the more they fail at providing for their people appropriately, the more the government can spin this. We're already hearing that First Nation leaders are greedy, making too much money, not using money for their own people.

What we don't hear is that government plays the largest role in deciding how money is the spent by these communities and how it is to be accounted for.

With a careful analysis is it clear to see that Harper views every aspect of the government as a resource to help him mold Canada into his view of what it should be. We have MPs unable to have a private meeting with the RCMP.  We see important government oversight and funding being cut -- so that we won't know the impact of Harper's own policies.  We see incredible lapses in ethics during the election process. We see incredible lapses in humility with respect to understanding that his electoral majority represents only a minority of the people in Canada.

I have no doubt that he will work to push First Nations to the edge of collapse in an attempt to force them to accept what he has in mind. Push them to the brink of economic collapse and then tempt them with lucrative resource contracts under the cover of limited environmental oversight.That's already happening. At the same time he'll manipulate policies to allow him to label First Nation leaders as incompetent and greedy and castigate them in the court of public opinion in order to discredit their claims.

Perhaps he even believes this will work. It would fit in with the narrative. However, First Nations have traditionally been stewards of the land. It's a Faustian bargain at best. If we are lucky the Idle No More movement, a grassroots awakening among AFN, will also wake us non-natives up. If we aren't lucky... we are all going to be paying the price for Harper's vision -- or more accurately, our children will.

UPDATE: Homework -- what changes to policies have been enacted over the Harper years and what stresses have they placed on AFN communities? Do these actions fit into the narrative above?

UPDATE: Here's an illuminating look at Tom Flanagan, a former adviser and chief of staff for Harper, and his views on First Nations.

UPDATE: I have linked to a variety of supporting documents... and feel I must link to this informative post about information manipulation by the "Ministry of Truth".

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