Canadian Government

ORNGE you glad I didn’t say Attawapiskat Banana.

Here is a bit of background information:

The highest paid public servant earned $500,000 as reported in 2010; however more recently, with an access to information request, reports that he in fact earned $1.8 million.

In my opinion, that is quite a bit for a public servant. But I guess given the services provided/overseeing, it might make a bit of sense.

What did this public servant do exactly? Well he was the head of the ORNGE Ambulance service. This is an air ambulance service that has “13 dedicated bases staffed 24/7.”

This service uses up $150 million in tax payers monies. Yet, there still seems to be some controversy over the accountability of these services. I mean, all services should be held accountable that are funding by tax payers’ monies. You can read a bit about the ORNGE in the Toronto Star here.

Accountability? Wasn’t it Minister of Indian Affairs Mr. Duncan that said,

“Our government believes First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials…”

And, what…

This was said in speaking of a new bill called “Act to enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations” to force individual First Nations

“…to publicize financial information on their own website or the website of a Tribal council/partner organization. The bill also requires that the audited financial statements and schedule of remuneration that First Nations are already required to submit to the federal government be published on the website of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Those statements include expenses and salaries of chiefs and councillors and detail how money was spent every year.

There was a big uproar over the Attawapiskat issue in major media outlets regarding the $90 million that was sent over five years to “help” with the 3rd world living conditions. People asked questions like “where did this money go to?” or “what happened to the money?” Our own PM Harper didn’t even flinch when he got wind of what was happening on this First Nation (which is not uncommon to many other First Nations). Nope, he declared the First Nation to be put under forced third party management and forced an audit of the community’s financial statement. Implicitly telling First Nations peoples that you are unable and incapable of running your own community. First Nations do what they can with what they were/are given. Many communities, like Attawapiskat, are just getting by… However, you can read Chelsea Vowel’s healthy breakdown of how that $90 million over 5 years article on the titled, “Attawapiskat: You Want to Be Shown the Money? Here it Is.

I mean, why wouldn’t anyone ask what happened to the $150 million/year in tax payer money? Why wouldn’t this audit be excessively regurgitated in the major media outlets just as much as the Attawapiskat audit? And where did the CEO go to after his $1.5 million income was announced go to?

It’s too bad that the same transparency and accountability that is forced upon First Nations is not forced upon services such as these.

Criminal Pardons

Remember those posts that I wrote about earlier on Criminal Pardons? No, that’s okay 😉 You can view those posts HERE.

There I wrote about the idea that the Canadian Government raise the pardon application fee from $150 to $631. Can’t forget about that one-dollar…god forbid we forget about that one-dollar

During some browsing on the web through another task that I had to complete, I came across this consultation report titled “Consultation Report – Proposed Increase to the Pardon Application User Fee”.

There it discussed this new fee and the reasons for and reasons against the new fee. I just decided to write this post to highlight the fact that the difference between those that support it and those that do not support is HUGE!

The report reads

In terms of a breakdown of the responses received, 1,074 individuals/organizations did not support the proposed fee increase while 12 were supportive of the proposed increase

That is

1,074 who did not support

compared to the

12 who did support

the proposed fee increase.

In the end, a total of 16 complaints were also received because of this. Let me guess, all the 12 that supported the proposed fee were 12 of the 16 complaints?! Maybe…maybe not.

Since then, and in May 2011, an Independent Advisory Panel had been created. Don’t want your tax dollars going to process pardon applications? Idea: Why not have them go towards an IAP to make further recommendations either for or against the proposed fee! And if they suggest that the fee not be raised… more of the 12 individuals/organizations tax dollars have gone to waste 😉

I feel bad for those 12. Definitely a minority in this group.

Note: I don’t actually fee bad but for sake of this post…

Something has happened in Alberta today (and it doesn’t have anything to do with Harper)

Did you read my last post titled PM Harper = Honorary Chief Harper?! No? Well, that’s okay.

This other event happened supposedly earlier this Monday morning. Like early 3 AM. According to CBC.

You can read that article titled “Boy, 5, fatally shot at Hobbema, Alta., reserve”

I found it quite odd that just after announcing his “Honorary Chief status” publicly all over his official site and on his twitter, that there was no message of condolences sent out to the family who lost a young child who is from another First Nation in the same province.

You can see below his twitter feed acknowledging his “Honorary Chief status” but no condolences for the family. Or am I missing something again? Screen Shot taken July 11, 2011 @ 7:06 PM.

Undermining one story. Highlighting another.

Do you think that Harper has the entire First Nations people in mind or do you think he is in it just for himself? Hmmmm…

Note: Condolences go out to the boy’s family. Definitely in my prayers. So young. So sad.

PM Harper = Honorary Chief Harper?!

Today, I read a few tweets on my twitter feed claiming that PM Harper was named an “Honorary Chief of the First Nations Blood Tribe in Alberta”. I didn’t believe it until I actually saw PM Harper tweet it himself Wait! Why am I even following PM Harper?! (Well I am not so sure about him actually tweeting it HIMSELF or some intern or student hired for the time being, but you get my point).


Then I noticed that he was given this title because of his 2008 residential school apology.

The article reads:

The honorary Chieftainship was requested by Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head in response to the heartfelt apology in 2008 by the Prime Minister to former students of Indian Residential Schools.

So what does this exactly mean then? Being given the opportunity to be named an “Honorary Chief.” The article further states:

Honorary Chiefs are expected to help promote the cultural pride of the Blackfoot and Kainai and all First Nations. They are expected to maintain the headdress with the highest respect and be an available resource to First Nations.

I don’t even know what this all means. Hmmm, do you think other nations should follow suit?

To read the 2008 residential school apology given by PM Harper himself click HERE.

To view the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada website click HERE.

First Nations Under Surveillance?

“First Nations Under Surveillance”

There is this article floating around saying that First Nations are being watched by the Canadian Government. Not like a “oh look how cute” type watching. Rather more like “1984: Big brother” watching you.

I wrote earlier about Indian smokes and an advertisement published by the Canadian government. In the advertisement it states “cigarettes fuel criminal activity” and a picture of “Indian Smokes.” Check out those posts HERE. And, in my political science class, I remember reading a journal article that stated these contraband “Indian smokes” also fuel terrorist activity.

Okay people, we don’t need news articles telling us that “First Nations” are being watched if the Canadian government creates advertisements or scholars write journal articles that tell others these contraband cigarettes are fuelling criminal or terrorist activity.

Even the military had listed extreme Aboriginal groups as terrorists in their training booklet. This article was only publish last year in the Globe and Mail. Apparently, an apology was and is still supposed to be made for the slip up. You can check out this article and others related to HERE.

Furthermore, this article tells its readers that “INAC was given the lead role to spy on First Nations.” Yeah, sounds everyone is just doing their job…

Canadian Government & Indian Smokes

Canada Government Advertisement
Canadian Government ad

These two above pictures are from an advertisement from a newspaper.

It advertises that you should not by “Contraband Cigarettes” because it will fuel other activities, like trafficking of drugs. Looking at the advertisement and the cigarettes in the picture, it looks like to me a big, giant bag of Indian Smokes. The issue with that is non-First Nations members are going to the First Nations and buying the smokes. I know, there should be some sort of type of filtering in place. There usually is: show your status card and you can buy the smokes. Doesn’t always happen like that.

Read this Globe and Mail article titled Illegal Smokes Hit All-Time High.

The main source for illegal smokes: Natives.

The suggestion: Outlaw all the materials that it takes to make illegal smokes (well, I am sure with some exception).

However, as an Aboriginal, tobacco is widely used at traditional ceremonies. Sometimes the attendance at these ceremonies is in the 100s. I don’t know the extent of this suggestion or if any bills were put in place to help counter the sales of contraband cigarettes. But suggestions like the one above does not take into account that Aboriginal culture still uses tobacco. No, there is no such thing as a peace pipe (That was purely made up for Hollywood Movies. Check out my post titled Documentary: Reel Injun for other facts about Aboriginals and Hollywood). No we don’t just sit around a fire and smoke tobacco all day. The tobacco in the Aboriginal culture is very sacred and is used in various settings. Yes, it can be smoked, but it is not always smoked. Sometimes it is just passed on from one person to another as a form of gratitude.

Tobacco in the Aboriginal culture is very sacred.

I think when people begin to associate “Indian Smokes” with Aboriginals, it takes away from this sacredness. But don’t let the misconceptions fool you. We still use it for ceremonial purposes. Not every Aboriginal smokes tobacco either. I am Aboriginal, and I use tobacco but do not smoke it.

Anyways back to the advertisements, I am not impressed. I am not impressed because in the advertisement it says:

“Do Not Buy Contraband Cigarettes….it fuels criminal activity, such as the trafficking of drugs…”

Thanks Canadian Government, once again. I thought you were trying to improve your relationships with Aboriginals. This ad is a step backwards because it associates contraband smokes, the abundant of them found on First Nations (as stated in the Globe and Mail article) or it associates the Indian Smokes with “drug trafficking.”

What does that mean for Aboriginals: it makes the assumption that drug trafficking happens in great numbers on First Nations (Because isn’t it after all the contraband smokes that come from First Nations. As a logical person, one might begin to think: Aboriginals must also be fueling the criminal activity, such as that as drug trafficking).

My suggestion to the problem: Why not make all cigarettes illegal, and not just the ones made mostly on Canadian First Nations?

Thank you Canadian Government. You’ve done a lovely job, yet again…

Update: This advertisement was found in the UWO Gazette on page 4. Their Style Issue. Volume 104, Issue 87. Don’t worry Gazette, I get it… You have to cover costs through advertisements. Thanks for making this school newspaper free for all readers at UWO.