Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Part Two of Two - A Delectable Lie, a Tree and a Way Forward: Multiculturalism and Aboriginal Policy Compared

As mentioned in part one, I see similarities between Salim Mansur's concerns about multiculturalism (as expressed in his book Delectable Lie) and my concerns about some aspects of current aboriginal policy in Canada.

In both cases, the government enacted legislation in order to gain support from the immigrant and aboriginal communities.  The officials involved wanted to appease those who felt Quebec was getting preferential treatment in constitutional discussions, e.g., those who believed Canada was more than two founding nations.  In addition, politicians wanted to get all sides on board so that constitutional negotiations could be finalized.

The evolutionary climate of the last 40 years of the 20th century gave legislators the idea that it was OK to tinker with liberalism so that societal changes could be accommodated.  But Mansur feels that caving in to the demands of special interest groups results in a weakening of the small l liberalism that is important for maintaining freedom and individual rights in a democratic society.

In fact, it is not just small l liberalism that is at stake, but the security of the country.  There are increasing reports that Islamist and/or pro-Palestinian/anti-Jewish forces are involved with aboriginal protests.

Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Jewish Groups and the Six Nations Occupiers at Caledonia

One of the most glaring examples of this is the nearly six-year occupation by Six Nations militants of the former Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) at Caledonia, Ontario.  You can read my "David Peterson and the Caledonia Crisis" post for more information about this crisis.

Caledonia activist Gary McHale said "when the occupation of DCE first started five Palestinian groups helped finance the occupation, and a Palestinian flag was raised on DCE. . .Since then anti-Israel protesters were seen at DCE. . .At McMaster [University] the same protesters on DCE are organizing Six Nations/Palestinian struggle events."

You can read McHale's February 1, 2012 article about this at the following link.

As McHale explains in the article, some members of the Jewish community have been following this issue with deep concern.  In fact, representatives of the Hamilton-based Never Again Group, which defends Israel and fights anti-Semitism, have been present at events organized by the Caledonia activists.

"Ending Race-Based Policing:  The Caledonia Act"

On February 9, 2012, Toby Barrett, the MPP for Haldimand County (which includes Caledonia), provided the Queen's Park Media Studio for the following people to make presentations about the topic "Ending Race-Based Policing:  The Caledonia Act."

1.   Gary McHale, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE)
2.   Stuart Laughton, Never Again Group
3.   Mary Lou Ambrogio, International Free Press Society-Canada vice-president
4.   Kristin Kaye, Caledonia-based Regional News reporter

You can find out more about the event and presentations at the following links on Mark Vandermaas's Voice of Canada website:

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/queens-park-news-conference-ngos-stand-with-caledonia-activists-for-release-of-caledonia-act-recommendations/

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/stuart-laughton-never-again-group-speech-at-caledonia-act-news-conference-individuals-are-the-ultimate-minorities/

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/mary-lou-ambrogio-international-free-press-society-connects-the-dots-wspeech-at-queens-park-caledonia-act-news-conference/

As Laughton says:
I want to stress that my group has made no opposition to the Natives who make land claims: we only protest the violent manner in which the claims to the Caledonia property were made and the racially skewed responses of the Ontario government. . .Will our next premier instruct police not to enter predominantly Muslim areas of our major cities, and allow microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law to flourish there? . .We also have to consider the effect that racially biased policing has on those Native Canadians, Tamils, Muslims, and others who ask for no special favours and want nothing to do with the more militant members of their community.  Who speaks for them? . .Our citizenry consists of millions and millions and millions of individuals and those INDIVIDUALS are the ultimate minorities.  Each of us has to be treated impartially before the law.
I completely agree with Laughton.  I am generally very supportive of the need by aboriginals to lobby for their rights, and to receive just compensation with regards to property, social justice, and other issues of concern.  But the events at Caledonia, in particular, have made me realize that the process of aboriginals lobbying for their rights can easily get sidetracked by those, like pro-Palestinian/anti-Jewish forces, who have an agenda that may not be in keeping with what all the people at Six Nations want.

Furthermore, what about the third of aboriginals who do not identify themselves as such in the federal census?  Do they share the views of the Six Nations occupiers and their supporters?  See my "Canadian Aboriginal Integration is Better than Assimilation or Parallelism" post for more information about this, and some related information.

Protecting the Rights of Individuals

One of the tests Mansur recommends for determining if a culture is of equal merit and deserves equal respect, is to see how the culture protects individuals (you can find a discussion of this in part one).  The bottom line is, how well is the Ontario government upholding the rights of the Caledonia residents, and, indeed, the rights of the Six Nations residents who are not participating in the occupation?

"Caring Measures" More Important than Attaining "Stratospheric Rights"

Australian anthropologist and linguist, Peter Sutton, has more than 40 years experience with the Aborigines in Australia.  His book, The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the end of the liberal consensus (2009, 2011), is filled with many insights that I share.  Marcia Langton, the Aborigine scholar who penned a foreword for the book, also echoes his concerns.

Sutton complains that too many politicians, lawyers, and activists insist that Aborigines will not be truly happy and fulfilled until all outstanding issues, such as social justice, treaty and reconciliation, have been met.  He responds with ". . .[t]his unscientific mumbo jumbo beggars belief. . .Caring measures. . .rather than documentary measures based on increasingly stratospheric rights. . .lie at the effective end of realistic processes of improvement."

I do not know if Sutton is aware of the Caledonia situation, or if he has read and agrees with the concerns expressed in Mansur's book, Delectable Lie.  Therefore, I do not want to imply that he shares the opinions expressed in this post.  His words, nevertheless, resonate with me in terms of what I see is wrong, not only at Caledonia, but also what I often find is counterproductive regarding aboriginal policy development.

"Caring Measures" We Can Learn from the Six Nations Occupiers' Dog

CANACE videographer, Jeff Parkinson, took this footage, entitled "CANACE attacked on DCE," at a February 18, 2012 hostile encounter between the Six Nations occupiers and non-native residents who were objecting to the occupation.

http://www.youtube.com/CanacehD

As you can see, there was a lot of swearing and shouting and violence.

But photographer David Strutt was there, and was able to capture a more positive moment.

http://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/david-strutt-photos-capture-caledonia-8-history-on-douglas-creek-estates-in-caledonia/

This was when the Six Nations occupiers' dog welcomed Gary McHale.  Vandermaas said: "[f]or this one moment all the hostility evaporated.  David saw that the dog didn't understand hate; it didn't judge us [Caledonia activists] by the DNA running in our blood beneath our white skin.  It just saw a friend.  And David saw hope."

I think this dog can teach us all a few things about hope--and "caring measures."

A Way Forward

Here is a photo I took last summer, of a path in a park near my home:


It reminds me of the fact there is always a chance we will pull ourselves out of this mess, that we will find a way forward to a more peaceful solution.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Delectable Lie, a Tree and a Way Forward: Multiculturalism and Aboriginal Policy Compared - Part One of Two

This is part one of two posts on this topic.

Some Significant Dates Regarding Multiculturalism and Aboriginal Policy

1876                       Indian Act (still in effect today)--mostly affects Status on-reserve Indians (aboriginals)
1955 and prior        Status Indians had to enfranchise (give up their Indian status) when they graduated from college or university
1960                        Status Indians given the right to vote
1969                        Trudeau government issued the Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy (a.k.a. the White Paper), which advocated assimilation of aboriginals into Canadian society, the repeal of the Indian Act, and the end of treaty negotiations
1969-1970               Some aboriginal organizations denounced the White Paper and countered with Citizens Plus (a.k.a. the Red Paper), which recommended greater involvement of aboriginals in decision-making about them
1970s onward          Government funding provided to native organizations for land claims and self-government work
1971                         Multiculturalism Policy of Canada proclaimed
1982                         Multiculturalism entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
1982                         Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms bolstered aboriginal collective rights as opposed to the rights of aboriginal individuals
1985                        Air India Boeing 747 bombed, killing 329 passengers and crew.  Most of the passengers were Canadian citizens of East Indian origin.  Bomb believed to have been planted by Sikh terrorists, but two suspects were acquitted
1988                        Canadian Multiculturalism Act
2006                        CSIS arrested 18 young men in the Toronto area, on charges of planning Islamist terrorist attacks
2008                        Prime Minister Stephen Harper "made a Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools, on behalf of the Government of Canada"
2010                        Canada joined other countries "in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"

As you can see from the above chronology, a great percentage of Canada's multiculturalism and aboriginal policy development occurred during the 1970s to 1980s.  And I contend this is not the only thing the two issues have in common.  I have come to this conclusion after reading Salim Mansur's groundbreaking book Delectable Lie: a liberal repudiation of multiculturalism.

Mansur is a political science professor at Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario) in London, Ontario.  He is also a Sun Media columnist.  In 1971, his mother, younger siblings and he managed to flee from a genocidal civil war in South Asia.  He witnessed savage killings, and considered himself lucky to have got out of it alive.  This was the second time his family had been thrown into the "maelstrom of ethnically driven politics"--the first was during the 1947 Partition of India.

In 1974, Mansur came to Canada.  Here he found "safety, support and an opportunity to begin a new life" as a moderate Sunni Muslim who has denounced Islamism (radical Islam).  He says "Islamism. . .is. . .a mutation of a violent strain of Muslim-religious thought and practice that might be traced back to the earliest years of Islam."

He describes himself as a "naturalized citizen of Canada that is an integral part of the West as a civilization distinct from other civilizations and cultures."  But he provides ample evidence to prove that the values that drew him to this country in the first place, (e.g., (small l) liberal democracy and freedom of speech), are being eroded by "identity politics" and collectivism.

As Mansur says:
although multiculturalism once seemed like a good idea, at least to politicians and others smitten with the ambition for unity, it is increasingly shown to be a lie--a delectable lie, perhaps, yet a lie nevertheless--that is destructive to the West's democratic heritage, values and traditions based on individual rights and freedoms.  This could have been foretold, as indeed those philosophers and historians of ideas who viewed freedom as immeasurably more important than equality in the development of the West did foretell.  They admonished people against the temptation to abridge freedom in pursuit of equality.
Mansur's arguments can be summarized as follows:

A.1        All cultures are not equal.  ". . .[T]he worm inside the doctrine of multiculturalism is the lie that all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom and democracy.  The concerted assault by the Islamists on the essential and life-affirming values based on individual rights and freedoms is proof of this lie. . .[T]here are established criteria making it possible to judge the achievements of all cultures. . .but the primary criterion that makes possible all human achievement is freedom."

A.2       Two tests can be applied regarding cultural equality.  There are two tests that can be applied to determine if a culture is of equal merit and deserves equal respect: protection of the rights of the individual, and the treatment of women.

A.2.1     Rights of individuals.  Islamists do not protect the rights of individuals.  They believe in silencing their critics, including within the Muslim community.  They will go to extreme lengths in order to achieve this, including murdering those who criticize them. 

A.2.2      Treatment of women.  Islamists practise shariah (a.k.a. shari'ah) law, which restricts the actions of women and non-Muslims, and is considered misogynist and overly punitive by its critics.

A.3         Enemies of the West can weaken Canada from within.  "There are enemies of the West who hate its civic culture, its freedom and democracy, as do the Islamists who organized the terrorist strikes on 9/11.  And ironically these enemies find that multiculturalism increasingly in the post-9/11 world works in tandem with their interests to weaken the West politically and culturally from the inside."

A.4         Old World conflicts brought to Canada.  Mansur believes that Western civilization frees the individual "from the collectivist hold of tribe, caste, church, nation, class and any ideology that made him a mere cog in the wheel."  His concern is that immigrants sometimes bring their tribally oriented hatreds and conflicts into Canada.

A.5         Recognition of a unifying Canadian culture.  He realizes that multiculturalism is very deeply engrained in the Canadian state, but believes "there is room for constraining any future growth. . .at the expense of the liberal values of freedom and individual rights."  He feels that "in order for this to occur. . .there must be a clear understanding. . .that there is a unifying Canadian culture deeply embedded in the values of the West and shaped by the Enlightenment."

Mansur's words remind me of a tree in my neighbourhood that has grown up on both sides of a fence, the one side encased in the fence.  I used a photo of the encased side of the tree in my "Canadian Aboriginal Integration is Better than Assimilation or Parallelism" post to demonstrate my concerns about those aboriginals who want to separate from Canada (I see the encased side as representing them).  I would now like to extend my interpretation to say that the encased side of the tree represents what multiculturalism is doing to Canada, and the free side of the tree:

represents the Canada that I think Mansur would like to see, and I know I would like to see.

In my next post (Part Two of Two) I will compare Mansur's concerns about multiculturalism with my concerns about some aspects of current aboriginal policy.

Note 1:  I will  provide more of an explanation of many of the items listed in the bibliography in my next post (Part Two).

Note 2:  Listing these works in my bibiography does not necessarily mean that the authors and/or organizations who published them agree with Mansur's or my views.

Bibliography

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.  "Canada's Statement of Support on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." November 12, 2010.  <www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng>

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.  "Statement of Apology." June 11, 2008  <www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng>

Cairns, Alan.  Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State.  Vancouver:  UBC Press, 2000.

Dreidger, Leo and Jean Burnet.  "Multiculturalism." 2012.  Canadian Encyclopedia.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>

Getty, Ian.  "Harold Cardinal."  Canadian Encyclopedia.  2012.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>

Gibson, Gordon.  A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy.  Calgary: Fraser Institute, 2009.

Henderson, William B.  "Native People, Law."  2012.  Canadian Encyclopedia.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>

International Free Press Society-Canada.  "Salim Mansur-Reviews."  2012.  <www.ifpscanada.com>

Mansur, Salim.  Delectable Lie: a liberal repudiation of multiculturalism.  Brantford, ON: Mantua Books, 2011.

McCardle, Bennett.  "Enfranchisement."  2012.  Canadian Encyclopedia.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>

McCue, Harvey.  "Indian."  2012.  Canadian Encyclopedia.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>

Taylor, John Leonard.  "Aboriginal People, Government Policy."  2012.  Canadian Encyclopedia.  <www.canadianencyclopedia.com>