Monday, November 23, 2020

Letter to Ottawa Police Services Board

I sent the following as an email to the Ottawa Police Services Board.


[Full mailing address]


I couldn't have written to you about this last year at this time.  Like most Canadians, I believed systemic racism was about systems (like police forces) which contained racist individuals.  In that context I would have wanted to focus on finding those "few bad apples", and not needed to discuss further.

This calendar year we were hit with a series of events: Wet'suwet'en blockades, conspiracy theories about COVID and China, and the most recent Black Lives Matters protests.

While I was born in Ontario in 1968, and have lived most of my life oblivious, I decided to learn what was happening.  This year I read many books and research papers, watched documentaries, took an online university course hosted by University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies, and reached out to communities.


I now know that systemic racism is about systems built from racist world views.  

Canadian law is built upon British law, not North American (Turtle Island) law. This law embeds assumptions about how British and other European worldviews are superior. The Canadian governments (federal, provincial and municipal) were all built upon ideas derived from colonialism, and thus have racist ideas baked into them.


I am aware of how hard this is to read.  I know that who I was last year would have recoiled at and ridiculed the very suggestion that Canada itself is rooted on ideas which are white supremacist.  White supremacy in my mind was about skinheads wanting a whites-only nation -- a very fringe view within Canada. I would never have thought that a country built on the idea that European worldviews are presumed superior to any other is how white supremacy works.



This brings us to law enforcement.

Police don't simply make "risk assessments" and ensure public safety as your statement suggests. They make human assessments as to what would make their jobs easier.

It does not require any individual police officer to personally be aware of holding any racist views for the Ottawa Police to be systemically racist.  The laws which they are expected to enforce, and the policy priorities encoded within those laws, are themselves racist.


The recent downtown protests are an example of the problem.  Most people in Ottawa remain oblivious to the systemic racism around them: similar to asking a fish what water is.

As they don't see racism, they ignore people trying to bring attention to it.  Getting their attention requires that "normal life" be disrupted in order to get people to pay attention.  This means shutting down rail lines as First Nations did and holding major parts of the Canadian economy hostage. It requires people to block important intersections in Ottawa.  If people were protesting in a government designated area they would never be noticed, and nothing to fix systemic problems could ever happen.

The policy priority embedded in the law was to remove the economic and transportation inconvenience. The priority was not to ensure that critical policy issues are made visible to constituents or their "representatives", or to allow our democracy to become more participatory. Individuals were charged for doing their civic duty because it inconvenienced motorists.



I believe it is unfortunate that these events must disrupt Canadian society, and the citizens of Ottawa, but I see no other way. I know from my personal experience what it takes to wake up and recognise what is going on around me.

My hope is that City of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Police Services Board, will recognise the problem that people are trying to bring attention to. I hope that the urgency will be understood.  COVID is not the only pandemic we find ourselves dealing with, and I believe systemic racism embedded into our laws and other policies needs to be recognised as well.





Side note:  I am very happy that Ottawa isn't as racist as some municipalities.

I am closely watching what is happening in Caledonia.  Ken Hewitt, the mayor of Haldimand County, deliberately initiates violent situations for personal gain. There is some activity that can be excused from people who are unaware, and then there are people who are fully aware and are simply bad people.

http://mcormond.blogspot.com/2020/11/support-1492-Land-Back-Lane.html


Saturday, November 21, 2020

The colour of religion and opposition to secularism.

When I think of religion and its impact on politics, I look at a few criteria:


  • Is the religion hereditary, or does it increase membership through conversion. How aggressive is the conversion, and how do they treat people who don't convert?
  • Is it an example of spirituality, or does it contain a hierarchical political force?  Does that political force have state aspirations?
  • How populous is the religion, and thus how much influence can it exert on global politics?


Only 3 religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) currently have populations above 10%, and thus those are the religions that concern me the most. While it is fortunate that none of these religions have achieved 50% of the global population, it would be incorrect to think of any of these religions as minorities.

 

Consistent with my antiracism reading this year, I remain focused on systems.  I don't think about individual practitioners, where they live, or where their ancestors came from (and thus skin melanin). This works well for me as I have always been more comfortable thinking about systems and the connections between systems, and less comfortable with the concept of  individuality.


While these are my criteria and mindset, other people see religion very differently. They look at the race and ethnicity of the individual practitioner, and focus on that and not religious systems.


 

While Islam and Christianity originated in the middle east, it was Christianity that took over Europe. Judea and Europe were part of the Roman empire at the time, while Mecca was within Arabia. Given the subjects of Christian monarchs were sent by the Italian Pope (Doctrine of Discovery) to colonize and convert the world to Christianity, it is now hard to clearly differentiate European worldviews or even white supremacy from Christianity.

 

I personally know many people of Indian (the country) descent.  When they hear critiques of "ostentatious religious symbols" they think of the turban and hi·jab, not the religious habit of Christianity or the cross.  They feel that whole discussion is only an attack against brown people.

This is a hard problem to attempt to deal with. While I see so many people being critical of those of faiths different than their own, I don't think it is correct to lump into the same basket those fighting for a separation of every church from governance.

 

Religious groups quarrel with each other quite regularly, and have ongoing wars.  Those who are Christian and are only critiquing non-Christians, as well as those who are Muslim and only critique non-Muslims, are on the opposite side of the debate as those of us fighting for secularism. 

Some people have been able to move beyond individuals to systems, and finally recognize centuries of harmful political influence of the Catholic Church specifically, and Christianity generally. Even as this happens, issues around race make them unable to recognize religions not dominated by white people as being a similar threat.


While I recognize this problem, I can't think of a solution.  I am aware that I will regularly be considered a racist and/or bigot for opposing religious symbols being worn by people providing specific government services.  If I went to court and saw the judge wearing a cross or hi-jab I would not consider them any more trustworthy to do their job correctly than if the judge were wearing a MAGA cap.

(leave alone any mention of a specific symbol used in various religions in India that the Germans abused in the 1930's. Few westerners are even aware of the original meaning).

Saying nothing, and allowing religion to continue to be abused to manipulate and/or dictate the politics of nations is not an option.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Why teachers, unions, and teachers unions should support 1492 Land Back Lane

Facebook friend Anthony Marco posted about a donation made to 1492 Land Back Lane on behalf of OSSTF District 21 (Hamilton-Wentworth) Political Action Committee (See: Statement of Solidarity).  He issued a challenge for other union locals to take similar action.

 

The flag of the Hamilton & District Labour Council proudly flies  at 1492 Land Back Lane, on a roadblock put up to protect people now being forced to occupy that land to stop its destruction by "developers" who falsely claim they purchased legitimate title to it.


I am a settler Canadian who has been following this issue closely. My wife and I are godparents, and I reached out to their father. He recently retired, but was actively involved in the teachers union. He has put me in touch with other people, and I hope this discussion will continue across a large web of relations.


While donations from more PACs would be great, I think having the discussion is important whether it results in a donation or not. I strongly believe building better relations with the First Civilizations of North America (AKA: Turtle Island) would make us all better peoples.


Check your western world views & privilege at the door...

If you are not already well versed in indigineous worldviews, I recommend to start with a primer by author Bob Joseph:  Indigenous Peoples Worldviews vs Western Worldviews.

The western focus on individuality pulls us out of time, and our thinking of land only for its resources and benefits to humans pulls us out of place.  We don't think of ourselves as the same peoples we were 7 generations ago, and we do not feel responsibility for those generations or toward the 7 generations yet to come.

 

A tiny slice of our shared history

Possibly back in 1192CE the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy formed their participatory democracy via the Great Law of Peace - their oral constitution.  This brought together the 6 nations comprising Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora peoples.

This is important to know that this is an advanced democratically governed civilization, and not only nations or tribes.  Far too many westerners believe that Europeans brought civilization and democracy from Europe.  We must realize that while the Haudenosaunee is a democratic civilization, at contact time the Europeans were merely subjects of Christian monarchs.

Westerners self identifying as progressive are trying to tackle problems in Canada including environmental degradation, massive income inequality, racism, sexism and sexual violence, LGBTQ+ and gender diversity. These are all systemic problems brought to North America by colonialism.

(If the part about indigenous sexuality peaks your interest, I recommend an interview of Dr. KIM TALLBEAR on Reviving Kinship and Sexual Abundance)


In 1784CE, Sir Frederick Haldimand signed a decree that granted a tract of land to the Haudenosaunee (AKA 6 nations) in compensation for their alliance with British forces during the American Revolution. The Haldimand Tract extended for 6 miles (10 km) on each side of the Grand River from its source to Lake Erie. First Nations across what is called Canada have remained aligned with the British and Canada and participated in the war of 1812 as well as volunteering during the first and second world wars (European vs European wars, dragging along allies), in order to protect the parties of those treaties.


The British parliament passed the British North America Act in 1867, and the Canada Act in 1982. After theoretically legislating a separate country into existence, the British have tried to wash their hands of any responsibilities in relation to British North America. Despite that, section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 affirms the treaties First Civilizations made with the British as well as with Canada. While the Canadian government tries to avoid honoring its treaty obligations, the rule of law isn't on their side.

 

In the 1920’s the Six Nations of the Grand River applied for membership in the League of Nations (what later became the United Nations). The UK forced its colonies to block their entry.  If this type of blocking sounds familiar, we need to remember that Canadians like to be upset at China for doing similar with Hong Kong and Taiwan.


1924: A History of Governance at Grand River.


The ongoing Canadian protest against first civilizations


Fast forward a few more generations, along with the ongoing genocide by Canada against indigenous peoples (MMIWG, TRC, etc), to today.

You will find a tiny postage stamp within the Haldimand Tract for a "reservation". The Indian Act created bureaucracy (band council, which is accountable to the Canadian government and not the 6 nations, and thus doesn't have jurisdiction) offers a PDF map that you can zoom into.

The Six Nations of the Grand River reserve is the largest First Nations reserve in Canada by population, and the second largest by size.  Population density is very high, and they need room to grow for their civilization to be healthy.  This overcrowding is already a problem today, and will obviously be a crisis situation long before 7 generations into the future.  As they have relations with the land and each other that westerners wouldn't have, expecting them to just move away from their civilization is not reasonable.

APTN provided an aerial view and some closer maps of the disputed lands "sold" that required 6 nations occupation in 2006 and 2020 to protect.


Looking at the maps you can see that Caledonia is a close neighbor.  The city is constantly attempting to expand closer and closer to the postage stamp sized reservation, putting settlements on land that the 6 nations need to house their own people.  While land disputes are ongoing in the courts, the municipality sells as if they had been granted title. After dishonestly and deliberately initiating a dispute, the municipality will call in the OPP to enforce illegitimate court injunctions (biased courts that exist on the tract, judges living on tract, mayor who bought a house intended to be built on disputed land -- all obvious personal conflicts of interest).

After the OPP commits violence, they and the media that repeats their statements without investigation will falsely claim it is the 6 nations that are violent. It is rubber bullets and tasers so far, but the police have murdered land defenders before. In this round of disputes the OPP themselves send out biased edited footage, not acting as law enforcement but as a partisan political entity.

Every time the media reports the indigenous people as protesters, they are reporting the issue backwards as it is the Canadian government and uninformed Canadians that are doing the protesting against the constitutionally protected legal rights of First Civilizations.

The OPP arrested journalist Karl Dockstader who was instrumental in reporting what is really happening, in contrast with most other media that was repeating extremely biased statements from the mayor and police. (See: tweet from fellow journalist Jesse Brown who has been doing great coverage, CBC indigenous, Canadian Association of Journalists)

The arresting of a journalist is another reminder of horrible things Canada does with little political consequence, and yet Canadians complain when China does the same. Given what happened at Ipperwash with the killing of Dudley George, with a lack of media presence recognized as part of the problem, allowing journalists on-site will save lives!


Money is not the real issue

It is part of the dishonesty of the Canadian governments that food donations and financial support is required for this camp at this time.  While embarrassing to the honor of Canadians, it is a fact we need to deal with today in order for these peoples to have opportunities to receive justice in the future.

Common with other First Civilizations, the Government of Canada owes the 6 Nations of the Grand River a considerable amount of money. Some of that money is held in Six Nations Trust Funds, being controlled by the Canadian government. While these funds are intended to be for the benefit of 6 nations, Canada has instead been using it as a slush fund for government projects such as McGill university and the Welland Canal.

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada hosts a booklet submitted by 6 nations which offers some context. This provides an appropriate overview of the financial obligation that Canada owes to 6 nations, as well as the climate action and other policies that the nation wishes to push forward.

To quote from the purpose section introducing the booklet:

Six Nations of the Grand River understands that Canada does not have enough money to bring historic land issues to resolution under the existing land claims policies.
 

This booklet is an explanation of Six Nations’ land and financial grievances against the Crowns of Canada and Ontario and the need for the establishment of a new perpetual care and maintenance mechanism. A mechanism that would benefit the Six Nations Peoples and their posterity to enjoy forever, while continuing to share the Haldimand Tract lands and resources with our neighbours.

As a reminder to Canadians afraid of the concept of Land Back: They don't want your pool. They don't think with European worldviews, and while they are owed more money than the Canadian economy is worth they have no intention of having Canada declare bankruptcy or filling ships to send people back to the places where they are indigenous.

A talk by Phil Monture given at the University of Waterloo (which sits within the tract) as part of 2017 lecture series can offer additional insights.

 


 

Why teachers?

Given how much education around what Canada is most Canadians are missing, the role of teachers is obvious to me.  I know there has been improvements from when I was in high-school in the 1980's, but we have far to go as a young country (whether we consider it created in 1867, 1982, or some other date). It wasn't only in residential schools were a biased western worldview was taught.

Why unions?


While westerners tend to have tunnel vision caused by individuality, unions are one of those exceptions where westerners will come together on an ongoing basis for common cause. This is most important when political action extends beyond labour disputes with fellow western institutions (western corporate employers).  The 6 nations land dispute is an opportunity for unions to build relations with a First Civilization.  It is the learning and building good relations that is the most important, although meeting Anthony Marco's challenge would also be great.



Note: I've written my Ontario MPP and Canadian MP about these issues approximately once a month.  I posted the first letter, but I have learned so much more about the 6 nations since. I encourage others to do the same.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

China vs Hong Kong, Canada vs Haudenosaunee Confederacy

Michael Chong posted a video to Facebook of his discussion of an opposition day motion on China.


It included this quote:

It violates international law in its treatment of the people of Hong Kong and in its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, such at the Tibetans and the Uighurs in China. In short, China is threatening our interests and our values.

I posted the following reply:


I would like Miochael Chong to compare how Canada treats the Haudenosaunee to how China treats Hong Kong.


The Haudenosaunee are more legitimately understood as a separate nation from Canada, having founded their democracy back in 1142 and having signed treaties with the British. The British and Canadian governments have been working to eradicate that democracy for a long time, with residential schools and the Indian Act band councils being part of Canada's desire to remove democracy. The British and Canada even blocked the Haudenosaunee joining the League of Nations which later became the United Nations.


Hong Kong was "leased" by the British for 99 years, and apparently the western world wants it to remain British.
 

Why is Canada trying to hold China to a higher standard than it holds itself? Whatever one might think about Chinese domestic policy, I don't think it is appropriate for Canada to be critiquing it until it has its own house in order.


I didn't want to get into the role of the Catholic Church in ongoing colonialism, and how that relates to the Uighurs.  What I'm saying is that each of the bad things that Canadians like to criticize China for, Canada did first, did for longer, and continues to do.
 

As the Christians like to say (to others, but rarely themselves), “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”


A reply I received from another Canadian citizen was unfortunate, asking "How can someone form a democracy before that term even landed at it's shores?".

I replied:

The English and Greek languages might not be indigenous to North America (Turtle Island), but the concept of democracy is not European.
Many North American civilisations were healthy democracies back when the majority of Europeans were merely subjects of monarchies.


In the case of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy they are a participatory democracy, which is more democratic than the representative democracy which the Canadian governments use.
 

This is made worse by the fact that Canada is allowing itself to become more centralized, with the unelected PMO having power that previously was vested in the House of Commons. Michael Chong was co-editor of "Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada's Democracy" which discusses these critical issues.

 

Many Canadians can't wrap their minds around the idea that the concepts behind democracy are not uniquely European.

I am aware it is uncomfortable for people to realize this, but this is actually how white supremacy works.   White supremacy isn't about individual skinheads fighting for "white nationalism", but primarily about systems built upon the notion that Europeans and their ideas are automatically superior to everyone else. The current concept of the Dominion of Canada, a British colony that continues to disrespect its treaty relationships with first civilizations, is founded on that notion.


Michael Chong went on to indicate that:

Four of the Five Eyes intelligence partners, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, have banned or put restrictions on Huawei's involvement in their networks. Canada is unilaterally alone in failing to take action.
So, the UK and the 4 British colonies where colonists currently outnumber indigenous.  In this context we should understand the FVEY as an axis of white supremacy, and not as an entity that has the best interests of North Americans, democracy, or human rights in mind.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Quebec and systemic racism

I have noticed a specific example of the association fallacy in the discussion of Quebec's  Bill n°21 : An Act respecting the laicity of the State (Official Status legislation). This bill discusses which subset of persons providing provincial services must offer that service with their face uncovered, and a further smaller subset that must do so without wearing religious symbols. I invite people to read the bill, as much of what is being said about the bill in the media and by opponents is misleading.

The logical fallacy is this: since Premier Francois Legault has been unable to recognize systemic racism in Quebec, then a bill respecting the laicity of Quebec must be racist.


Mr. Legault's failure is a common one.  It is discussed by Robin DiAngelo in White Fragility.  Whites and white societies (like colonial Canada) have tunnel vision because of their adherence to individuality and objectivity, two pillars of white privilege. Until they remove those ideological blinders they are unable to understand how racism works. Racism isn't about individuals at all, but about systems. While an individual can be racist, a focus on the privileged concept of "a few bad apples" makes it impossible to recognize racism.

This problem goes further, in that this tunnel vision of individuality also makes it impossible for people to see the impact of religion on politics. In Quebec the Catholic Church ran health care and education until the Quebec government finally took that over during the quiet revolution (1960's+). As with France, separating the Catholic Church from Quebec's governance and the provision of services is a long and ongoing struggle for freedom.


The Catholic Church, and the papal bull's from the Pope that formed the Doctrine of Discovery, are at the heart of colonialism in Canada, and colonialism is where the racism came from. Catholics in western societies, who ideologically think of themselves as individuals, feel no personal responsibility for the policies of the Catholic Church. They feel no responsible for the fact the Vatican has still not rescinded the papal bulls at the heart of North American colonialism, or even apologized for its active part in residential schools.  If Catholic citizens understood systemic racism and wanted to fight against it, they would do everything in their power as members of Catholicism to force the Vatican to do better. Inaction is consent.

Remember: The Vatican isn't simply a set of buildings, but is considered by the United Nations to be an independent state.  The bias towards the Catholic Church of the specific League of Nations that became the United Nations, and the political threat that represents to other nations (including First Civilizations within Turtle Island), is ongoing.


Some of the recent activism against racism in Quebec is in support of the family of Joyce Echaquan, the 37-year-old mother of seven from the Atikamekw First Nation. She died restrained in a Joliette hospital bed, soon after livestreaming her cries for help and scornful racist comments by staffers whose job it was to care for her.

People are finally recognizing systemic racism in Quebec (and the rest of Canada), but remain unable to see the influence of the Catholic Church or the Vatican in helping build these racist systems.

In my mind it displays a misunderstanding of systemic racism for some of the same people who are protesting against the treatment of Joyce Echaquan to also be protesting against Bill 21.  Fixing the systems behind what caused Joyce Echaquan's death requires protecting the laicity of the state.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Trudeau's Trumpisms: There were not fine people on both sides.

While the "very fine people" meme about Trump isn't entirely accurate, it is accurate to suggest Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is guilty of worse.  Trudeau tried to suggest false relevancy when he offensively included the suggestion that "freedom of expression is not without limits" when discussing a teacher being beheaded as an act of terrorism. Suggesting that the teacher who was murdered had any fault at all is more dangerous than negotiating with terrorists, and grants power to that terrorism. This should not be tolerated, and I am glad that many people are condemning Justin Trudeau for this.

 

 

My position on tolerance of religious influence on governments and politics has been clear.  I am a strong supporter of secularism, which is the separation of church (the threat) from a democratic state (what needs to be protected).

My beliefs aren't tied to any specific religion, but on how hierarchical and powerful a political structure exists, and how much they wish to impose their views on non-adherents and other political structures. If you want to know which religion I wish to have extracted from politics you only need to look at the List of religious populations, with the top 3 threats at this point in history being Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Any religion that is political enough to want to have its own nation-state is in my opinion a foreign political threat against any democratic state.


Every Canadian should be aware that Catholic Monarchs funded Christopher Columbus, and that it was papal bulls from the Catholic Pope that were used to justify the doctrine of discovery.  The concept is simple: subjects of Christian Monarchs were to take over lands (and remove existing civilizations, including democratic nations) not under the control of Christian Monarchs.

It is not only residential schools which the Pope and Catholic Church specifically, and Christianity generally, has never adequately apologized or made amends for.  These papal bulls, which the colonial United States and its supreme court considered international law, have never been rescinded.  This means that the political interference from Christianity against North American civilizations, parts of which have been recognized as a form of "race-based genocide", is still considered current policy of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican was granted permanent observer state status in 1964, and while it hasn't applied to be a member is given considerable privileges.  Let this sink in...

 

In the 1920’s the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also known as the Iroquois Six Nations from Grand River Ontario, applied for membership in the League of Nations (what later became the United Nations). The UK forced its colonies to block their entry, a civilization that had a democracy that dated back to the 1100's, and yet the political headquarters of a specific denomination of a religion is able to directly influence the United Nations.


1924: A History of Governance at Grand River from Grand River Governance on Vimeo.

 

 

While the specific violence being discussed in France this year wasn't perpetrated by Christians in the name of Christianity, the relationship seem obvious to me.  Countries such as France have a very sorted history with carrying out extreme violence in the name of religion, including on Turtle Island. Where I type from today was part of New France and later the British colony of Quebec, province of Canada, and most recently part of what is currently called Ontario. (It is actually unceded Algonquin territory)

Given that history there was a fight for freedom by separating church from France, specifically reducing the influence of the Catholic Church.  This is a hard-fought process that has been ongoing for over a hundred years, and secularism ( laïcité ) is currently a constitutional principle of France. It isn't yet perfectly separated, but it is headed in the right direction.

Given this history, it should be no surprise that the French will aggressively and justifiably push against the very notion that the harmful influence of the Catholic Church should be allowed to be replaced with harmful Islamic political interference.

As Christianity was successful in falsely claiming that their political influence was only a matter of culture or spiritual beliefs, Islamic politics does the same. There is something fundamentally different between the political influence of church (especially any that have state aspirations) and culture, and it is both offensive and dangerous to equate the two.  In fact, allowing the influence of religion within politics is opposed to the concept of multiculturalism, especially from the most aggressive religions such as Christianity and Islam which seek to impose themselves onto others.

While Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are the last piece of French territory in North America, I applaud the Quebec provincial government for following the lead of France in separating the Catholic Church from Quebec.  Allowing the Catholic Church to administer healthcare and education, the two primary responsibilities of a province in Canada, should be recognized as a dark time in Quebec history.  Their ongoing fight for laïcité should be both applauded and emulated within the rest of Canada, and hopefully eventually the rest of the world.


I found Justin Trudeau offensive when he tried to one-up Singh's offensive attacks against Quebec's progressive Bill 21 during the last federal election. I am offended this year when he suggested that someone being critical of religious doctrine by showing pictures did anything remotely wrong.  For me this is not a matter of freedom of speech or multiculturalism, but an example of Trudeau and others who agree with him being apologists for terrorism and related religious threats to democratic states.

Justin Trudeau and other Canadians must start to do better!


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Poppy politics

The yearly debate about whether the poppy is a political statement bumped into a special form of Canadian patriotism this year, namely the mainstream media's opposition to US based Amazon and subsidiaries such as Whole Foods Market.


I want to start with Whole Food Market's ban on political symbols being added to work uniforms. On this I have mixed feelings.  

There are some types of jobs, such as those that are providing specific government services, where employees need to be, and be seen as, impartial.  This isn't possible if employees in specifically sensitive positions are allowed to wear political and/or religious symbols. I don't think this need for impartiality exists with someone working at a grocery store, and I don't think Whole Foods was attempting to make that argument.

In their case they were trying to keep the increasingly divisive politics outside of the workplace.  Whether the law should protect or prohibit that, I don't have that strong opinion on and can be convinced either way.  I've seen how large companies like Google are having problems with divisive politics within the company, but I don't think we need policies to allow large companies to function. (See Cory Doctorow's How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism)



I've personally gone through all stages of the remembrance day and poppy debate.

  • In my youth I believed what I was told, which is that this is a symbol to remember war veterans and the horrors of war so that we will do everything we can to avoid war in the future.  Many of my uncles on my fathers side, and my grandfather on my mothers side, were war veterans so I wore the poppy proudly. It never occurred to me there was any other way to think.

  • In my early 20's (in the 1990's) I started to notice the symbol being used to promote Canadian patriotism and Canadian military campaigns.  This to me felt like the opposite of reminding us why we should avoid war, but instead promoting some of the very "us vs them" mentality that leads us to war. I've read numerous articles over the years discussing how many veterans in a variety of commonwealth countries (and the UK itself) have the same complaint.

    I stopped wearing the poppy.  In recent years I became aware of the White Poppies, and was considering that.

  • This year as part of my antiracism training I learned about the origins of the Dominion of Canada.  I was already not patriotic, and am less so as I better understand how Canada was formed and the existing civilizations that Canada is still working to eradicate.
    • Treaties were signed between European and North American nations, where the Europeans haven't upheld their side of the treaties.
    • How legitimate is is for Europeans to claim they created a nation separate from themselves without the permission of the civilizations and nations that existed (and continue to exist) in North America prior to and after European contact?
    • Many of these North American nations were already long standing democracies, while the European Christian monarchies were not. Those subjects of Christian monarchies were given permission to replace existing civilizations via a series of papal bulls from the Pope that have yet to be rescinded.
    • Has Canada and Brittan always been on the side of "freedom and democracy"?  Is it only a specific subset of wars and veterans that we should be honoring, and if so which ones?
    • What about the decedents of 6 nations war veterans where the
      Ontario and Canadian governments are still trying to violate treaties and kick them off their own land (See: 1492 Landback Lane).
    • Was a new country formed when the British North America Act was passed in 1867 by the British parliament?
    • Was a new country formed in when the Canada Act was passed in 1982 by the British parliament?
    • Will a new country be formed if Canada declares itself a republic and members of the new parliament and immigrants no longer have to swear allegiance to the British monarchy?

 

To me it is obvious that the poppy is a political statement, even if most of the people wearing it aren't yet aware of that statement. We need to be able to discuss these political issues if ever we are to understand these statements.

 

The poppy is a symbol of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.  While this is well understood in Ireland, it seems most Canadians are unaware.  I don't consider the poppy to be less political than a symbol for Black Lives Matter or gender diversity -- things which I believe shouldn't be considered controversial at all.  I have recently become aware of how colonialism brought with it gender binaries, the patriarchy and racism, and this is part of my opposition to the commonwealth.  Allowing the poppy while disallowing BLM/LGBT symbols only makes the political statement more obvious.
 

While Whole Foods was seeking to ban all political symbols, organizations like Global News apparently told employees that poppies should be warn by all Global News anchors, reporters and radio hosts appearing on television and in online videos from Sunday November 1st to Wednesday November 11th.

While I now recognize that objectivity and individuality are white privileges, and that objectivity doesn't exist (including in journalism), it is important for journalists to be aware of the biases they are projecting while wearing these political symbols. If they are seeking to be seen as more impartial, then they shouldn't be wearing these symbols.


This is not a uniquely Canadian debate, or debates in the colonies, but is also being discussed within the UK.