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.

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 Michael 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.

December 11 update.

Michael Chong regularly intervenes in parliament to comment about China, and regularly posts videos to Facebook. It appears to be constant repeats of the same argument.

I couldn't figure out why he was so obsessed with China until I looked closer at his biography.  His father was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada in 1952.  This was his father moving from a part of a country under a temporary British occupation (Hong Kong under 99 year lease to the British) to a country under apparent permanent British occupation.  The Dominion of Canada was created as a satellite government of the British Empire. This British dominion has been dishonestly trying to claim exclusive governance over lands the British signed treaties with First Nations to share.

When I hear Michael Chong talking about "human rights" with respect to China, he appears to really only mean "British". I believe it should be understood and respected that China is not British, and that Hong Kong is no longer British since that "99 year lease" ended in 1997.  The idea that being British is good and being not-British is bad is not something I think a modern politician should think or be promoting. The British Empire has had, and continues to have, a poor record when it comes to human rights -- so much that a special United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was required to clarify that colonies such as Canada must start to protect at least a bare minimum of human rights.

I suspect I wouldn't have to ask Michael Chong's opinion on the British Monarchy, and if Canada should mature to become a republic and no longer embarrassingly being part of the British Empire under the British Monarchy.  The ongoing harm of colonialism is something we should be trying to repair, not something to be proud of and promoting internationally.

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 responsibility 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. (Update: See resources of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Biships)   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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Eco-capitalism, eco-socialism, and decolonization

Albert Einstein once said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

While I couldn't articulate why, I have been skeptical of movements such as eco-capitalism and eco-socialism for a long time. I have even been skeptical of the potential effectiveness of the Green New Deal. With my recent anti-racism learning I believe I've figured out an important missing piece in my own thinking.


I was stuck inside the bubble of a "western worldview", and could not figure out any way to effectively solve environmental problems within that bubble.


Bob Joseph, author of a few books I would recommend, provides a (very) simplified summary of some of the differences between indigenous peoples worldviews vs western worldviews. Those differences that are not directly related to our relationship with our environment have come up in other materials I've read/watched relating to anti-racism.

Indigenous worldviews (I) vs Western worldviews (W)


1.(I) Spiritually orientated society. System based on belief and spiritual world.
1.(W) Scientific, skeptical. Requiring proof as a basis of belief.

This area is more complex than the article had room for, given there hasn't been a bright line between Christianity and western philosophy or science given the common origins within the Roman Empire. What I have noticed is that western religious views tend towards the hierarchical, rather than spirituality coupled with non-interference we see in indigenous societies.

The Roman Catholic church has yet to repeal or even apologize for the Papal Bull "Inter Caetera," issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493. This created the doctrine of discovery that resulted in the ongoing harm of colonialism against nations not previously subjects of a European Christian monarch. Not only has Canada not dealt with the harm from Christian run residential schools once they were finally closed, but Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario still offensively operate Catholic schools.

My own strong support of secularism comes from a rejection of the harmful influence that the foreign political hierarchy within many religions has often had on governance. I believe in spirituality, but not the imposition of a narrow experience of spirituality onto governance.

2.(I) There can be many truths; truths are dependent upon individual experiences.
2.(W) There is only one truth, based on science or Western style law.

The western belief in objectivity is discussed in the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo as one of the pillars of white supremacy.

There is a western claim that science is objective. While science provides a method of answering questions, what questions are asked and how observations are interpreted remain subjective. Indigenous science recognizes this, while western science does not and will regularly be oblivious to the biases of the scientist (or those directing and/or funding scientists to focus only on specific questions).

Western style law doesn't try to understand individual experience, but focuses on hierarchical enforced obedience built upon the monarchies the worldview formed from. This is finally being discussed in the west under the title of "Defund the Police", as there is a gradual recognition that enforced conformity is not a healthy way to organize a society.

I have noticed this same problem exists in capitalist societies as well as socialist/communist societies. While small communities can exercise capitalism and/or socialism without top-down oppression as there are other ways to maintain social cohesion, I've yet to see any example of these systems being scaled up without considerable problems with excessive and violent enforcement.

While some politicians in Ottawa have recognized there are "victims of communism" and even created a memorial in Ottawa, they have yet to recognize there are equally "victims of capitalism". Like asking a fish what water is, they are oblivious to the impacts.

3.(I) Society operates in a state of relatedness. Everything and everyone is related. There is real belief that people, objects and the environment are all connected. Law, kinship and spirituality reinforce this connectedness. Identity comes from connections.
3.(W) Compartmentalized society, becoming more so.

Today there is an "election" happening in the USA, the westernized part of which is so obviously compartmentalized that different ideological camps don't appear to exist on the same planet.

This isn't an accident, but what results when you build strongly hierarchical governance systems (so much economic and political power in the hands of so few), and treat people as consumers with some "entitlements" rather than as citizens with "responsibilities" to all relations. No matter who wins this election, that systemic problem will remain and the system will remain easily exploited by corrupt individuals. This systemic vulnerability has obvious environmental implications.


My mind has always been comfortable with everything being connected, which has made the computer networking part of my job easy. It has made talking to people about politics harder as most people consider different subject and policy areas as separate, and don't as easily see the "unintended consequences" of changes in one area on another. (IE: the IMO obvious impact of anti-circumvention legislation being added to "copyright" on the right-to-repair in agriculture or transportation).


4.(I) The land is sacred and usually given by a creator or supreme being.
4.(W) The land and its resources should be available for development and extraction for the benefit of humans.

This is similar to  (3), this relates to (7), as indigenous views recognize relations not only with fellow humans, but also animals and the land (water, air, etc). Just as some westerners consider human life and property rights to be sacred, indigenous consider more than humans to be sacred.

Start with this understanding of worldviews, and then read "a little lesson in the basics of economics" from Scott McLoed.

Westerners tend to treat land as having no inherent value, and thus don't believe they should have to provide adequate compensation for that value when they extract from land, or be barred from extraction beyond the carrying capacity of that land.

This has been my view of the energy sector in the prairies for as long as I can remember.  While prairie politicians constantly claim that sector has been the single largest contributor to Canada's economy, I believe it has been the single largest contributor to Canada's debt. Exploitation of the land beyond its carrying capacity is not wealth, but debt that will need to be paid down at some point in the future. The global climate crisis is only one example of where some of that debt repayment is due.

(See also:  Why I don't believe Alberta is bullied by extractive industries such as Big Oil )

5.(I) Time is non-linear, cyclical in nature. Time is measured in cyclical events. The seasons are central to this cyclical concept.
5.(W) Time is usually linearly structured and future orientated. The framework of months, years, days etc reinforces the linear structure.

Being future-oriented often also makes westerners unable to fix past problems caused by their worldviews, which they believe it has nothing to do with them. Canadians born here like to believe that any harm from colonialism has nothing to do with them, not understanding that colonialism is an ongoing project they are currently involved in.

6.(I) Feeling comfortable is measured by the quality of your relationships with people.
6.(W) Feeling comfortable is related to how successful you feel you have been in achieving your goals.

For many westerners this is synonymous with (8), where their primary goal is amassing wealth for personal gain.

7.(I) Human beings are not the most important in the world.
7.(W) Human beings are most important in the world.

This is obviously connected to environmentalism, as you are always fighting against western worldviews whenever trying to recognize any inherent value in anything that isn't human. It has even been hard to get some western thinkers to recognize the inherent value in other humans, or think of other humans as more than human resources to be exploited for personal gain.

8.(I) Amassing wealth is important for the good of the community
8.(W) Amassing wealth is for personal gain

And not surprisingly, the phrase "moderate livelihood" is only ever applied to indigenous treaty partners, and never Canadian or other foreign economic interests.

Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, has written about this in the context of food security for a long time. We don't have a problem with the production of food, but the distribution of food. In other words, famine is closely linked to poverty and growing more food doesn't solve famine.

We have no shortage of prosperity in the world, but a problem with an inability of some (primarily westerners) to recognize the need to share. It is not the case that those who have amassed the most wealth did so by contributing the greatest value to the economy, but through exploiting seriously flawed economic policies. It is those policies which manufacture poverty and famine, and not the fault of any individual.

These are obvious flaws in Adam Smith's Capitalism (British economist, born in Scotland, authored "Wealth of Nations" in 1776) which Karl Marx's Socialism (German, born in 1818, published Das Kapital between 1867-1883) tried to account for and propose corrections. I do not, however, believe other problems caused by western worldviews can be corrected by remaining within a western worldview.

I have noticed that the most socialist thinking people I've ever had discussions with are not interested in living within our means, or having better more-than-human relations. They are narrowly focused on ensuring that the spoils of exploitation of non-humans are evenly distributed between humans. They try to make adjustments to who wealth is amassed for(8) without attempting to recognize that this is not the only critical flaw in western worldviews when it comes to attempting to build ecologically and socially sustainable societies.

I became familiar with eco-capitalist theories when I was involved in the Green Party (Ontario and Canada) in the 1990's, where much of the thinking came from the eco-capitalist German Green Party. While I was a strong believer in the 1990's, I've become more and more skeptical over the years. It felt to me that most of the ways in which eco-capitalism is flawed was shared with eco-socialism, and in fact the socialists seemed to want to increase the rate of non-human exploitation in order to raise what they considered to be the standard of living for all humans globally(7).

Eco-capitalists and eco-socialists will each try to merge environmental politics with their existing focus on human labour and other human activity(7). For them, the differentiating question is how great a separation there is between the owners of the means of production and labour(8).


What if instead of focusing on Europeans and their worldviews, we looked more closely at what peoples of the content that Europeans call "North America" learned before Adam Smith or Karl Marx were born? I believe we would end up with something that would not be as much in internal conflict, even if it had some overlap with thinking that was built upon western worldviews.

To be clear, I am not talking about going backwards in time. Peoples with indigenous worldviews have existed in and continue to exist in parallel with people who were born on this continent with western worldviews.

What I am discussing is decolonization, which in my mind includes North Americans moving away from European (western) worldviews and adopting more current domestic worldviews and laws. This will have many components, and will need to be done gradually, but should be understood as the ultimate goal rather than merely moving between various economic systems built upon flawed western worldviews.


In the short term I believe #LandBack and honoring treaties is critically important, allowing indigenous communities to recover. It is hard for them to help the rest of us adopt more healthy worldviews while colonialism is still pushing them down. While there are many conflicts between indigenous and western law, even if Canada became more legitimate and respected their own laws (including at least respecting the English interpretation of treaties that were written down) it would be a massive improvement over the current ongoing colonialism project.


For further and more advanced thinking on this topic, a transcript of a speech given by Russell Means in 1980 is available: Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”

Listening to him talk to a US Senate Special Committee in 1989 reminds us of how similar and dishonorable the Canadian and US western worldview colonial governments have been.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Scott McLoed's "a little lesson in the basics of economics"

Written by Scott McLeod, Chief of Nipissing First Nation,

I believe this was posted in 2018. Republished with permission.

Last week I was sitting beside a non Indigenous gentleman at the airport waiting for my connecting flight. He struck up a conversation with me which, for the most part was pleasant enough (he was actually from sturgeon). When he inquired to what it is I do for work I informed him that I was Chief of my community. His reply was simply "Oh so I pay your salary?" Rather than being insulted and getting angry I decided to do him a favour and educate him a little. My reply: "Sir, a little lesson in the basics of economics may give you a better understanding of how things actually work. The very fundamental ingredient for any economy in this world is having a land base, one that is rich in resources. These resources are harvested, extracted or grown from that land. This creates work/jobs, commodities and revenues. This in turn creates a workforce that pays into a tax base that creates roads, infrastructures, schools and hospitals. This workforce in turn needs services and goods which expands this economy creating more businesses and more jobs. Pretty basic stuff. Now, where do you think this land base came from sir? The Indigenous people of "Canada" signed Treaties to share our land base so Indigenous and non indigenous could all prosper from the richness of our land base. Instead, our people got raped, murdered, thrown in residential schools, jails and marginalized from the economic benefits of our own land and became the poorest people as a result. So no matter what job or business you have, Indigenous people have paid and continue to pay YOUR salary every single day whether you'd like to admit it or not. No land base = no country = no economy = no job, it's really that simple"

To all my non Indigenous friends, this week is Treaty Recognition Week, if you believe Canada is the best country in the world please take the time to learn about it's real history and be thankful.

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Treaties Recognition Week is the first week of November every year. Treaties Recognition Week was introduced in 2016 in the Government of Ontario to honour the importance of treaties and to help Ontarians learn more about treaty rights and treaty relationships.

Those who aren't familiar with the treaties that form the basis of Canada may also not be familiar with the language of "Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows..." used by the Government of Ontario. Canada isn't yet a country separate from Britain or the British monarchy, but a constitutional monarchy.

There are Treaty Week 2020 events, including the sovereign treaty signatories of the Robinson Huron Treaty.