Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020: Who to direct anger to for COVID-19 economic hardships.

Many people are writing and talking about how they are happy to see the end of 2020. I posted a Goodbye 2018 as that had been a rough year for me personally. I hadn't been up to writing anything that year since April when I wrote about my new job.

Since then I have been thinking about my future in a different way than I had in the past. The year 2020 introduced changes greater than 2019.

This Gregorian calendar year I paid close attention to a series of events: Wet'suwet'en blockades, conspiracy theories about COVID and China, and the most recent Black Lives Matters protests.  This inspired me to learn more, and I started some self-directed anti-racism training. As I was born in a place recently called Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, this quickly lead me to learning about the indigenous civilizations and peoples of this homeland.

This has been a important turn in my own life. While there was some discomfort during this year due to the pandemic, I feel I am in a better position to be helpful in upcoming years.

I now see the events around me differently.

COVID-19

I have not suffered a personal loss from COVID this year, but I know other people who have. The people who are closest to me have been taking this pandemic seriously and following health and safety measures. This is regardless of what politicians have been saying, as I don't see politicians as a source of truth.

 

I have observed a selfishness with more distant acquaintances I interact with online. Given the fatalities have been considerably higher than terrorism, logic would suggest that the willingness to respond would also be higher.  This has not been the case, and I've noticed that some of the very people who are willing to take extreme measures to fight "terrorism" have been claiming that there are "civil liberties" concerns with the minor public health measures required to fight COVID.

Due to this childishness, various governments have been forced to step in and impose lock-downs: and there are people so oblivious to the world around them that they are protesting the lock-downs.


It has been a big lesson in how "privileged" some people feel, especially when I compare to what I've learned about how the civilizations that have existed in parallel with European colonialists and settlers have been treated since contact.  These Canadians feel like their rights are being taken away, while feeling no need to acknowledge or compensate First Nations, Métis, or Inuit for the many orders of magnitude greater infringements that are ongoing today.  It is hard not to file Canadian complaints under "white privilege" and leave it at that.

Its the economy, stupid

Or is it the stupid economy?

The non-medical hardships people are feeling from the pandemic are a matter of policy choice.  I wrote about this in April when people first started suggesting that public health measures were too strict, and it was gong to harm "the economy".

Western countries using western economic systems, and countries that have had flawed western economic theories forced on them by the Breton Woods Institutions (World Bank and IMF), are extremely fragile.  They superficially appear to be working while there are no emergencies, but the slightest problem (IE: unaccountable lending to home "owners") and you end up with a crisis.

We have known for a long time that due to travel patterns and ongoing human expansion that a global pandemic was inevitable. While avoiding the pandemic would have been hard (reducing population expansion, moving away from western worldviews which think of humans as separate from the natural world), reducing the fragility of the economy would have been comparatively easy.   And yet, nothing was done.


Ask yourself why we haven't had something simple like a Universal Basic Income for decades?  This is far less expensive to administer than the patchwork of subjective government programs currently being operated, and would have been an obvious part of emergency preparedness. People in countries like Canada have no legitimate reason to ever worry about paying for the necessities of life, no matter what external emergency exists.  If anyone is worried about these things, it is by design and those policy makers who are generating this crisis should be held accountable.

Instead we have dishonest misdirection, claiming it is public health measures that are causing personal financial problems rather than unaccountable policy makers.  Anyone who is feeling a hardship should be angry, but not at lock-downs but incompetent (or often corrupt) politicians who didn't put adequate emergency preparedness measures in place.

Those of us in Ontario will likely be in for some additional politician created economic hardships in 2021. We currently have a "Finance Minister" who thinks it is possible to "accidentally" travel to a Caribbean island during a global pandemic -- all while preparing early to have staff send social media posts to try to hide that vacation travel.  This isn't a person I would trust loaning $20 to, so obviously not something trustworthy enough to be a cabinet minister, and especially not trustworthy to be allowed anywhere near Ontario's finances.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

"Party popular vote" vs Indigenous self-government and sovereignty

While I've been thinking about electoral reform since the 1990's, I learned quite a bit since that time and thus changed my opinion with new knowledge. I wrote an article discussing one of the major changes since 1997 and 2017 when Canada was having consultations and had an active committee on electoral reform.

This year I have been learning about Canada as part of my antiracism training. Learning about pre-contact Turtle Island and the First Nation, Métis and Inuit civilizations that exist in parallel with Canada and the USA on Turtle Island is critical to knowing what Canada is.

As with electoral reform, I can remember what I thought prior to my learning.  I can recognize missing knowledge in other people that I also lacked, and want to share with them what I have learned.  What I can't do is unlearn and go back to what I thought in the past.  Please share with me any new information, but please don't expect me to go backwards to my lesser informed self.

 

During the One Dish, One Mic talk radio show (archives available as podcasts) they enable listener interaction via text messages. While they were talking about a specific provincial government minister, they said they didn't have the right to do that "with only 41% of the vote".  I sent in the following text:

41%? Ontario doesn't have a king. We currently have 124 seats in a parliament which should be elected by ranked ballots. Talking about the concept of "party popular vote" puts executives of parties in control, which is bad for democracy.

I posted a followup message to the One Dish, One Mic forum. It is an example of something I've been interested in for decades mixing in with something I've only recently started to learn.


I threw that comment in about party popular vote.  I've spent decades studying governance and voting systems (as a volunteer - it is not part of my job). I'd like to see that discussed on the radio show at some point.



I've looked into the participatory democracy of Six Nations, and I'd put that as an ideal.  Properly trained people act as facilitators to come to consensus, and there are spokespersons rather than top-down people dictating.


I know that other nations use other systems, and I'd like to hear more about those other systems.


Whenever there is a ballot question that has more than two possible answers (Yes/No), then voters should be able to rank.  Otherwise it is not the answer that the most people support that "wins", but the answer that is the most different from everything else (where votes aren't "split" between choices that more people approve of, even if it wasn't their first choice).  This isn't remotely a fair system to have a single X when there is often 5 or more possible answers.


Moving away from the participatory democracy ideal, you have "elected councils", "parliaments" or "assemblies" where a smaller number of people get elected by a smaller percentage of the community.  Those "elected" people then get to claim to represent an entire group without any requirement to consult the group or get consensus. This puts more power in the hands of fewer people.   This European representative system, even when it works in an ideal setting, is not perfect if representing the interests of the community on each issue is a goal. It sacrifices accountability for decision making efficiency.

 

I know that SNEC (Six Nations Elected Council) is particularly problematic because it isn't accountable to voters, but to the Federal Government.  Thus voter turnout is around 5%.
 

A better example would be the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut which elects representatives as independent candidates (no parties), who then seek to form consensus within the assembly. Similar advanced governance is used in the Northwest Territories as well as Nunatsiavut. While representative rather than participatory, it is still one of the better options available.  It isn't self-government, as it is still considered subservient to the Dominion of Canada government.

As a voter in Ontario, I'm extremely envious of their system which is far more democratic.  It would be great if Ontario could graduate to that system in the future as it matures!



 

Moving further away from participatory democracy you have political parties, where you have some representatives accountable to voters and some accountable to the party. Too much control within parties puts more power in the hands of even fewer people.
 

Things have been moving further and further away from a more ideal democracy within Canada and its provinces.  It was P.E. Trudeau that put party names on the ballot federally, and put the leader of the party in charge of signing nominations.  Since then parties have moved from the leader being chosen by caucus members (and thus always accountable to caucus in parliament) to being elected outside by "members" (political tourists) making the leaders unaccountable. The mainstream national media has pushed this harmful idea forward (See: Participatory democracy vs corporate media).
 

Every mention of "party popular vote" grants these unaccountable leaders more power, and allows them to push forward policies which most people disagree with.  With no way to hold leaders accountable between elections, they have become periodically "elected" dictatorships.
 

This appears to be a typical European worldview problem, where there seems to be a claim to want strong decisive leadership rather than building consensus.  Makes sense, as much of these worldviews come from a history involving the Roman Empire and the later building of various other European empires (such as the British Empire, which Canada was explicitly created to promote  -- it is all right there in the British North America act that allegedly "created" Canada).
 

I was born here and loyal to this homeland. I don't want to rebuild European Feudalism and want something more democratic.  I don't expect Canada to ever be willing to go to a full participatory democracy as Canadians are generally disengaged from politics, but lets at least always push for a person representative democracy and not a party representation system.

My opposition to party proportionality, and optimizing electoral processes toward a low Gallagher index measured against the notion of "party popular vote", has become even stronger this year with my antiracism training.  We can't fix the flaws in the design and implementation of "Canada" by doubling-down on the harmful European worldviews at the core of those flaws.


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Is religious freedom camouflaging ongoing colonialism and empire building?

Many people will already know the connection between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Until recently I hadn't given it much thought.


I grew up in a Christian family.  My father was Seventh-day Adventist, my mother Catholic, and they then moved together to a United Church. I live within a Christian Country -- meaning that the Government promotes and includes Christianity within it, not that every Canadian is Christian.

When I was a child and told about Judaism, I was told that they were in some way wrong. I was too young to question, so I took it on faith along with everything else I was taught as a Christian.

Later in my youth when I was finally told about Muslims, I was told they were dangerous. I was told that "we" fought the crusades against "them" so that "they" would not kill all of "us".

As a young adult I was told I should have Judeo-Christian values, suggesting that the underlying values of Judaism and Christianity are the same and that these were all good values. I was still told that Islam was an "other".



Fast forward through much of the last 40 years, including through the increased religious tensions as fallout from September 11'th, 2001.....

 

I now know about Abrahamic religions, which are all a group of Semitic originated monotheistic religions that are descendants of the ancient Israelites and worship the god of Abraham.


I grew up learning about denominations of Christianity, and when you step back a bit more the differences between the various Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have similar disagreements on the details -- but share the core across the religions.

So, why does this matter?



Before I traveled to Ireland I believed that the ongoing hostilities (including acts of terrorism) was about Catholics vs Protestants. During my visit I learned that it was a largely successful uprising against British colonialism. The remaining hostilities are localized within a small corner of Ireland calling itself Northern Ireland that is still considered part of the British Empire. Within Northern Ireland there are people loyal to Britain while their neighbors are loyal to Ireland. As a person of primarily Irish descent, I would have grown up with a different attitude towards Britain and colonialism (including what I was participating in within Canada) had I been told the truth about a variety of problems in Ireland -- including the potato famine which was largely caused by imposed food exports to other parts of the British empire. The discussion of religion appears to have been a method of distraction.



On the November 29'th episode of One Dish One Mic they interviewed Terri Monture. She was being interviewed as a journalist who is staff at the Canadian Media Guild, specializing in human rights issues. She is a Kanienkaha'keh (Mohawk) from Six Nations of the Grand River. Much of their discussion was about media in general, but the interview ended mentioning she was part of a delegation that went to Palestine in 2018.

This was the first time I had heard the conflict between Israel and Palestinians discussed as a form of colonialism. If you understand that area as being the land of the ancient Israelites, and believe that land should be returned to indigenous peoples, you are still left asking why it is only the Jewish descendants that are being allowed? Semitic peoples, regardless of which specific religious views they hold today (Jewish, Christian, Muslim or others), seem to have an equally legitimate inherent right to the land as indigenous peoples -- and yet this is not the viewpoint expressed primarily by Christian colonial nations (Europeans and their current and/or former colonies). You are claimed to be anti Semitic if you question Zionism, even though Zionism is colonialism against other Semetic peoples.




A related conversation happens in North America when discussing colonialism. While we are free to discuss the horrors in the past tense, we are not allowed to discuss how colonialism continues in the present or the involvement of Christianity in colonialism.  Most people seem to believe it was a coincidence that Christian Churches were involved in residential schools. Forcing conversions to Christianity is a core part of why the Bishop of Rome (Pope) through a series of papal bull's created the concept of the "Doctrine of Discovery" which authorized and promoted colonialism by European Christian monarchs.




Any time you wish to discuss these policies, you come up against a specific interpretation of "freedom of religion" which suggests any discussion or critique of religion is a violation of a human right.  The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 30 actually protects "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" which includes the right of an individual to change religion and to not have a religion.  It does not in any way allow an individual or group to impose their religion on others, or force others to live by their beliefs. In 2018, as part of the 70'th anniversary of the UDHR, an article discussing Article 30 offered many clarifications.



In the journal article Decolonization is not a metaphor, Tuck & Yang included the following passage:

The settler, if known by his actions and how he justifies them, sees himself as holding dominion over the earth and its flora and fauna, as the anthropocentric normal, and as more developed, more human, more deserving than other groups or species.

Having grown up a Christian, part of that passage sounded very familiar to me.  Genesis 1:26-28 reads

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”


This is Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, therefore part of the Torah, also known by Christians as The Old Testament, and also inspiration for parts of the Quran.

Given this common theme between settler colonialism and beliefs embedded within Abrahamic religions, it should not be surprising that many people of spiritual beliefs indigenous to North America and/or having different relationships to more-than-humans will see these religions as part of colonialism. If every time someone discusses ongoing colonialism it is allowed to be blocked by claims of "religious freedom", then it becomes impossible to ever protect human rights.


 

My wife and I have subjected ourselves to watching the Roman Empire Netflix TV Series. The acting is bad, and the commentary from historians talking about how "great" this empire was makes them sound more like cheerleaders for white supremacy than scholars. The very features which allegedly made the Roman Empire "great" are the basis of worldviews which many in the world reject as part of modern-day colonialism and western empire building. Not discussed (yet?) in the Netflix series is the connection between the Roman Empire, which included Judea at the time of Christ's birth, and Christianity, which Roman Catholics claim was started by Jesus Christ.  In 313 the Roman Emperor known as "Constantine the Great" allowed "tolerance" for Christianity (Romans had been polytheist), but that 10 years later Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and thus part of their empire building. In some ways the spread of Christianity and associated worldviews through colonialism and global empire building, authorized by the Bishop of Rome, can be seen as a continuation of the Roman Empire.


Is the ongoing clash between Judaism, Christianity and Islam merely a clash between colonialist empire builders? Is it a phobia or simply logical to be concerned about threats of empire building?


Have a Happy Winter Solstice!

Worldometers -- World Population by Religion

UNDRIP, and the Conservative Party honesty about their support for ongong colonialism

I am interested in Canada implementing UNDRIP, so I watched APTN News' recent Nation to Nation episode on UNDRIP.

 

 

While I am skeptical about the Liberal Party and NDP's ability to move forward with UNDRIP, I do find the honesty expressed by many representatives of the Conservative Party to be interesting. Their focus is always on resource extraction, and how they are concerned that lawsuits against human rights violations might restrict resource extraction.

 

During the Indigineous Canada course I took this summer it was recommended I read the journal article Decolonization is not a metaphor by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. On page 4 the authors discuss two forms of colonialism.

 

Generally speaking, postcolonial theories and theories of coloniality attend to two forms of colonialism. External colonialism (also called exogenous or exploitation colonization) denotes the expropriation of fragments of Indigenous worlds, animals,plants and human beings, extracting them in order to transport them to - and build the wealth, the privilege, or feed the appetites of - the colonizers, who get marked as the first world. This includes so-thought ‘historic’ examples such as opium, spices, tea, sugar, and tobacco, the extraction of which continues to fuel colonial efforts. This form of colonialism also includes the feeding of contemporary appetites for diamonds, fish, water, oil, humans turned workers, genetic material, cadmium and other essential minerals for high tech devices. External colonialism often requires a subset of activities properly called military colonialism - the creation of war fronts/frontiers against enemies to be conquered, and the enlistment of foreign land, resources, and people into military operations. In external colonialism, all things Native become recast as ‘natural resources’-bodies and earth for war, bodies and earth for chattel.

The other form of colonialism that is attended to by postcolonial theories and theories of coloniality is internal colonialism, the biopolitical and geopolitical management of people, land, flora and fauna within the “domestic” borders of the imperial nation. This involves the use of particularized modes of control - prisons, ghettos, minoritizing, schooling, policing - to ensure the ascendancy of a nation and its white elite. These modes of control, imprisonment, and involuntary transport of the human beings across borders - ghettos, their policing, their economic divestiture, and their dislocatability - are at work to authorize the metropole and conscribe her periphery. Strategies of internal colonialism, such as segregation, divestment, surveillance, and criminalization,are both structural and interpersonal.

 

Reading this, and listening to the words of most spokespersons from the Conservative Party, you will recognize that they are being open and honest about their active support for ongoing colonialism.

What isn't as obvious is where other party representatives sit on UNDRIP, or possible future decolonization.

This is more complex, although the discussion in the Tuck&Yang article about the Occupy movement helps with context. While there is room for strategic and contingent collaborations with those who lean towards the economic and/or social left, there isn't going to be solidarity.  As I discuss in Eco-capitalism, eco-socialism, and decolonization, those whose focus is on the spoils of labour and other human activity (The 99% vs the 1%) will be on a different path from those who want to move that narrow gaze away from humans to non-human relations (the 0.9% vs the 99.1% within what is currently called the USA).


Wikipedia has a list of Indigenous Canadian politicians, and when you look at the federal House of Commons you see members who wore the team jersey of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and even the Bloc Quebecois. I don't think it is appropriate to suggest that the willingness of an indigenous person to be within a party caucus indicates that those parties policies are compatible with decolonization, but only that there is strategic value to working within the settler-colonial governing structures.


I am curious to hear what other people think about whether there is movement within any of the current political parties away from the ongoing colonialism project? Do you see movement towards recognizing that colonialism isn't an event that happened in the past that current Canadians have no responsibility for, but something that is ongoing?


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Why do I have to agree with the British monarchy or empire in order to be proud of "my homeland"?

This topic regularly comes up in discussions around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) report that recognized a few examples of genocide committed by the Canadian government against indigenous peoples. This was specifically discussed in the context of the residential schools policy, but applies to other related policies.

Inevitably someone gets angry and says something along the lines of, "You just called my homeland genocidal" (Example on facebook).


While I can understand someone being upset if I falsely called their homeland genocidal, I can see a few problems with this statement.

  • The Dominion of Canada (Canada) is not "their homeland" even if they were born here.
  • Canada is a subsidiary of the British created for the purpose of expanding the British Empire here. That purpose is clearly articulated in the British North America Act that came into effect on 1 July 1867, which people reference as the creation of "Canada".
  • Contrary to words that the British uses, this subsidiary never had sole dominion over the land within what it claimed was its borders. It has treaties with the nations of this homeland to share.
  • This homeland, and the peoples of this homeland for thousands of years, have been the ongoing target of European (and specifically British) colonialism. Anyone with loyalty to this homeland should have loyalty to the peoples of this homeland that are the targets of the genocide, not loyalty to the foreign government(s) committing genocide against this homeland.
  • I am not using the term genocide lightly, but referencing well documented activities of the Government of Canada through processes that are recognized internationally.

 

I am aware that my understanding of the problems with that statement is recent. Until 2020 I had never bothered to read any of the policies that created and define Canada, or spent time to understand the peoples and nations of this land. I thought of the connections to Europe as distant history, and not the current active policy of Canada. The BNA Act was passed less than 3 times my age ago, so the entire history of the British subsidiary called Canada should be understood as current.

Canadians believe they live in a country that upholds human rights, largely because they have been told that is true by representatives of the Government of Canada. If these are federal Members of Parliament, they all swore allegiance to the British Queen.  This suggests they are loyal to the British empire and the honor of its crown, and not necessarily loyal to this homeland. I don't see how it is possible to be loyal to this homeland and to the British at the same time.

If it were actually true that the Dominion of Canada fully respected human rights, there would not have been people of his homeland (First Nations people) having to go to the United Nations and working since 1982 on a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to specifically put pressure on countries such as Canada to offer at least a bare minimum of human rights to the indigenous peoples of this homeland.

I hope Canada will eventually become the country that it markets itself domestically and internationally as, but there is quite a bit of work to get there.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Heritage Minister and Committee misunderstand the purpose of the Broadcasting Act.

The text of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, didn't surprise me. It is only the latest example of a Heritage Minister and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage misunderstanding their mandate and the purpose of various laws.  The problem isn't specific to any political party, as Heritage Ministers from the Liberals or Conservatives, and Heritage Committee members from all parties, have all exhibited the same problems. I'm just going to use the term "Heritage" to refer to this group.


The Conflict of Interest

A big part of what the Department of Canadian Heritage does is provide funding to creative Canadians -- arts funding, entertainment funding, and funding for heritage projects (including libraries and archives).  The Heritage Minister and Committee are intended to direct that department, so will also have a focus on that funding.

But, for a variety of reasons, the cabinet doesn't provide adequate funding in the budget for the department.  So, Heritage looks elsewhere to try to provide funding. They have unfortunately grabbed onto the false premise that if they modify legislation that grants intermediaries between creators and their audiences more power, then magically creators will get paid more.

I first noticed this flawed notion with Copyright, where the livelihoods of fellow creators are being harmed by Heritage policies which increase the power of the intermediaries at the expense of creators. The first example I noticed was legal protection for technological measures which empowers technology companies at the expense of creators -- This is companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Netflix -- the "Big Tech" companies Heritage now claims it has a problem with.  The alleged "problem" which Heritage has with these companies is that they have become too powerful and can control what creative works Canadians can access. This is of course the predicted outcome of legal protection for technological measures, a policy which Heritage pushed hard to put in place.


I have seen the same problem with discussing broadcasting and the Broadcasting Act, with the theory being that if Broadcasters are given more control over the Canadian communications landscape that somehow creators will get paid more.

The reality has always been that these intermediaries are the entities that limit the livelihoods of creators, and the purpose of these various pieces of legislation should be to limit the control that these intermediaries have.

Fixing the conflict of interest

The Department of Canadian Heritage was only created in 1994 by Kim Campbell in her few months as PM.  This was a time when Canadian policy makers should have been aware of the upcoming digital transition and been focused on the regulatory benefits of a decentralized digital communications system.  It might be time to question whether the current structure of the department makes sense, or ever made sense, as a way to get Canada out of the current conflict of interest situation.

It seems obvious that the regulation of broadcasters should be considered a specific subset of competition policy, and considered under the department currently called Innovation, Science and Economic Development.  The Copyright Act already lists the Minister of Industry as the relevant minister, and the influence of Heritage over Copyright should be revoked. Digital radiocommunications should not be managed by entities also involved in content distribution, and with that policy clarification radiocommunications no longer needs to have any involvement by Heritage.


What is the purpose of the Broadcasting Act

What should be obvious is that the purpose of the Broadcasting Act is to regulate broadcasters.  Broadcasters have specific control over what Canadians can hear and see, and thus they need to be regulated to reduce the harm that this control can cause.


  • Broadcast programmers set what content is seen at what time. Broadcast listening and viewing has prime-times when audiences are maximized, and the ability to control what is seen then offers considerable power.

  • The technology needed for Broadcasting was expensive, so there were very few broadcasters.  This also granted additional power.

  • Broadcasters were granted a monopoly from the programming, through transmission equipment, to a monopoly on a frequency (part of spectrum) that only they were allowed to use.

  • Broadcasters are private businesses and want to maximize profit. One way they did this was to purchase US programming (which had larger audiences, and thus bulk purchasing pricing) over Canadian programming (which historically tended to have a more narrow audience focus).

 

All of these factors and more created a need to regulate broadcasters.  It is, however, the unique features of broadcasting that require this regulation and not the generic concept of "content distribution".

 

As an example, with the invention of record players, cassette tapes, VHS, CDs and eventually DVD's, a mechanism to distribute content separate from broadcasting was available.  This music, movies, television and other content was made available in retail stores and libraries, offered for rent, and distributed over roads (trucks, cars, etc).  At no time did Heritage claim that because content was being distributed that they needed to regulate retailers or the road system.


Then along came the digital transition (See: Hiding OSI layers leading to policy failures: Net Neutrality, Encrypted Media, ... ). Digital technology allows us to break up much of the monopoly control which broadcasters have, which means less of a need to regulate entities which don't have the harmful features of broadcasting.


  • On-demand services allow Canadian audiences to become their own content programmer.  This is analogous to a library (some private, some public), and not remotely similar to a broadcaster. No longer is some programmer in a corporate HQ allowed to dictate to audiences what they can see or when.

    The notion in C-10 that broadcasting should be redefined to include "on demand" makes about as much sense as having a bill that says that the mathematical constant pi (π) should be considered to be 3 or 7 because some parliamentarians want to claim it is.  It is a nonsense concept that creates unnecessary terminology confusion as well as being contrary to the purpose of the Broadcasting Act.

  • Creating and distributing content to wide audiences is no longer expensive because of digital technology, enabling competition where government regulations allow.

    It is now the case that rather than regulating broadcasters because having a few granted them too much control, governments are now regulating non-broadcasters apparently to seek to limit who can communicate.  Instead of regulating problems away, they are regulating problems into existence.

  • Digital communication allows for OSI layers to be split into separate entities.  The physical connections within municipalities can be managed by municipalities, and so-on.  This means that the monopolies no longer exist, as the entities which right-of-way or spectrum granted (now municipalities) are not the same entities which are creating content catalogues or funding content creation.  It is the hardware layers of the OSI stack, preferably managed by municipalities, that are carrying out activities related to "radiocommunication" and not anyone carrying out activities at other layers.

    Unfortunately the government is still regulating digital communications as if it has the limitations of analog, allowing broadcasting entities to also claim control of the communications infrastructure into our homes, and deliberately replicating all the problems from the historical analog technology world in the digital world.

  • This last problem is also partly solved by the competition enabled by digital.  Audiences who want to see more Canadian content, can get more Canadian content.

    In my case my focus is to avoid US centric content, as I really enjoy the International programming on Netflix, and the true Canadian (rather than British descendant) content on APTN Lumi and related channels on YouTube and podcasts.  Arts and Entertainment funding should be going to Canadian creators and never intermediaries like broadcasters.  These intermediaries should be thought of as merely "the hired help" for creators and their audiences, and regulation should be intended to revoke intermediary control and never grant it.


To try to regulate non-broadcasting as if it were broadcasting is to try to create a lowest-common-denominator of the harm that broadcasting causes.  This does not create a "level playing field" as broadcasters claim, but only promotes the special interests of those broadcasters against much needed competition.

If Heritage wanted creators to get paid better it would be actively seeking to revoke the control that broadcasting had over creators.  They would do that by strongly regulating broadcasting, and deliberately enabling and promoting non-broadcasting to eventually replace broadcasting entirely as a concept within Canada.  While live-events will still be simulcast, that feature is available from most non-broadcasters and doesn't require that a narrow set of broadcasters control Canadian media.



Side note...

I am happy to see the mention of aboriginal peoples and cultures mentioned in Canadian legislation.  In this case it is too little too late, as broadcasting as a concept isn't something Canada should be promoting as the centrally controlled (and primarily by white men) nature of broadcasting has been a tool used to filter aboriginal peoples and stories from Canadian audiences.

Arts and cultural grants, and not the broadcasting or copyright act, is where these changes need to be made. I look forward to increased and stable public funding of indigenous arts and entertainment!


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Systemic Canada

I have written previously about how many Canadians can't understand systemic racism, because they believe this is the same thing as an individual racist.  They know there is a difference between socialism (the system) and a socialist (a person), but have been hardwired to not understand the difference between racism (the system) and a racist (a person).


Many Canadians think of Canada as the group of people who currently hold Canadian citizenship. To discuss Canada is to discuss a group of living individuals. To discuss any flaws in Canada's systems is in their mind to impune the reputation of each of these individuals.

I don't think of Canada as a group of individuals, but only as a group of systems. I consider it unhelpful to think of countries as groups of individuals, as that allows the systems to hide from required scrutiny and accountability.

Systems may grant individuals citizenship and other identification, but systems exists separate from any specific group of individuals that exist at any period of time. Those systems are encoded in policy, including laws, political structures, ceremonies, origin myths, judicial systems, beliefs, worldviews, and so-on.

While Canadians think of themselves as free individuals, their freedom only exists within the contours of the systems. What they can and cannot choose is determined by what choices are allowed and which are forbidden (outlawed, antisocial, career ending, etc). While all individuals are impacted by systems, the only individuals able to impact the systems are those that recognize the systems exists and work to change the rules that govern those systems.




For a living I am a computer and network systems administrator, and software author. My current job title is "Lead Systems Engineer".  It is my job to learn and think about systems, design and test systems, and help our systems administer to administer those systems.


With computers it is the operating system that applications run on, and it is the operating system (and not the applications) that are ultimately in control.  You can write whatever you want in an application, but if the operating system doesn't allow it then the application can't do that function.


For Canada, the core of the systems were encoded by the British parliament, so to understand what Canada is you need to go to that source.

The British North America Act 1867 , which passed on July 1'st of the same year, is the date people consider Canada to have been created.  Prior to that time there was a small area the British called the province of Canada. Even at the passage of the BNA Act, the majority of what is currently considered Canadian territory wasn't included.

The introductory text of the BNA Act offers the purpose of the act.

An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the Government thereof; and for Purposes connected therewith.

[29th March 1867]

Whereas the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principles to that of the United Kingdom:

And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire:

And whereas on the Establishment of the Union by Authority of Parliament it is expedient, not only that the Constitution of the Legislative Authority in the Dominion be provided for, but also that the Nature of the Executive Government therein be declared:

And whereas it is expedient that Provision be made for the eventual Admission into the Union of other Parts of British North America:

Be it therefore enacted and declared by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, as follows:


This clearly creates something similar to a subsidiary, similar to what corporations do when they wish to split some project away from the parent corporation.  This isn't a fully separate country, but a part of the British Empire under the British monarchy.


The BNA Act created an "Oath of Allegiance" to the Queen. While the exact text has had amendments over the years, the requirement of new citizens , members of the senate, and elected members of parliament to swear allegiance to the British Monarchy is still the law.

The Canada Act 1982 made changes such that new laws passed in the UK didn't automatically become Canadian law, and created a mechanism for Canada to modify its constitution directly rather than requiring that the UK pass those changes.

Since 1982 there has been little work to separate Canada from Britain, and as of 2020 I consider it only marketing material and not a matter encoded in the systems of Canada to consider Canada to be a country separate from Britain or the British Empire. While Britain may be exiting the European Union, their empire is still intact.

If you read any Acts of Canadian Parliament, it is obvious that Canada continues to operate as a satellite of the British Empire.  The title of Bill C-16 currently at second reading in the Senate is "An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021".  This may be a Constitutional monarchy, but the systems are still operating based the colonial British operating systems.




First Nations are separate from Britain or Canada, with treaty and other arrangements to cooperate and share.  There is a variety of agreements along the lines of "peace and friendship", "two row wampum", and "dish with one spoon" which describe these relationships.  The idea is simple, even when it wasn't formalized in an English-text treaty with Britain or its subsidiary of Canada:  the First Nations and the British/Canada nation would peacefully co-exist on the same land, and share.


If you were brought up as I was to believe that indigenous people are merely part of the multicultural society of Canada, then you (like I) were misinformed.  This is a serious systemic failure of Canada that you can be born and/or live in Canada and never be given motivation to learn beyond the marketing brochures about Canada, and to only know the incorrect version taught in schools.



The idea that the government of Britain, its subsidiary of Canada (and its subsidiaries of provinces) have sole dominion over the land declared as within the boarders of Canada is a false notion based on the alleged superiority of British systems over indigenous systems. Indigenous peoples are part of advanced civilizations. While Europeans at contact were merely subjects of Christian Monarchies, some First Nations had already been advanced democracies for hundreds of years.  The idea that First Nations should convert (by force if not voluntarily) to European religions and other European systems, based on the alleged superiority of the European systems, is pretty much the definition of "White Supremacy".

"the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races"
...
"the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races"
- Merriam Webster definition of White Supremacy

 

Take close attention to the term "systems".  This means that the laws and structures that form Canada are racist (the system) and White Supremacist (the system), but does not impune the reputation of all individuals who happen to be Canadian citizens.

Canadians should not take learning about how the systems of Canada operate as a personal insult, but a call to action to make the currently flawed systems of Canada better.  It has been my experience that most Canadians are proud of the idea of Canada being a strong protector of human rights globally.  Once they are able to see systems (rather than only individuals) we will all be able to work together to fix the systems of Canada to become what they thought it already was.


I personally believe that the implementation of UNDRIP will be an important step to lay a better foundation for a human rights respecting society.  There will be no quick fixes to this as the problems with Canada originated at its creation.  While many individuals may think differently today than people did in the past, the problematic systems remain active and current until the rules that govern those systems are changed.

It is time for an upgrade!

If you wish to discuss further, please add your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Federal ministers and Indigenous spokespersons discuss C-15, the UNDRIP implementation bill

Bill C-15 was tabled on December 3'rd, the next step in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.  As I wrote in a letter I sent to my MP and MPP on the 4'th, this is a process that started at the United Nations in 1982 after a study on the issue.

 

1982 is the same year the UK parliament passed the Canada Act 1982 which allowed it's subsidiary of Canada to modify the Canadian constitution without future changes needing to be passed in the UK parliament. Canada is still a constitutional monarchy, with the UK Queen is still the head of state. MPs and new citizens still need to swear allegiance to the UK Queen. Given this I don't consider Canada to be a fully separate country yet, even if Canadian marketing suggests otherwise.


I had many thoughts as I watched a news conference on C-15.

 


 

As was discussed by Indigenous spokespersons, this bill is not perfect.  Any discussion of those imperfections should not be misunderstood as opposition to the bill. My disappointment and complaints are similar to others, which is that we are only at the beginning of this process and I want to move quickly.  While Canada is an extremely young country (less than 3 times my age, or younger than me, depending on how you count), there are serious systemic problems in its design which we should be fixing as soon as we can.


This bill is an important next step, and one I hope will be passed quickly.


This is a human rights bill.  This will be confusing for many Canadians as they consider Canada to be a human rights respecting and promoting country. Any possibly opposition to a human rights bill will seem odd. Because of this they might believe people who claim it is not about human rights, and somehow about something else. The problem is, Canada has had huge exceptions to its application of human rights since the British Parliament passed the British North America Act 1867. These exceptions are the types of problems which the UNDRIP was designed to address.  These exceptions haven't been visible to the majority of settler Canadians, and that has also been part of the systemic problem.

(Note: Read the introduction to the BNA ACT 1867, and think of it from the perspective of First Nations partners.  You may begin to see the problem. Substitute some other foreign nation for "British" such as "American", "Soviet" or "Caliphate" and think of how you would feel having someone unilaterally impose that empire on you today.)


This isn't radically new policy.  The rights of indigenous peoples are already encoded within international law and recognized and affirmed in Section 35 of Canada's Constitution (As passed by the UK parliament). The problem so far has been that these rights are widely misunderstood by Canadians, and people are constantly forced into the court system when their rights are violated. This is a wasteful, expensive, hurtful, and uncertain process that we need to end.


The concept of "Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)" appears to be controversial. All laws should have FPIC for the peoples it applies to, and the nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and its First Nations partners should be no exception. As part of the systemic exceptions to human rights, Canada has forced agreements (threat to life by guns, imposed famine, disease and poverty, etc), lied about the meaning of agreements (major differences between wampum and improperly interpreted English-text versions), and unilaterally imposed decisions without involving rights-holders. This systemic violation of human rights is not a valid way to run a country, especially one that seeks to promote itself domestically and internationally as a strong promoter of human rights.

 

Protecting human rights does not create a veto for First Nations any more than it creates a veto for the Governments of Canada.  The misunderstanding I have seen seems to conceptually come from the United States where the presidency has the ability to veto bills passed by their House of Representatives and Senate. I agree that it is an odd concept to allow so much power in the hands of so few. I see no evidence of a desire to implement this type of system, and from my understanding is exactly the opposite direction to how most First Nations peoples think.


What is true is that there is more than one government that needs to be involved in decision making on issues of joint jurisdiction. This has always been understood when dealing with the federal and provincial governments. The Dominion of Canada Governments were not formed by the indigenous peoples, but by a foreign government (Britain). Contrary to popular myth, many precontact nations still exist today and also have jurisdiction. The British did not fight and win wars against First Nations in order to "take over all their countries", and in fact many of these nations are allied with the British and have fought alongside the British (and subsidiary Canada) in several wars.


I look forward to next steps. I hope that adequate budgeting will be provided for education during this process.  Settler Canadians like myself who were born here, and grew up given propaganda and marketing material about Canada will not understand the importance of UNDRIP without that education. Canada needs to move forward to become the country that it has been claiming to be for the last 150+ years.


One possibility is a helpful course I took this summer.  I would recommend additional funding to upgrade and provide additional staff resources to the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies' Free online Indigenous Canada course.


Friday, December 4, 2020

Ontario and Canadian Government, and UNDRIP

The following letter was sent to my MP and MPP.




John Fraser, my MPP in Ottawa South,
Honourable David McGuinty, my MP in Ottawa South

Yesterday the federal government tabled a bill to start discussions about possibly doing something towards implementing  the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within Canada. The largest policy change is that there will now be a yearly report, and the government will have to justify their lack of progress.

https://canada.ca/declaration

I have criticisms of the bill, which I hope will be quickly addressed in amendments before passing.

As an example, the preamble of the bill includes this clause:

Whereas First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation have, throughout history and to this day, lived in the lands that are now in Canada with their distinct identities, cultures and ways of life;

This clause shows a lack of understanding of the wampums, including the 2-row and dish with one spoon we should be very familiar with in Ontario. These are treaties to *share* lands and her resources. The colonial Dominion of Canada does not unilaterally "own" these lands, as this bill tries to suggest. If the government starts without understanding that basic truth, it is likely that implementation of UNDRIP and reconciliation will fail.  Truth happens before reconciliation.





Today I read on twitter a statement from Greg Rickford, Kenora-Rainy River MPP. Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

While it is disgusting enough to see these obviously conflicting mandates within a single minister, what he said about UNDRIP would be comical if it were not likely what the provincial government will try to use to further delay UNDRIP.

In a statement he claimed that UNDRIP implementation is on a "rushed timeframe"
https://twitter.com/GregRickford/status/1334577639638638593
(Sorry, I couldn't find the statement on https://news.ontario.ca/mndmf/en )


UNDRIP originated in talks started at the UN in 1982 following a study on the issue.  This is the same year the UK parliament passed the "Canada Act" which allowed the Canadian subsidiary of the UK to change its constitution without those changes needing to be passed by the UK parliament.  Canada, and other colonies of Britain such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand (Five Eyes FVEY colonies), have been actively opposing the declaration from the beginning.

It is not like the Canadian government is happy about implementing this law, but that it has become increasingly obvious that the legitimacy of these colonies is being questioned internationally the way they are currently operating.


I agree with the idea that Canada was created in a rushed timeframe, with the UK wanting to create a subsidiary to externalise many existing treaty obligations and debt. In this rush many of the core concepts and treaties that allowed British North America to exist were not adequately encoded in Canadian law. Finally fixing some of the flaws in the UK's British North America (BNA) Act 1867 via UNDRIP is extremely important to Canada's continued legitimacy.


The BNA Act 1867 that some believe created Canada as a separate country from Britain is less than 3 times my age, and the Canada Act 1982 passed by the UK parliament happened within my lifetime.  While I agree that Canada is quite young by First Civilizations standards, that also means it should be easier to gain maturity.

Thank you for reading.  I live in the housing development behind the provincial constituency office and across Bank St from the federal constituency office.  I am available to discuss this further if you wish.


Where I live and work, as well as your offices, are on unceded Algonquin territory.

[full contact information]

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

First Nations are not Canada's 4th level of government

When discussing Canada's poor relationship with First Nations, Canadians like to discuss John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister.  This makes them comfortable as they can claim it was in some distant past, a Conservative PM, a drunk, or other thing that they can use to distance themselves from it.

I have come across Russell Diabo work in a "Truth Before Reconciliation" campaign.  An article sparked my interest, and Russ tweeted a slideshow that provides additional details.

 

I was born in 1968, and thus a story of 1969 to today is entirely within my lifetime. Even Canadians who think of themselves only as individuals, and thus pluck themselves out of time and don't see their link to the past or future, should be able to recognize this as a story about the present.  It is also a story of Liberals including P.E. Trudeau, Jean Chrétien, Justin Trudeau and Carolyn Bennett.


A bit of the history many Canadians apparently don't know

 

One of the myths of North America (Turtle Island) is that Europeans invaded and won a war against the existing nations. And thus, in their mind, history was made and completed in some distant past which has nothing to do with them.

What actually happened is that treaties were formed between various European Nations and Turtle Island Nations.  These Turtle Island nations were not "savages" as some extremely biased historians like to claim, but diverse civilizations. While pretty much all European explorers, colonists and settlers were merely subjects of Christian European monarchies, many First Civilizations were advanced democracies.

As  Europeans were regularly at war with each other, those wars extended onto Turtle Island. Agreements that nations such as the Haudenosaunee made with the Dutch were later made with the British, because the British believed they should have at least as good an agreement as was made with the Dutch.  The same happened with Spanish and French treaties, and after several European initiated wars it was largely the British colonies that remained of the Europeans (Saint Pierre and Miquelon is the remaining part of New France)

The American Revolutionary war separated some of these colonies from the rest of British colonies, but even there the treaties made with First Civilizations were key to ensuring that the allies were able to stop the northward expansion of the United States of America.

Believing that the British alone stopped the United States expansion into what later became known as Canada makes about as much sense as believing the British alone won the "Second World War" against the Germans. In both the First and Second World Wars, First Nations were allied with the British and fought (as volunteers, as they had no conscription) in those wars -- partly to honor the treaties.  It was the allies who won that war.

It is a treaty between the United States and Britain/Canada that defined the border between those countries. 

The subsidiary that Britain called "Canada"

 
In 1867 (less than 3 times my age ago) the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Act.  This created a subsidiary government of the UK, and created other subdivisions known as provinces. The concept of a municipality had already been created by the UK parliament and derivative in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada back in 1849.

While the treaties which allowed the settlers to peacefully coexist with First Civilizations were with the British Crown, the 1867 UK acts started the process of Britain trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility to treaty partners. Every time that a treaty partner would communicate with the Crown over any dishonoring of the treaties, this would be referred to the British subsidiary of Canada. This less-than-honest technique should be familiar with corporations, where subsidiaries are created to try to externalize liabilities and debt away from the parent corporation. The British Crown, and thus Canada, owes quite a bit (including money) to First Civilizations.

 
With a push by P.E. Trudeau, the UK parliament passed the Canada Act 1982 (I was 14) which enabled the subsidiary of Canada to modify its constitution without changes needing to be passed by the UK parliament.  Putting that into the context of the White Paper, it is hard to avoid thinking there was an ulterior motive when it came to Trudeau's desire to push First Nations to become subservient to the Canadian government.
 

The appropriately named White Papers


There are many problems with the 1969 and new 2020's era white papers. Obviously the clearly racist and genocidal aspects of the Indian Act should be removed. The residential school system which was only recently abandoned is only one among many extremely problematic policies.
 
The recognition by Canada of First Nations being separate treaty partners, as confirmed in Section 35 of Canada's constitution, must not be removed. This concept of making First Nations subservient to Canada appears to be a "final assimilation" solution to the alleged "Indian problem".  The problem I see is a lack of honor demonstrated by Europeans, their descendants, their governments and subsidiaries.


Anyone aware of and respectful of our treaty relationships with First Nations should recognize that First Nations exist at the same level as Britain as treaty partners. They exist in parallel as described in the 2-row wampum, not intruding on each other's jurisdiction. The hierarchy on the colony side then goes Britain --> Canada --> Canadian Province --> Provincial Municipality.
 
First Nations are parallel with Britain, with Canada being a subsidiary of Britain below that. First Nations should never be considered subservient to Canada, and the notion expressed by the white papers that First Nations should be thought of as subservient to provinces is unconscionable. This concept is in direct contradiction with the treaties that founded Canada, and thus should be recognized as un-Canadian.




As I continue to read about these white papers, and the governments that produce them, there is a dictionary definition that constantly comes to mind.

"the social, economic, and political systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races" -  Merriam Webster definition of White Supremacy