Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Pamela Palmater discusses how the Cons' push to monetize First Nations reserves ultimately looks to be little more than another giveaway to the oil industry:
By now most of you have heard about the Harper government's intention to introduce legislation that will turn reserve lands into individual holdings called fee simple. The legislation has been referred to as the First Nation Property Ownership Act (FNPOA). Some media outlets have referred to it as "privatization" but what the legislation would really do is turn the collective ownership of reserve lands into small pieces of land owned by individuals who could then sell it to non-First Nations peoples, land-holding companies and corporations, like Enbridge for example.

The idea is not a new one. Hernando de Soto has been trying to sell the same idea to Indigenous populations all over the world. The evidence seems to show that the Indigenous peoples are far worse off for it. Prior to de Soto's destructive world tour, the Indigenous Nations in the United States suffered the sting of fee simple legislation in the Dawes Act. Once the lands were given to individuals, the lands were subject to state laws. The same would happen in Canada where the lands would be subject to provincial instead of federal law.

The primary purpose of the Dawes Act was to assimilate Indigenous peoples in the U.S. by breaking up their Indigenous governments. The legislation allowed the government to divide up communal lands into small parcels to be held by individuals. It has been described by historians as:"the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads" (Oklahoma Historical Society). In the Canadian context, similar legislation will open up "Indian lands" for big oil, gas and mineral extraction.
- Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports that the Cons retaliated against Attawapiskat for rightly challenging their own improper actions by then denying federal support for a desperately-needed housing plan.

- Dan Leger notes that the Cons have set themselves up to wear full political responsibility for pushing the Gateway and other pipelines, but recognizes that they have plenty to lose in having made it so.

- Finally, Mia Rabson comments on mandatory voting - including this from one former PM who sees some merit in the idea:
Former Prime Minister Joe Clark told the Free Press in June he was slowly changing his mind about the idea of mandatory voting.

"I used to dismiss it because it seemed to be ordering people to do something they wouldn't do by their will," Clark said, following a forum on youth voting hosted by Elections Canada. "But I think the analogy with speeding laws, with other rules holds. It is a national interest that the public have more participation in the political process and perhaps a requirement to vote would lead to that."

Clark said he hasn't studied the issue much himself, nor has he looked at the experience of mandatory voting in Australia, "but I think we're in a sufficiently serious situation now that we need to look at other alternatives. I don't think we should exclude anything."

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