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Re Trudeau Tight-Lipped On Plan To End Rail Blockades ‘Quickly And Peacefully’ (Feb. 18): A peaceful response to the current rail impasse should require nothing less than a fundamental reordering of Canadian society, including the following: de-escalation at all blockades and within Indigenous-asserted traditional territories, including the simultaneous withdrawal of police, removal of the blockades and resumption of rail traffic; Indigenization of the Senate to become a national council of Indigenous elders, providing final oversight on matters of overriding national importance, including, but not limited to, natural resources and health outcomes for all Canadians; strategic economic reforms, whereby Canada pursues an orderly transition from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energies.
John Moses Delaware and Upper Mohawk bands, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
Canada is a federation of provinces and territories founded by Europeans. If we acknowledged that one founding entity was left out from the start – Indigenous people – and righted that wrong by declaring them a political entity with similar powers, we might have a stab at negotiations that go somewhere.
This entity would need: powers of decision-making over infrastructure within their own land; powers to pass their own laws and taxation; acceptance that their culture should be placed on equal footing; recognition of their independent political establishment.
We would have to hold a referendum and rewrite the Constitution. But until Indigenous people are given this kind of power, we will likely continue to have standoffs and shutdowns.
Rose DeShaw Kingston
Re Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Launch Climate Lawsuit (Feb. 13): The Wet’suwet’en chiefs’ claim against Ottawa for failing to adhere to its emissions targets under the Paris Agreement, and allowing projects such as the Coastal GasLink pipeline and terminal to be built, seems to have merit. Intensifying the fracking and liquefaction of natural gas would be inconsistent with British Columbia and Canada’s commitment to climate action.
Opponents have formed a strong coalition to support the hereditary chiefs because they see the injustice of inaction. Future pipeline and resource projects will likely face similar opposition until our governments accept the full responsibility of meeting scientifically defensible greenhouse gas emissions targets and negotiating a new relationship with First Nations.
Mike Healey Vice-chair, First Things First Okanagan; Penticton, B.C.
Re Protests Force Via To Cancel All Trains As CN Halts Eastern Lines (Feb. 14): Leaving Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario last week, I noticed the sponsorship wall had a $1-million donor: CN Rail. What if the current blockades hit this company’s bottom line, forcing it to curtail charitable donations?
Reading further, I found that the company acknowledges that “CN operates within or adjacent to nearly 200 different reserve lands of more than 110 First Nations and some Métis territories, in eight provinces.” It also sponsors multiple environmental projects, children’s health and educational projects, and has a progressive diversity employment program that specifically mentions Indigenous inclusion. It has been recognized by the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business for enabling Indigenous businesses to participate in the CN supply chain. As well, CN has internships for Indigenous students.
For First Nations people to prevent CN from operating seems self-defeating and a rejection of the company’s reconciliation efforts. This seems like misplaced activism.
Elise Weagant Brockville, Ont.
Re Every Day This Blockade Lasts, Trudeau’s Stock Drops Lower (Feb. 17): I believe Justin Trudeau’s penchant for making promises with great pitch and moment, without a thought as to how they will be achieved, has painted his government into a corner. He has pledged to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets, reconcile with First Nations and build more pipelines – effectively, it seems, negating the first two promises.
George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four described the process of holding two contradictory ideas at the same time as “doublethink." Mr. Trudeau looks to have gone one better: “triplethink.”
Moses Wuggenig Toronto
Re Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Vs. RCMP: A Guide To The Dispute Over B.C.’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline (Online, Feb. 18): Disputes regarding owners of various land rights are civil disputes that ought to be resolved in civil litigation if negotiations fail. They should not be criminalized.
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991-96) offered extensive analysis of these issues in its final report. It was recommended that the federal and provincial governments act to create special Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunals to resolve these disputes, and tribunal members would represent both sides in a matter.
This seems to me an obvious and fair means of resolving disputes, especially since Canada insists on such institutions when it enters into treaties or agreements with other countries. Why is it that no one seems to look toward this avenue for peaceful resolution?
Paul Chartrand IPC, former commissioner, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; Winnipeg
I spent a lot of time on an Indigenous reserve to research a book about a First Nations group who protested a dam in Alberta. While I had great respect for many of the protesters, I believe it is important to understand that they themselves are divided on economic and environmental issues as much as the rest of Canada. Many may not support protests that break the law any more than other Canadians do.
Still, Canada should strike a delicate balance in responding to these protests. There are the interests of the protesters, who may not be uniformly in agreement, while the government has a right to fairly defend its national interest. I would advise a wise, firm, calibrated approach – a feeble response would be almost as dangerous as an excessive one.
Robert Girvan Lawyer and author, Who Speaks for the River?; Toronto
Re Now Is The Winter Of Our Disrespect (Opinion, Feb. 15): We should be assured that the majority of Canadians are aware of our great burden of respect. We can never be as respectful of the land as First Nations people; we can never be as green as the Green Party; we can never give enough respect to Alberta’s conservative governments who have mismanaged the province into its economic mess.
The protesters who, with great disrespect, blocked travellers from boarding BC Ferries to Vancouver, should know that in the grey wet of winter, few were headed to a two-martini lunch.
Joan Macdonald Victoria
Re Tony Fernandez Was An Athlete Of Uncommon Grace (Sports, Feb. 17): Tony Fernandez was the Fred Astaire of shortstops and, together with Blue Jays teammate Roberto Alomar, formed as solid a keystone corner combination as the game will ever see. He was the embodiment of class, both on and off the field, and he will be missed.
Greg Longphee Victoria
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