Oh… Canada…

Nobody is perfect. It’s a common saying, but let’s really break it down.

No person, past or present, is perfect. They have all done things that are wrong.

We like to play pretend. Let’s pretend that George Washington or Louis Riel or Abraham Lincoln was a saint. We like to pretend that the founding fathers of Canada cared just as much about diversity as we do, or at least that they didn’t oppose it. We like to put people like Martin Luther King Jr. on a pedestal and pretend that he only did the things we consider ‘good’ and none of the things we disagree with. Or Nelson Mandela, or Mother Teresa, or any other popular figure. But it’s just pretend. They’re all people, and people are flawed.

Groups aren’t amorphous independent entities, they’re made up of people. Those people have good actions, and those people have bad actions, and those people do both at various times. However, humans like to think that any group that they are part of or want to be part of are defined by the best people in that group, while groups that they aren’t in or don’t want to be in are defined by the worst people in that group. So we get groups like Black Lives Matter, the GOP, Greenpeace, the Catholic Church, etc. The people in these groups have both good and bad actions. Sometimes it’s hard to see past our preconceptions of the groups and look at the actual balance of good actions and bad actions rather than looking only at the good actions of some groups and only the bad actions of others.

Here’s the secret. It’s possible to identify both good and bad things in people or groups. It’s possible to celebrate the good while at the same time condemning the bad. It’s possible to be part of a group while knowing that there are problematic aspects to it. It’s possible to celebrate it for what it does while at the same time identifying where it falls short.

Identifying problems doesn’t mean something isn’t, on balance, good. At the same time identifying good things doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. In fact our ability to identify good and bad in something and then make a decision with the full knowledge that it isn’t perfect or evil is an important aspect of our humanity.

Lets talk about Canada.

Fancy Bebamikawe said it well on Twitter today:

https://twitter.com/FancyBebamikawe/status/880822465152372736

It is possible to see both that Canada is pretty awesome and provides great things, like basic health care and education, while also seeing that it’s pretty bad and incarcerates Indigenous people for offences that white people get probation for or a fine, or that they under-fund education on reserves. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re what make Canada. Canada is both the good and the bad.

You can like how the Prime Minister worked with the people who set the Tipi up on Parliament Hill for ceremony this week as being an example of reconciliation while at the same time understand that his fighting the implementation of Jordan’s principle directly harms Indigenous children (a fight that’s been happening for a decade now). You can like that the Prime Minister is increasing the education funding beyond 2% for the first time in two decades while hate that it was his party who first froze that funding, something that’s affected a generation and a half of Indigenous people.

Look at things with both eyes open. There are very few things that are perfect, and discussing the tarnish on them doesn’t harm those things, but rather puts them in their proper perspective. You can be proud of Canada while at the same time understanding where it has fallen short of it’s ideals. You can be proud of Canada while at the same time understanding that it’s historic ideals were what we’d call racist or regressive now.

You can be proud of Canada while pointing out its flaws.

Oh… Canada… we can be proud and aware at the same time. That doesn’t make us non-patriotic, but rather makes us better humans and better Canadians.

Why I Can’t Vote Conservative Any More

I am an ex Conservative voter. I maintain that I didn’t leave them, they left me.

I have voted for three different parties in the four federal elections I’ve participated in, only the Conservatives twice. The two Conservative MPs I’ve voted for both have my respect. They are good people. They have done great things for their constituents. One of them was such a great MP I debated becoming a party member. The conservatives have done some good things while they’ve been in power. The repealing of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was a good move. I was writing about it back in 2008. I also have high praise for Jim Flaherty. He was a great finance minister and I feel that the Conservatives successes with the Canadian economy should be attached to him and not to Stephen Harper. I also wonder what he would have thought about Harper criticizing Trudeau that you shouldn’t run a deficit in a recession, when that is exactly what Flaherty did to help the Canadian economy during the recession in 2008.

But, I can’t vote Conservative again.

I can’t vote Conservative because I can’t align my faith and beliefs with it.

Continue reading “Why I Can’t Vote Conservative Any More”

Canada’s Response to the Refugee Crisis

This post has been percolating for over a month now. So sorry it’s a bit long but I like giving facts and doing my best to not misrepresent people. I don’t often include Bible verses on my blog but today I am.

Matthew 25:34-36

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

A few weeks ago I asked my local MP (the Honorable Ed Fast) about Canada’s response to the war against ISIS and the refugee crisis that has been made immeasurably worse because of it. I agree with MCC on this in that a lasting solution needs to be a non-military solution that removes or reduces the reasons for radicalization and works toward peace. I was concerned that the Prime Minister seemed to be advocating for more military action because of the refugee crisis.

His response was:

“With respect to the Syrian conflict, let me correct you by saying that the Prime Minister has not advocated for MORE military action (as you have suggested) but for a balanced approach which includes three pillars: humanitarian assistance (of which Canada is one of the world’s largest donors), military intervention and resettlement of refugees. We do not have any plans to increase our military presence in Syria and Iraq.”

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Dispelling Myths about First Nations Chief’s Salaries

First nations chiefs are essentially CEOs these days. And with the First Nations Financial Transparancy Act we can see how much they’re making – see here for the data.

Now that list includes counselors so I pulled only chiefs and based this on the results.

Remember, these are CEOs. In addition to managing Treaty & Indian Act money coming in from the government they also manage various band run businesses, land and many other organizations.

Average salary: $80,00
Median salary: $75,000 (median Canadian salary is $70,000)

# paid less than poverty line: 76 (11%)
# paid less than canadian average salary: 179 (26%)
# paid less than middle class salary: 230 (34%)
# paid less than canadian median salary: 286 (42%)
# paid middle class salary 185 (27%)
# paid more than canadian middle class salary: 264 (39%)
# making it into the top 100 highest paid CEOs: 0

The highest paid chief made $930,793 but remember most of that (86% to be exact) was a bonus for negotiating a $8 million land deal for the band.

Only 15% of chiefs are even classed as “rich” (earning over $125,000 per year). To put that into perspective, more chiefs are earning less than $30,000.
So it looks like in general the “rich chief” myth isn’t just misleading, it’s completely wrong.

Secret witnesses in Canadian courts?

If you haven’t seen it yet bill C-44 (the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act) is an interesting read (see more here: http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-2/C-44/). It does a number of things, mostly putting in law things that are already happening. One portion of it is highly problematic, though others might take issue with different provisions, and that would be subsection 18 – the secret witness section. Here’s the complete text of that section before we get into the problematic part:

Continue reading “Secret witnesses in Canadian courts?”