Indian Act 1876

I’m plowing my way through this book, and while I wouldn’t want to give you a book review, can I make a couple of observations to where I am…

First, I was really interested in reading this, was sure it would be a good read if not a fascinating insight into what happened around SNC Lavelin and the whole debacle. So far, 129 pages in it haven’t given me what I thought I might find, however, that being said, with cabinet protocols, confidentiality requirements etc, I assume that the author has limits on what she CAN say. So I will read on.

The opening chapter is about her final days as the AG and her meetings with the PM. Most of that is not surprising. It seems that the Prime Minister does have a temper and doesn’t take NOT getting his own way well. But that’s not surprising either – remember his charging down the aisle of the house of commons and elbowing a female MP over? That gets a mention as well.

The book certainly paints a picture of, what I think is likely the norm, the PMO taking control from the ministers of the crown to meet political ends. That is JWR’s thesis in a way. Important legislation gets set aside for legislation designed to win the next election. Not surprising I suppose but she makes the point and I think it’s worth considering that many of those decisions are not made by those who are elected by the constituents but by those brought in as loyal to the party and tucked into key positions in the PMO.

She points to the Indian Act, brought into being in 1876. This legislation remains the framework for Canada to deal with indigenous groups. Tackling it seems to be politically unpopular or else it would have been done some time ago. The book points to the Conservatives as being unmoveable in addressing this but then admits that the current government has had several changes to make substantive changes but has not.

My own bias has over the years bubbled up to the surface when it comes to indigenous people, which I am willing to admit, but after attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and engaging our own people in those relationships I hope I have improved my opinion and position significantly. I really do believe that we have been colonizers and done almost everything in our power to exterminate the original dwellers of this land. Saying we are sorry is simply not enough and we must work to correct our own internal bias to colonization. We owe to them, we owe to our children and we owe to the future of Canada.

Yes, get the book, read it and form your own opinions.

Here’s one of the sections that really caught my attention:

Working beyond partisanship
1876

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