December 19, 2015 - No. 40

State-Organized Monopoly Right
Dictates Huge Profits for Private Banks

The Necessity for Pro-Social Renewal
in the Financial Sector

Workers' Movement Under Serious Attack
by Governments Pushing Monopoly Interests

Mass Suspension and Criminalization of
Montreal Blue-Collar Workers and Union Leaders

- Chantier politique -

Ontario Injured Workers Fight for Justice

Coming Events
Ontario Rallies to Stop Devastating Cuts and Privatization
of Local Public Hospital Services

Keep Stelco Producing!
All Out for the January 30 Hamilton Day of Action!

Ending Colonial Relations with
Indigenous Peoples Must Be a Central Demand

Government's Agenda for First Nations Sidesteps
Crucial Issue of Where Sovereignty Lies

- Philip Fernandez -

Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report Underscores Need to End Colonial Relations with Indigenous Peoples
Highlights of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission Final Report

First Nations and Allies Demand Full Participation in National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Profound Opposition in Quebec to
Police Abuse of Indigenous Women

- Diane Johnston -

State-Organized Monopoly Right Dictates Huge Profits for Private Banks

The Necessity for Pro-Social Renewal
in the Financial Sector

The six largest banks in Canada -- Royal Bank, TD Bank, Scotiabank, the Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank -- claimed from the economy a combined $34.88 billion in net income during fiscal year 2015, up almost five per cent from $33.27 billion last year. Gross income for the six banks totalled $129.79 billion, up from $124.72 billion in 2014.[1]

To put these enormous amounts in perspective, the six banks' gross income of $130 billion is approximately equal to half the federal government's entire collected revenue of $260 billion. The banks' net income of $35 billion is only $5 billion less than the combined yearly amount the federal government transfers to Quebec, the provinces and territories to "support health care, post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, including early childhood development," known broadly as the Canada Health Transfer, and the Canada Social Transfer.

This is serious money claimed by six private enterprises alone, and distributed according to the narrow private interests of those who own and control them. Canadians should question this reality, and discuss and demand a new pro-social direction. The banks provide a public service necessary within the modern economy centred on saving, lending and making payments and transactions for both individuals and enterprises.

The largest banks have acquired almost all significant trust and brokerage companies in Canada and own a large segment of the mutual fund and insurance business. They have used their continuing claim on banking net income in Canada to invest abroad as global imperialist empires generating contradictions with other peoples and sovereign nations.

More than half their activity and income could be considered parasitic and damaging to the economy, as it is disconnected from the production of goods and services, consuming value without producing any new value grossly wasting already-produced value and workers' work-time. Amongst other practices, they repetitively buy and sell the same already-produced value in different forms called derivatives. Derivatives represent already produced and realized value in a fictitious and parasitic form. For example, mortgages and student and car loans are bundled together in bonds and sold and traded collectively as asset-backed commercial paper. Each time the derivatives change hands, fees are charged and value is extracted until the derivatives collapse, as they did disastrously in 2007. The collapse of derivatives, the fictitious bonds backed with exhausted value, and the insurance covering those practices, became a leading factor in the 2008 economic crisis freezing the financial system and sending shockwaves throughout the global imperialist economy. In addition to these parasitic practices, which have become even more widespread since 2008, the banks are now heavily promoting the exchange of carbon derivatives as a way to profit from the concern over climate change.

The competition to profit over and over again from the same already-produced value through constant exchange on global markets signals an imperialist economy that is exhausted with nowhere to turn except to feeding upon itself and competing through predatory wars to bring peoples and markets under their control spreading anarchy and violence throughout the world. The parasitic and war-based economy is engulfed in constant crises and cannot escape its internal contradictions. The imperialist economy has reached its final form and is in desperate need of renewal in a new pro-social direction that serves public right and the public interest in opposition to monopoly right.

State-Organized Monopoly Right for the Big Banks

The big banks' outlandish size and central position in the economy have grown to the point that all have become state-organized enterprises with a monopoly right to profit for private gain in contradiction with the needs of the people and the socialized economy. The legal will of governments is used to guarantee and institutionalize the monopoly right of the biggest financial enterprises entrenching yet another form of governments' paying the rich. The contradiction between public and monopoly right, between public and private interests can be resolved in favour of the people on this front by depriving the big banks of the state-organized instruments that guarantee their privilege.

The big banks' monopoly right revolves around not only their all-consuming size as international financial oligarchies but the direct benefit they receive from various state regulations, laws and practices including the Bank Act and the numerous free trade agreements, which allow them to move social wealth throughout much of the world without restriction according to their private interests. If the monopolies believe public right has in any way interfered with their monopoly right, the state-organized free trade agreements give the big financial enterprises and any other monopoly the right to sue the public treasuries of the participating states.

Currently 20 Canadian banks possess charters under the outmoded Bank Act, which gives them exclusive privileges to profit from the economy, although the big six banks dominate the pack controlling over 90 per cent of all banking assets and business. The chartered banks possess the right to borrow money from the Bank of Canada, which even the federal government, Quebec and the provinces are presently prohibited from doing.

Banks possess the monopoly right to lend money they do not own or have, which means they can create new money. This arises from the monopoly right to practice fractional-reserve banking whereby a bank accepts deposits and then makes loans or investments beyond the value of the deposits. The government abolished any regulatory fractional requirement in 1991, leaving the banks to decide how much they should keep in reserve compared with what they lend and invest. If at any time, demand on a big bank for cash is greater than its reserve, the Bank of Canada steps in to lend it money to cover the shortfall.

The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, a public authority, guarantees individual savings in banks up to $100,000, which encourages Canadians to put their savings in chartered banks.

The state-organized legal rules surrounding mortgages guarantee the banks' predominant position in that sector plus of course their sheer size. The regulations and practices of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Mortgage Insurance Fund, and the enormous liquidity they are provided through the practice of fractional-reserve banking and the protection of the Bank of Canada and other state institutions allow the big banks to profit enormously from residential and commercial mortgages.

The state considers the biggest private banks "too big to fail," and as such they are rescued with billions of dollars of public funds during economic crises and as a regular practice with loans from the Bank of Canada to provide them liquidity when short. During the 2008 economic crisis, the Bank of Canada, along with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the U.S. Federal Reserve provided up to $114 billion of emergency liquidity support to Canadian banks. Of this amount, $69 billion was part of the CMHC mortgage insurance program.

Those who profit from and control the main private financial enterprises often participate as leading figures in the cartel political parties that dominate the electoral process and governments. They sit in government cabinets at senior levels, and appear regularly in the mass media as experts on the imperialist economy.

Almost all federal Ministers of Finance are from the financial oligarchy such as the current Liberal Party minister, Bill Morneau and his immediate predecessors Conservative Joe Oliver and Jim Flaherty. The sitting Liberal Minister of Immigration, John McCallum also served in the Liberal Chretien and Martin regimes. Before entering cartel party politics, McCallum was Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the Royal Bank of Canada and constantly on television representing the views of the financial oligarchy. The former CEO of the TD Bank, Ed Clark and its former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Don Drummond both play an outsized role in public affairs and policy for the Ontario Liberal government and in the mass media.

State-organized monopoly right allows the narrow private interests and class privilege of those who own and control the private financial enterprises to thrive by removing billions of dollars annually from the economy to serve private interests while depriving the public treasury of those funds.

Public right demands that the banks become self-supporting and stand or fall on their own without governments facilitating their monopoly right to pillage, distort and wreck the economy to serve their narrow private interests. This begins with governments removing the big banks' legalized and institutionalized monopoly right. Governments must serve public interests not private interests. This requires broad changes to regulations and laws governing the operations of private banks. The banks must be deprived of their special treatment and privilege, which upholds their monopoly right to dominate public right. No excuse exists to block the just demand of the people to restrict monopoly right and the control of the big private banks over Canada's financial affairs.

The role of the Bank of Canada must change from serving the private interests of the global financial oligarchy to serving the public interests. All the state-organized legal features to support monopoly right must be eliminated under the overall direction to stop paying the rich, stop paying the private banks and financial oligarchy. All the rules, regulations and laws that favour the private interests of the big banks over the public interest must be eliminated to change the direction of the economy in favour of public right. No monopoly right for the big banks! This forms part of the general mobilization of the people to go all out to organize for democratic renewal.

Government should create a pro-social banking alternative in the form of a public bank that competes directly with the private banks without giving the private banks an advantage in law and practice through monopoly right. A new pro-social direction for the economy demands a first step towards a public financial sector that serves the broad economy and public interest and not the narrow private interests, class privilege and monopoly right of the financial oligarchy. The net income from the public bank can be used to increase investments in social programs and public services. The people demand no more state-organized monopoly right for the big banks. All private financial enterprises must stand or fall on their own without state-organized monopoly right serving their narrow private interests and class privilege.

Curtail Privileged Private Interests!
Deprive the Big Banks of Their Monopoly Right in Regulations, Rules and Law!
Stop Paying the Rich!
Stop Paying the Big Banks!
Monopoly Right No! Public Right Yes!
All Out for Democratic Renewal That Includes Pro-social Renewal of the Financial Sector!


1. Value and the price of production

According to the banks' accounts, the net income is found by deducting the sum of consumed transferred-value and reproduced-value from the gross income. We have no way of confirming their figures as they are not fully revealed, and the little they do show in their accounts is capital-centred and unscientific. The banks seek to obscure the fact that workers and their work-time are the actual producers of all value and source of the social wealth so coveted by the ruling imperialist elite and not a cost of production. The banks also want to hide the parasitism of much of their activity, and the central role played by state-organized monopoly right in guaranteeing their net income and their continued existence.

Consumed transferred-value, which consists of already-produced value, combines two elements: completely used up material such as paper and electricity, which is called the circulating transferred-value; and, the partially used up value from machinery, equipment, tools and buildings, which is called fixed transferred-value. Other transferred-value consumed during the production process comes from the economy's material infrastructure necessary to the production process. This public or social transferred-value is rarely, if ever acknowledged in the accounts of the monopolies, except obliquely as fees or taxes.

Together, the circulating and fixed transferred-value form the already-produced value consumed during work-time, which is transferred into any good or service produced and is a major part of its value and price of production.

Reproduced-value arises from the work-time of the workers engaged in producing goods and services, and is part of the new value living workers produce. The other portion of the new value they produce is added-value, which forms the basis of profit.

The workers reproduce the value of their capacity to work during work-time, which is part of the new value they produce. They claim the individual portion of reproduced-value as wages and benefits while public institutions claim the social portion of the reproduced-value, usually as taxes. Workers through their living work-time also reproduce the value of their capacity to work that originates socially. The social value of the capacity to work finds its origin in the work-time of workers engaged in providing social programs and public services such as education, health care etc plus the transferred-value consumed during their work-time in the social infrastructure.

The value of any good or service is the sum of the average combined work-time, calculated in standard work-time, of the already-produced transferred-value plus the newly added value from living work-time needed to produce a given quality and quantity of goods or services.

The price of production of the value of any good or service is calculated using a modern formula that finds the sum of transferred-value, reproduced-value and added-value according to various constituent elements including an average profit from any level of productivity, which mainly involves the size of transferred-value relative to the reproduced-value. The price of production can vary up or down from the value of a good or service according to the results of the formula. A new direction of the economy requires a modern formula to determine prices of production and a public authority over the wholesale sector given the wide range of amounts of transferred-value consumed compared with reproduced-value in the vast array of sectors, and the control global monopolies exercise over prices to suit their narrow private interests, which must be actively opposed and restricted.

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Workers' Movement Under Serious Attack
by Governments Pushing Monopoly Interests

Mass Suspension and Criminalization of Montreal Blue-Collar Workers and Union Leaders

On December 14, the City of Montreal announced the imposition of a five-day suspension without pay on 2,400 blue-collar workers for participating in a special general assembly of their union on December 8 during working hours. The president of the Montreal blue-collar workers' union, Chantal Racette, along with three other members of the union executive, each received a two-month suspension without pay. As well, any officer who the City claims encouraged workers to participate in the general assembly will be suspended for a month.

The December 8 meeting, attended by some 4,000 blue-collar workers, was to develop an action plan to mobilize blue-collar workers and public opinion to defeat the wide-scale job cuts and the privatization of jobs and services that the City is conducting on the sly. The meeting also aimed to develop an action plan against the Couillard government's decision to table a bill in the spring that will give cities the power to decree the working conditions of municipal employees. This is after it passed a law one year ago to ban any real negotiation by municipal employees regarding their pension plans.

Chantier politique vehemently condemns this new attempt to criminalize and smash the organized resistance of municipal employees to the dismantling and privatization of their jobs and the public services they provide to the population. Chantier politique also denounces Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's propaganda that depicts blue-collar workers as outlaws who operate using intimidation, while the City is portrayed as simply defending the law and labour contracts.

"A contract is a contract," said the Mayor of Montreal, deeming the special general assembly to have been held in violation of the collective agreement. His remarks hide that it is the City of Montreal and the Quebec government which are breaking the contracts and arrangements that allow City employees to defend and negotiate their working conditions, that are also the conditions for the delivery of public services.

The City and the Quebec government made the struggle for pension plans illegal and now they want to do the same for all the working conditions of municipal employees. They want to impose silence and smash the organized resistance of the workers to have free rein with their plans to privatize and dismantle services, which pillage the City's funds and put people's health and safety at risk. Their dream is to make Quebec and its cities a hub for infrastructure projects and transportation and energy corridors for North American monopolies at the expense of building an economy in the service of Quebeckers and their future. They volunteer to do the dirty work to provide investors with a workforce without rights and with labour contracts that mean nothing and a drastically reduced regular workforce.

Quebec workers will not accept this affront to democracy that presents the robber as robbed and the aggressor as the victim. The defence of workers' rights is a key aspect of democracy and of the welfare of the people and society. Municipal employees in particular play an important role in the field of public opinion, as they reveal the corruption of those in power and their collusion with the monopolies and friends of the regime and this is why those in power want to silence them.

Support the municipal employees! It is their fight which defends Montreal and Quebec, not the City of Montreal and Mayor Coderre and the Couillard government!

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Ontario Injured Workers Fight for Justice

Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups holds annual Christmas protest at Ministry of Labour in Toronto, December 14, 2015. The action highlights the poverty and indignity forced on injured workers through the unjust denial of compensation.

When it comes to the fight for justice and defending the rights of all, Ontario injured workers stand second to none. They are fighting for a workers' compensation system worthy of the name -- that provides the necessary compensation and rehabilitation for all workers should they be injured on the job or fall ill due to their working conditions.

The biggest obstacle injured workers face is the Ontario government and the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB). They are abdicating their duty to serve the public interest. Instead, they are restructuring the workers' compensation system and carrying out claims suppression to favour employers and private insurance companies, while shafting the injured workers they are supposed to be assisting.

The latest issue of Justice for Injured Workers, the newspaper of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups (ONIWG), highlights the underhanded schemes of the WSIB to deprive injured workers of their compensation:

"No one wants to be an injured worker, but if you get injured, the WSIB is supposed to be there to help you when you need it the most, right? Unfortunately, the Wynne government and the leadership of the WSIB have another agenda, an agenda of austerity to pay down a phoney unfunded liability and let unscrupulous employers off the hook. This comes at the expense of injured workers through suppression of their just claims for compensation.

"Ontario injured workers' groups together with the Ontario Federation of Labour are exposing the WSIB's claims suppression through its use of 'independent medical consultants' and private clinics, to deny the treatment plans for injured workers submitted by the health care professionals who are actually caring for them. This is an outrage to injured workers, their supporters and the many health care professionals who work so tirelessly to help people recover from workplace injuries.

"The WSIB's 'experience rating' system has also been encouraging claims suppression by employers. Employers can lower the premiums they pay into the compensation system by showing a lower rate of claims. What it amounts to in practice is employers pressuring workers not to report injuries to make the employers look good, while injured workers are denied the compensation and treatment they require and the compensation system as a whole is deprived of funding.

"Read more about these fraudulent schemes in this issue of Justice for Injured Workers and much more. Support and get involved in your local injured workers' organization to be part of the important work to defend the right of all Ontarians to just compensation for workplace injuries and illnesses!"

To find out more about the work of ONIWG, visit To receive copies of Justice for Injured Workers, contact Eugene Lefrancois, 807-767-7827 or

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Coming Events

Ontario Rallies to Stop Devastating Cuts and Privatization of Local Public Hospital Services

Rallies at Ontario Pre-Budget Hearings

(specific locations TBA)

Hamilton -- Monday, January 18
Windsor -- Tuesday, January 19
Thunder Bay -- Wednesday, January 20
Sault Ste. Marie -- Thursday, January 21
Ottawa -- Friday, January 22
Toronto -- Monday, February 1 at Queen's Park
For information: Ontario Health Coalition,

The Ontario Health Coalition is calling on everyone to join in upcoming actions to save local public hospital services. The Coalition writes:

"You can help to save local public hospital services! We're heading into the 9th year of real-dollar hospital cuts, the longest stretch in Ontario's history. Funding for hospitals is now at the lowest rate of any province in the country. Local community hospitals are at risk of complete closure, while birthing, emergency departments and other services are constantly at threat. Thousands of hospital staff positions have been eliminated.

"By every measure, Ontario's hospital cuts are deeper than any other jurisdiction. Virtually every service cut from our local hospitals is being privatized.

"We have been giving reasoned submissions every year for 8 years regarding the cuts and the government is ignoring them. It's time to step up the pressure. That's why we're holding rallies outside the Pre-Budget Hearings. We will be inviting the MPPs on the Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to come out and join us and hear our concerns."

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Keep Stelco Producing!
All Out for the January 30 Hamilton Day of Action!

Saturday, January 30 -- 1:00 pm
Hamilton City Hall, 71 Main St. W.

USW Locals 1005 and 8782 are seeking support from unions, labour councils, retirees, students, community activists and others to join together for a Day of Action to demand that all levels of government take a stand for public right, not monopoly right and provide a MADE IN CANADA SOLUTION to KEEP STELCO PRODUCING!

More than 20,000 people are affected by U.S. Steel's cuts to retiree benefits permitted by the courts through the company's phoney CCAA bankruptcy. Join with the steelworkers to demand that retirees and workers be put at the top of the creditors' list in CCAA and to KEEP STELCO PRODUCING!

For information, contact USW Local 1005 Union Hall at 905-547-1417 or USW Local 8782 at 519-587-2000.

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Ending Colonial Relations with
Indigenous Peoples Must Be a Central Demand

Government's Agenda for First Nations Sidesteps Crucial Issue of Where Sovereignty Lies

Two-Row Wampum leads the march against Bill C-51, Parliament Hill, May 30, 2015.
Participants affirm
nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples as the
basis of unity in action in defence of the rights of all.

On December 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the annual Special Chiefs Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Among various pledges he made there, he called for a "renewed nation-to-nation" relationship with First Nations based on "respect, co-operation, and partnership," guided by "the spirit and intent of the original treaty relationship; one that respects inherent rights, treaties and jurisdictions, and the decisions of our courts."

Trudeau's speech was received with optimism at the AFN Special Chiefs' Assembly, surely because his words promise an improvement over the Harper government's abysmal relationship with First Nations. But what the Trudeau government claims will be a "renewed nation-to-nation" relationship has as yet to be fully revealed.

Trudeau speaks of "nation-to-nation" relations while referring to the "decisions of [Canadian] courts." However "nation-to-nation" relations start from the recognition of the sovereign jurisdiction of indigenous peoples over their affairs -- they are not bound by the decisions of the Canadian colonial state and its courts. The Two-Row Wampum describes the relationship between Canada and the Indigenous peoples as that of two canoes travelling side-by-side with neither interfering in the steering of the other's canoe. This is the principle underlying the Two-Row Wampum agreement between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch in 1613, as well as subsequent treaties governing relations between the Crown and First Nations. From this it is clear that when Trudeau speaks about the principle of "nation-to-nation" he is not speaking about the rights of First Nations as sovereign nations which Canada will treat as equals. He is not talking about a veto or the sovereign decision-making power that belongs to First Nations by virtue of their being. He is talking about approaching relations with First Nations on a pragmatic basis of "respect, co-operation, and partnership" as it relates to resource development, territorial land rights etc.

Following the Trudeau Liberal electoral victory on October 19, Hayden King, the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance and an Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi'mnissing pointed out that during the election, Trudeau often returned to the theme of "renewing nation-to-nation relations" with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit. He cautions that it is not clear as yet what Trudeau means by this. King suggests that in practical terms "nation-to-nation should mean the closure of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and an end to interventionist policies and attitudes." King also suggests that Trudeau's promised review of all the laws introduced by the Harper government unilaterally in violation of the Indian Act should include the Indian Act itself as well as the 1867 British North America Act which were also imposed unilaterally on Indigenous Peoples.

King warns that "Federal Liberal governments have a record of breaking promises when it comes to Indigenous Peoples. After the 1967 pro-rights Hawthorne report, Pierre Trudeau committed to a 'just' new direction on Indian policy. But what he delivered was a 1969 white paper aimed at assimilation. In 1993, the Jean Chretien Liberals drafted a progressive Aboriginal platform for their first election, but once elected completely ignored it and any semblance of Aboriginal rights. In fact, soon after they implemented a strict funding cap that has resulted in a de facto decrease in resources for communities every year for the past 24."

An unfolding example that is instructive is the opposition of the Mohawk of Kanesatake and Kahnawake to the Energy East pipeline which is directly pitted against monopoly right. On December 10, the Mohawk rejected the review consultation on the pipeline that is planned to carry crude oil from Alberta's tar sands to New Brunswick, traversing some 155 First Nations communities including Mohawk territory. The Mohawk point out that the Crown has not fulfilled its obligation to consult and get their consent about the pipeline and that therefore they as sovereign nations will resolutely oppose it.

Mohawk women take stage at Energy East Pipeline consultation meeting  in Montreal, September 23, 2015, affirming that "This is Kanien’ke, this is Mohawk Land and we are tired of occupation, we are tired of environmental disaster."

In other fields, it can also be seen that the Trudeau government has affirmed itself as a government in the service of private monopoly interests over the sovereign right of the people to decide. Take for example the Trudeau Liberals' unprincipled support for the neo-liberal Trans Pacific Partnership, signed by the Harper government during the election campaign. A secret sellout deal negotiated behind the backs of Canadians did not cause a ripple of concern in the Liberal Party. Thus, given the Trudeau Liberals' contempt for the right of Canadians to decide those matters that affect their lives and refusal to uphold Canadian sovereignty against monopoly right and foreign interests, what can one expect of this government when it comes to respecting the rights and sovereignty of First Nations?

Another important point to keep in mind is the Trudeau government's support for Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. During the months of opposition to the bill it was pointed out that First Nations activists are already under state surveillance and face the most brutal state violence when they oppose monopoly right and affirm their rights and sovereignty, even without the expanded power to violate rights now granted to police and state security agencies by Bill C-51. The role the police authority has played in the conquest of the Indigenous peoples and establishment of criminal colonial institutions and relations on them is central to their experience in the past 500 years. This matter cannot be lost from sight.

Canadians must not permit the Trudeau government's talk of "renewed nation-to-nation relations" to be used to impose the status quo which maintains the longstanding colonial relations that have wrought great hardships on the Indigenous peoples. Canadians and Indigenous peoples living in Canada cannot be disarmed by Liberal illusions which push neo-liberal arrangements. The peoples must rely on their own thinking and organizing on these important questions to provide this problem with solutions that make a breakthrough on this crucial issue.

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report Underscores Need to End Colonial Relations with Indigenous Peoples

"Walk for Reconciliation" in Ottawa, May 31, 2015 began the final gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (B. Powless)

On December 15, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its six-volume final report on its investigation into the Residential School System and its brutal legacy. The report was released at a moving ceremony in the Shaw Convention Centre in downtown Ottawa attended by hundreds of people including residential schools survivors and their families, Indigenous elders and leaders and representatives of Indigenous organizations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some members of his cabinet, as well as members of the Opposition were also present.

Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild, the three Commissioners of the TRC, all spoke with cautious optimism about a positive shared future for the Canadian people and the Indigenous peoples if Canada takes the necessary steps to acknowledge its colonial past and oppression of Indigenous peoples, redresses these wrongs, and most importantly, engages in a new and respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights. Justice Sinclair, the Chair of the Commission, noted that the way in which Indigenous peoples and Canadians from all walks of life have been proactive in discussing the TRC and its work, taking various measures to respond to its recommendations even before the official circles responded, gives him hope.

The overarching theme of the TRC's final report is that little has changed in Canada's treatment of Indigenous peoples since the days of the residential schools. The report points out: "The beliefs and attitudes that were used to justify the establishment of residential schools are not things of the past; they continue to animate much of what passes for Aboriginal policy today." The report states: "Reconciliation will require more than pious words about the shortcomings of those who preceded us. It obliges us to both recognize the ways in which the legacy of the residential school continues to disfigure Canadian life and to abandon policies and approaches that currently serve to extend that hurtful legacy."

Little more than pious words are what we have heard so far from the Trudeau government in response to the TRC's historic report. The Prime Minister pledges to act on all 94 recommendations of the TRC's "Call to Action." The Liberals already claim that they are well on the way with the announcement of the launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls last week and the pledge that Canada will vote in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the Harper government refused to do. The Liberals would have no credibility whatsoever if they did not move on these obvious agenda items.

In his speech at the release of the Report, Prime Minister Trudeau stated among other things: "Today, we find ourselves on a new path, working together toward a nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership." Some of these exact same words were used by Crown Agents who negotiated the numbered treaties and other agreements which were then dishonoured by the Crown and led to the theft of Indigenous lands, and the displacement and oppression of Indigenous peoples that continues to this day. What content the Trudeau government plans to give to "nation-to-nation" remains to be seen.

On the theme of reconciliation the TRC Report says that "Reconciliation must inspire Aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples to transform Canadian society so that our children and grandchildren can live together in dignity, peace, and prosperity on these lands we now share."

The starting point of such a transformation must be political and constitutional renewal which vests sovereignty in the people. It is the working class of this country which has the interest to build a Canada on a modern basis which means it must uphold the rights of all and abolish the notion of rights based on privileges and discrimination against those who are lower down on the totem pole. Nation-to-nation relations are a matter of recognizing the Indigenous nations in a meaningful manner and making sure their hereditary rights are upheld, especially their right to be and everything that flows from that right. To end the colonial relations and injustice Canada's colonial legacy must be buried once and for all. Any attempt to once again pay lip service to nation-to-nation relations but continue to trample the right to be of the Indigenous peoples and steal what belongs to them by right will be met with ever-greater and greater opposition until this problem is solved.

On the occasion of the release of this report, TML Weekly pledges once again to give the defence of the rights of Indigenous peoples top priority. It will contribute to the best of its ability to making sure all Canadians are informed about this crucial matter which concerns the entire polity and the kind of future they want to built.

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Highlights of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission Final Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has presented its final report which is 3,231-pages long and contained in six volumes. The Report will be available in English, French, Mi'kmaq, Ojibwa, Inuktitut, Cree and Dené.

That the TRC was even able to complete its work is testimony to the determination of its Commissioners and the Indigenous peoples in the face of the sabotage and stonewalling of the Harper government. This meddling was such that the first Chair of the Commission, Justice Harry Laforme, resigned. The TRC was part of the Residential School Settlement Agreement in 2006, a court-mandated agreement between the federal government and the 80,000 survivors of the residential school system in Canada, their families and organizations such as churches and Indigenous organizations that were party to the Agreement. The Commission finally got under way in 2009 with Chair Justice Murray Sinclair from Manitoba; Dr. Marie Wilson, a journalist and academic; and Chief Wilton Littlechild, a lawyer and Cree leader from Alberta as its Commissioners.

In its six-year mission, the Commission examined the experiences of the 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who were snatched from their parents and communities by the colonial Canadian authorities and sent to church-run residential schools to "take the Indian out of the child," which the TRC identifies as cultural genocide.

The TRC commissioners travelled to more than 300 communities and received 6,725 statements from residential school survivors and their families, amongst others. In addition, the Commission examined archival documents in detail and solicited the views of expert opinion to paint a harrowing portrait of what took place and its legacy today.

In addition, the Commission's final Report includes the experiences of the Métis people, and the Indigenous peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador who were also victims of the residential school system, but were excluded by the Residential School Settlement Agreement.

The TRC Report covers the broad themes of child welfare, education, language and culture, health and justice as they relate to the lives of Indigenous peoples today put in the context of the residential school system. For example, data is provided showing that of all children and youth living in foster care today, 48 per cent are Indigenous, while the Indigenous population comprises only 4 per cent of the population of Canada. The authors of the report link the experience of the residential school system and the current foster care system in Canada as in both cases children are removed from their families and sent to live elsewhere with little support or respect for their cultural identities.

The TRC report also links the high rates of unemployment and poverty, ill-health, mental illness and incarceration, suicide and other issues affecting Indigenous peoples today as consequences of the ongoing racist discrimination, violence and abuse that Indigenous peoples still face at the hands of the Canadian state and its institutions.

The Commission's Report contains 94 recommendations in a Call to Action that is being put forward to assist the reconciliation process between the Indigenous peoples and the Canadian people. The overarching demand made by the TRC is that the federal government and governments at all levels adopt and implement the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is the international law that recognizes Indigenous peoples as sovereign.

Within this, the TRC recommends that the "Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, to jointly develop with Aboriginal peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown" that would build on the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764 "to reaffirm the nation-to-nation relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown." In addition, the new Royal Proclamation would, among other things, commit the Crown to "repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius. The Crown is also called on to "Renew or establish Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future."

Additionally, the TRC calls for the reconciliation of "Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation, including the recognition and integration of Indigenous laws and legal traditions in negotiation and implementation processes involving Treaties, land claims, and other constructive agreements."

The Commission proposes various strategies for governments to implement in order to inform Canadians about the true history and consequences of the residential school system and to correct the disinformation about Indigenous peoples that is being taught in the institutions of the Canadian state.

The TRC report places great emphasis on the federal government and all governments taking measures to address the crisis in education, child welfare and justice confronting Indigenous peoples, by immediate increases in funding and providing culturally appropriate supports to Indigenous communities as a matter of right. For example, the TRC calls for action to reduce the huge number of Indigenous people in prison (who represent 25 per cent of those incarcerated while representing only four per cent of the overall population in Canada) by removing minimum sentencing provisions and establishing alternative community-based programs for Indigenous inmates. Similarly, the TRC calls for increased funding for Indigenous schools and programs that would close the gap between Indigenous students and Canadian students in one generation.

In light of the destruction of Indigenous languages as a result of the eurocentric residential school system which aimed at assimilation, where Indigenous children were forbidden to speak their own languages, an Aboriginal Languages Act is proposed as a means to fund, recover and encourage Indigenous languages. The report also proposes an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner be appointed whose job it would be to monitor the implementation of this law and ensure that the many Indigenous languages on the verge of extinction today as a direct result of the residential school system, are revived and enabled to flourish.

The Commission is calling for additional funds to maintain the National Residential School Student Death Registry that it created as part of its work. The registry was established to be a repository for the documents confirming the deaths of some 3,000 children who died while attending residential school and an estimated 3,000 more whose records have not yet been found -- children and youth who died as a result of malnutrition, disease, torture and suicide, or while escaping and who are buried in unmarked graves -- so that their families and communities can put to rest what happened to their children. The Commission is calling for $10 million over the next seven years to fund the work of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation housed at the University of Manitoba to carry on the work of the TRC.

The TRC calls for the Canadian Parliament to enact legislation to create a "National Council for Reconciliation" as "an independent, national, oversight body" with membership jointly appointed by the government of Canada and national Indigenous organizations to "monitor, evaluate, and report annually to Parliament and the people of Canada on the Government of Canada's post-apology progress on reconciliation to ensure that government accountability for reconciling the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown is maintained in the coming years."

The Call to Action also urges the Pope to issue an apology to the survivors of the residential school system and their families on behalf of the Catholic Church, as well as from all other churches which administered the residential schools on behalf of the Crown and for these churches to take measures to facilitate the healing of the survivors by funding Aboriginal-based programs such as language-revitalization projects and by other means.

Last but not least, the Commission is calling for commemorative events such as a "National Day for Truth and Reconciliation" to honour the survivors, their families and communities as well as a Residential School Monument in Ottawa and in other cities as part of events leading up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

The full report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report can be found at

(Photo: B. Powless)

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First Nations and Allies Demand Full Participation in National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls

The demand for a national inquiry is put on the agenda outside the leaders debate in Toronto, September 28, 2015.

On December 8, the Liberal Government announced the launch of the first phase of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Minister of Justice Judy Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Minister for the Status of Women Patricia Hadju, who are tasked with organizing the Inquiry, spoke at the press conference on Parliament Hill where it was launched.

The families of the missing and murdered women made it clear during the election campaign that were an inquiry to proceed, it must be with their consultation and approval. Thus, Wilson-Raybould said that the first phase of the Inquiry is to be a period of consultation with families of the missing and murdered women and girls, Indigenous organizations, front line workers, experts and others. This is to continue until spring 2016 to determine the scope of the Inquiry. She stated among other things that the Inquiry will respect the conclusions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report, understanding that "reconciliation cannot be achieved without addressing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians."

Bennett stated that the "aim of the inquiry is to address and prevent further violence against Indigenous women." She said that the government hopes to engage not just Indigenous peoples but Canadians in this important issue through its "open and transparent" approach. She informed that the government had no strict timelines for the Inquiry. The main thing Bennett pointed out was that the government wants to incorporate the suggestions of the victims' families and the Indigenous community "to get it right." She stated that she and her colleagues expect through the consultation process to determine who the Commissioners on the Inquiry will be.

While the Liberals have announced the launch of the Inquiry, the key factor in getting to this point has been the decisive battles waged by the families, organizations and communities of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as their allies. For decades they have been calling for justice and a national inquiry into this crisis. Since the 2014 report by the RCMP which found that 1,181 Indigenous women were killed or disappeared between 1980 and 2012, another 32 Indigenous women have been murdered. The Trudeau Liberals would have no credibility whatsoever if they did not establish an inquiry, particularly after the Harper government's dismissal of this important issue with Harper himself stating last year on the CBC that the call for an inquiry was "not high on our radar."

Various First Nations and others responded to the announcement to affirm their right to participate fully in the Inquiry as they have been in the forefront of this fight and therefore are the experts on this issue. In the Chiefs of Ontario December 8 press release, Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians emphasizes "the announcement comes after months of organizing and pressure from First Nations communities and leadership and is a collective success." Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day states: "The way forward is through the involvement of First Nations people of Canada in the inquiry. The most effective way of addressing this systemic issue is to engage in a community-driven process to examine the collective safety of Indigenous peoples." Chief Day said that the Chiefs of Ontario played a large role in getting to this point. They are carrying out their own First Nations-led inquiry that began in January of this year and will feed into the national inquiry.

Memorial march for missing and murdered Indigenous women, Vancouver, February 14, 2015.

The British Columbia Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also responded. In a press release December 10 they point out that the Coalition "honours families and advocates who fought tirelessly for a national inquiry, and looks forward to participating in the pre-inquiry consultations and the inquiry itself." The Coalition has already forwarded proposals for a "thorough pre-inquiry consultation process" based on its experience with the BC Missing Women's Commission led by Commissioner Wally Oppal, that was convened in 2010 and tabled its report in 2012.

The BC Coalition is comprised of a broad membership of close to thirty organizations including First Nations, faith groups, human rights organizations, legal organizations, front line workers and others that has been in the forefront of demanding justice for murdered and missing women and girls in BC and Canada. They were completely shut out of the BC Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry. The Coalition warns that the BC Commission of Inquiry "cannot be used as a model for any aspect of a national inquiry, given its exclusion of key voices, narrow mandate that failed to address root causes, and only partially implemented recommendations."

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which represents close to a million First Nations people living in 634 First Nations communities and in cities and towns across the country, issued its own statement. AFN BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, who has responsibility for this issue at the national level, stated in the press release: "We have made it clear that families, Indigenous organizations, women's organizations and civil society organizations must inform the work of a national inquiry, and this includes being involved in the pre-consultations and setting the terms of reference. We look forward to full participation to ensure the pre-consultation process and the scope of the inquiry will draw the required and necessary results. This cannot and will not be another report to sit on the shelf. This inquiry must lead to real action and results that achieve safety and security for Indigenous women and our families."

Indigenous peoples, their organizations and allies have every reason to celebrate their success in getting the Inquiry launched after decades of political unity and concerted and determined action. It is critical that the initiative remain in the hands of those in the forefront of this fight -- the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, national Indigenous organizations, local organizations and their allies who fought so courageously and consistently for the Inquiry.

It is surely not a mystery that the Canadian state's ongoing cover-up of the role of its own police agencies in the disappearances of the women and refusal to investigate is a key factor. The continued racist and sexist treatment of Indigenous women and girls who are considered "fair game" which then justifies their killings is a very ugly and heinous legacy in this country. The basis of the Inquiry cannot be that either the causes or the facts are not known, but to eliminate the causes and those state arrangements that keep them in place.

Will the Inquiry corroborate the established body of knowledge on the circumstances of Indigenous peoples and lead to concrete action to address the situation? Will it ascribe blame and take corrective measures and provide redress? Or will attempts be made to obfuscate the truth and promulgate more racist, paternalistic and patronizing stereotypes?

TML Weekly is certain the women of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous origin and all progressive-minded Canadians will not let it happen. Let's get at the truth! Let the truth come out!

(With files from AFN, Chiefs of Ontario, Coalition of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.)

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Profound Opposition in Quebec to
Police Abuse of Indigenous Women

Allegations of police abuse of Indigenous women in Val D'Or are protested on Parliament Hill, November 3, 2015. The red dresses symbolize the demand for redress for those victimized.

Allegations of sexual abuse by eight Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers against First Nations women in Val-d'Or were brought to the attention of the SQ as well as the Quebec Ministry of Public Security through the airing of Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête on October 22. The program created such public outcry that the government quickly transferred the investigation from the SQ to the Montreal police (SPVM).

After a meeting with the representatives of seven of Quebec's ten First Nations, Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, demanded that Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard immediately meet with Quebec's First Nations leaders to address the situation. Picard also called for an independent inquiry into the actions of the police officers working in Val-d'Or. "The chain of confidence between our authorities, our communities and the police authorities has been broken, whether it be the Sûreté du Quebec, the SPVM or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."

It took over a week before Couillard finally met with First Nations representatives. Though he did not rule out holding a Quebec inquiry to examine the relationship between the Indigenous peoples and the police, he said he would wait and see what the federal government of Justin Trudeau decides in terms of an inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women. As well, Couillard announced the appointment of an independent observer to the SPVM investigation, despite the fact that originally he had proposed that an independent observer be mutually agreed upon by First Nations' representatives and the government. He also said, "The federal government has long withdrawn from its fiduciary duty toward First Nations [...] while known situations persist, for example housing, access to potable water and electricity. I call on them to re-exercise this role they should not have left aside."

On November 17, at a parliamentary commission meeting organized by the Quebec government's Committee on Citizens Relations, Edith Cloutier, Executive Director of the Val d'Or Native Friendship Centre where the revelations were first made, said, "a lot is being said about Indigenous peoples, First Nations living on reserves, and the responsibility of the federal government [...] with regard to the Indigenous peoples, however the violence and abuse of Indigenous women in Val d'Or took place in the city. These are women who live in the city, who are citizens of Quebec over which it is the responsibility of the government of Quebec to ensure their full and complete safety. There is no jurisdictional ambiguity whatsoever on the issue of Indigenous peoples in an urban milieu in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. [...] As opposed to those living on reserves, Indigenous peoples living in the city are not covered by the Indian Act. [...] Full and complete jurisdiction falls under the Quebec government. [...] In Canada, 60% of status Indians live off reserve. [...] In Quebec that tendency is on the rise. [...] We're talking about close to 50% of Indigenous peoples living in Quebec cities."

Walk against violence in Val D'Or, October 25, 2015.

At the second meeting on November 25, Viviane Michel, president of Quebec Native Women, presented numerous proposals made in recent years by her organization to the Quebec government to stop and prevent the violence toward First Nations women and families.

The Quebec Ministry of Public Security is responsible for public safety and security of all residing in Quebec. Indigenous women against whom serious offences are alleged live in cities which fall under Quebec jurisdiction. Yet they receive separate, discriminatory treatment when it comes to protecting them as citizens and punishing those responsible in the Sûreté du Québec. It is just like during the "reasonable accommodations" inquiry, when the government told the commissioners they were not to include First Nations in their investigation of mistreatments under the pretext that it was "a different problem to be investigated in itself" (which of course the commission has yet to take up). Now the excuse is that the Trudeau government has promised to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, so the Quebec government can wash its hands of the abuses suffered by the women in Val-d'Or at the hands of the Sûreté du Québec officers.

Those responsible for these crimes must be brought to justice and punished in accordance with the law. Without this, the Quebec government will only continue Canada's shameful colonial practice of treating Indigenous peoples as "wards of the state" with no rights, who are second-class citizens and are considered "fair game." The fight over what level of government is responsible for the well-being (and life) of "wards of the state" is proof of that.

These events remind us that despite all the renewed talk about how Canada is the best country in the world, Canada has not solved any of the fundamental aspects of guaranteeing rights. The rights of citizens and residents are subject to "reasonable limits" as decided by the police authority and are subject to a hierarchy of whether one is First Nations, immigrant or belongs to one of the "founding races," etc. The fundamental law of Canada has not divested itself of its colonial foundation. The failure to guarantee the hereditary and treaty rights of First Nations, the preservation of the racist Indian Act and the refusal to deal with the demands of Indigenous peoples on a nation-to-nation basis are at the heart of the injustice and anachronisms that Indigenous peoples in Canada continue to experience.

(Photos: TML, Leveller, M. Coonishish)

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