Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Something for everybody but First Nations

The Conservative budget as Eugene points out, is a repudiation of the entire governing philosophy the Conservatives have previously claimed to hold dear. This is the kind of budget Harper and the Conservatives would have thundered against if it was laid down by a Liberal Finance Minister. Funny story...

It is in fact a watered down version of the last Martin budget with the serial numbers filed off. We went through an election and a year of the Conservatives learning the hard lessons of surviving in a minority to get essentially the same government we would have gotten had Martin won.

The exceptions are a mangled insufficient patchwork of incentives that have failed everywhere they've been tried instead of a real childcare plan and nothing even remotely comparable to the Kelowna Accord.

This budget is, you'll forgive the crudity, a big 'fuck you' to Canada's natives.

This is at a time that the living standards of Canada's natives are a matter of international concern and shame. Whole communities are falling victim to decay, non-existent infrastructure, gruesome school drop out rates and an escalating crisis of drugs, gangs, soaring prison population and despair. This the backdrop to inaction, because the Conservative budget doesn't even attempt to address Canada's First Nations.

Can Canada survive as the kind of country we want it to be with a calcified permanent racial underclass?

What little proposals the Conservatives have made on native issues seem to indicate an intense hostility for actual natives. An agenda of dismantling native communities and absorbing them into larger towns and cities has already been established. The bitter Conservative hostility to traditional communal values among natives can be seen in a home ownership program that seems designed to undermine native communities rather than support them, and no funding for desperately needed social housing.

There are serious problems in some communities, but destabalizing all of them based on ideological aversion to traditional communal structures, in the most condescendingly paternalistic manner possible no less, is not a solution.

The almost tears in Phil Fontaine's eyes told the story. Our government has just fatally undermined the current leadership in Canada's First Nations.
We have patiently waited a long time for action. This budget only allows for enough money to continue the management of misery."
When this summer gets hot - and it's going to get very hot on barricades all over Canada - this budget and its breathtaking and irresponsible disdain for any real effort on the First Nations file will be the spark that lit the fuse.

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