A missed opportunity for reconciliation, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair
“Eventually [the oppressed will] take out their violence on the oppressor, then you’ll have a rebellion.”
Those were the comments of Senator Murray Sinclair, the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission who claims status as an avid defender of Indigenous rights — both to their Treaty land and in their relations with the government.
In the vote on Bill C-75, subsections 279.02(1) (material benefit from trafficking) and 286.2(1) (material benefit from sexual services permits) would no longer face a maximum of 10-years imprisonment, upon conviction from either account. Instead, human traffickers face a meagre fine of $5,000.00.
Despite receiving ample warnings from the APPG to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims and many others, Senators on the Senate Legal Affairs Committee voted to adopt the hybridization of human trafficking offences. The two Indigenous Senators on the Committee, Senator Sinclair and Senator Dyck were among those supportive of adding summary offences, despite testimony that this would further harm Indigenous victims for trafficking.
Ditto Bill C-452, the consecutive sentences provision, rejected under the premise “this particular provision [was] in conflict with the Charter.”
According to the witness at a recent meeting for the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Ms. Morency describes the provision as a matter of constitutionality. She states:
“When one looks at the mandatory consecutive sentencing for these offences, combined with mandatory minimum penalties for other offences [per Bill C-36 and C-38]…the concern is that…a mandatory consecutive sentence on top of significant minimum mandatory penalties [presents] a significant Charter risk.”
While Senator Sinclair admits this claim is “one opinion,” on an ever divided issue, traffickers found guilty of smuggling multiple persons will no longer stand trial for more than one conviction.
In a Charter Statement by the former Justice Minister, turned Independent Jody Wilson Raybould, “the Charter will be violated only where a limit is not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.” As it pertains to the above Bills, those found guilty of their crimes — beyond a reasonable doubt — may, arguably, be subjected to both a) maximum 10-year imprisonment per the requisite of Bill C-75 and b) convicted of trafficking multiple persons if relevant.
What makes this especially frustrating — in tandem with the action plan, or lack thereof following the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry — is the blatant sacrifice of one’s principles for the sake of partisan leanings.
In the case of both votes, the twelve senators voted (predominantly) on the grounds of partisan leanings, with the conservative senators voting against Bill C-75 and in favour of the controversial Bill C-452 provision. Everyone, with the exception of Independent Senator Lankin, either abstained or voted against the conservative grain.
Given over 50% of Canadian sex trafficking victims are Indigenous Canadians, who consist 4% of the general population — particularly teenage girls and younger adults — this, in all fairness, puts Reconciliation second to one’s partisanship.
Some may argue in favour of Senator Sinclair’s respective votes on grounds of constitutionality, however, others may paint this as an attempt to — inadvertently or otherwise — paint Reconciliation with a measure of apathy unbecoming of one of its more prominent advocates.
In a recent interview with APTN, he states:
“I do have the sense that my mere presence changes the way people think and talk about things,” said Sinclair. “I’m not one to shy away from opportunities to remind them when they say and do things that ignore the rights of Indigenous people.”
While Canada’s colonial structures have imparted Indigenous Peoples with intergenerational trauma that affects many, factors such as family violence and childhood abuse remain prevalent amongst Indigenous communities.
“When [a] resistance is quashed then [the oppressed] will start to take out their frustrations upon themselves so the high rates of personal abuse grow.”
Ultimately, warning of a “violent rebellion” loses its lustre when a constitutional-backed claim to social justice is ignored — and that’s the true horror for many suffering from intergenerational trauma of the Residential School System. That their cries for help are cast aside for political games, procuring little but symbolic gestures of what constitutes genocide and what does not.
Sadly enough, everyone has a price. And the price for action on an otherwise serious issue are one’s votes.
What happened to doing what’s right, no matter the consequences?
Ken Chan, a former military veteran, suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to those closest to him.
“He probably had a lot of pain that he just kept inside, depression being one of them,” said Harold Linder, stepson of Chan’s.
Chan, who took his life at 64, was a veteran who served in the army for 25 years.
Before taking his own life, Chan sent two emails. One email was sent to his co-workers at the trucking company he was employed at. In the letter, he detailed how he felt disrespected. He also expressed love for his coworkers.
The second was sent to federal and provincial health ministers about medical assistance in dying.
Chan sent the emails roughly 25 minutes prior to taking his own life.
“I can’t change the past, but it’s too bad a really good man had to do that,” said Linder of the tragic circumstances.
He said by discussing his stepfather’s death, he hopes to help those who are facing similar struggles.
“Try and love yourself and try and love the ones around you.”
Chan’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Deaths by suicide within the Canadian veteran population are tragic and a top public health concern, as former Canadian soldiers commit suicide at a much higher frequency than the general population, according to numerous studies.
Western Canada has a new group dedicated to helping founders with disruptive ideas go big without leaving the area.
That group’s name? Harvest.
Set up by SkipTheDishes co-founder and former CEO Chris Simair, Harvest has received initial investment capital from Western Economic Diversification Canada, to set up a large venture builder project.
Venture building firms are similar to incubators or accelerators in that multiple ideas are supported by one group, but also quite different in that normally no demo days are run. Instead, venture builders use internal resources to grow companies from within the organization. In effect, a venture builder is a start-up that builds startups.
Currently, Harvest also plans to leverage the unique infrastructure that built SkipTheDishes, in order to support its projects and is looking to set up offices across the Prairies. Possible cities for the company’s headquarters include Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
According to CEO Chris Simair, the first company in Harvest’s portfolio, Neo Financial, has already grown to over “20 employees with plans to go to market next year.”
The inclusion of a firm dedicated to disruption could also greatly help the economy out west, which according to the Canadian government, has continuously lagged behind provinces such as Quebec and Ontario when it comes to venture capital funding.
WATCH: Trump calls Trudeau 'two-faced' in response to PM caught talking about POTUS to world leaders
At the second day at the NATO anniversary gathering US President Donald Trump called Justin Trudeau “two-faced” when asked by a reporter if he saw the video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic talking to other world leaders about him behind his back.
“Well, he’s two-faced… And honestly with Trudeau he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy. You know the truth is, I called him out that he’s not paying two percent [GDP on military] and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said at a press conference Wednesday.
“He’s not paying two percent and he should be paying two percent. It’s Canada, they have money.”
During the NATO anniversary celebration at Buckingham Palace, Trudeau was caught on a hot mic talking to other world leaders about Trump.
“He was late because he took a 40 minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau says in response to another world leader asking why he was late. Although Trump’s name is not included in the conversation, it’s a pretty clear reference to the US President’s press conference with the media earlier on Tuesday.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Princess Anne are all in the conversation, but mostly Trudeau can be heard talking.
“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. He announced…” Trudeau followed up, with audio not catching the rest of his statement.
“You just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau says in another part of the conversation. Johnson and Macron appear fairly animated in their talk with Trudeau, too.
The video was released by the CBC Tuesday night and has spread far and wide through social and traditional media (the CBC video has over 6 million views on Twitter alone and the New York Times picked up the story).
CBC journalist Katie Simpson pointed out that the exchange would like hurt the Trudeau’s administration’s attempts to not upset Trump. Trudeau’s staff have even set up a “friendship room” focused on Canada-US relations, with the main goal of figuring out how to get along with a mercurial and unpredictable US president.
The video captured the tail end of the first of a two-day NATO gathering.
Earlier on Tuesday Trump confronted Trudeau in front of reporters on how much Canada is spending on its military.
Trump called Canada “slightly delinquent” in its military spending, while Trudeau claimed, after getting help from aide during the press conference, Canada is spending 1.4 percent of GDP on military and that his government has increased spending by 70 percent. Many analysts disputed Trudeau’s figures, saying they do not reflect the actual amount of money the Canadian government is currently spending on defence. NATO itself estimates Canada is now spending 1.3 percent of GDP.
On Wednesday morning Trump made UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wait several minutes for another meeting in front of cameras. Late Tuesday night Trump said he “enjoyed” his meeting with Johnson earlier in the day. The New York Times reported he also had a brief, reportedly friendly, exchange with Trudeau as well.
Last year Trump blasted Trudeau on Twitter after leaving a G7 summit held in Quebec, calling the prime minister “meek and mild”. Those comments were in response to a press conference in which Trudeau said it was insulting the US had put tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
Five students are still in critical condition following a collision between a crane and a school bus in Smoky Lake, Alberta Monday morning.
The crash happened around 8:30 am on Monday near Range Road 180 along the highway according to the Edmonton Journal. The bus was attempting to cross the highway when the collision took place.
The bus was en route to H.A. Kostash, a K-12 school and confirmed to be carrying 14 students by Aspen View Public Schools.
A total of 16 patients had to be assessed by emergency services and or are currently in hospital.
Three of the students had to be airlifted to hospital by STARS and Alberta Health Services said they’re in critical condition. Two more students also had to be transported by ground ambulance in critical condition as well.
A man and a child were also taken in by ground ambulance to Edmonton, both of whom are in stable condition although they have both sustained serious injuries.
One additional patient in stable condition had to be transported to the hospital.
The driver of the crane was also brought to the hospital with minor injuries and the crane’s sole passenger was luckily not injured.
Locals in Smoky Lake have shown a great sense of community by starting a Gofundme page in an attempt to raise funds for the victims and their families. Already, more than $3600 has been raised of the set $10,000 total goal.