Patrick Brazeau claims he is standing up for the rights of elders, single moms (yes I note the irony) and children in a letter to National Post. In reality Patrick Brazeau is the most unaccountable aboriginal leader in Canada today. He is standing up for a Bill that has practically no support in Indian Country. At least when he led the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a small lobby group, he had to face criticism from those who elected him and worked with him. Now that he has an appointed position, he's accountable to no one. Or so he thinks. He's sure as hell going to be held accountable to First Nations his people here at Crazy Bitches R Us.
In blue, quotes from Patrick Brazeau's letter, (which I have also reprinted in full, if you scroll down below) in black my comments.
#1 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is denying the government the right to make systematic reform. No Patrick. The AFN is standing up for the right of legitimately elected FN governments to make reform. Women like me, have a right to tell our democratically elected chiefs how we want to be governed. I don't get a vote for the Minister of Indian Affairs. The Minister did at least deign to consult us, but then he completely ignored every word we said and decided to force this Bill on us instead. By supporting this breach of process Patrick, you are as unaccountable as the Minister is. Shame on you.
#2 "the AFN receives substantial funding from the government. It is unfortunate that it chooses to use these investments to fund continued criticism of government efforts." The AFN has to take direction from the people, or we won't support them. That is why they exist. And yes, sometimes that means dishing out some well-deserved criticism. At least they don't spend their funding on kissing-ass for a senate seat.
#3 The government's apology for residential schools ...."may be considered by some as having provided First Nations leadership a right to veto the government's legislative endeavours." Wrong again Brazman. The fact that we live in a democracy (well not you, you're appointed not elected, but the rest of us) and not a totalitarian society gives us that right.
#4 The repeal of section 67 that gave "...same degree of human rights protection that all other Canadians enjoy through the Canadian Human Rights Act were met with resistance from the chiefs" A) FN already had human rights protections under the Constitution. This only opened the Human Rights Commission as an alternative venue to the courts.(But I'm sure I don't have to explain the Human Rights Commission to you Patrick.)Finally the chiefs' didn't oppose it, they just wanted it amended to include an impact analysis, an assessment of the existing capacity to deal with complaints and a 2 year adjustment period.(Much like the provinces had when the concept was first introduced.)Once those amendments were made they supported the change.
#5 "when our government introduced the Federal Accountability Act....The AFN sought to exempt itself from the bill's measures" What the AFN did, in fact, was ask for an independent First Nations Auditor General and Ombudsman which would have created a two-way accountability. The conservatives weren't interested in two way accountability. Reading the recent Parliamentary Budget Office Report on First Nations Schools may provide a hint why.
#6 The so-called Kelowna Accord promised plenty of resources and was essentially a "get out of jail free" card ... I seem to remember CAP being very involved in Kelowna negotiations, in fact CAP lobbied parties to commit to Kelowna during the 2006 election (All the links showing CAP's previous stance were removed from the CAP website, but you can still get at it with google.) CAP began to oppose Kelowna only after the conservatives got elected, and CAP became their mouth piece. Patrick, do you really believe your own people are so foolish that we wouldn't notice that you have been reading conservative speaking notes instead of representing our interests? You should be listening to your people, not letting the government use you against us to advance an agenda that could hurt us. Again, shame on you.
#7 "Our government pays attention to are those of the families, the elders, the single mothers..." Actually they don't. I haven't heard any one in Indian Country - except you - support this Bill, Patrick. And just to be clear, it does not have the support of FN women.
Here is Patrick's full letter.
Aboriginals deserve better
Re: Tories Make Conservative Progress, John Ivison, May 28.
Mr. Ivison cuts to the heart of the matter when he suggests that in its opposition to progressive measures such as matrimonial property rights legislation, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is denying the government the right to make systematic reform in areas where measures for improvement are long overdue.
As the representative organization that speaks for the chiefs of the 633 First Nations reserves, the AFN receives substantial funding from the government. It is unfortunate that it chooses to use these investments to fund continued criticism of government efforts rather than to apply itself to act as a catalyst for change in its communities.
Mr. Ivison makes a very insightful observation when he suggests that our government's rendering of its sincere apology to the aboriginal community for the tragedy of Indian residential schools may be considered by some as having provided First Nations leadership a right to veto the government's legislative endeavours.
Sadly, an overtly negative posture by the AFN in the face of progressive change is a familiar occurrence. Legislative efforts last year to bring to First Nations the same degree of human rights protection that all other Canadians enjoy through the Canadian Human Rights Act were met with resistance from the chiefs.
Similarly, in 2006, when our government introduced the Federal Accountability Act, we sought to have First Nations subject to its provisions. This would have been another incremental step toward improving transparency at the community level. The AFN sought to exempt itself from the bill's measures. It mobilized opposition parties and the measures were removed from the bill.
Yet, such resistance seems to evaporate when money is discussed without encumbering conditions of accountability. The so-called Kelowna Accord promised plenty of resources and was essentially a "get out of jail free" card that lifted any need for regular periodic indications of measurable change-- to the obvious delight of the AFN.
When it comes to aboriginal affairs, the only special interests our government pays attention to are those of the families, the elders, the single mothers and the children who must face the myriad changes before them daily.
Incremental change is indeed occurring. Canada's aboriginal community deserves it, and we will stay the course for the sake of First Nations, Metis and Inuit families everywhere.
Senator Patrick Brazeau, Ottawa.
Now here is an article that speaks to our elected leaders.
Proposed legislation is flawed: critics
By Kerry Benjoe, The Leader-PostMay 28, 2009
The federal government is moving forward with the Family Homes On Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act despite opposition from First Nations groups and leaders.
The legislation, also known as Bill C-8, consists of federal rules governing matrimonial real property combined with a mechanism for First Nations to develop their own real property laws. Presently, those living on reserve are governed by the Indian Act and when a marriage breaks down provincial or territorial laws relating to matrimonial property rights do not apply on reserves.
On Monday an attempt to quash the bill failed.
"It will continue to be debated at second reading and once the motion for a second reading is adopted the bill will be referred to the standing committee on aboriginal affairs and northern development," said Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) spokeswoman Patricia Valladao.
Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Woman's Association of Canada (NWAC), said her organization believes Bill C-8 is flawed.
"It's a piece of legislation that has been unilaterally drafted by (INAC). It doesn't take into account a lot of things," said Jacobs. "They're touting that it's benefiting aboriginal women and children but it's not."
She believes the new legislation is lacking in many ways. Jacobs said before such a bill can be introduced other on-reserve issues need to be addressed such as housing, justice and violence.
She added that NWAC has always supported the need to introduce legislation for on-reserve matrimonial property rights.
"But we've always said aboriginal women's voices have to be included in the creation of that legislation," said Jacobs. "We thought that this was occurring in this process, however that didn't happen."
Perry Bellegarde, candidate for the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), agrees with AFN and NWAC in regards to Bill C-8. According to an AFN news release on the Bill C-8, the new legislation will do nothing to solve the problems associated with matrimonial real property.
"As First Nations people, as First Nations governments, we have to start occupying the field and exert our own laws and jurisdictions on our territories and communities and we have to start developing our own legislation," said Bellegarde. "We're concerned as First Nations people about First Nations women's issues and the plight of marital breakup and the plight of our youth and everyone else in our communities."
Bellegarde believes First Nations need to become more proactive because if they don't then the federal government will continue to make unilateral decisions that will affect all First Nations.
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