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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED -- Human rights exist for the individual not for any ‘group’. The idiocy of expanding to ‘group rights’ is evident in this case

This op /ed was inspired by a January 23rd Canadian Press story ... B.C. human rights commissioner responds to Indigenous LNG supporters

Ms Govender appears to be out of touch with our constitution. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is under federal, not provincial jurisdiction as it connects to an export port. In addition, the federal government has exclusive constitutional authority over indigenous people and lands.

BC Human Rights Commissioner
Karasi Govender
Provinces have no lawful authority to meddle in indigenous affairs.

Karasi Govender’s bafflegab is incomprehensible:
“Human rights do not exist for the majority, they exist for each individual and in the case of free, prior, and informed consent for each Indigenous rights holding group,” Govender says in her response.

Human rights exist for the individual not for any “group”. The idiocy of expanding to “group rights” is evident in this case.

Elected councils have approved construction of the pipeline. Hereditary chiefs, claiming jurisdiction over the same individuals who are represented by elected councils, claim they are not properly consulted.

It is irrelevant whether the Hereditary Chiefs have been consulted unless they can prove that they have a legal jurisdiction superior to elected councils.

This is a great deterrent to the concept of indigenous self-governance. Indigenous bands want to retain autonomy within the indigenous community and various “leaders” who disagree each claim to speak for the same indigenous people, which is impossible.

Hereditary chiefs talk about indigenous law, but there is no evidence of the existence of an indigenous legal system, and certainly not any legal system that is consistent throughout the indigenous community. Our government insistence that indigenous self-government is possible is an outright lie.

For indigenous self-governance to operate, indigenous people must have sovereignty with all that it entails. That would completely change Canada’s relationship with them. Canada would have to deal with indigenous people as she would with any other sovereign nation.

There are sensible solutions that would give indigenous bands local autonomy and authority over their affairs in the same manner as provincial municipalities.

We have suffered over a century of successive federal governments mishandling and mismanaging indigenous affairs. The time has come to scrap the Indian Act -- and with it the indigenous affairs departments -- and replace it with an Indigenous Affairs Office under direction of the Governor General.

The Governor General, with no vested interest in the government of the day, could call on some of the 350 non-government Privy Councillors and indigenous representatives to form a council to provide advice on creating a workable system of local self-governance for indigenous people and recommend legislation to make it work.

Part of the exercise would be to create a dispute resolution panel comprised of indigenous representatives and non-government Privy Councillors with possible appeals of its decisions to the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court where warranted.

We have allowed this intolerable situation to fester untreated for far too long. 

We need a leader, a Prime Minister with the determination and spine to turn the special status granted to indigenous people under treaties into something valued and workable.

Indigenous people are fellow humans, no different than you and I, and we cannot continue to treat them as wards of the state. 

They are entitled to the same freedoms, rights and privileges as any other member of our society.

Stop debating endlessly, and make it happen.

John Feldsted
Political Commentator, Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba


  1. You are right. Group right are a killer of enterprise.

    It is my personal belief there is but one way to put an end to the entire fiasco of continual obstruction to develpoment and that is to privatize the vast majority of public land. As long as there are multitudes of people who regard their voice to hold standing in granting approval for any development because it takes place in Canada, there will never be satisfied solutions. Far too many people will hold resentment for any decision.

    When only the propety owner needs to provide approval the problems can be satisfied.

    As to pollution, well, make a mess and you pay to clean it up.


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