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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 -- The Perils of Imprecise Language

When our governments use imprecise language, it does not absolve them of responsibility.

One term that has gained disproportionate importance during the last decade is “reconciliation”.

No one seems to understand exactly what “reconciliation” means. Different people have different interpretations and the lack of precision is detrimental to progress in resolving issues.

The Oxford dictionaries describe reconciliation in two ways:
1)           an end to a disagreement or conflict with somebody and the start of a good relationship again, and
2)           the process of making it possible for two different ideas, facts, etc. to exist together without being opposed to each other.

It is arguable that there has never been a good relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Good intentions in some instances have been destroyed by subsequent actions.

The failure of our government to clearly articulate its definition of reconciliation is a guarantee of misunderstanding and consternation in talks between two sides.

Another phrase that has crept into our language is “the right to protest”.

There is no certainty in how this alleged right came to be, or how far it can be taken. Does the right to protest include the right to trespass on private and public lands? Does the right to protest include the right to prevent others from enjoying the benefits of public infrastructure and services?

The lack of clarity is unreasonable.

Rights include obligations. Without the obligations to keep the peace, to respect the rights of others and to obey the law, we cannot have a peaceful and orderly society. Protests as carried out today are not law-abiding, orderly or peaceful. Protests of that nature are not compatible with our society.

A recent and unclear phrase is “unceded territory”.

The relations between indigenous people and the British government were set out in the Royal Proclamation, 1763:
And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to Our Interest and the Security of Our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians, with whom We are connected, and who live under Our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to, or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds; We do therefore, with the Advice of Our Privy Council, declare it to be Our Royal Will and Pleasure, that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of Our Colonies of Quebec, East Florida, or West Florida, do presume, upon any Pretence whatever, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass any Patents for Lands beyond the Bounds of their respective Governments, as described in their Commissions; as also, that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of Our other Colonies or Plantations in America, do presume, for the present, and until Our further Pleasure be known, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass Patents for any Lands beyond the Heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantick Ocean from the West and North-West, or upon any Lands whatever, which, not having been ceded to, or purchased by Us as aforesaid, are reserved to the said Indians, or any of them

The existence of roads, highways and infrastructure in and on the lands claimed by hereditary chiefs bring claims of unceeded lands into question. It is a matter for the federal government and hereditary chiefs to work out with reference to our courts if needed.

Another undefined phrase in use is “indigenous sovereignty”.

Oxford defines sovereignty as complete power to govern a country. This is more than passingly important. Are indigenous people prepared to turn over their governance to the arbitrary rule of hereditary chiefs? Is Canada prepared to allow 1.7 million of her people live without the Charter and Human Rights provisions of our legal system?

It seems reasonable to require that hereditary indigenous chiefs show clear evidence that the people they claim to represent support them.

It is puzzling that protest groups can act ‘in solidarity’ with some far-removed group.

One of the fundamental principles of law is that an action requires an interest of the acting party. One cannot file a legal claim without proving a clear interest in the matter. Ontario indigenous people may support the claims of British Columbia hereditary chiefs, but have no legal authority to act on their behalf.

Our lack of clarity on the above issues result in widely differing interpretations of the meaning of these various phrases and a complete breakdown in communications. Hereditary chiefs are demanding that the RCMP leave the lands they claim to start negotiations and our government is demanding removal of the barricades as a precursor to negotiations.

One would think they do not reside on the same planet let alone in the same nation.

Neither side shows any sign of wanting to reach a reasonable settlement of issues that separate them. Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, are aghast at this display of unlawful actions and incompetent response.

These morons are blocking the way to prosperity for all of us. It is reasonable to conclude that indigenous people should participate in the benefits of resource development and become self-reliant.

Vested interests, including government agencies, indigenous band chiefs and councils, contractors and others who have enjoyed the spoils of the current system are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that ordinary people do not participate in prosperity.

We need to voice our disgust clearly, loudly and often. Either the parties involved in reconciliation get their act together and report meaningful progress within 30 days or face populist protests that will out the current protests as the well organized but thinly backed nonsense they are.

Environmentalists are running the public relations campaign for the Indigenous Chiefs and they are very good at what they do. Their aim is to destroy Canada’s economy. They are foreign funded by industrialists who also do not want to see Canada or Canadian prosper. That would infringe on their profits including access to cheap Canadian oil.

We need to out these brigands and shut them down.

John Feldsted
Political Commentator, Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba


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