Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.

 

Friday, April 07, 2006

Prentice Needs a Constitutional Refresher

It had appeared, over the past two weeks, that the Federal Government was reluctantly recognizing the singular role it must play in ending the Caledonian standoff. It is thus with great disapointment that I find it returning to its initial imbecilica:
Deirdre McCracken, a spokesperson for Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, said yesterday the blockade "has nothing to do with the federal government."

Section 91 of the BNA Act, 1867:

...it is hereby declared that (notwithstanding anything in this Act) the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say:

(24) Indians, and the lands reserved for the Indians.

But Jim Prentice is prepared for this criticism. McCracken continues:
"This isn't a lands-claim matter. The actual root of the problem is not a land claim."

That assertion took me by surprise, and I imagine it would have suprised the Six Nations protestors as well.

Ask spokeswoman Janie Jamieson why she is there:

"It is our territory," said Jamieson. "Just because it has passed title illegally throughout the years doesn't mean that it isn't ours."

That sounds like a land claim to me. But lending a moment's attention to those that have suspended their lives and abandoned all comfort for over a month is something that Jim Prentice is not willing to do. Fortunately, he doesn't have to. He doesn't even need to leave his office. He needs only ask any Indian Affairs bureaucrat why the Caledonian issue has arisen. They will tell him that the development is part of a land claims suit filed in 1995 - one that has yet met no resolution.

The Federal Government's role in this exercise is simply not open to debate.

25 Comments:

Blogger decoin said...

Are blockades not illegal? Is it not a case of living in society by consensus according to the rule of law? Are there some members of our society who are not subject to the law? If this is the case the blockade should be left in place. If this is not the case the blockade should be removed using the force necessary.

4:01 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

Opening debate would simply cause unpleasantness - the answer is bricks of cash - distributed in a targeted way - quite simple.

11:30 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

Opening debate would simply cause unpleasantness - the answer is bricks of cash - distributed in a targeted way - quite simple.

11:30 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:29 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Is extinguishing a legal land ownership document legitimate when it is no longer convenient? Is our federal government able to circumvent the law if those affected are unable to mount a loud enough protest? Are we willing to set a precedent under which the rule of law is applied selectively to those with the least amount power and governmental influence? If that is the case, then you aren't embarassing yourself by reducing this blockade to an issue of "law and order." If it isn't, then please admit that this issue is far more nuanced.

I think, given the torturous recent history and continued tribulations faced by the First Nations people, your wanting to protect politicians from 'unpleasantness' is rather remarkable. If we aren't willing to open up debate, then we aren't serious about reaching any sort of long-term solutions. Keeping 'mum' is about the worst thing we can do.

4:29 PM

6:16 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

There are a couple of problems you need to deal with: 1. - no legal land ownership has been extinquished 2. - the federal government has not circumvented the law. You are on to something however when you raise the concern of the rule of law being applied selectively. If you or I erect a blockade and by force prevent Canadians from exercising their rights until our demands are met, then we are arrested and charged under the law. My question is whether this applies to everyone in the country, or is the law applied selectively, such that certain individuals are able to ignore the law and maintain blockades. If some individuals are not subject to the law then their blockades will be left in place and there will be no effort to apply the law to them. This is what seems to be happening, and what is wrong with that. Bricks of cash avert violence in a lawless situation - quite simple.

7:16 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Sorry friend, you need to have some factual basis. I understood your original assertion that "those dern Natives can get away with murder - I wish we had it so good" (an interesting assertion, given that Natives are incarcerated at 7 times the provincial rate in a good year... but I digress). It's not enough to say that I'm wrong about legal documents being extinguished - you need to substantiate your argument. You didn't, because you can't. You are wrong. Period. When the Six (at that time, Five) Nations came North to Ontario, they signed onto a land ownership document that guaranteed a vast portion of South-Central Ontario (I've linked to a map of the original land owned by the Six Nations somewhere else on this blog if you are curious). Just so there is no confusion, that document held the same legal weight as any land ownership document you can imagine today. Half of the land was revoked almoste immediately, without any sales transaction. This sort of activity has continued ever since. The Six Nations Reserve now occupies about 5% of the land originally owned. So yes, legal land ownership has been illegal revoked. And yes, the federal government did circumvent the law.
So I actually have no "problems I need to deal with." You have one, rather major one. In a debate, you need to provide substance. What you can't do is create a fantasy world based on what you don't know. Something to remember next time if you are going to engage me (or anyone) in debate.

8:44 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

News Release: SCGrit will endeavour to provide a reference establishing the existence of a land ownership agreement signed by the Five Nations and the federal government guaranteeing to the first nations ownership of a vast portion of South-Central Ontario. Doubtful you say? Indeed, since no such document exists, but we will now wait with bated breath. Over to you SCG.

9:42 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Here's one quote, from www.greatcanadianrivers.com (it's the first thing that came up on google and I'm not about to waste any more of my time teaching you Canadian History 101):

"When their Mohawk leader, Joseph Brant, appealed to King George III for assistance, the grateful monarch made an unprecedented offer: six miles of land on either side of the Grand River, in the wilderness of Upper Canada.

Brant weighed his options, and accepted the offer. In 1785, he and his people moved north, settling into a land tract that extended, according to government surveyors, from the mouth of the Grand to a point just south of present-day Fergus. The massive tract was known as the Haldimand Deed, and covered almost 300,000 square hectares."

Follow this link to see that land represented on a map:
http://www.sixnations.ca/LCMap.pdf

So there are some references for you. If you aren't satisfied, research The Haldimand Deed (or the Haldimand Proclamation) on your own.

I have this sneaking suspicion I'm locked in mortal struggle with a 14 year old schoolboy. If that's the case, then I applaud you, young man,for taking an early interest in this great country of ours.

But if you are going to toss some sass around, please (for the love of God) write what you know.

I won't waste any more time on this.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:55 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

As suspected, no such document. To recap, SCG was going to give us a reference to a land ownership document that guaranteed a vast portion of South-Central Ontario to those who now have the right to ignore Canadian law. This (fictitious) document allegedly held the same legal weight as any land ownership document you can imagine today. So what does SCG come up with when asked to produce this imaginary document. Something called the Haldimand Deed. This 1784 document, several lines in length, is not signed by any first nation, or the federal government, is not a land ownership agreement, and does not guarantee to anyone ownership of a vast portion of South-Central Ontarios. The Deed indicated certain Mohawks could have the use as a retreat of lands within a certain distance of the Grand River. By the way, don't bother trying to present the Haldimand Deed to the Land Titles Office for registration. So we are all still looking for SCG's land ownership agreement, signed by the feds and the Six Nations, conveying ownership of a vast portion of South-Central Ontario. No need to hold your breath. No such document exists.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decoin-There was no federal government in 1785.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

decoin - you don't know when you've been beaten. I am a constitutional law student and I or any of my ilk can tell you that the Haldimand Deed is - in fact - a land ownership document. It was signed by the Monarch of the time and Joseph Brant (the leader of the Five Nations). It isn't the sort of deed that one would sign today, but land ownership doesn't just disapear over time.

8:33 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Sorry friend. I appreciate your persistence. I just feel like you may not be that familiar with the facts in this particular case. If you went digging, you wouldn't have found the sort of deed that you would present to a Land Titles Office in 2006. Perhaps this is where your confusion arises. What you would've found is a unique arrangement - where land is guaranteed to a collective, rather than an individual. This was a trust entered into by the British Crown, and later conferred upon our Federal government. There are very few people in any camp (right/left, government/First Nations) that would attempt to interpret this as other than a land ownership document.

8:48 PM  
Blogger decoin said...

Anonymous - as a practising lawyer I would be "of your ilk", if you were in fact a "constitutional law student." When I was in law school we were all law students, and we studied all areas of law that were part of the faculty's program. I have never met a "constitutional law student." If you were really a "constitutional law student", or even a mere law student, you would know that the Haldimand Deed was not signed by "the Monarch of the time" (it appears you don't know who the Monarch of the time was)nor by Joseph Brant. It was signed by Fred Haldimand, Governor of Quebec. What we are looking for is a land ownership document signed by the Five Nations that guaranteed to them a vast portion of South-Central Ontario and which holds the same legal weight as any land ownership document you can imagine today, and we are also looking for some evidence that the federal government has circumvented the law, all as contended by SCG. My proposition is that neither exist. The debate arises from SCG's view that certain members of Canadian society are entitled to maintain illegal blockades without incurring consequences under the law, which in these circumstances is applied selectively. Its an interesting issue for Canadians who from the outside are viewed as orderly and law abiding. In fact we are not that at all.

11:07 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

An interesting development here. Decoin says "The debate arises from SCG's view that certain members of Canadian society are entitled to maintain illegal blockades without incurring consequences under the law."

Allow me to quote the post upon which you have been responding:

"It had appeared, over the past two weeks, that the Federal Government was reluctantly recognizing the singular role it must play in ending the Caledonian standoff."

This entire thread begun with my discussion of how this occupation should end. What I took issue with was your reductionist encapsulation of the issue.

At no point did I assert that what is preferrable here is that the occupation be allowed to continue. What I suggested is that we should end it in such a way that we don't sow the seeds of the next occupation i.e. we address some of the underlying issues. I thought that was pretty rational stuff. But perhaps I'm mistaken?

9:06 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

In defense of anonymous, Governor Haldimand was the King's representative, yes? He signed on the King's behalf? If we were going to be nitpicky with details, I would've pointed out the abusrdity of your looking for a document "signed by the federal government" in 1785... or your looking for a document that I could "present... to the Land Titles Office...". Or maybe I'd point out the a. nonsensical string of words, and b. betrayal of your lack of knowledge when you assert that "The Deed indicated certain Mohawks could have the use as a retreat of lands within a certain distance of the Grand River" (i. huh? ii. The Six Nations is called the SIX NATIONS because it is not a Mohawk Reserve - it is a Reserve for Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras iii. retreat? retreat from what?)

But I didn't point any of that out. He he.

9:15 AM  
Blogger decoin said...

"that a convenient tract of land under his protection should be chosen as a safe and comfortable retreat for them and others of the Six Nations ...",
No mention of guaranteeing ownership of a vast portion of South-Central Ontario. No indication the Six Nations "signed onto" the Haldimand Deed. But what the heck, let's pretend the Six Nations do own a vast portion of South-Central Ontario, including the City of Kitchener. Obviously discussions and action by the federal government is required to settle such disputes. The point is when illegal blockades are erected, there are at least two responses - remove the illegal blockades according to law, or leave the blockades in place and negotiate until those enforcing the blockades feel they have extracted enough that they are prepared to comply with the law and remove the blockades. If SCG prefers the second approach, so do many others in the country. Not a rational approach, but certainly expedient, and frightening.

2:24 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

"Governor General Sir Frederick Haldimand had no choice but to purchase tracts of land, in the name of the Crown, from the native people. Haldimand was acting in accordance with British policy laid down under the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which specified that the natives of British North America were legal owners of their tribal lands. Private individuals were not allowed to buy land directly from the natives; only the government could arrange for land purchases."

6:34 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

One simple question: Why did Haldimand and subsequent government representatives purchase portions of the land from the Six Nations if the Six Nations never owned that land? As you know, the contention is that much of the land was purchased, but the terms of those purchases were not met (rendering those contract sales void). Everyone is in agreement that the Crown, and later the Federal Government, at least nominally participated in a purchasing process. Now why would they be purchasing something that they already owned? And why would they offer compensation (which they didn't deliver on - to be clear) to the Six Nations if the Six Nations had no legal claim to that land? That's what is known as a logical check mate.

6:40 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Secondarily, you say that even if you were to concede that the land does legally belong to the Six Nations, you think they should be thrown off it with all necessary force. Here you have completely abandoned your argument for consistent application of the law. I have to believe that you believe as passionately as I do about the rule of law. But you're missing a rather glaring inconsistency.

6:43 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

And you are criticizing me for advocating expediency over a proper resolution?!? When your perscription to solve the blockade is busting some skulls and then throwing bricks of cash willy-nilly? Good gracious, son.

6:44 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

In response to a decoin comment that you don't see here:

- when you disparage an entire people and use the language of ignorance/hate your comments WILL NOT EVER be published on SCG. This is a forum for discussion and you have reduced it to something far worse. Furthermore, you will no longer be welcome on the comment section if this is what we can expect from you.

- The Royal Proclamation (a constitutional document) gave land title rights to "reserve" treaties signed over to First Nations. You had read the Haldimand Treaty and opined that it didn't constitute a legal land ownership doctrine. I conceded that it wasn't immediately evident, so I provided the explanation for why it is. Is that so difficult to understand? Or are you flailing in desperation, having your arguments demolished time and again?

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