Like in a 1950s western movie, Canadians are holding their collective breath in anticipation of native protests scheduled to be held nationwide on June 29th. Canada’s so-called “First Nations” are planning the day of protest to draw attention to unresolved land claims, poverty on native reservations and a plethora of other issues native leaders and their advocates are claiming to be in a crisis mode.
Terrance Nelson, Chief of the Roseau River reserve near Winnipeg has vowed to block rail lines and disrupt the movement of goods and people across Canada. Nelson believes that the only way to get action is to force multinational corporations to force the Government of Canada to resolve the natives’ issues and the only way to achieve this goal is through the disruption of business.
That could well be the case. But, there is another possibility, one that maybe Canada’s first aggrieved hadn’t thought of. The whole thing might backfire, as many Canadians, particularly those who are struggling to make ends meet, just might say, “enough is enough”. If you’re the average Canadian family paying 45% of your entire income in taxes to keep this rickshaw we call Canada running, the last thing you want to hear is how poorly people who are not obligated to pay any taxes are being treated.
Not wishing to minimize the plight of aboriginals who languish in poverty on distant reservations, it is important to point out that Canadian taxpayers are coughing up somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8,000 for every aboriginal man, woman and child living in Canada today. In addition those with native status are entitled to a wealth of other benefits that include free college/university education, free prescription coverage, economic opportunities in the form of Indian-owned casino gaming venues, etc., etc. Clearly, something is amiss, but I can’t believe that that something has to do with Canadians not doing enough for aboriginal people.
Another novel thought is to hold natives to the same standard to which the rest of Canada’s citizens are being held and force natives to obey the laws.