A long time coming

To the Editor:

Canadians have to interpret the recent events in the context of our nation’s history. All emotions aside, this latest flashpoint, no matter what your politics, is an expression of the frustration many First Canadians feel when dealing with both the federal and provincial governments over the last five decades. One case in Quebec a few years ago recognized that a “two-tier” system of government exists in Canada. Again the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were sent by authorities to protect private corporations. It reminds me of a volatile conflict in Whitehorse many decades past. The Royal Oak Corporation had just purchased a gold mining property and a labour dispute (union-bashing) had ensued. One upset mine workers said on camera that his coworkers resented the use of what he called “Royal Oak Mounted Police” on the company property. This was a heated situation which ended tragically, unfortunately. 

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The mantra of the federal government is “rule of law.” Yet if the status quo does not recognize that the laws of our young nation are not in place to only protect certain factions of Canadian society, then the system is doomed to fail repeatedly. 

To put this claim in perspective, I will examine two recent events which highlight the arrogance of elected officials to the needs of Manitobans. 

1. When the long-neglected OmniTrax rail line washed away three years ago, the premier of Manitoba made an obtuse reply to the problem, stating that “the people on the Bayline were outside his jurisdiction,” unquote. The only affordable fixed link form of transportation for citizens between Thompson and Churchill wasn’t important to Premier Brian Pallister, and our provincial government did nothing, which cost former Progressive Conservative MLA Kelly Bindle dearly. 

2. In the chaos and confusion of yet another crisis, when a few thousand Canadians blockaded the national rail system, one CEO of a Canadian chemical corporation lamented the loss of chlorine deliveries to provide safe drinking water to his customers. Before the interview, this person was aware of the fact that literally thousands of our First Canadians have little or no access to water or sewage facilities enjoyed by the majority of Canada’s urban society.

I object to our government using publicly funded national police as a cheap security source to protect the republic of oil. This action failed to quell the organized labour movement in Nova Scotia over a century ago and I feel the Canadian government should not send our distinguished protectors into any dispute which is not in the best interests of all Canadians.

The dynamics of Canada’s society are moving forward and one radical concept constantly ignored by all levels of government is the fact that the laws of the land, like the people who inhabit our nation, should be applicable to every citizen.

In the past, as well as present, Ottawa has spent hundreds of millions in our legal system attempting to extinguish certain perks in our treaty obligations, where our tax money would have been better invested in negotiated agreements on resource sharing and education, which would provide a measure of “justice” for First Canadians, which has long been neglected until a crisis of national significance occurs. 

Angus Campbell Sr.

Thompson

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