October

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The prime minister described the government’s position on relief: “We cannot allow them to die for want of food. … [W]e are doing all we can, by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”

Robert Jefferson, a teacher on one [of the Battleford reserves, […] elaborated on the cynicism within the BIA: “Craig had a fixed idea that it was not intended that the Indians should become self-supporting. He was only to be kept quiet till the ountrv filled up when his ill will could be ignored.”

The prime minister acknowledged that the cuts would cause “genuine suffering” but “prevent imposition on the treasury.”

In their conclusion to the second edition of _Aboriginal Health in Canada, authors Waldram, Herring, and Young stated that, “most importantly, there remains a need for an overall general improvement in the socio-economic status of Aboriginal Canadians.” This study has shown that the decline of First Nations health was the direct result of economic and cultural suppression. The effects of the state-sponsored attack on indigenous communities that began in the 1880s haunt us as a nation still. The Cree negotiators at Treaty 6 recognized the need for their people to adapt to the new economic paradigm taking shape in the west. They acknowledged that the conversion would be difficult. What they failed to plan for was the active intervention of the Canadian government in preventing them from doing so. Tuberculosis and pathologies that have emerged in aboriginal communities in recent decades are the physical manifestations of their poverty and marginalization from mainstream Canadian life.

The gap between the health, living conditions, and other social determinants of health of First Nations people and mainstream Canadians continues as it has since the end of the nineteenth century. While Canadians see themselves as world leaders in social welfare, health care and economic development, most reserves in Canada are economic backwaters with little prospect of material advancement and more in common with the third world than the rest of Canada. Even basics such as clean drinking water remain elusive for some communities. Identification of the forces that have held indigenous communities back might provide insights into what is required to bridge the gap between First nations communities and the rest of Canada today.

— Clearing the Plains

The trade between Canada and Norway is, in microcosm, much like the trade between Canada and the United States. That is to say, only 15% of what we send to Norway is processed and manufactured goods. But half of what we get from Norway is processed and manufactured. So here is Canada behaving like a semi-colonial nation, and little bitty Norway, which isn’t even a member of the European Economic Community, behaving like a nation with a more highly developed economy.

We send Norway nickel ores and ore concentrates, raw material. Norway sends us back nickel anodes, cathodes, ingots and rods, more than $100 million worth in 1979.

Some of the processed and manufactured goods traded between the two countries are similar in kind. For instance, Norway sells us thermometers, we sell Norway thermostats; we trade each other mining equipment, sound amplifiers, semi-conductors, carpets, mittens, toys, hockey equipment and quite a few other things. But Norway sends us 29% more kinds of manufactured and processed items than we send Norway.

Moreover, of the twelve chief items each country trades with the other, only three of Canada’s are manufactured goods, while six of Norway’s are. Norway’s biggest exports to us include items like skis, farm machinery and commercial fishing equipment. Yet Canada is a much bigger farming country than Norway, with a much bigger domestic market of farmers and we also have big domestic markets for commercial fishing equipment and skis. Why, then, are we importing these things, and in big quantities, too?

As for what the minister I quoted calls “world scale technology,” Norway does fine. Glancing through the news items in the Export Council of Norway’s 1979 annual, I find, for instance, that a Norwegian company is exporting to the United States and to Sweden a computer controlled system for maintaining a vessel in exact position without need for anchors; another is building and equipping five fertilizer factories for the Soviet Union; another is selling underwater seismic equipment to China for geophysical survey work. Still another has built a branch plant in Brockville, Ontario, prepared to supply about 100,000 pairs of skis annually for the Canadian domestic market.

Norway makes tools of the trades for its own domestic producers, then exports those tools, too. We get fish canning machinery from Norway. There’s a big difference between simply canning fish on the one hand, and also making the machinery to do it, on the other. Norway struck oil after Alberta did, but Norway is already one of the world’s most advanced countries in the invention and manufacture of several items used in oil production, and is a leader in the creation of new safety procedures and techniques. One of Norway’s many growth industries during the past decade has been the production of non-polluting electric smelting furnaces. First they were developed for Norway’s own producers; now hundreds of them have been supplied to other countries as well.

Levesque’s general remarks on currency, both in his book and in his public comments after the white paper was tabled, sound as if at some time in the past he became a fan of the Bretton Woods agreement and has not given the matter further careful thought in recent years. His comments, including those on European currencies, are so out-of-date. Bretton Woods, before its messy breakdown, was supposed to lead to a shared European currency. It led to no such thing. Levesque does not seem to understand that the members of the European Economic Community have excellent reasons for not proceeding toward a shared currency.

— Canadian Cities And Sovereignty Association

Americans think freedom means no restraint. So I’m free to start a big company and rule ten thousand wage laborers, and if they don’t like it they’re free to go on strike, and I’m free to hire thugs to crack their heads, and they’re free to quit, and I’m free to buy politicans to cut off support for the unemployed, so now they’re free to either starve and die, or accept the job on my terms and use their freedom of speech to impotently complain.

A better definition of freedom is no coercion. I define “restraint” as preventing someone from doing something, and “coercion” as forcing someone to do something, usually by punishing them for not doing it. Primitive societies tend to be very good at avoiding coercion. In The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff writes that among the Yequana, it is forbidden to even ask another person to do something. It seems strange to us, but to have a society where no one is forced to do what they don’t want to do, you actually need a lot of restraints.

The real fundamentalists on this issue are the techno-utopians. They say “technology is neutral,” which really means “Thou shalt not ascribe built-in negative effects to any technology,” but of course they ascribe built-in positive effects to technologies all the time. So it ends up being not a statement of fact but a command to action: “Any technology you can think of, do it!”

Beyond Civilized and Primitive

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