THUNDER BAY – Guest Editorial – Joyce Hunter is one of the organizers of the Idle No More movement in Thunder Bay. Hunter addressed the gathering which started at City Hall on January 28, 2013. Here is the message Hunter shared with the rally:
Idle No More – Thunder Bay is inviting you – Joyce Hunter
Idle No More – Thunder Bay is inviting you to support the call for action made by the AFN Chiefs on Dec. 4, 2012, and reiterated again by Chief Theresa Spence on December 11 when she announced her hunger strike: the time has come to hit the reset button on the relationship between First Nations Peoples and their Treaty partner, the Crown of Canada.
Idle No More calls on all Canadians to continue to oppose and reject all imposed legislation originating from the federal government.
The unilateral imposition of these Bills is in direct violation of the treaties and the treaty relationship that the original peoples of Turtle Island made with the British Crown. Indigenous peoples and nations have not been consulted during the crafting of these pieces of legislation and therefore, the actions taken by the federal government does not reflect the international standard of free, prior and informed consent. There are many nations across this country, ourselves included, who are taking action(s) to reflect acts of Indigenous nationhood, sovereignty and jurisdiction in response to the passing of legislation such as Bill C-45 and we must continue on this path.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has passed legislation to let China’s China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC ) buy Nexen. This takeover deal, among other things, puts three to six billion barrels of tar sands oil in CNOOC’s hands, would create devastating global climate effects if CNOOC exploits Nexen’s reserves to their fullest extent.
Canada has also legally exited the Kyoto Protocol (Dec. 18), as well as already removed environmental protections for over 2 million of the country’s lakes and rivers – allowing tar sands and other large scale industrial development anywhere.
Furthermore, it is our understanding the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) has been signed and can come into effect at any given moment without notice. This agreement, which would bind Canada for 31 years from the date signed, would allow foreign corporations to sue Canadian governments if they believe any level of government has done anything to limit their interests (including common sense environmental protections and job creation efforts), and the lawsuits would be heard in investor-state arbitrations that function as secret tribunals outside of the Canadian court system. Keep in mind that more than 130 First Nations have signed the Save The Fraser Declaration banning Enbridge Pipeline in their territories.
The most damaging piece of legislation is the omnibus Bill C-45, where the federal government vacates jurisdiction over waters, parks, fisheries, etc. As well, the federal government vacates its responsibility and duty to consult First Nations concerning land development as legally required in our treaties. As First Nations, if this is allowed to happen, it will mean we can no longer protect the environment for anyone.
These new bills (there are several more to come) illegally strip us of our legally binding treaty rights, which the Canadian government has no legal jurisdiction to alter or change without our free, prior and informed consent. Bill C-45 is an unconstitutional bill, which illegally alters long-standing treaties between our two sovereign nations, effectively ending them along with our sovereign nation status.
Not only does this drastically affect First Nation’s people, it also directly affects all North Americans and future generations – we are witnessing the systematic dismantling of environmental protections at a never-before-seen rate and scale, paving the way for irreparable damage to the environment and its inhabitants.
[sws_pullquote_right] We, the proponents of the Idle No More movement, are urgently asking for your help [/sws_pullquote_right]
We, the proponents of the Idle No More movement, are urgently asking for your help. We need your help to alert and inform the international community and bring in sanctions against the Harper government for these numerous illegal and unconstitutional attacks on our environment and sovereign nation… it’s our only hope to protect this great land and future generations.
We ask you to stand beside us and the leadership of First Nations and Metis people as sovereign nations and promote the understanding that the issues in the Omnibus bill affects ALL CANADIANS.
We are peacefully representing ourselves and timing today’s rally to coincide with the day Parliament reconvenes after the Christmas break to remind these politicians: That we will not stand idly by while those not yet born are robbed of their birthrights.
Idle No More Three Key Issues/Demands
1) Remove Legislation/legislative changes that impact First Nations from the bills (including repealing those sections in C-45 and C-38) and enter into sincere and meaningful discussions with First Nations about those changes (proposed or recently passed into law) and acquire our free, prior and informed consent before moving forward.
2) Restore funding to the organizations that served First Nations that were recently cut. NCFNG, FNSI, AHF, NWAC health programs, TC technical/political advisory support funding, and PTO advocacy support funding, to name a few. All those organizations provide or provided critical support services to our First Nations, which allowed them to either support or advise our peoples on movements the government is or has been making on how to respond or move forward in order to net the best possible benefits for the overall health and wellbeing of our membership.
3) Treaty Implementation – Since we entered into treaty with the Crown of Canada, First Nations have received little benefit as compared to its treaty partners. The time has come to implement the treaty as was originally agreed to.
The other thing is: In just four days the Government of Canada will close its environmental assessment process into the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Have you heard about it? Harper knows that if the assessment doesn’t find significant environmental impacts, they can just skip producing a draft report altogether and move to the final report, so he’s done everything he can to keep this bad deal out of the press.
This deal is just another in a list of predatory trade deals the Harper government is trying to ram through to protect tar sands development and safeguard corporate profits at the expense of the rest of us. Harper thinks he can sneak this deal past us, but if we flood the process with comments, we can show we’re paying attention. The TPP trade deal contains at least 26 chapters that would have a fundamental impact on the environment, the economy, jobs, access to affordable medicines, and much more. The deal will give corporations the right to acquire land, natural resources, and factories without government review, and will allow corporations to be compensated for environmental laws that damage profits.
With just four days to go before the environmental assessment ends, we have a key moment to show the Harper government we’re paying attention.
For those of you who don’t know, The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, 13 countries are party to the negotiations including the Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
What provisions are in the treaty?
Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement, corporations would gain an array of privileges, including;
Rights to acquire land, natural resources, factories without government review
Elimination of risks and costs of off-shoring to low wage countries, compensation for loss of “expected future profits” from environmental law, as well as the right to move capital without limits. The TPP will impose a set of extreme foreign investor privileges and rights and their private enforcement through the notorious “investor-state” system. Under this regime, foreign investors can skirt domestic courts and laws, and sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their “expected future profits”.
Click here http://action.sumofus.org/a/harper-secret-deal/?akid=1250.814532.ccFX75&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=2 to submit an email to the Canada Trade Agreements Secretariat, and then make sure all your friends and family do too.
The other thing we urge you to do is write or call the office of the Prime Minister of Canada – and tell him that you oppose Bills C-38, C-45, Bill C-428, Bill S-2, Bill S-6, Bill S-8, Bill S-212, Bill C-27, the Canada-China FIPA agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement as well as his new style of putting corporate interests ahead of the interests of the citizens of Canada.
The ‘Right Honourable’ Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Phone Number – they’re answering the phone!!
Idle No More Thunder Bay