It was just yesterday that I was happy to be able to report about some good news from the Senate on Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262; after much delay and attempted skullduggery from the Senate Conservatives to hold up the Bill, it finally got out of the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee. It was sent back to the Senate for third reading debate, the last step before becoming law. C-262 is on the goal line, with enough time to get it across the line before the House of Commons rises.
But this afternoon some more news came out on this front, news that was shocking in it’s mendacity but also shocking because of where it came from. The news came from an unimpeachable source, someone directly affected:
Yes folks, that’s former Harper Cabinet Minister and Interim Leader of the Conservative Party Rona Ambrose, calling out her own party for the crap that they are pulling on not only her important Private Members Bill, but also for their intentions regarding Mr. Saganash’s bill. She makes it very clear for the eye to see; the Conservatives will try to block all legislation, including Ambrose’s Bill C-337, to make sure that Bill C-262 never passes. These unelected Senators are daring to try to blunt the will of the elected House, for no reason that stands up to any scrutiny.
I mentioned in a previous post that this reminded me of back in the late 1990’s when the Reform Party opposed the ratification of the Nisga’a Treaty. So much of the dialogue from the Conservative Senators that I heard these past few weeks reminding me of memories from that time. So I did a little research tonight to see what was said about that treaty and the votes around it back then. See if this seems at all familiar. Here is from the Globe and Mail on March 27, 2000, the day that the bill received Royal Assent:
The legislation has had a rough ride through Parliament. When it was in the House of Commons, the Reform Party stalled the bill by proposing 471 amendments and forcing MPs to debate the vote for 42 hours straight.https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/nisgaa-agreement-given-royal-assent/article4162643/
In the Senate, the Conservatives opposed the bill even though their counterparts in the House of Commons voted in favour of it. After senators heard from a former supreme court justice and other legal experts about constitutional difficulties surrounding the Nisga’a agreement, the Tories decided they would not be able to support it.
“We will be doing them [the Nisga’a]a disservice by voting this bill with so many uncertainties surrounding its legality,” Conservative Senator John Lynch-Staunton told the Senate yesterday. “To pass it in its present form is to invite years of litigation, misunderstanding and mistrust, as well as make its application in whole or in part subject to possible repeal.”
Uncertainties around it’s legality….. might be subject to repeal…. We don’t know what it all might mean… Hmm, that all seems very, very similar to what Conservative Senators have been saying for weeks. They’ve been saying the sky would fall, doing their best Chicken Little routines. But as Nisga’a has shown, all of that was overblown conjecture that had no basis in reality. We’re hearing the same things now with Bill C-262, and they are equally overblown today. These are just the words of people who are desperate to deny Indigenous peoples basic human rights because they see the days when our rights were ignored and trampled as the “good ol’ days”. It’s naked ignorance and self-interest, and Ms. Ambrose confirmed as much tonight.
But for me this whole turn of events has another angle to it one that honestly makes my blood boil. Those people who follow Mr. Saganash on social media are already aware of this, but Romeo’s mother passed away late last week and today was her funeral. Today Romeo was in his home community, laying his mother to eternal rest and being there for his family. Anyone who has lost a loved one so close to them knows the pain and the feelings at moments like these. But it was on this day, at this time, in this moment, that these Conservative Senators decide to try to move Heaven and Earth to kill his legislation. They have chosen now as the time to try to stop his life’s work, something that he has been working on for well over 30 years of his time on this Earth. There are no words for the ghoulishness of such acts from such cowards. Through out many moments of this process I have questioned the lack of humanity of some of these Conservative Senators, but it wasn’t until this very night that I honestly questioned if they lacked a soul and basic human decency. And those are thoughts that I do not easily jump to.
It is my sincere hope and wish that these Conservatives somehow come to their senses, find some human decency somewhere within themselves and simply stop what they are doing. As Nisga’a showed us, they are on the wrong side of history and they are simply wrong on all counts. Today was a very bad day for democracy and an even worse day for the Senate of Canada. Days like these make it all the easier to say we should abolish the whole place because days like these show way having unelected people holding a veto over the elected is seriously problematic, especially when those unelected members have no moral compass about how they use the power they have been given.