No Senate reform without public engagement

Allowing politicians alone to change the Senate creates a system that suits their interests ahead of the common good

No Senate reform without public engagementCanada needs to finally have a broad conversation about Senate reform before politicians and interest groups transform the institution without the participation of average citizens. The federal government has introduced a bill in the Senate that would formally recognize the Senate changes the Liberal government has been introducing since its first election in 2015. These…

Why private operation of public parks makes sense

Partnerships with private operators bring significant efficiencies and revenue sources for the public

Why private operation of public parks makes senseManitobans shouldn’t be afraid of the government partnering with the private sector to run public services such as provincial parks. Research shows these partnership agreements with private operators are quite common, are often well run, and bring significant efficiencies and revenue sources for the public. In 2020, the provincial government passed a law allowing companies…

Harmonizing Canadian law with UNDRIP can’t be forced

Would require that Indigenous peoples receive free, prior and informed consent for anything that affects their lands or rights

Harmonizing Canadian law with UNDRIP can’t be forcedCanada’s Senate or an election are the only things that could amend or end a badly-worded and contentious bill that seeks to harmonize federal laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Bill C-15 has received third reading in the House of Commons and now goes to the Senate for…

Can First Nations truly be autonomous in all things?

Ensuring access to safe drinking water isn’t simple. It may require guidance and even intervention by the federal government

Can First Nations truly be autonomous in all things?Self-determination for Indigenous communities can prevent meeting certain standards or goals, especially if the federal government takes a hands-off approach. This can be the problem when it comes to ensuring all First Nations have access to safe drinking water, which isn’t a simple matter. It has never been only about providing the necessary funds (whatever…

Indigenous housing crisis can be solved using market forces

Only the private sector can deliver the high-quality housing that reserves need. Government waiting lists will never catch up

Indigenous housing crisis can be solved using market forcesAdequate housing – especially in remote and northern locations – is an intractable problem facing First Nation communities. The high cost of housing in these locations and the never-ending cycle of backlogs plague reserve communities across Canada. The federal government must pledge to make housing a commitment on the same level as safe drinking water…

New Nova Scotia premier must seize opportunity for economic change

Nova Scotia is envied for its commitment to the environment. But it must also more aggressively encourage resources and startups

New Nova Scotia premier must seize opportunity for economic changeThe Nova Scotia Liberal Party has chosen a new leader so it’s important to think about the policy priorities of the province’s new premier, Iain Rankin. Although an election doesn’t need to be held until spring 2022, Elections Nova Scotia is already preparing for one as early as April 1 of this year. The premier…

History shows a path to resolve lobster fisheries dispute

Non-Indigenous fishers in Atlantic region need not be worried that Indigenous rights will come at the expense of conservation

History shows a path to resolve lobster fisheries disputeA dispute in Ontario may help us understand ongoing tensions over the lobster fisheries on the East Coast and offer a solution. The war over Indigenous fishing rights has played out before in Canada. As we reflect on recent violence in Nova Scotia over the lobster fisheries, it’s important to know if there are any…

Energy sector key to reviving post-pandemic Canadian economy

2021 perfect opportunity for the feds to demonstrate its commitment to a sector critical to the Canadian prosperity

Energy sector key to reviving post-pandemic Canadian economyIf only the federal government would put its full force behind the energy sector, as it does other critical sectors in the economy. In early October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he wouldn’t back down from the latest American round of attacks on Canada’s softwood lumber industry. Then, the federal government announced it would pursue…

First Nations need safe drinking water now

The government should be bolder on reform commitments and less grandiose in its promises

First Nations need safe drinking water nowCanada and its Indigenous communities should finally commit this year to making the systemic reforms needed to ensure First Nations drinking water standards are the same as the rest of the country. For starters, Indigenous communities ought to experiment with more regional water authority agreements to deliver safe drinking water. In late 2020, Indigenous Services…

A lost economic opportunity in northern B.C.

Windy Craggy is a perfect example of how misguided environmental activism is fuelling northern alienation

A lost economic opportunity in northern B.C.A World Heritage Site designation continues to prevent development of one of the largest cobalt and copper deposits in North America. That lack of development is denying opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. And it serves as an example of how environmental activism is fuelling northern alienation. Windy Craggy is in northwestern British Columbia, about…

CBC has outlived its usefulness

The policy rationale for the existence of the CBC no longer meets the reality of the modern age

CBC has outlived its usefulnessThe Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) should go the way of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp. (FFMC). In 1969, the federal government passed the Freshwater Fish Marketing Act (FFMA). It created a federal Crown corporation that acted as the sole buyer of freshwater fish caught in western Canada, northern Canada and parts of northern Ontario. The…

Why Canada needs to develop its zinc deposits

Zinc is a critical ingredient in a variety of products, including soap. In the midst of a pandemic, we need to ensure supply

Why Canada needs to develop its zinc depositsZinc is an important ingredient in disinfectants such as soap, so it plays an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. As we know, the twin pillars of COVID-19 prevention are social distancing and washing your hands properly. So mining this bluish-white metal is important to Canada’s strategy for addressing the pandemic at home.…

Fracking can lift the Maritimes out of economic doldrums

Fracking can lift the Maritimes out of economic doldrumsThe economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic should include Nova Scotia and New Brunswick lifting restrictions on natural gas fracking. Natural gas prices are low but that won’t last forever. Energy industry observers say the natural gas supply glut existed even well before the pandemic. However, the oversupply problems seem to be worse for American…

Mainstream media glosses over Indigenous issues

Media need time and resources to understand the issues and seek a range of views within the Indigenous world

Mainstream media glosses over Indigenous issuesYears ago, I was given a great opportunity to be the lead reporter and edit for a national Indigenous newspaper based in Winnipeg, the Drum/First Perspective. The paper no longer exists but the job changed my life in so many ways. I learned much and encountered many Indigenous people across Canada. I profiled many leading…

Canada must re-establish itself as an energy superpower

While the Americans were acting in their own economic self-interest, our leaders were undermining our national energy interests

Canada must re-establish itself as an energy superpowerCanada needs renewed federal leadership to support our energy sector, given its importance to the entire economy. And all provinces and territories must come together in this effort. If not, Canada will continue to see the sector fall behind the United States and other larger powers. We will lose our traditional position as a strong…

First Nations face deep pandemic risks

The terrible COVID-19 experience of Native American communities clearly carries lessons for Canada’s First Nations

First Nations face deep pandemic risksCanadians have seen the harm the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to Native American communities in the United States, knowing it could happen to Indigenous peoples here. The infection and death rates for many Native American communities is much higher than mainstream communities. The American Indian Studies Center at the University of California published a graphic…

We need to liberate Indigenous entrepreneurs

Talented, ambitious and resourceful Indigenous people continue to face systemic obstacles to start businesses

We need to liberate Indigenous entrepreneursA Winnipeg-area Indigenous entrepreneur might hold the key to Indigenous peoples controlling their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His experience also underscores why it’s so important to unshackle the Indigenous business community and entrepreneurial sector from restrictions imposed by the Indian Act, as well as other non-legislative barriers. Josh Giesbrecht is president and co-founder of…

Let Quebecers decide the fate of a national pipeline

Confederation was designed as an economic union from sea to sea, linked by infrastructure that crosses provincial borders

Let Quebecers decide the fate of a national pipelineDuring the recent French and English language debates for the Conservative leadership, one of the two leading candidates accused the other of wanting to impose an oil pipeline on Quebec without its consent. Erin O’Toole, the Conservative MP for Durham, Ont., articulated his vision for a national energy corridor throughout Canada. He was then accused…

How First Nations communities can balance governance

How First Nations communities can balance governanceThe Indigenous commitment to democracy is at stake in the recent memorandum of understanding signed between the Wet’suwet’en, the province of British Columbia and the federal government. A majority of the elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs were incensed about the agreement, insisting the signing be postponed until they were consulted. While the elected chiefs were justified in…

Digital links offer meaningful Indigenous reconciliation

We can adapt the newest technologies to improve the quality of life in the most remote of First Nations communities

Digital links offer meaningful Indigenous reconciliationImproved technology may be the key to improving Indigenous communities in remote regions. Perhaps the next stage in Indigenous reconciliation is a form of digital reconciliation that helps bring these communities much closer to the mainstream economy and society through technology. In fact, observers are seeing the potential of technology intended to assist mainly isolated…

Indigenous communities offer pandemic lessons

The resilience of remote First Nations in the face of outbreaks may encourage changes in how we plan and manage living spaces

Indigenous communities offer pandemic lessonsIndigenous communities have so far been spared from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So Indigenous communities may provide some insights to other Canadian communities on how to avoid the worst of these outbreaks. As of June 2, Indigenous Services Canada reported there were 219 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities across Canada. Official…

Northern Manitoba alienation must be addressed

Pushing for redrawn borders may force the province to address the unique economic and infrastructure needs of the region

Northern Manitoba alienation must be addressedManitoba Premier Brian Pallister recently threw cold water on the notion of Western Canada separation, saying good relationships aren’t built on threats to leave. But Pallister has similar issues on his own doorstep: Northern Manitoba alienation is real and the government must take it seriously. Last year, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy initiated a landmark…

First Nations particularly vulnerable to COVID-19

All levels of governments need to work together to develop a detailed strategy for dealing with COVID-19 among Indigenous communities

First Nations particularly vulnerable to COVID-19The federal government has a mixed record on helping Indigenous communities deal with health issues. In the case of COVID-19, Ottawa must get it right. For many reasons, Indigenous communities are a perfect storm for this kind of outbreak. In 2009, during the height of the swine flu epidemic, Health Canada came under hot water…

Churchill pipeline a rare opportunity for Indigenous

Getting communities engaged in a potential project would allow the northern region to take control of its economic destiny

Churchill pipeline a rare opportunity for IndigenousA pipeline to the Port of Churchill would revitalize the long-neglected economies of northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan. But the ultimate success of this proposed project to Churchill, Man., will depend on the involvement and support of Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This alternate route to get oil to ocean tankers was proposed when…

Killing resource projects hurts Indigenous communities

For economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities, we need consistent and stable policies for the resource sector

Killing resource projects hurts Indigenous communitiesThe decision by Teck Resources to withdraw its application for the Frontier oil sands project could risk future opportunities for Indigenous communities if it leads to more resource companies declining to invest in Canadian resource projects. Although Teck stated officially that the decision to withdraw was prompted by controversies surrounding Canada’s climate policies, Teck’s decision…

Putting forests to work for Indigenous communities

Governments need to work with First Nations to ensure they have fair access to forest tenure and opportunities for partnerships

Putting forests to work for Indigenous communitiesWhen you think of Indigenous engagement in the natural resource economy, you usually think of opportunities in the oil and gas industry or in mining. However, First Nations are increasingly getting involved in commercial forestry. Certain provinces – including Manitoba – have a sizable forest industry that plays a substantial role in the provincial economy.…

Wet’suwet’en dispute exposes system flaws

Resolving these Indigenous governance issues as well as cleaning up duty to consult policies is good for the First Nations involved as well as Canada

Wet’suwet’en dispute exposes system flawsIn January 2019, a group of breakaway hereditary chiefs from Wet'suwet'en First Nation in the interior of British Columbia erected a blockade on a remote forestry road in protest of the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline to Kitimat, B.C. Eventually, the issues were addressed, the barricade came down and work on the site resumed. Observers worried…

Indigenous communities should tap into the medical tourism market

The James Smith Cree Nation could create what would be Saskatchewan’s first private-pay MRI facility

Indigenous communities should tap into the medical tourism marketA First Nation community about 70 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert, Sask., hopes to generate profit within five years from a private MRI clinic. The James Smith Cree Nation could create what would be the province’s first private-pay MRI facility. This became possible when the Saskatchewan government passed legislation in 2016 allowing for such facilities…

How to get First Nations onside with resource-related projects

The support of B.C. Indigenous communities for LNG projects provides a working model for agreements

How to get First Nations onside with resource-related projectsThe division and acrimony among First Nation communities over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project can mask the many examples of Indigenous communities that have reached agreements with resource companies. For example, how many Canadians know that the experience of First Nations on liquefied natural gas (LNG) development has been extremely positive? “While B.C. First…