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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

“Indian Industry” cronyism


12 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

So, if the huge marginalized and dependent indigenous underclass does not benefit from all that money that changes hands inside the Indian Industry who is benefiting?

Former Justice Minister David Lametti’s departure from government and immediate acceptance into an expensive law firm that makes millions from indigenous issues is a recent example of what has long been called “The Indian Industry” at work.

It is unknown who first coined the term “The Indian Industry.” Many indigenous and non-indigenous writers have used the term over the decades. Indigenous author, Calvin Helin made liberal use of the term in “Dances With Dependency” as did Cree writer, Harold Johnson, in “Firewater- How Alcohol is Killing My People”

However, it was Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard’s important 2009  book “Disrobing The Aboriginal Industry” that first examined the Indian Industry in detail.

The authors chose to use the term “Aboriginal Industry”, perhaps for reasons of politeness, but they are describing the Indian Industry. They tell in detail  how extensive it has become in Canada. Entire universities, law firms and virtually all Canadian institutions have become largely dependent on the money sloshing around within it. Almost all of that money comes in one way or another from taxpayers.

But they note the supreme irony that the Indian Industry is not improving the lot of the very people it is supposed to be helping – Canada’s marginalized and dependent indigenous underclass:

“Despite the billions of dollars devoted to aboriginal causes, Native people in Canada continue to suffer all the symptoms of a marginalized existence – high rates of substance abuse, violence, poverty. Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry argues that the policies proposed to address these problems – land claims and self government – are in fact contributing to their entrenchment.”

However, “Disrobing” was written in 2009, and since the Trudeau Liberals took over in 2015 the money flowing into the Indian Industry has increased dramatically in volume. In fact, that money flow, and the enormous indigenous contingent liabilities that now total $76,000,000,000 are growing so quickly – seven times higher since Trudeau took over – that the parliamentary budget officer has raised the alarm. Canada’s economic future is being compromised.

It isn’t only indigenous contingent liabilities – money owed for indigenous claims – that have grown so alarmingly, it is all indigenous spending. Reports from the Fraser Institute keep track of the shocking increases in total indigenous spending since the Trudeau Liberals took power. It is fair to say that the truly frightening federal government deficits in recent years occurred largely because of this extra indigenous spending.

And it isn’t only the largesse of the Trudeau government that has dumped money into the Indian Industry. Since 2015 it has also been the residential school bonanza. Clever lobbyists have been able to extract tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers by making highly exaggerated claims that residential schools were places of horror, where priests tortured, murdered and secretly buried thousands of indigenous children. These claims are nonsense. Although it is completely true that the residential school system was deeply flawed, and that many indigenous children were badly hurt by their residential school experience, it is also true that many received educations they would otherwise have been denied. But, more to the point, there is no evidence that even one child was murdered, or secretly buried during the entire history of residential schools. Despite that, baseless claims of clandestine deaths and secret burials have worked very well for everyone involved in the Indian Industry. Residential schools have become the Indian Industry’s single biggest money earner.

But, as Widdowson and Howard noted years ago, the Indian Industry has done nothing to solve what has always been called Canada’s “Indian problem” – namely that the great majority of Canada’s indigenous people remain far behind the mainstream on every social indicator. They are the least healthy, worst educated, most incarcerated, shortest living of any demographic by far.

They were that way before 2015, and they remain that way now. The Indian Industry, and the astounding amounts of money poured into it since 2015 haven’t changed those depressing numbers one bit.

A recent CBC investigative report on the dismal conditions at the St. Theresa Point reserve in Manitoba is a case in point. It is one of Canada’s hundreds of totally dependent reserves. Families there of as many as 23 people per house live in dilapidated housing, in a community that is almost totally unemployed and dependent. The increased money flow since 2015 appears to have only made dependency and all of its related problems – addiction, crime, domestic violence – worse.

So, if the huge marginalized and dependent indigenous underclass does not benefit from all that money that changes hands inside the Indian Industry who is benefiting?

It is people like David Lametti and Perry Bellegarde, and their law firms, universities, etc. – none of whom need special help.

And here is the second irony: The Indian Industry feeds on the human misery on display at communities like St. Theresa Point.

It needs that misery to continue to keep the money flowing.

This is not to suggest that any of the people and institutions that are part of it are deliberately perpetuating poverty, or doing anything illegal. They aren’t. They are simply picking up all of the free money our elected representatives and courts throw into the Indian Industry every day. They pick it up because we put it there.

It is probably not fair to single out David Lametti and Perry Bellegarde for their participation in this obscene waste of taxpayer money that is the Indian Industry. They are just two of many enterprising such people who have come before them, and many who will come after them. They probably convince themselves that they are doing something useful. They aren’t. They are part of an Indian Industry that fleeces taxpayers, while pretending to be solving the indigenous underclass problem, while making it worse. At a certain point, will Canadians grow tired of this game?

Because it has become abundantly clear that the federal indigenous policy that has developed over decades is a total failure. While privileged indigenous people who don’t need special attention are benefitting spectacularly, the indigenous people who do need the help are becoming more helpless and dependent all the time. The huge increase in the money dumped into uneconomic communities, like St. Theresa Point, is making things worse, not better. It is keeping young people, who should be moving to job centres, trapped in hopeless communities.

Renowned American economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell argues convincingly that simply giving money to chronically dependent people makes things worse, not better. I’m sure that Mr. Lametti and Mr. Bellegarde don’t want that to happen, but it is. And it is the Indian Industry that is making them wealthy that is doing it.

At some point the entire Indian Industry, with its racist Indian Act and brutal reserve system, will come to an end. Indigenous people living on Indian reserves now comprise only 1% of the Canadian population. Despite high birth rates on reserves, more and more reserve residents are moving away from them. By most measures only 25-40% of status Indians now live on reserves, and that percentage steadily falls.

Meanwhile, immigrants are steadily flowing into Canada. According to some estimates, Canada might have a population of 100 million by the end of the century. The percentage of the population living on reserves will become far less than 1%. Maintaining a completely separate system and bureaucracy for one tiny segment of the population will make less and less sense – especially to those millions of new Canadians, who don’t feel that they owe any special debt to indigenous people.

But while this natural process works itself out, the Indian Industry, now armed with the deeply divisive United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), is doing permanent damage to the country. We see that process now playing out in British Columbia, where their provincial version of UNDRIP- DRIPA – is wreaking havoc on their natural resources industry. It has become not only a virtual indigenous veto on any mining, pipeline or development project, it is now directly threatening basic landowner rights. In what is much like Chicago during the days of the Mafia, indigenous leaders all demand their “cut” before any project can proceed. This harmful process is spreading all across Canada, now that Canada has foolishly adopted UNDRIP.

And, in what is a perfect illustration of how the Indian Industry works, Perry Bellegard, as AFN Grand Chief, lobbied the government to bring in UNDRIP, David Lamerti, as Justice Minister, brought it in, and now Bellegrde and Lametti and their law firm benefit from it financially. Meanwhile, the taxpayer pays, and the marginalized and dependent indigenous majority remains marginalized and dependent.

Isn’t it time to end this farce? People who need education, and assistance to move to job centres should get that help. But pretending that making privileged people like David Lametti and Perry Bellegarde wealthier by dumping endless amounts of cash into Indian Industry cronyism is somehow good for indigenous people is nuts.

It isn’t. It’s bad for them, and it’s bad for Canada.

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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Censorship Industrial Complex

Scotland’s crazy anti-hate law may be sign of things to come here

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

Scotland had 8,000 complaints in the first week. Is it likely that a similar avalanche of claims will result in Canada if C-63 becomes law?

Actually, there will probably be a lot more here.

For one thing, our population is many times the size of Scotland’s.

Some argue that Scotland’s new hate speech law is more draconian than Canada’s yet-to-be-enacted equivalent, Bill C-63. Others say this is not so — that portions of ’63’ are even greater threats to free speech than Scotland’s extreme new law.

Regardless of who wins in this radical experiment in mass censorship, one thing we can predict with certainty: Both laws will be a goldmine for the legal profession and a nightmare for anyone who has ever dared to write, say or broadcast anything controversial.

How? Well, in the first week that Scotland’s new hate legislation has been in force there has been an avalanche of new claims launched — 8,000, and counting. Every one of those claims will have to be defended by a person who believed that they were exercising their right of free speech.

Now, 8,000 of those people will be caught up in expensive, time consuming, and emotionally draining litigation. Their cases will mostly be heard by officials and judges who were appointed specifically because they shared the same views as the government that appointed them — the same government that felt the need to prosecute these 8,000 people.

That 8,000 surpassed the total number of hate crime allegations in Scotland for all of 2023. A projection is that there will be an estimated 416,000 cases for 2024 if this rate keeps up. The complaints have completely overwhelmed Scotland’s police.

The Scottish Police Federation’s David Threadgold said this about how the new law was being used by angry citizens with an axe to grind: “…the law was being “weaponised” by the public in order to settle personal grudges against fellow citizens or to wage political feuds, while suggesting that the government encouraging the public to report instances of ‘hate’ has clearly blown up in their face.”

We have already seen this Scottish law in action when J.K. Rowling, who is famous not only for her wonderful Harry Potter books, but more recently for stating what we knew as fact for the first few hundred thousand years or so of human history — namely that men are men, and women are women — famously reposted that claim and dared the Scottish police to charge her.

The police announced that she wouldn’t be charged — at least that particular police officer wouldn’t charge her at this particular time.

The other person who has been the subject of many of those 8,000 complaints is First Minister Humza Yousaf — the very man responsible for this monstrosity of a law. Yousaf is himself quite famous for complaining that Scotland has too many white people. Who knew?

That odd observation resulted in a world famous spat with none other than Elon Musk. The online slugfest basically took the form of each man accusing the other of being a racist. At times it looked more like a schoolyard fight.

That a national leader seriously feels that the sledgehammer of the criminal law must be used to sort out such cat fights between citizens is rather alarming.

But, in this regard, Yousaf and Trudeau are birds of a feather. Both are convinced that only “acceptable views” — namely the views they agree with — will be allowed, while “unacceptable views,” namely, those they don’t like, must be disappeared by the machinery of the state.

It should be explained at this point that Scotland’s new law, unlike our C-63, requires police to determine whether or not the person under complaint has “stirred up hatred.”

Bill C-63 has those “hate” complaints heard by the Human Rights Tribunal.

In both cases however, one person’s opinion will judge another person’s opinion. However, one person will be paid to perform this function, while the other person might become a criminal if their opinion fails a completely subjective test.

Scotland had 8,000 complaints in the first week. Is it likely that a similar avalanche of claims will result in Canada if C-63 becomes law?

Actually, there will probably be a lot more here.

For one thing, our population is many times the size of Scotland’s.

For another, C-63 allows people to make complaints anonymously if the tribunal says so. It also promises up to $50,000 per complaint. That’s a powerful motivator. That $50,000 doesn’t come from some magic bank, by the way. If you are the person complained about, it comes from you. And you might be required to fork over an additional $20,000 to the tribunal for their troubles.

I’m not sure if they will expect a tip.. 

Much has been written about C-63. Many knowledgeable Canadians have discussed in detail the hundreds of objections they can see with this Bill. Senior Canadian voices, such former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, and world famous author Margaret Atwood, have warned Canadians about this seriously flawed legislation.

But what no one has done — except for Trudeau apparatchiks — is to give any good reasons why Canada needs this legislation.

If Scotland’s projected number of complaints for 2024 is 416,000 and they have a population of less than six million, the projection for Canada would be into the millions of complaints. Even setting aside the obvious impossibility of paying for thousands of new tribunal adjudicators, staff, and the thousands of new lawyers required to help the million-plus people who are thrust into this hate complaint boondoggle, why would any serious government even wish such a thing on their citizens?

Do we not have a rather large bag of serious problems we must contend with?

We have a generation of young people, for example, who might never in their lives be able to afford a home of their own. How do we expect these young people to raise a future generation of Canadians without a home in which to raise them? Isn’t that a bigger problem than someone’s hurt feelings?

Another example… Trudeau has just noticed that we don’t seem to have an army anymore. Isn’t that a bigger problem than whether or not someone feels that they have been misgendered, or called nasty names?

There is a list, as long as the longest arm, of very real problems that need urgent attention. Why are we wasting time and money on the brainchild (yes, I use that term loosely) of a desperate prime minister and his few remaining fellow ideologues?

This legislation is totally unnecessary, and an appallingly disrespectful way to treat Canadians. We already have hate laws. We already have laws to protect children. C-63 is as useless as the tired apparatchiks pushing it.

We should definitely pay attention to what is happening in Scotland. It will be our fate if this perfectly awful Bill C-63 is not defeated.

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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Higher Capital Gains Taxes cap off a loser federal budget

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From Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Lee Harding

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

New taxes on capital gains mean more capital pains for Canadians as they endure another tax-grabbing, heavy-spending federal deficit budget.

Going forward, the inclusion rate increases to 66 per cent, up from 50 per cent, on capital gains above $250,000 for people and on all capital gains for corporations and trusts. The change will affect 307,000 businesses and see Ottawa, according to probably optimistic projections, rake in an additional $19.4 billion over four years.

A wide chorus of voices have justifiably condemned this move. If an asset is sold for more than it was bought for, the government will claim two-thirds of the value because half is no longer enough.  It’s pure government greed.

If you were an investor or a young tech entrepreneur looking for somewhere to set up shop, would you choose Canada? And if you’re already that investor, how hard would you work to appreciate your assets when the government seizes much of the improvement?

Even before this budget, the OECD predicted Canada would have the lowest growth rates in per-person GDP up to 2060 of all its member countries.

In a speech in Halifax on March 26, Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers put the productivity problem this way: “You’ve seen those signs that say, ‘In emergency, break glass.’ Well, it’s time to break the glass.”

What can Canadians bash now? Their heads against a wall?

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

No kidding. Not since the first Prime Minister Trudeau (Pierre) have Canadians been able to count so reliably on deficit spending, higher expenditures, and more taxes.

Long ago, it seems now, when Justin Trudeau was not yet prime minister, he campaigned on “a modest short-term deficit” of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years and a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

His rationale was that low interest rates made it a rare opportunity to borrow and build infrastructure, all to encourage economic growth. Of course, the budget never balanced itself and Canada has lost $225 billion in foreign investment since 2016.

The deficits continue though the excuse of low interest rates is long gone. Despite higher carbon and capital gains taxes, this year’s deficit will match last year’s: $40 billion. Infrastructure seems less in view than an ever-expanding nanny state of taxpayer-funded dental care, child care, and pharmacare.

Of course, the Trudeau deficits were not as modest as advertised, and all-time federal debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion in less than a decade. Debt interest payments this coming fiscal year will be $54.1 billion, matching GST revenue and exceeding the $52 billion of transfers to the provinces for health care.

In 1970, columnist Lubor Zink quoted Pierre Trudeau as saying, “One has to be in the wheelhouse to see what shifts are taking place . . . The observer . . . on the deck . . . sees the horizon much in the same direction and doesn’t realize it but perhaps he will find himself disembarking at a different island than the one he thought he was sailing for.”

Like father, like son, Justin Trudeau has captained Canada to a deceptive and unwelcome destination. What started as Fantasy Island is becoming Davy Jones’ Locker.

Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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