Letters, Book Reviews and Related Articles

                                                             INDEX

  1. Barbara Kay article endorsing There Is No Difference.
  2. Essay- In Defence and Praise of Senator Lynn Beyak. 
  3. Journalist and former Judge Brian Giesbrecht’s positive review of There Is No Difference.
  4. Peter Best’s Sudbury Star critique of the troubling Crown sovereignty-eroding Restoule decision.
  5. Peter Best’s essay-length critique of the troubling Restoule decision.
  6. Rebuttal to Peter Best’s Sudbury Star Restoule critique.
  7. Book review of Tanya Talaga’s overrated Seven Fallen Feathers.
  8. Book review of Frances Widdowson’s very worthwhile Separate but Unequal- How Parallelist Ideology Conceals Indigenous Dependency.
  9.  Book review of Harold R. Johnson’s useful but angry, unjustified and impractical Peace and Good Order- The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada.
  10. Book Review of Pamela Palmator’s  Indigenous Nationhood-Empowering Grassroots Citizens
  11.  Peter Best Essay- The Trudeau Crown Sovereignty Surrender Directive, Trudeau’s disastrous policy of appeasing Indian Industry demands regardless of the short-term and long-term costs
  12.  Peter Best retrospective critique of Harold Cardinal’s famous early 1970’s Indian rights book, The Unjust Society, discussing “where are we now?” with everything Mr. Cardinal demanded 50 years ago,  which he said was going to be the sure cures for all Indigenous social and economic ills.
  13. Article- It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way, by Brian Giesbrecht, comparing unfavourably the situation of Indigenous peoples in reserve-burdened Canada to the much better situation of Indigenous peoples in “no-reserves” Mexico.
  14.  Article- Essential, winning conservative principles which the Conservative Party should adopt.
  15.  Peter Best May 20, 2017 Letter to the Editor of the Manitoulin Expositor re “cultural appropriation”.
  16.  Peter Best 2019 letter to the Editor of the Sudbury Star re tax-free status of Wahnapitei band marijuana business.
  17.  Unpublished December 2019 Peter Best letter to the Editor of the Espanola and North Shore Mid-North Monitor defending the residential school at Spanish.
  18. Peter Best January 4th, 2019 letter to the Sudbury Star decrying UNDRIP

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1. Link immediately below to Barbara Kay’s September 3rd, 2019 article endorsing There Is No Difference and summarizing the events surrounding Chapter’s Book Store cancelling my book event at their Sudbury Store because of the book’s theme of eventual absolute legal equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/barbara-kay-muffling-a-lawyers-book-that-looked-at-the-entitlements-of-indigenous-peoples

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2. Senator Lynn Beyak- The Unjust Scarlet Letter “R” Branding of a “Heretic”

Senator Beyak, from Dryden, Ontario, a ground zero for Indigenous-non-Indigenous issues, with plenty of life experience of same, over her lifetime has developed a great shared-humanity belief and approach to these issues. Inside Canada’s metropolitan bubbles Indigenous issues and the Indigenous reality are more abstract than real. Senator Beyak possesses first-hand based, authoritative, cant-free, shared-humanity ideas about how to better the tragic social conditions that so burden and hold back Indigenous Canadians. She publicly shared these ideas with Canadians, thereby clearly showing that the Senate can be useful for something! For her pains she was taken down by cowardly elites in the government and the media, and after taking all the “cultural training” mandated, and apologizing, the Senator Murray Sinclair-dominated discipline committee recommended that she be further suspended because, despite the training, she had failed to learn the supposed “historical truth” of the cultural genocide caused by residential schools, the supposed racism on the part of Canadians underpinning the Indian Act, and the supposed presence of racism generally on the part of Canadians, past and present, against Indigenous peoples. Ridiculous, cruel and mean-spirited, but worse, ominously Orwellian and free speech suppressing behaviour on the part of our Canadian Senate. As I suggest in the immediately below article, posterity will be very kind to her, and, I hope, will damn our Senate.

Lynn Beyak Essay March 28, 2020

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3. Retired Judge and journalist Brian Giesbrecht’s January 14th, 2019 article in the Calgary-based c2cjournal, https:www.c2cjournal.ca, A Plea to End Canadian Apartheid, his review of There Is No Difference.

A Plea to End Canadian Apartheid

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4. Sudbury Accent: Decision further erodes Crown sovereignty– being a brief summary of the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice revolutionary  Restoule decision. This decision will perpetuate and strengthen the reserve system, the fundamental cause of Indigenous social dysfunction, and so will cause further serious, long-term harm to Indigenous Canadians. The Government of Canada’s failure to appeal this decision, for which former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was materially responsible, shows that she was one of the most over-rated and underqualified Ministers of Justice Canada has ever had. She was totally partisan in favour of Assembly of First Nations interests, who (the AFN) are celebrating Restoule and planning to build on it in Western Canada. In that office she was a threat to Crown sovereignty, Canadian unity and the public purse. Our federal government should be trying to lessen the country -weakening effects of tribalism. Her policies were increasing tribalism and  fragmenting the country. Canadians are fortunate she is out of that office and unable to inflict further damage to the long term interests of Indigenous Canadians and to the public interest generally. (For some of my reasons for saying this, including, as I write in There Is No Difference, that she was an Assembly of First Nations fox in the henhouse of Canadian Crown sovereignty. See The Trudeau Crown Sovereignty Surrender Directive, # 11 below.)
https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/sudbury-accent-decision-further-erodes-crown-sovereignty/

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5. Link (click here) to a much longer and more detailed, critical analysis by Peter Best of the December 21st, 2018 Ontario Superior  Court Restoule decision, which was based on a re-interpretation of the 1850 Northern Ontario Robinson Treaties, ordering Ontario and Canadian taxpayers to compensate 21 Treaties bands for approximately 150 years of unintentionally deficient Treaties payments. Ontario has appealed the decision, while Ottawa, to the harm of Crown sovereignty, Canadian social unity and the Canadian taxpayer, has not. Canada’s reasons for its disgraceful passivity and acquiescence most likely arise from The Trudeau Crown Sovereignty Surrender Directive, the subject of a rather lenghty article below. –1850 Treaties decision article

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6. Link, Click immediately below, to read former Supreme Court Justice Stephen O’Neill’s Sudbury Star rebuttal to my Star Restoule article. Notice how he basically just repeats the wording of the Restoule judgment, as if it were self-evidently infallible and in need of no further argument or persuasion. Note how he neglects to deal with virtually all of my arguments, or merely sidesteps them, especially my “double recovery” argument. Very sadly, also note also how he insults me as a person who, merely because I disagree with Restoule on fundamental human rights grounds, (I believe that the reserve system is a mild, benignly racist form of apartheid, which Restoule will perpetuate and strengthen), that I want to “condemn First Nations peoples to a lifetime of poverty.” (No! I want to liberate them from systemic poverty and from the tyranny of Canadian apartheid!) I refer in chapter 5 of There Is No Difference, An Issue of Freedom of Speech, to this kind of misrepresenting, personal-attack, intimidating method of pseudo-argument used by the Indian Industry and Indigenous elites generally to suppress freedom of speech and free and open debate on this profound Canadian social issue which all Canadians have a stake in and should be encouraged to speak freely on.  For the sake of the bests interests of the vast majority of fundamentally disadvantaged, marginalized, dispossessed, powerless Indigenous Canadians, especially the young ones, all of whom are being so harmed by the status quo, and I believe, will be further harmed by Restoule and all it represents, we must not allow ourselves to be intimidated and silenced like this. (Although Chapters bookstore in Sudbury was intimidated by it. As a result of the publication of Mr. O’Neill’s article, (Mr. O’Neill, a passionately-committed good man who now works part-time for a native-rights law firm, was identified in the article as a “former Superior Court Justice”, which, in borrowing on his status as a former Judge, lends the credence of the Supreme Court to his partisan position, giving rise to the serious public policy issue of the appropriateness of former Judges engaging in partisan advocacy on behalf of private clients after they retire), they cancelled a previously-approved There Is No Difference book-signing event scheduled at their Sudbury store for Saturday, February 23rd, saying that it would “compromise” the “joyful and positive experience” Chapters wants their staff and customers to have in their stores. Chapters needs to read An Issue of Freedom of Speech as well.)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/treaties-provide-means-to-peacefully-share-wealth

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-  7. Book Review- A Criticism of Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers

In chapter 12 of There Is No Difference, entitled The Essential Humanity of the Migrators to Canada, I defend our Canadian ancestors, and decry the modern literary and cultural bien pensants’ tendency to casually and offensively stereotype present-day non-Indigenous Canadians and our non-Indigenous ancestors as “colonialist”, land-stealing, (and worse) racists. I review four books by prominent, modern-day Canadians whose books epitomize this Euro-Canadian culturally self-denigrating-self-castigating trend to falsely portray modern and ancestral non-Indigenous Canadians in such shallow, cartoonish, offensive and racially stereotypical ways. These basically anti-Euro-Canadian-culture books, all lauded but vastly over-rated, are Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, the late Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse, John Ralston Saul’s The Comeback, and Bob Rae’s What Happened to Politics. Since my book was published Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers came out, continuing this dreadful trend on the part of our cultural elites to completely abandon their critical faculties and fall all over themselves, mainly because of the Indigenous subject matter, to celebrate and extol harmful, victimhood-obsessive, racially-stereotyping, high-on-sanctimony but low-on-mature-intellectual-quotient works . Ms. Talaga, a fly-in Indigenous supporter who lives and works in Toronto, lets the reader know early on that all the heart-breaking Thunder Bay tragedies suffered by the subjects of her book are all the fault of “the whiteface, who wears button-down shirts, eats at the Keg, and lives in a cookie-cutter house in a brand new subdivision with a Kia parked in the driveway.” (What a dehumanizing, racist stereotype! The exact thing she decries in her book!) The book continues at this juvenile, racially insulting, cartoonish and divisive level to its reality-avoiding conclusion, which is boiled down to… “Just send us more money so we can organize more “programs”!” (Not one mention throughout the book  that it’s the very existence of the reserve system, that is not amenable to improvement by means of more money and programs, that is the fundamental cause of the tragedies so well-described in her book.)

Link (click here) to a counter-narrative book review by Peter Best of Tanya Talaga’s 2017 award-winning book about the tragic death of seven Indigenous teenagers in Thunder Bay, Seven Fallen Feathers

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8. Book Review of Professor France Widdowson’s excellent new book Separate But Unequal- How Parallelist Ideology Conceals Indigenous Dependency

Frances Widdowson was one of the first writers in Canada to, in her and her husband Albert Howard’s  book, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry-The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Industry, point out that “the Emperor has no clothes” with regard to many aspects of the Indian Industry. It was a brave book. She took a lot of ad hominem heat for it, but as far as I know it stands unrefuted. A review of her excellent follow up book is immediately below. My only complaint about it is that its recommendations don’t go far enough- don’t logically follow from her excellent and scholarly analysis of the hopeless and near-fraudulent Indigenous status quo.

Book Review of Separate But Unequal, by Frances Widdowson

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9. Book Review of Harold R. Johnson’s Peace and Good Order- The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada

Harold R. Johnson was a criminal lawyer in Saskatchewan who, over a 20 year career, acted as both prosecutor and defense counsel. He was on the front lines of the collision between Indigenous reserve wrongdoers and the criminal justice system. In his former book, Firewater, he ascribed the major cause of this tragic, ever-repeating collision to alcohol addiction. It was a very useful. eye-opening, searing description of the scourge of alcohol on reserves. In Peace and Good Order he repeats this description, (confirming my view that the reserves, for the sake of saving lives, have to be eventually done away with), and offers as a very unreal solution to all this tragedy the establishment of a separate Indigenous justice system. The presentation of the evidence is excellent but the arguments that this obviously good man makes based on the evidence, tragically for Indigenous peoples, constitute fantasy-thinking.

Book Review of Peace and Good Order- The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada

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10. Book Review of Pamela Palmater’s Indigenous Nationhood- Empowering Grassroots Citizens

Ms. Palmater is an associate professor and “Chair in Indigenous Governance” at Ryerson University. Her book, reviewed here, is a fairly nasty screed against her fellow Canadians, whom she accuses of being racist in all sorts of ways, (notwithstanding that, personally, she seems to be doing very well by us).  The contents of this book are interesting but a bit much to take at times, especially knowing that we, the Canadian taxpayers, (federal, Manitoba and Nova Scotia) subsidized its publication. We can’t be all bad if we contribute towards the cost of our own character assassination! In my book, There Is No Difference I have a chapters called Devolving Control of Education to Indians, A “First Nations” Education, and The Academic Gyp of “Identity Studies. Ms. Palmater’s book bears out much of what I wrote there.

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  11. As stated above, here is my article on Canada’s crisis of weakened Crown sovereignty- The Trudeau Crown Sovereignty Surrender Directive, essentially arguing that the Trudeau government-( with Assembly of First Nations- biased, former Minister of Justice  Judy Wilson-Raybould, when she held that office, in the enthusiastic lead)- is recklessly, and with little or no legal basis,  handing over too much Crown sovereignty and power- and too much of Canadian taxpayer monies- to Indigenous groups and interests with only weak legal claims against Canada at best, to the long-term harm of us all, including our Indigenous peoples, AS DEMONSTRATED BY THE RESTOULE DECISON. On March 6th, 2019, at the conclusion of his remarks to the Justice Committee regarding the Wilson-Raybould resignation “affair” (https://www.c2cjournal.ca/2019/03/who-pressured-whom/) Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick suggested that the Committee hold hearings on it, and said ominously that it “marks a profound change in Canada’s legal landscape” and that “all parties need to be clear with Canadians on the future of this Directive.”

The Trudeau Crown Sovereignty Surrender Directive


12. What Can Harold Cardinal’s The Unjust Society Tell Us About the Indigenous Situation in Canada Today?

Indigenous elites were really upset when Pierre Trudeau introduced his White Paper in 1969, recommending what There Is No Difference argues for: the phasing out of the reserves and, over time, making Indigenous peoples equal under the law with all the rest of Canadians. This Indigenous anger found voice in Harold Cardinal’s Indigenous rights book, The Unjust Society, published the same year. This book was a wish list of everything Mr. Cardinal said would, if granted, solve all Indigenous social and economic  problems. Over the past 50 years most of Mr. Cardinal’s wishes for his people, as set out in The Unjust Society have been granted. So how has that worked out?

Harold Cardinal – The Unjust Society

Harold Cardinal article

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13. Canada is one of the very few civilized countries in the world which still legally divides its citizens on the basis of race. And its myopic elites celebrate this! Read Brian Giesbrecht’s seminal and inspiring article below on Mexico, which had a much worse colonial past than Canada, but never fell into the trap of setting up reserves. Most of the civilized countries in the world, at least in relation to race, like Mexico, are countries of the future. Canada, in this crucial area of our civic life, is backward and living- mired- in the past. And oh the difference to our Indigenous peoples!

Oaxaca, Mexico – A Template for Every Town and City in Canada


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14. The Conservative Party of Canada is ideologically lost, and the weak public persona and “stand for nothingness” of Andrew Scheer ensured that in the last election it was not found. There are certain bedrock conservative principles that are “conservative”, or “classically liberal” if you will, which are ideologically unassailable by the Liberals, the NDP or anyone else who fancies himself “progressive”, which are good for all Canadians, and which are, in my opinion, with the right leader to espouse them- a leader, like Pierre Trudeau, with a philosophy, intellectual confidence and cojones, and a defiantly pro-Enlightenment attitude– political winners. Last November the National Post sought essays from readers on how the Conservative Party might be truly and distinctly “conservative” while at the same time not losing Toronto and the 905 area in the next election. I sent this in. They didn’t publish it, so the continued failure of the Canadian Conservative Party to come up with any reasonable distinction between it and the other political parties in Canada must be laid at the door of the National Post, not me!

Essential conservative principles – March 28, 2020

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15. In May of 2017 the Manitoulin Expositor, one of Canada’s best small-town newspapers, published an article by a very good Indigenous journalist warning ordinary Canadians not to dare “appropriate” any aspect of Indigenous culture, or else! (I’m paraphrasing and being “unserious”.) He said words to the effect that “mainstream society” (as if he wasn’t part of it!) is unequipped to deal with the “nuances” of Indigenous cultural appropriation. I wrote a letter to the editor saying in effect- “No!- You Indigenous folks appropriated non-Indigenous culture, not the other way around! But that’s okay. It’s open season on cultures.  No group owns its culture. It’s free for the taking. That’s how the world works.” This is one of the messages of There Is No Difference, and in particular chapter 4, Assimilation and Cultural Loss, where I say, amongst many other things, “assimilation is not a dirty word.” In fact I argue that it’s a natural, good thing! Here is that letter.

Letter to the Editor of the Manitoulin Expositor re “cultural appropriation”.

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16. Chapter 35 of There Is No Difference is entitled Indian Reserves as Tax Havens. This tax-haven status is being cynically used by wealthy and powerful non-Indigenous business interests in cahoots with Indian bands as a tax-reducing mechanism, to the detriment of the public treasury and thus the public interest. In 2019 the Sudbury area Wahnapitei band, which has very few members, announced with great fanfare that they were going into the marijuana business and of course would be paying no tax on its income. My letter to the Editor of the Sudbury Star on this suggests that if they are not paying tax because they are a “separate nation”, then it might logically follow that the equally-separate nation of Canada has fewer duties, in particular financial, to them.

Wahnapitei band marijuana business- 2019 letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star

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17. In chapter 40 of There Is No Difference I heavily criticize the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s analysis and conclusions relating to residential schools. I focus there a reasonable amount on the residential school at Spanish, just west of Espanola,  of which I have some light, personal connections. Espanola’s most successful alumnus, in terms of success in the greater, wider world, Jack Major, who became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, had personal connections with students there in the late 1940’s, in particular, Basil Johnston, author of Indian School Days.  A good friend of mine, now passed away, a champion figure skater, put on a skating exhibition there. My father delivered a commencement address there (I think). The father of an excellent former secretary of mine was a teacher at the school for  years, and lived in Spanish all that time. I never met him, but I met his wife, and my impression of the fineness and excellence of her character, which had to have been a reflection of her husband’s, (my secretary’s father), has stayed with me still. No one has ever publicly said that they were abused there. Many Indigenous graduates of the school had  positive things to say about it. So it was with this mental background that I read an article about the residential school in the Monitor by “Backroads Bill”, which repeated just about every horror trope in the book about residential schools, but giving no particulars or specifics.  I thought of all those decent, caring people being cheaply and carelessly maligned by this kind of “drive by” journalism, and so I wrote the below letter to the editor to defend them and uphold their memory and legacy. They didn’t publish it.

Monitor letter re Spanish Residential School


18. In December 2019 former Sudbury Green Party candidate Mr. Steve May had a full opinion piece published in the Sudbury Star, in which Mr. May extolled the virtues of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, (UNDRIP), and urged that it be made the law of Ontario and Canada. It is official Green Party and NDP policy that this should occur. The Trudeau Minority Government is committed in principle to adopting UNDRIP but clearly, because UNDRIP is simply idealism and abstraction gone mad, they never will. The B.C. Government has indicated that they will be adopting it. As if B.C. doesn’t have enough barriers to resource development already! I deal extensively with the disastrous implications of UNDRIP in chapter 50 of There Is No Difference. Immediately below is my letter.

Sudbury letter: UNDRIP economic suicide for Canada

 
Protester at a pro-energy rally in downtown Calgary on Dec. 17, 2018. GAVIN YOUNG / POSTMEDIA

 

 

Re: ‘Implementing UNDRIP will change Canada for the Better,’ Dec. 28

Everything Steve May says about Indigenous law and the effect of UNDRIP is correct. A third constitutional order of government will be created, and our federal and provincial governments will no longer be sovereign. Sovereignty will be shared with more than 600 First Nations bands.

But just because a law exists doesn’t mean that it’s right or beneficial. The present “consult and accommodate” law, by inserting massive “Aboriginal title” legal uncertainties into resource development, has already killed the Mackenzie Valley, Enbridge and Energy East pipelines.

It fatally delayed the Ring of Fire mining project and has delayed the Kinder Morgan pipeline to the extent that Canadian taxpayers had to buy it to keep it alive.

Foreign investment is leaving Canada because of it.

There will be even more flight of capital, economic devastation and tragic job losses under UNDRIP.

Renowned Indigenous leader, the late Arthur Manuel, correctly wrote in his Reconciliation Manifesto that “aboriginal title means that the province never had the capacity to give full title to anyone who holds provincial property, (which would include title to all of our homes, including Mr. May’s), and because that uncertainty exists, it is a financial risk for resource companies to come on to our land. They can never know if they are one court judgment away from having their multi-million and even billion dollar investments seized by the legitimate title holders.”

A government that legally adopts UNDRIP commits economic suicide.

Peter Best

Sudbury

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