Link to author and journalist Robert MacBain’s compelling April 12th, 2017 opinion piece, Trudeau vs. Trudeau on Racial Segregation at http://www.c2cjournal.ca from which I quote: “If today’s Prime Minister Trudeau succeeds in establishing a “nation to nation” relationship with Aboriginals, that will be a slap in the face to his father, who advocated that they should be “Canadians of full status” rather than continuing to live as “a race apart in Canada”. (See Chapter 3, The Separate But Equal Doctrine, in There Is No Difference.)
Link to Robert MacBain’s April 16th, 2018 opinion piece, Letters to Senator Beyak, Uncensored, at http://www.c2cjournal.ca , recounting positive things indigenous attendees of residential schools had to say about their experience there. (See Chapter 5, An Issue of Freedom of Speech, in There Is No Difference.)
Link to Professor Tom Flanagan’s September 23rd, 2018 opinion piece, How The Duty to Consult Became a Veto, at http://www.c2cjournal.ca . (See the origins of this in Chapter 23, The Haida Nation Case. The disastrous consequences of this are dealt with most particularly in Chapter 34, The Imperative of Sole Crown Authority, both chapters from There Is No Difference.
Link to National Post journalist Barbara Kay’s related opinion piece, The Villain in the Trans Mountain Fiasco- and Other Fiascos Since 2004-is the Supreme Court of Canada, at http://www.thepostmillennial.com . (Again see, amongst others, Chapters 23 and 34 of There Is No Difference.)
Link to Mark Milke’s June 15th, 2018 piece, Another Name for Cultural Appropriation: Sharing, at http://www.c2cjournal.ca . (See in this regard Chapter 6, Pre-Contact Indian Culture and the Shock of the New, in There Is No Difference.
Sudbury author wades into controversial territory
Peter Best sees a different way forward for Canada and its First Nations peoples.
Rather than the “nation-to-nation fantasy” he believes is preferred by some elites in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, the Sudbury lawyer says legal equality, in terms of both rights and responsibilities, is the answer for improving the quality of lives of First Nations peoples.
His has detailed the arguments to support his position in There is No Difference, the book which he recently published, and which is available via his website, www.thereisnodifference.ca. His book has earned endorsements from the likes of columnist Barbara Kay and University of Calgary professor Tom Flanagan.
Best recently took a few moments to take part in our 10 Questions feature, discussing his background, his book and why believes it’s important.
1. Can you tell us about your background as a writer?
My background is that of a lawyer, not a writer. Practising law involves, in order to make a legal argument, a lot of considered, fact and evidence-based writing. Thus, there is a distinct, lawyer-like style to my writing in There Is No Difference. That might make the book dull at times, but the truth of this important subject is complicated and nuanced and some extra length and dullness is required to conscientiously serve it.
2. Can you tell us a little about There is No Difference?
My book offers a solution to ending the tragically high degree of poverty and social dysfunction amongst Canada’s first peoples — legal equality. For decades our Indigenous and non-Indigenous elites have been doubling down on the apartheid-like, separate-but-equal status quo that has so harmed the vast majority of vulnerable, marginalized and powerless Indigenous Canadians — all to no benefit for them. I argue for the Nelson Mandela solution: Complete legal equality with the rest of Canadians — the necessary precursor to social and economic equality.
3. Why was it important for you to write it?
Honest and respectful public discussion of important social issues is a duty of citizenship in a democracy. I considered it my public duty to speak my mind on this crucial issue.
4. What do you hope people will take away from it?
I believe my views as set out in my book are those of the majority of caring, racially-decent Canadians, who are appalled by the status quo but are afraid to speak out for fear of being called a racist, or suffering in their career. I hope to inspire others, especially people of power and influence, to start to speak out, and thus start a much-needed conversation about where we, as Canadians, are headed here.
5. What has response been like so far?
The response to the message of my book has been generally positive. In addition, people wonder at my daring in writing and publishing it, which mainly shows the terrible state of free speech in Canada on this issue. Strangely, in Canada, making the Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King argument for racial integration — equal rights and responsibilities for Indigenous Canadians — is branded as racist. In fact, the opposite. In my opinion the status quo, which my book objects to, is unintentionally and benignly racist.
6. Your work has received some high-profile endorsements. How do you feel about that?
All writers, toiling away feverishly in front of their computer screens at five in the morning, need affirmation from others, if not just to know that they are not crazy in what they are thinking and writing. These brave endorsements were really appreciated
7. What sort of criticism have you received, if any?
I know that some of my ideological opponents are aware of the book. But they have, for their own reasons, kept silent about it. Probably, and wisely, so as not to draw attention to it. In writing it, like a lawyer writing a brief, I tried to anticipate and rebut every criticism I could expect to receive. (Thus the inordinate length.) Perhaps their silence means that I did a pretty good job of that.
8. Do you plan to write more on the subject?
I have a blog, thereisnodifference.ca, (where one can order the book from Amazon or Chapters), and I intend to post on that.
9. Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
No. To me, there’s no more important Canadian social issue than the tragic situation, past and present, of our first peoples.
10. Anything you’d like to add?
Former Serpent River Reserve Chief Isadore Day called the Indian Act “legislative racism.” Indigenous writer Calvin Helin wrote that, “if apartheid were measured by results rather than intent, we would have it on reserves today.” My book agrees with these distinguished gentlemen. We only differ on the solutions going forward. They want the nation-to-nation fantasy. I’m with Nelson Mandela.
Letter September 10, 2018 from Peter Best to the Sudbury Star holding the consult and accommodate law responsible for the loss of 100,000 jobs in Canada (Globe and Mail source) in the last 5 years.
Letter: Duty to consult with First Nations hampering development
I agree with Douglas Cuthand that the way the Supreme Court has interpreted section 35 of the constitution places Indigenous bands, with their resulting de facto consult and accommodate veto, “on an even playing field” with the provinces and the federal government.
But I disagree that it’s a good thing. In fact, it’s a disaster for Canada as a whole, including the vast majority of Indigenous Canadians. If, as Mr. Cuthand asserts, bands, with this de facto veto, are legal equals with the provinces and Ottawa in resource development, then that means that our duly elected governments are no longer masters in their own respective houses — no longer sovereign.
Crown sovereignty is essential for the maintenance of the rule of law, the protection of the tax base and the regulation of the marketplace. More than 100,000 jobs have been lost over the past five years because of this de facto veto. (Northern Gateway, Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines.) Investment capital is turning away from Canada. It is causing the opposite of “reconciliation” to happen.
For the sake of the country, the law requiring Ottawa and the provinces to consult and accommodate tiny Indigenous bands before any major project can go ahead should, one way or another, be gotten rid of.
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