Commentary

INDEX

  1.  Testimonials
  2. Article- Brian Giesbrecht- Canada needs one law for all
  3. Sudbury Star Article- November 17th, 2018 –Sudbury author wades into controversial territory
  4. Article- Brian Giesbrecht-On the Canadian connection to the establishment in South Africa of apartheid
  5. Article by the National Post’s Barbara Kay- The Villain in the Trans-Mountain Fiasco-and other Fiascos since 2004- is the  Supreme Court of Canada
  6. A very important essay- The Untold Story of Indigenous Child Neglect and Alcohol Abuse– by Brian Giesbrecht
  7. Unpublished March 16, 2020 letter to the Globe & Mail suggesting that it is inherently racist to suggest, as an Indigenous Globe columnist did, that only an Indigenous person could properly criticize and review a play written by an Indigenous person.
  8. Unpublished March 13th, 2020 letter to the National Post suggesting that the Coronavirus crisis illustrates the danger and absurdity of the Crown sovereignty-weakening Indigenous “nation to nation” and “self-government” claims. Only strong governments, governing for all our citizens of all races equally, can properly deal with existential crises such as the Coronavirus crisis.
  9. A definitive, highly readable defence of Sir John A. MacDonald, by Toronto lawyer Greg Piasetzki.
  10. The Unintentional Racism Underlying The Aboriginal Rights Movement– Peter Best, December 5th, 2020
  11. Thirteen Things That Can’t Be Said About Aboriginal Law and Policy in Canada, by Queen’s University Law Professor Bruce Hardy
  12. The excellent article by former Manitoba Attorney General James McRae, One Nation, One People 
  13. The Orwellian purge of a brave, independent and principled thinker: The firing of Associate Professor Frances Widdowson.
  14. Canada’s Indigenous Policies Constitute a Harmful Retreat from Liberalism by Our Elite Classes

——————————————————————————————————————–             1.                                                   TESTIMONIALS

“Your “There Is No Difference” continues to impress me no doubt because I agree with it.”

The Honourable Jack Major, C.C. Q.C. -Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

Jack Major, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has expressly endorsed my book. Justice Major spent a large part of his youth in Espanola, Ontario, where I grew up 10 years or so after him. His father was the CPR Station Manager, (when CPR had a station there.) I contacted him regarding Basil Johnston, who, in his  book Indian School Days, about his time at the residential school in Spanish, describes a football game his residential school team played against Espanola High School, whose team was quarterbacked by Jack Major, who Mr. Johnston describes as “the guy we had to watch.” (Most of this is in Chapter 40 of my book.) My contacting him resulted in email exchanges and one fairly long telephone call, about his friend Basil, and about Indigenous matters, past and present, generally. It turned out that they indeed became friends, and even went off to University in Montreal together. Click immediately below to read Journalist Brian Giesbrecht’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy article about this important and authoritative endorsement of There Is No Difference.

 

Speaking Frankly – A Retired Supreme Court Justice

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“What Mr. Best has to say in There Is No Difference is important.”

Professor Tom Flanagan, University of Calgary, member of the Royal Society of Canada and author of First Nations? Second Thoughts (McGill-Queens University Press)


“Mr. Best shows a principled determination, with There Is No Difference, to ride this tiger of a topic into the colosseum of political correctness.”

“Best is one of my free speech  Canadian heroes…The book is a trenchantly-argued and comprehensively researched dissertation on this most important of national themes…Few and far between are disinterested scholars of Canada’s Aboriginal history who have the tough hide and principled will to publicly depart from the approved Indigenous “nation-to-nation” narrative that keeps the guilt and money flowing, but perpetuates a dysfunctional status quo on many reserves…National Post, September 3rd, 2019

Barbara Kay, National Post Weekly Columnist


“In his newly published book, There Is No Difference, lawyer Peter Best devotes a chapter to unpacking the consequences of the Haida Nation decision. It makes for fascinating reading. Haida Nation jurisprudence, Best says, decrees a devolution of Crown sovereignty to Indians- a handing back of previously-surrendered power, effectively turning Indian bands into a third order of government…And so what happened to Kinder Morgan- and has happened to other companies since Haida Nation- will eventually kill all private interest in major infrastructure and mining projects. Aboriginal correctness will slow down our economy…”

Barbara KayThe Villain in the Trans-Mountain Fiasco- and Other Fiascos Since 2004- is the Supreme Court of Canadawww.thepostmillenial.com, September 11th, 2018.


“This is a volume of deeply researched common sense. It stands as a beacon in the swamp of Indian (or “aboriginal”- your choice) law and a path to hope for the victims.”

“As I age, I rejoice in the fact that newer candles have been and are still being lit, and notwithstanding the adverse winds, shining gradually more brightly into the darkness of this tragic issue. The truth will out eventually. But every year, every government, every Industry apparatchik delays the necessary freedom of the Canadians branded by our Constitution as “Indians”. Bringing that day of truth closer is truly tackling the greatest moral question of this country.”

Gordon Gibson– author of A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy: Respect the Collective-Promote the Individual, 2009), national columnist, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1968 to 1972, B.C. MLA, Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, and, in 2008, awarded the Order of British Columbia.


“The Trudeau government and First Nations’ leaders want to “close the gap” between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. Peter Best agrees, but his solution is not their tried and perenially failed one: to merely continue and tinker with the status quo. In There Is No Difference Mr. Best compellingly argues that to really “close the gap” approaches and laws must radically change, and the reserve system must be ended. There Is No Difference is an important contribution to the national conversation that must take place about Canada’s most serious and pressing social issue: the situation of our First Peoples in modern, 21st century Canada.”

Colin Alexander– Ottawa- former publisher of the Yellowknife News of the North


“Anyone who cares about the future of Indigenous Canadians must read Peter Best’s There Is No Difference.”

James McCrae– former member for Brandon of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1986-1999. During that period served in Cabinet as Attorney General, Environment Minister, Minister of Health and Minister of Education.


2. November 30th, 2018 Winnipeg Sun review of There Is No Difference

GIESBRECHT: Canada needs one law for all

Nelson Mandela AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Files

In an important new book, Ontario lawyer Peter Best is undertaking to start a long repressed national conversation about Canada’s legal and social relations with its Indigenous founding people.

In There Is No Difference, (see Amazon.ca) Best asks the question: Why would Nelson Mandela’s goal and vision of “one set of laws for all” not be goal and vision of all Canadians with respect to our Indigenous population? Why do our elites want to keep and extend the demonstrably-failing, “separate but equal,” apartheid-like status quo? Why not have complete legal equality for all?

Best makes a strong case for Canada to not just “talk” of Nelson Mandela but emulate him.

There Is No Difference makes the compelling argument that the ill-conceived and harmfully-interpreted section 35 of the Constitution, which protects “existing Aboriginal rights,” needs to be legally curtailed. This would take back the Crown sovereignty that the Supreme Court, with its “consult and accommodate” rulings, has recklessly devolved onto Indian bands. (Witness the economic carnage of the failed pipelines resulting from these rulings.)

Best argues that, with this legal change in place, the reserves, the Indian Act, and other purely race-based special rights and entitlements of Canada’s Indigenous population, could be phased out as proposed in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy.

As Best writes, Nelson Mandela was not the only inspired and courageous leader who saw clearly and advocated strongly that all citizens of a nation must have exactly the same set of civic rights and responsibilities (if that country and its citizenry are to be successful). Think of Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and of Western Canada’s pioneer moral hero in this area, Indigenous lawyer and AFN co-founder William Wuttunee. In his brave 1971 book, Ruffled Feathers, Wuttunee advocated for the White Paper/Nelson Mandela way forward.

In apartheid South Africa citizens carried status cards denoting their race. Their rights, or lack thereof, flowed accordingly. Mandela campaigned for many decades, and from inside his jail cell, against these loathsome symbols of overt racism. The world responded, and recognized the moral truth of what he was saying. Status cards, and the entire rotten regime they represented, came tumbling down. Canada’s political leaders, including AFN leader Shawn Atleo, all seemingly honouring what he stood for, travelled to his funeral.

Yet these same leaders, back in Canada, continued to insist (even more so today) that Indian Act status cards, which serve the essentially same illiberal function as the South African ones did, remain! And our Supreme Court, in the recent Daniels case, piled on with more unintentionally racist “Indian blood” reasoning, adding 600,000 “Metis” as new candidates for purely race-based, dependency-assuring cards.

Best argues that instead of binding us together, our elites, with all this race-based conduct, are dividing us — creating resentment and preventing true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. With our current laws, the situation in Canada is getting worse, not better.

In There Is No Difference, Best provides the only true way forward for Canada to reconcile — a future of one set of laws for all.

— Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge for the Province on Manitoba, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Winnipeg.


3. Sudbury Star article, November 7th, 2018

Sudbury author wades into controversial territory

Peter Best has released There is No Difference, the book which he recently published, and which is available via his website, www.thereisnodifference.ca.

He 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. Practicing 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.
sud.editorial@sunmedia.ca


4. Article by retired Manitoba Judge Brian Giesbrecht- On the Canadian connection to the establishment in South Africa of their official, extreme policy of Apartheid- further emphasizing the fundamental shame of the continued existence of Indian reserves in Canada, and the fundamental shame of the official policy of non-Indigenous and Indigenous elites in Canada that Indian reserves, in one form or another, should continue to exist in Canada. If South Africa could learn from Canada how to set up apartheid, why can’t Canada learn from South Africa and its most esteemed son, Nelson Mandela, how to take down apartheid?

Nelson Mandela and Apartheid
Brian Giesbrecht
June 4,2018

Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights is commemorating Nelson Mandela’s long struggle against the white South African apartheid regime. Mr. Mandela, who died in 2013 at age 95, was imprisoned for 27 years because of his defiance of the regime, and his determination to end apartheid.
That apartheid regime divided people into racial categories, and issued citizens of each category with racial identity cards – in effect, they were status cards. One was either “white, black or coloured”. Each category were entitled to different legal rights, with people in the “white” category having the superior entitlements.
This system was similar to the United States’ “separate but equal” system, with which it co-existed for a number of years. In both systems, for example, blacks could not drink from the same water fountain as could whites. The South African apartheid system also bears many similarities to Canada’s Indigenous apartheid system. Both used status cards that classified people by race, and both granted people of one race entitlements not given to others.
The American “separate but equal” system was finally brought to an end, only after ugly racial confrontations. The South African apartheid system also ended in a similar way, and only after heavy pressure was brought to bear by the international community-which included Canada.
The Canadian Indigenous apartheid system is still here, and shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
Canadians were among the most vocal opponents of the South African apartheid system. What is not so well known is that the South African apartheid system was based, in large part, on the Canadian Indigenous apartheid system.
Let me explain:
In the 1940s, when white South African politicians were designing a system that would keep people of different races separate, they came to Canada to study our system, with its Indian Act, status cards, and its reserve system. They went back to South Africa and created a system that modelled its “homelands” largely on our reserves, and its status cards largely on the cards Canada hands out to “status Indians”.
The irony of Canadians passionately denouncing South Africa’s apartheid system, while not noticing that we had an apartheid system of our own, was not lost to either South African politicians, or Canadian Indigenous politicians. In fact, during the height of the demonstrations against the South African regime in 1987, Glenn Babb, the South African Foreign Minister, and Peguis Chief Louis Stevenson teamed up to stage a press conference pointing out this hypocrisy. But Canadians didn’t get it.
And by the way, the fact that Canada’s system was – and is – an apartheid system has been very apparent to Indigenous leaders for a long time. For example, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has stated that when he was Minister of Indian Affairs in the 1960s the chiefs demanded an end to what they themselves called an “apartheid” system.
Why did apartheid end in South Africa, while we still have it here?
In a word: money.
If the South African politicians could have used money to bribe people into keeping their status cards, I have no doubt that thy would have done it, and South African apartheid might still be here. However, blacks were the majority there, and the country simply could not afford it. In Canada, where on reserve status Indians make up less than 2% of the Canadian population, status cards carry significant financial benefits, which people do not want to part with. Those status cards – based on race alone – would have been run out of town long ago, were it not for the seductive power of the “free” money they promise.
So status cards and apartheid stay.
Nelson Mandela, along with other great people, such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi, stand for the fundamentally important point that we are all equal.
Let us remember that when we visit this important exhibit.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and senior fellow with Frontier Center for Public Policy, Winnipeg.


5. National Post journalist Barbara Kay’s September 11, 2018 article, The Villain in the Trans Mountain Fiasco-and Other Fiascos Since 2004-is the Supreme Court of Canada, which discusses and endorses my view in There Is No Difference that the diminution of sole Crown sovereignty caused by Supreme Court decisions is extremely harmful to the national welfare.

The Villain in the Trans Mountain Fiasco – and Other Fiascos since 2004 – is the Supreme Court of Canada

The Trudeau government was clearly taken by surprise at the Federal Court’s nullifying of their approval of the 1,150-km Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Trudeau government was clearly taken by surprise at the Federal Court’s nullifying of their approval of the 1,150-km Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Otherwise they would not have signed a deal with Kinder Morgan that explicitly stated any adverse court decisions would not be deemed to constitute a “material adverse effect” that could change the deal’s terms.

No wonder Kinder Morgan shareholders voted virtually unanimously to wash their hands of the project at the speed of summer lightning following the court’s announcement. Now the government is stuck with a project that won’t be going anywhere for some time, if ever.

Central to the objections raised by the court was the failure adequately to consult six First Nations. There are many opinions on what to do next. Some argue for taking the Federal Court decision to the Supreme Court for a ruling. But it was the Supreme Court that got us into this mess in the first place, by introducing the concept of the “honour of the Crown” regarding First Nations in 2004.

In Haida Nation vs. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), the SCC ruled that the B.C. Minister of Forestry could not approve the transfer of a 40-year old Tree Farm License (which prior to this ruling had been done many times) without first consulting with the “Council of the Haida Nation” and, “if appropriate,” accommodating their concerns. “Accommodate” and “if appropriate” are imprecise words which the SCC did not clarify.

Further muddying the waters, the SCC said in their ruling that in consulting and accommodating Indian concerns, honourable Crown conduct “must be understood generously.” What does “generously” mean precisely? (Nobody knows. But Indian bands have tended to use it as a cudgel of economic coercion since then.) The SCC explains the Crown’s generosity is required “if we are to achieve the reconciliation of the pre-existence of aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown.” Whose meaning is also wide open to interpretation.

In his newly published book, There is no Difference: An Argument for the Abolition of the Indian Reserve System, lawyer Peter Best devotes a chapter to unpacking the consequences of Haida Nation. It makes for fascinating reading.

Before this decision, Best says, it was understood “that aboriginal claims and rights over the land were more than ‘reconciled.’ In fact, Canadians, Indians and non-Indians alike, thought they were, especially in treaty areas, extinguished, plain and simple,” apart from the right to hunt, fish and trap on unoccupied wilderness Crown land, and even then with Crown sovereignty. Haida Nation – and cases decided since then – reversed the meaning of the treaties.

The SCC read in an intent “merely to ‘reconcile’ Indians’ prior sovereign occupancy of the land with the new sovereignty of the Crown.” That is, they were “instruments of power and land-sharing, not instruments of rights extinguishment.”

So it seems we are now in a never-ending power-sharing arrangement, “requiring the constant, expensive, uncertain fine-tuning and adjustment from time to never-ending time of the granted Crown rights with the retained sovereign Indian rights.” This new jurisprudence, Best says, decrees a devolution of Crown sovereignty to Indians – a handing back of previously surrendered power, effectively turning Indian bands into a third order of government.

The key words, “to consult and where appropriate, accommodate the Aboriginal interests…” give Indian bands across the country power over all kinds of economic development – mines, forestry, wind power installations, roads, and of course pipelines.

Following Haida Nation, any band that asserts a proposed off-reserve project affects an Indian interest, actual or projected, the “consultation and accommodation if necessary” process is automatically launched. No evidence has to be produced, no threshold of importance to be met. (“Sacred ground” is always effective – and what ground is not sacred to aboriginals who live on it?).

In most negotiations with conflicting interests, each party has a motive to see the deal done. But “consultation” is not negotiation, and aboriginals often have no particular reason to settle. Best notes that during consultations, there’s a great deal of travel, expense account living, important meetings and pleasant busywork, with most politicians lacking the courage to utter the words “not appropriate” with regard to further “consultation.”

There is also no incentive for aboriginals to settle for anything less than exactly what they want. The Lax Kw’alaams of B.C. turned down a billion dollars in exchange for their support of an industrial project. There was no downside for them. They had the power and knew it. No matter how long they held out, their transfer payments flowed in as usual, and they took no economic risks if the project failed. If one side has nothing to lose and the other side has everything to lose, Best says, “you  don’t have negotiations – you have a shakedown.”

I asked Peter Best how he felt this untenable situation might be resolved. He wrote to me, “Simply put, either the Constitution has to be amended to repeal section 35 or to drastically limit its application, or else, as a more doable alternative, the Supreme Court has to in effect reverse itself on Haida Nation and all its country-damaging legal successors.

“Courts do sometimes reverse themselves when they realize they committed a massive boo boo, like here. But the Trudeau government, in its appeal of the Trans Mountain decision ( which they must do) has to in effect ask the Court to do so.”

I don’t think Best actually believes either of these scenarios will come to pass. Trudeau will always privilege his aboriginal-whispering mystique over the interest of all Canadians. And so, what happened to Kinder Morgan – and has happened to other companies since Haida Nation – will eventually kill all private interest in major infrastructure and mining projects. Aboriginal correctness will slow down our economy. But that won’t affect the salaries of the Supreme Court judges.


6. Essay- The Untold Story of Indigenous Child Neglect and Alcohol Abuse- The Firewater Complex- by Brian Giesbrecht


In chapter 40 of There Is No Difference for various reasons I  criticize the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But manuscript length considerations, a need and desire on my part not to bury the reader in excessive specifics, and a simple lack of detailed knowledge of “(indigenous) parental neglect stemming from alcohol abuse”, caused me to greatly underplay this profound reality- a reality essential for any proper understanding and discussion of the entire residential schools issue- a tragic reality, as retired Manitoba Judge Brian Giesbrecht in empathic and scholarly manner writes below, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission either deliberately or grossly negligently omitted to discuss or consider. As set out in chapter 13, the End Times of Indian Cultures in Canada, alcohol was an aspect of the cultural “wreckage”- the “cultural catastrophe”- which mournfully, lamentably but almost inevitably (the same “worlds colliding” phenomenon was happening the world over at the time)  befell Canada’s indigenous peoples as the result of contact with “modern” European culture. Reader, please patiently work your way through Brian Giesbrecht’s eye-opening and heartbreaking narrative of alcohol-caused tragedy and woe, and then let it inform your judgment and imagination. Let it filter into, and then temper, all the simplistic notions you have been force-fed about such things as “the murdered and missing women”, and the so-called “60’s scoop”, and yes, about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s horror comics version of the residential schools issue.

The Untold Story of Indigenous Child Neglect and Alcohol Abuse – The Firewater Complex

Brian Giesbrecht, Brandon Manitoba, December 2018

7. In March of 2020 one of the Globe & Mail favorite “go to” urban  Indigenous cultural commentators, Drew Hayden Taylor, author of the recent play “Cottagers and Indians”, (his title), wrote an opinion piece in which he suggested that only an Indigenous person could properly review and criticize a play written by an Indigenous playwright. Below is my unpublished March 16th letter to the Globe taking issue with this.

Dear Editor,

Mr. Taylor unknowingly illustrates the essence of racist theory with his suggestion that only an Indigenous person has the “innate personality” given on the basis of so-called “Indigenous blood” at birth, and not acquired by merit, to properly review an Indigenous play. He also strikes a blow against artistic freedom and the basic reality of artistic humanism i.e. that we all have the power to imagine our way into others’ lives- to imaginatively and convincingly inhabit the mind and mindset of persons of different races and cultures, as Joseph Boyden did in The Orenda, as William Styron did in the Confessions of Nat Turner, as Annie Proulx (white and female) did in relation to male and female Mi’kmaws in Barkskins, as George Eliot did in all her books, successfully passing herself off as a man, as the gay Cole Porter did in composing his classic songs about heterosexual love, and as the Jewish Irving Berlin did in composing the ultimate Christian Christmas song, White Christmas. Mr. Hayden’s views are a prescription for artistic narrowness, dullness and mediocrity.

Sincerely,

Peter Best

Sudbury

8. See my unpublished letter to the National Post sent March 13th, 2020 stating that a totally sovereign government is necessary to properly deal with national emergencies like the Coronavirus. Canada’s current  existential crisis in this regard highlights the danger and absurdity of Indigenous “nation to nation” and “self-government” claims. We all need to be rowing in the same legal boat together, for the welfare of our country.

Dear Editor

 Re Chris Selley column-This is no way to run a country

Writer Elena Ferrante wrote that” in wealthy countries a mediocrity that hides the horrors of the rest of the world has prevailed.” This has manifested itself in “sunny days” Canada by our elites embracing the destructive notion that there can be 635 sovereign First Nations substates operating within the borders of Canada, who can, at their discretion, say that Canadian law doesn’t apply to them. Well now, one of the horrors of the world- pandemic-is upon us.

Will the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs ban or blockade the Coronavirus from their “traditional territory”? Can they legally ignore government health decrees? Given their past delusional claim that they are a separate “nation”, given weight by our Supreme Court and our governments, they just might, and maybe they legally can, thus further endangering us all. The present pandemic shows the grave harm caused to Canada when Crown sovereignty is weakened to the extent that our governments cannot, in an existential, survival emergency like this, legally act in a concerted, compulsory manner on behalf of all Canadians, regardless of race. We need to jettison abstract things- like legal divisions based on race- that impair our collective ability to take maximum survival-purposed action in national emergencies. To keep our threatened national ship buoyantly and safely moving forwards, we’ve always all got to row together as total equals-Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. The Coronavirus crisis teaches us this.

Sincerely,

Peter Best

9. Click immediately below to read a wonderful, definitive, unanswerable defence of Canada’s first Prime Minister, on balance, given his times, a friend to the Indigenous peoples so tragically affected by European migration to Canada .By Toronto lawyer Greg Piasetzki. (Proving once again that a practising lawyer can make legitimate and valuable contributions to Canadian historical awareness and political debate!)

Sir John A. Macdonald Saved More Native Lives Than Any Other Prime Minister

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10.

The Unintentional Racism Underlying the Aboriginal Rights Movement– Peter Best- December 5th, 2020

11.

https://c2cjournal.ca/2020/09/thirteen-things-that-cant-be-said-about-aboriginal-law-and-policy-in-canada/

12. One Nation, One People, by former Manitoba Attorney General James McRae

13.

In December of 2021 Mount Royal University, of Calgary Alberta, fired Associate Professor Frances Widdowson. (She is grieving her dismissal.) This was an Orwellian crime against reason, high standards, the pursuit of truth, free speech and free and open intellectual enquiry. It shows how low standards have descended in our liberal arts universities, as they insist on dogma and orthodoxy over truth, and purge anyone with the courage to resist this.

14.

Canada’s Indigenous Policies Constitute a Harmful Retreat from Liberalism by our Country’s Elite Classes

Since the late 1960’s Canada’s political, academic and media elites, in all matters relating to the position of Indigenous Canadians within the Canadian polity, have been engaged in a steady retreat from the principles of liberalism which, up to that time, had formed the ideological basis for Canada becoming one of the most justly admired countries in the world.

Much damage to the country and much division and demoralization of the Canadian people has been caused by this retreat.

Canadians now find themselves confusedly living in a society that is illiberal in many material respects- a society alien to their instincts and beliefs- driven and managed by our dogmatic, out-of-touch and unresponsive elite classes. History has noted the occurrence of this phenomenon- a phenomenon usually associated with national decline- in other countries and in other times under such appellations as “the revolt of the elites” and “trahison des clercs.”

For the sake of all Canadians, especially Indigenous Canadians, a correction- a return by our elite classes to the liberal values and sensibilities that constitute the heart of what it has always meant to be Canadian- is desperately needed.

It’s hard to define “liberalism”, a part of 18th and 19th century Enlightenment philosophy, because every Western country has had its own different experience of it.

The Canadian version, since the early 1800’s, has been characterized by nonviolent, incremental, ameliorative, social and institutional changes, the product of free and open debate in advance, all of which have tended to reduce (but never intended to completely eliminate- that kind of utopian thinking is anathema to liberalism) social, economic and political distances between citizens- to make Canadians more equal.

These changes were brought about in an atmosphere of toleration of- even sympathy for- human needs and frailty, and human differences, and, as stated, from a policy of free and open speech, debate, and enquiry.

Except for Indigenous Canadians, these changes, in addition to being ameliorative, were based on the principles of equality under the law- egalitarianism- and the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of man- universalism.

Universal suffrage, including the vote for women, trade unionism, government-provided pensions and health care, legal equality between the sexes, and gay rights, including their right to marry, are only a few of the ameliorative changes brought about through the adherence to these liberal values and mechanisms.[1]

The leaders of Canada through our long, progressive period of Canadian nation-building- the men and women who shepherded the development of our country into the prosperous and progressive model of nations that by the 1960’s it had become, constituted a necessarily literate, high-quality elite class of persons, (all nation-states must have a hierarchy, at the top of which are the elite classes), the quality of which could be characterized as follows:

“An (elite class) which was not only capable and enlightened, like most successful (elite classes), but which possessed the peculiar attribute of being deep-rooted in popular sympathies and of drawing its life blood from the popular will.”[2]

Winston Churchill made the same point of successful elite classes always remaining supportive of and in sympathy with the values and sensibilities of citizenry below them in the hierarchy- popularly (but inaccurately) referred to as the “common people”. While naturally tending to their own basic interests, (such is life and human nature), successful elite classes always keep that self-interest in check to the extent of keeping faith with the basic interests and aspirations of all levels of the citizenry and with the basic tenets of the civilization of which they have the privilege of being stewards. They responsibly subordinate their self-interest, as a steward -or trustee- would, to the “settled customs of the people” [3]and to their general will as expressed in the long-standing laws, customs and traditions of the country, at least to the degree necessary to preserve the basics of that very society which permitted them to personally so flourish.

Successful elite classes in a liberal society are guided by the profound and often unspoken and/or just assumed reality that:

The liberal-democratic-capitalist matrix we all inhabit depends for its livability and sustainability and decency upon pre-liberal forces and habits, unchosen obligations and allegiances: the communities of tribe and family, the moralism and metaphysical horizons of religion, the aristocracy of philosophy and art.[4]

William A. Henry[5]neatly summarizes the essential characteristics of liberalism as follows:

Respect and even deference towards leadership and position; esteem for accomplishment, especially when achieved through long labour and rigorous education; reverence for heritage, particularly in history, philosophy, and culture; commitment to rationalism and scientific investigation; upholding of objective standards; most important, the willingness to assert unyieldingly that one idea, contribution or attainment is better than another.

If a liberal country or society were to be compared to a tree, successful elite classes carefully remove its dead branches and keep its live branches pruned, while always preserving its tap roots.

On-reserve Indigenous society is not liberal. There are no private property rights there. The Canadian Charter of Rights, at the insistence of Indigenous elites, does not apply on Indian reserves. Indigenous Canadians do not live in a liberal state of being with the rest of Canadians. This has always violated Canadians’ general instincts and will towards egalitarianism and universalism, and shamefully, continues to do so. The historical reasons for this are well known and do not bear repeating.

The last serious attempt by our elite classes to properly ameliorate this civically illiberal Indigenous situation- the last burst of admirable liberal thought and planning in this profound area of Canada’s civic life- was Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 White Paper, which recommended the repeal of the benignly racist Indian Act, the abolition of segregationist Indian reserves, and generally, the integration of Indigenous Canadians into the Canadian mainstream as legal equals. This was fought by frightened, self-interested, dependency-addicted, and illiberal Indigenous elites, and the Trudeau government, losing their confidence and their nerve, and to the incalculable, tragic harm caused to generations of Indigenous Canadians since, backed down.

Even more tragically, and shockingly, our elite classes have, since then, in all legislative, judicial, policy, cultural and academic aspects relating to Indigenous Canadians, retreated from liberalism to the extent that they are now- and in the process making unprecedented hacks against the liberal tap roots of the country and against the settled customs and general will of ordinary Canadians- actively supporting Indigenous elites’ primitive overidentification with their racial group,[6], actively supporting a new and even more illiberal iteration of the reserve system: i.e. the even more segregationist  “nation to nation” fantasy,[7]and actively attacking or at least marginalizing anyone who speaks or writes against this.

Crown sovereignty is the ultimate embodiment of the hierarchy principle- a fundamental aspect of liberalism. It is the basis and backstop of the rule of law- (the bedrock liberal principle employed against authoritarianism and social chaos)- the regulation of our economy, the preservation of our individual freedoms, and of our liberal order generally. It is now under active attack, with our elite classes acquiescing in and even actively enabling these attacks.

The now fashionable but totally irrational idea that each of Canada’s many hundreds of Indian reserves is or can be a separate and independent nation within but somehow apart from the nation of Canada, (but financed entirely by Canadians), has now taken hold amongst our elite classes. This foolish idea presumes that some Canadian laws would not be applicable to or enforceable within or against self-described “citizens” of these “nations.”

In The Social Conquest of Earth [8] the late Professor Edward O. Wilson describes the State – the most sophisticated and complex system of human organization – as “the final step in the cultural evolution of societies,” with bands, tribes, village societies and chiefdoms being earlier, precursor, less complex, forms of social organizations.

A key feature of any successful state is, as stated above, a clear system of hierarchical control- “the ordering principle of domestic politics,” [9]with clear and undisputed control exercised at the top of the hierarchy. Professor Wilson writes:

As with complexity of any physical or biological system, the society, in order to achieve stability and survive and not quickly crumble, must add hierarchical control…hierarchies work better than unorganized assemblages (in) that they are easier for their rulers to understand and manage. Put another way, you cannot expect success if assembly-line workers vote at executive conferences or enlisted men plan military campaigns.

The hasty and poorly thought-out enactment of section 35 of the Constitution Act in 1982 [10], followed by the past-renouncing, radical and revolutionary interpretation of it in subsequent decades by the Supreme Court of Canada has destroyed the traditional political hierarchy that worked so well for Canada during its first 150 years of existence. These radical and revolutionary (two words whose meanings are inconsistent with the incremental nature of liberalism), changes, in relation to which the Canadian people were never consulted, have resulted in there now being three founts of constitutional sovereignty in the country; the original two, being the federal government and the provinces, and now a third: the “Aboriginal peoples” referred to in section 35.

Aboriginal peoples should have no partno veto-like rights– in the exercise of Canada’s sovereign rights to make its own laws, other than the rights in relation thereto, such as they are, possessed by all other citizens of the country. The Canadian people know this. They appear to know what our elite classes appear to no longer know: i.e., the buck has to stop somewhere for our Canadian State to work properly. That somewhere must only be the federal and provincial Crowns.

With all tiny Indian bands situated within a long day’s drive of any resource project proposed to take place in any part of rural or wilderness Canada now having to be “consulted and accommodated” before it can go forward we now have unqualified, self-seeking Indian bands having to consent, for a price, to such resource projects proceeding- the equivalent of Professor Wilson’s assembly-line workers having a de facto veto in executive board rooms and of his enlisted men having to sign off on military campaigns planned by their superiors.

Not only is Crown sovereignty being dangerously impaired by this, but the rule of law, which is totally dependent on total Crown sovereignty, is impaired and eroded as well. As the result of unreasonable and unprecedented judicial and police leniency, Indigenous persons, on the flimsiest pretexts, often in defiance of court orders, illegally occupy private property, burn churches, deface and tear down statues, engage in other acts of vandalism, and blockade roads and rail lines. Arrests are rarely made. The interests of the law-abiding victims are invariably sacrificed in favour of the essentially incoherent, nihilistic interests of the Indigenous lawbreakers. The public despairs at this new illiberal reality. They look in vain to our elite classes for redress. Our increasingly incapable and unenlightened elite classes, oblivious to the liberal maxim that a society cannot have liberty without order, in reaction to all this, either endorse it or explain it away. Social trust, the glue that holds civil society together, is seriously frayed.

It’s as if our “best and brightest” no longer understand or believe in the value of a strong state or in what they represent -as if “they have wearied of the demands our traditions make of us.” [11]  It’s as if they don’t believe in the value of a strong, sovereign, and unified province or country, where everyone is equal under the law, with the Crown representing and embodying that unity and strength, and best able to preserve and advance the general welfare.

It’s as if our elite classes don’t believe with any passion in the core Western value that the rule of law must be maintained and upheld above all- that without the rule of law, as people have known and written about for centuries, and which, as stated, depends on a strong state, there is physical and moral danger, and ultimate diminishment of freedom. They act oblivious to the truth that “liberal ideals cannot survive without power, and that power requires careful upkeep.”[12]

In this regard our elites are at odds with the vast majority of ordinary Canadians who, in this increasingly complex, uncertain, technology-based world, where the problems inherent in it have to be regulated and dealt with by strong central powers, and where Canadians are becoming increasingly vulnerable to all kinds of negative, global forces, fear and disagree with the handing back of state power to small, decentralized, scattered, undisciplined, poorly governed, self-seeking, technically illiterate, Indian bands.  They fear the weakening of the state’s powers to try to ameliorate the negative effects of these powerful, destabilizing, global forces. They fear the attack on our tax and revenue bases that all this represents. They sense that the weakening of the state means the weakening of legal order, which heralds social chaos. They fear the increasing two-tier nature of our law enforcement and justice systems, and rightfully fear the weakening of the state’s power generally.

Ordinary Canadians sense what our elite classes don’t, that is, that we are going socially, culturally, economically, and politically backwards, and that this illiberal weakening of Crown sovereignty can only accelerate these negative trends.

We see in America what happens when elites breach their stewardship and trust duties and lose their discipline- cease acting like the First Men and First Women of their society-fail to fulfill their responsible “sober second thought” function in a liberal democracy-fail to defend and maintain hierarchy and high standards- fail to defend society’s basic norms, values and institutions-fail to check the marketplace- fail to defend the institutions and  rule of law- fail to defend the polity against threats to reason, restraint and civility-fail to defend democracy against its own inevitable excesses: Donald Trump![13]

Similar features of this American retreat from liberalism are happening in Canada, but instead of emanating from the “right”, as in America, they are mainly emanating from the so-called “progressive left.”

The jurisprudence devolving constitutional sovereignty to Aboriginal peoples, and our elite classes endorsement and even support for the extension of it, and our  political, bureaucratic and police elites’ weak and confused- and at crucial times, frozen – response to it, represents a full frontal assault by our elite classes in against the system of state-maintaining hierarchy which Professor Wilson suggests must be present for a democracy to function properly- against what MacDonald Laurier Institute writer Brian Lee Crowley describes as Canada’s real wealth -our “endowment of rules, institutions and behaviors”[14]  that make up the civilization we inherited from our ancestors – an illiberal and destabilizing assault on the century-old “settled customs” and “pre-liberal values” (i.e. “old-fashioned” values!) of the Canadian people, and to their will as expressed in our laws, history and practices.

These attributes of civilization applicable here – these settled customs and values – near-absolute Crown sovereignty subject only to a competing set of individual rights, property rights and the rule of law, should be inviolable. 16

To exalt group rights based on race- to diminish Crown sovereignty – the fount and guardian of our democracy, our property rights and of the rule of law – the latter themselves the basis of a superior economic system which has provided so well for us- is to illiberally attack and diminish our democracy- our very civilization itself.

Ordinary Canadians know or at least sense that. Unfortunately, our increasingly ahistorical and irresponsible elite classes, which are not morally entitled to such obliviousness- which have a patriotic duty to raise their game in this regard and keep it high – our increasingly post-liberal (and seemingly post-literate) elite classes – seem not to know that anymore.

The print media is completely failing in its traditional fourth estate role to act as a check against the illiberal excesses of governments, the courts, academia, and even of itself, having completely aligned itself with all the illiberality described above. Journalists no longer ask tough questions or demand evidence for the many aggressive and accusatory assertions made by their grievance-oriented, pampered and culturally favored interviewees. Editors freely allow the publication of similar, evidence-free statements and opinions of their “BIPOC”-oriented columnists. There’s never a hint of fact-checking. No “other side’s” view is ever sought, as if there is no other side. All context, nuance and critical thinking, on the crucial, even existential, Canadian public policy issues referred to herein has disappeared.

 “Canada’s National Broadcaster”, the CBC, mirrors the print media. Its mandate was originally to unite Canadians, but it now devotes a large part of its content to widening further the already wide racial divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. It engages in mere verbalization of mainly emotional content. It openly supports the existence and even expansion of the illiberal, “separate but equal” reserve system, (now being enthusiastically proposed for an upgrade to the “nation to nation” system). No voice is given to reasoned and respectful dissenters and contrarians, all of whom, if acknowledged at all, are dismissed as ignorant racists.

Again, in most cases those reasoned and respectful dissenters and contrarians reflect the liberal “settled customs” and “general will” of deeply concerned and patriotic Canadian citizens who are trying, increasingly unsuccessfully, to participate in democracy by getting their ideas into the public square. Notwithstanding this, our media elites, having lost all “sympathy” with those liberal customs and that general will, dismissively, dangerously and illiberally cut themselves off from these important Canadian voices- voices which reflect and would remind our elite classes of caring and relevant Canadian views and sentiments.

Canadian academia reflects the Canadian media. It has become an enemy of free speech. It is now wedded to and bound by the “nation to nation” fantasy orthodoxy, and any departure from it is grounds for accusations of “white privileged” racism and loss of career. [15]The fact that for the first one hundred years of Canada’s history no part of this orthodoxy was ever a subject of academic study or debate– was never even thought of by anyone, academic or not! – and was only invented in the last few decades of obviously lower intellectual standards, does not deter our new “revisionist” academics from  dismissing outright that entire century-long intellectual history and tradition as, with usually no reasons given, (critical reasoning itself now being regarded as no longer needed), “outdated.” Respect and regard for rigorous scholarship, history and tradition, as stated, is an integral aspect of liberalism, and this fundamental rejection of, or in any event this almost cowardly failure to grapple with, Canada’s intellectual past, shows how shallow, lazy, dogmatic and illiberal academia has become.

A university or college should be a place devoted to fostering critical thought, “the pre-emptive vaccine or antidote to all the destructive “isms” of the world”,[16]instead of the lazy channeling of decidedly lightweight, uncritical, close-minded, inward-looking orthodoxy- instead of constraining academic and intellectual inquiry by “ideologically inspired authoritarianism”.[17]It should be devoted to providing an experience of intellectual emancipation and growth, where old, parochial, racially or culturally specific, self-limiting, mental chains are broken.

But alas:

“The book of the world is being closed by the “learned”, who are raising walls of opinion to shut the world out.” [18]

 Our new elite classes are invariably highly motivated, educated, (but seemingly not so well anymore! [19]) and sophisticated people, which makes their unsurpassable folly and wrong-headedness hard to understand.

 Why do ordinary Canadians sense what these people don’t? Why are ordinary Canadians the only ones who seem to believe, as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi believed, that all citizens of a country should be equal under that country’s laws? Why don’t our elite classes in Canada possess that most fundamental belief and aspiration for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples?

Part of the answer is that serious thinkers have long noted the tendency on the part of such people to, in times of cultural stress, uncertainty and even decline, “in their bubble”, act in such an innocently stupid manner. Robert Conquest writes in Reflections on a Ravaged Century[20]:

 “For it is surely true, if not generally recognized, that real prowess in wrong-headedness, as in most other fields of human endeavor, presupposes considerable education, character, sophistication, knowledge, and will to succeed. …It was basically common sense that kept the mass of people in Britain and America less liable than the intelligentsia to delusion about the Stalinists. As Orwell said, they were at once too sane and too stupid to accept the sophistical in place of the obvious…the explicit habits of mind of the public are often more sensible than the prescriptions elaborated in the minds of the intelligentsia

Our Indigenous and non-Indigenous elites have illiberally eschewed the explicit, and mainly liberal, habits of mind of ordinary Canadians. For them:

…the divergence between facts…and the premises, theories and hypotheses according to which decisions were finally made is total…The internal world of government, with its bureaucracy on the one hand, its social life on the other, made self-deception relatively easy. No Ivory Tower of the scholars has ever better prepared the mind for ignoring the facts of life.

As with the oft-cited, “journey of deconstructing colonialism”, and as with the irrational- even magical- concepts of Indigenous Law, Indigenous Science, “traditional knowledge”, “Knowledge Keepers” (who will never share their knowledge), Indigenous “Ways of Knowing”, (also never explained), “Settlers”, “the Land”, “reconciliation”, “nation to nation” relationships, and all the other similar, largely thought-killing phrases and abstractions now being enthusiastically embraced and touted by our elite classes, as if they were objectively real:

…(their) rigorous methods of defactualization…dealing with hypotheses and mere “theories” as though they were established facts…the inability or unwillingness to consult experience and to learn from reality…because disregard of reality was inherent in the policies and goals themselves. [21]

Perhaps our elites-aged baby boomers still in the game, and now, (somewhat disconcertingly to this aged baby boomer writer), the “best and brightest” of the generation following us- all persons who, in the main, have never experienced the kind of real poverty, gut fear for physical security, political fanaticism and war that their depression–era parents and grandparents experienced- think that the “nice” way it now is always was  that way and always will be- people reflected in the words of the brilliant,19th century novelist George Elliot:

And the present time was like the level plain where men lose their belief in volcanoes and earthquakes, thinking tomorrow will be as yesterday, and the giant forces that used to shake the earth are forever laid to sleep. [22]

The post- World War Two incredibly wealthy and secure “comparatively dull decades” – a “trivial time that delights in prosperous escapism[23] which can quite reasonably be regarded as an unprecedented, fluky, historical “one-off”- seem to have caused our elite classes to become more shallow- to no longer understand that a deep sense and knowledge of literature and history is a liberal prerequisite to being competent and responsible leaders of society, and to have lulled them into “the fake sense of security common to people who have lost their sense of the tragic. And the sense of the tragic (a product of the knowledge of history) must always be cultivated in order to avoid tragedy.” [24]

One needs to know reality before one can cross its boundaries into idealism.[25]

Part of this lulled-into false sense of security is that they just unthinkingly assume, (again, to a large degree because of literary and historical illiteracy), that some of the fundamental things about our Canadian civilization that we take for granted – our physical infrastructure and our laws and systems of general physical and economic security and well-being – the creation of which would not have been possible except under the aegis of a strong, healthy, hierarchical and active regulatory state supported by the strongest and widest revenue base possible – always existed and somehow always will.

They don’t seem to “get” or appreciate that these things – and our modern social welfare state itself, “whose merits are confirmed by the solid test of long experience, and an increasing public strength and national prosperity”[26] are actually very recent, unusual and delicate things – the result of hundreds of years of “Eurocentric” Enlightenment thinking and often just plain lucky, state-building events, personalities and circumstances – and that unless they are constantly and consciously defended and nurtured, which our elites- acting with such illiberal shallowness – are plainly failing to do at this time, they can easily be lost.

A frivolous society can acquire dramatic significance only through what its frivolity destroys. [27]

Novelist David Mitchell:

Our civilized world is not made of stone, it’s made of sand, and one bad storm is all it will take.[28]

We pity and decry “failed states,” characterized by weak government authority, yet that is the direction towards which our elite classes are permitting section 35 and its radical and revolutionary juridical interpretations to push Canada. One recent radical Supreme Court of Canada decision even went so far in the judicial-swooning-over-Indigenous-rights department as to grant Canadian constitutional Indigenous rights to American Indians with no present connection to Canada! [29]

In the final analysis, it is only the state, represented in Canada by our Crowns, that can protect the rights and integrity of the individual -that can protect our environment – that can be the foundation and best promoter and regulator of our economy [30]– that can best act as a counterbalance to multi-national corporations – that can protect our vulnerable citizenry, personal and corporate – that can best protect the national welfare generally!

Canada itself might not even exist today if the present state of the law which are elite classes are now cheering on had been the law in the early decades of our national existence!  Nothing could have gotten built! – no railways, highways, dams, airports – nothing.  Everything would have gotten bogged down in go-nowhere consult and accommodate and Aboriginal title-nation to nation disputes!

It was strong, sovereign governments that rescued capitalism after the Great Depression of 1929. It was to governments that people turned in 2008 to be rescued from the financial collapses that the wretched excesses of immense private wealth and global, transnational capitalism had wrought. It’s to governments that people are turning to in the midst of the Covid pandemic. It’s to governments that people always turn in times of ultimate need.

Even Indian band elites now, as they carry on about Indian bands being “sovereign nations,” keep their hands outstretched to our governments for help- as we are seeing in the midst of the Covid pandemic- and more Canadian taxpayer money or financial guarantees to fund or secure their so-called “sovereign” undertakings.

The worst, anti “big government,” right wing crackpots in America blame “Washington” for not solving America’s economic problems, an implicit admission by them that, notwithstanding what they otherwise profess, bottom line, they expect their state to solve these problems!

We, as a society, cannot lose sight of the need for strong, well-funded, totally sovereign, central governments, as our higher courts and a disturbingly large segment of our elite classes seem to have done, judging by their weak and incoherent responses to the emasculation of Crown sovereignty, the divisive and illiberal “nation to nation” movement and by their attacks against or marginalization of anyone who criticizes this harmful state of affairs.

We can no longer permit our shallow, transient, ahistorical politicians to debase and fritter away the concept and reality of necessary Crown sovereignty by pretending that small Indian bands dealing with them are politically and constitutionally co-equal “governments” treating on an equal basis with the legitimate, duly elected governments of Canada.

In this new and uncertain world, where a strong and benevolent state can be our only “friend” with sufficient size and resources to meaningfully help us cope, it’s unnerving and dispiriting to see “private and sectional interests trump public goals and obscure the public good” [31] -to watch any part of our state be diminished and, not only that, seemingly act so willingly as a co-enabler in its own diminishment.

Canadians desperately need our elite classes to come back into the fold and once against assume their traditional roles of competent and responsible stewards and defenders of laws, practices and values that, as stated, by the 1960’s had made Canada a model of liberal excellence for the whole world. They need to come back from the ahistorical, dangerous, illiberal fantasyland where they are now intellectually residing, and resume their presently-abandoned, traditional, liberal stewardship roles by actively promoting the restoration of free speech, competent and responsible and thus trustworthy journalism, free and open intellectual debate and enquiry, and Canadian Crown sovereignty, the latter to the pre-eminent and beneficial state it was in before the passage of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the harmful jurisprudence, legislation and government policies that have emanated from it.

Peter Best

Lawyer, Sudbury

January 20th, 2022



[1] This general definition of liberalism in these brief paragraphs is a distillation of writings on this topic contained in four books. They are my own book, There Is No Difference and the sources cited therein (thereisnodifference.ca), historian Robert Conquest’s Reflections on a Ravaged Century, (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2001), William A. Henry’s In Defense of Elitism, (Doubleday, New York, 1994), and Adam Gopnik’s A Thousand Small Sanities, (Basic Books, New York, 2019).

[2] From Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century. (Footnote 1 above) The word “aristocracy “in the original quote was replaced with the more current and neutral term, “elite classes.”

[3] From Niall Ferguson, Civilization, Penguin Press, 2011

[4] Ross Douthat, Is There Life After Liberalism? – The New York Times, January 13th, 2016

[5] See Footnote 1.

[6] The phrase “primitive overidentification” from Robert Conquest’s Reflections on a Ravaged Century. The fact that this kind of “primitive overidentification” with racial groups led to the deaths of millions of people in the twentieth century seems to be of no concern or relevance to our nouveau elite classes’ endorsement of the illiberal, in fact racist, concept of Indigenous racial exceptionalism.

[7] In relation to this serious issue generally, see Canada’s Aboriginal Policies Constitute the Rejection of our Enlightenment Heritage at thereisnodifference.ca.

[8] Liveright Publishing, 2012

[9] Robert Kaplan, The Return of Marco Polo’s World, Penguin Random House, 2019

[10] So poorly thought out that Bob Rae, one of the “framers” of it, blithely stated in Canadian Lawyer magazine, (July 2014), almost bragging about his carelessness, that “some protested no one knew exactly what the implications” of it would be, but that “we knew full well we were making progress in reducing the unilateral prerogative of governments.” In fact, that actual progress was in emasculating governments. And no explanation was offered by Mr. Rae as to why striking a blow at Crown sovereignty was in the public interest. A key tenet of liberalism is that profound legal change gradually goes from the “living rooms” of the nation to the legislature, rather than being suddenly imposed on the legislature and on the people from the top down. Section 35 came about in a distinctly illiberal manner.

[11] From Marilynne Robinson’s essay Memory, in The Givenness of Things, (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. 2015), in her case, referring to traditional American Christian leaders passively allowing American Christianity to be hijacked by the American right for dark political purposes.

[12] Robert Kaplan, The Return of Marco Polo’s World, above.

[13] The establishments of the West …have lost faith in their own capacities of understanding and action. Sensing a loss of confidence in the centre, strong-willed people on the edges step forward to take control. – David Brooks, Enter the Age of the Outsiders, The New York Times, October 20, 2015

[14] The Globe and Mail, April 18, 2014

[15] The brave and brilliant Associate Professor Frances Widdowson of Mount Royal University in Calgary, who in two excellent books, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry and Separate but Unequal,  argued in the most intellectually solid, disciplined and respectful way against the illiberal and magical nature of aspects of the Indigenous status quo; in particular their “traditional knowledge”, “Indigenous Science” and Indigenous “Ways of Knowing” claims, and against the extractive, rentier nature of their relationship with the rest of Canada, was recently, solely because of her principled dissent from these and other aspects of the  Indigenous orthodoxy, viciously harassed by other members of the faculty of MRU and ultimately fired from her job. (See Professor who criticized indigenization agenda fired by university ) This attack on free speech and free, open and principled academic debate and enquiry perfectly illustrates the illiberal depths to which our Universities have sunk.

[16] George Packer, from Exporting Jihad, The New Yorker, March 28, 2016

[17] Frances Widdowson, Universities Lose Way in Quest for Truth, The Sudbury Star, November 30, 2016

[18] Saul Bellow, from his Foreword to Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Simon & Shuster Paperbacks, New York, 2012

[19] No Canadian should be admitted into any of our elite classes without having to first read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Middlemarch and Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, (not the abridged version), and successfully pass a test on them. In the alternative, if they haven’t read these books, or their literary and historical equivalents, they should have to have the letters “CD” always publicly associated with them, standing for “Cultural Dunce”, so that their readers or listeners can better assess the intrinsic worth of whatever it is they are saying or writing. Too many “ones of little reading” are in the halls of power.

[20] See Footnote 1.

[21] This quote and the immediately above from Hannah Arendt’s essay Lying in Politics, in Crises of the Republic, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1972

[22] From The Mill on the Floss, Premier Classics, 1992

[23] As characterized in these two quotes by the playwright Arthur Miller in his biography, Timebends, Grove/Atlantic Publishers, 2013

[24] Robert Kaplan, In Europe’s Shadow, Random House Inc. 2013

[25] Rudolf Safranski, Goethe, Life as a Work of Art, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017

[26] Edmund Burke, Reflections, Penguin Books, London, 2004

[27] Novelist Edith Wharton, quoted by Lewis H. Lapham in the Preface to Age of Folly, America Abandons Its Democracy, Verso-New Left Books, 2016

[28] From his novel The Bone Clocks, Random House, New York, 2014

[29] See Supreme Blunder, Canada’s Highest Court Grants Aboriginal Rights to American Natives, at https://c2cjournal.ca/2021/06/indigenous-policy/ David Ben Gurion expressed the frustration he felt with what he considered was unwarranted interference by Israel’s courts in his efforts to build the State of Israel. He said: “Courts don’t know the meaning of statesmanship. Policy is made by policy makers, not by legalists. Jurists need to be subordinate to history, not the other way around”. -From Tom Segev’s A State at any Cost- The Life of David Ben Gurion, Picador (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux), New York, 2000

[30] “Economies are functionally dependent on governments and are only conceptually autonomous.” – John Kenneth Galbraith, from his biography, John Kenneth Galbraith- His Life, His Politics, His Economics, by Richard Parker, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. Toronto, 2005.

[31] Historian Tony Judt, from his essay The Wrecking Ball of Innovation, in When the Facts ChangeEssays, Penguin Books, New York, 2015

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