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Self government

Self-government in Peril: Commentary on the Quebec Court of Appeal’s Reference to An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families – Government, public sector

The Quebec Court of Appeal has obstructed the federal government’s efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the child and youth protection system. On February 10, 2022, the Court ruled that key sections of the federal government An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the “Act“) were unconstitutional. Act aims to ensure that Indigenous children receive a minimum level of services and enables Indigenous governing bodies to develop child protection solutions. Although the Court concluded that there is an “Aboriginal right” to self-government in child and family services, affirmed by section 35 of the Canadian Constitution (theConstitution“), the Court invalidated Articles 21 and 22(3) of the Act who provided
real self-determination on these issues. The Court’s decision leaves us with a contradiction: it affirms the existence of the right of Aboriginal self-government but annuls the provisions of the Act which has made it possible to exercise this right in a meaningful way.

A look at the Act

the Act was jointly developed by the federal government and Indigenous partners and came into effect on January 1, 2020. It seeks to affirm the right of Indigenous peoples to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services and, by extension, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP“) in Canada. the
Act also establishes “national standards” that guarantee a minimum level of services for all Aboriginal children.

Under the Act, Aboriginal governing bodies can either pass their own laws regarding child and family services or seek to enter into a coordination agreement with the federal and provincial governments. Prior to the Court’s decision, Sections 21 and 22(3) provided that Indigenous laws passed under a coordination agreement had the same force of law as federal laws and prevailed over any conflicting or inconsistent provisions of the laws. applicable federal or provincial authorities.

Controversy

Two weeks after its entry into force, the Government of Quebec is asking its Court of Appeal to rule on the question of whether the
Act is unconstitutional. The Attorney General of Quebec argued that the Act undermines the province’s general jurisdiction over child welfare and unilaterally alters the scope of section 35, threatening the structure of the Constitution. Canada responded that issues under the Act falls within the broad reach of the federal government’s authority over Aboriginal peoples under section 91(24) of the Constitution and that the ActThe interpretation of section 35 is consistent with case law.

Constitutionality of the Act

The Court’s constitutional analysis focused on two elements: the constitutionality of national standards and the Aboriginal right to self-government in the regulation of child and family services. The Court concluded the Act is constitutional, with the exception of sections 21 and 22(3).

On the first element, the Court held that subsection 91(24) grants the federal government jurisdiction over the welfare of Indigenous peoples and their interpersonal relationships. the
Act fully falls within this jurisdiction because its purpose is to “[ensure] the well-being of [Indigenous] children, promoting culturally appropriate services to reduce their overrepresentation in provincial child welfare systems” (para. 34). The Court also concluded that the Act does not dictate how provinces are to provide child and family services in Indigenous spaces, as national standards are consistent with provincial child welfare legislation.

Ultimately, Quebec’s position that the Actcontrary to the principles of federalism and democracy was rejected.

The Court’s assessment of the second element concluded that Aboriginal peoples have always maintained a form of self-government arising from original sovereignty. The Court traced the historic right to self-government, holding that the Act is compatible with the notion of Canadian sovereignty, because the record shows no proof of the extinction of the aboriginal right. Linking the law to child and family services, the Court said that:

“The central purpose of s. 35 is to achieve reconciliation and preserve constitutional space for Indigenous peoples to enable them to live as peoples – with their own identities, cultures and values ​​– within the Canadian framework As a normative system, Indigenous customary law relating to children and the family is part of these values, and the child and the family are the main vehicle for transmitting markers of Indigenous identity. regulation of child and family services by Aboriginal people themselves cannot be divorced from their Aboriginal identity and cultural development” (at para. 48).

The Indigenous right to self-government in child and family services is not distinguished by the federal-provincial division of powers – it extends to all Indigenous peoples because of its importance for cultural continuity and survival.

Deletion of sections 21 and 22(3)

Despite the general constitutionality of the Act, the Court identified problems with Articles 21 and 22(3). Together, the two provisions allowed Indigenous laws developed under coordination agreements to have the same status as federal legislation and the legislative primacy of such laws over provincial legislation. The Court found that it was unconstitutional because it changed the architecture of the Constitution and it was not within the jurisdiction of the federal government to allow Indigenous laws to prevail over conflicting provincial laws. This principle – known as “federal paramountcy” – applies only to validly enacted federal laws.

Furthermore, the federal government did not have the power under the Constitution to give absolute priority to an Aboriginal right under section 35. The constitutional principle of coordinated governments prevents the federal government from legislating over all aspects of provincial relations with Aboriginal peoples. In the future, provincial legislation cannot supersede legislation that an Indigenous governing body has enacted pursuant to its Aboriginal right of self-government over child and family services, unless the regime provincial legislation fails to meet the long-standing section 35 test of impairing impairment and reconciliation.

Without the application of sections 21 and 22(3), there remains no apparent incentive for Aboriginal governing bodies to negotiate or enter into coordination agreements. Indigenous governing bodies may choose to simply notify the federal and provincial governments of their intention to exercise legislative authority over child and family services.

One step forward, two steps back

The Court of Appeal’s decision is riddled with contradictions that run counter to the advancement of Aboriginal self-government. On the one hand, the Court pointed out that the parliamentary intention behind the Act was “clearly intended to break with the past” by providing Aboriginal peoples with the “flexibility and functional independence” to choose their own solutions (at paras. 17 and 18). The decision confirmed that Indigenous communities can create their own legislation to protect and improve the lives of Indigenous children. The Court also noted that the legislative process behind the Act was guided by UNDRIP and that at the international level, UNDRIP affirms the existence of the right to indigenous self-determination. By affirming an Indigenous right to self-government in child and family services, both presently and historically, the Court made its decision consistent with UNDRIP. On the other hand, the Court invalidated the very provisions conferring the primacy and real self-determination, which aligned with the principles of UNDRIP and marked a break with the past.

Reactions to the decision were equally divided. In one joint press releasethe Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (“FNQLHSSC“) declared that their First Nations communities will exercise their legislative and inherent right to implement their own child welfare legislation. On January 17, 2022, the Opitciwan Atikamekw Social Protection Act (the Act respecting the social protection of the Atikamekw of Opitciwan) came into force and about fifteen communities will follow in its footsteps. The Chairman of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors, Derek Montour, stated that they ask the Government of Quebec to actively collaborate with their communities and organizations for an optimal application of Bill C-92 and the adoption of Indigenous laws. . It is likely that a negotiated approach to the implementation of Indigenous child welfare laws will be the best approach to ensuring the well-being of Indigenous children.

Where does that leave aboriginal self-government? A decision rendered on appeal from outside the province is, at best, persuasive to British Columbia courts. It is also likely that an application for leave to appeal will be made to the Supreme Court of Canada. Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hadju saidthat Ottawa is committed to upholding its Indigenous Child Welfare Act and will work to ensure autonomy for First Nations people in Indigenous Child Welfare, but time will tell. Stay tuned for future updates on this decision and its treatment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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Self government

America Needs Autonomy, Not “Compassionate” Capitalism

Jim Simon’s defense of stakeholder capitalism (November 13) should invite a chorus of responses. Mine runs along two tracks. First, Simon’s optimistic look at stakeholder capitalism blurs the structural commitments that make capitalism, well, capitalism.

Following: Can American businesses meet needs that the government is not meeting?

And second, its belief that an enlightened corporate sector can overcome public problems masks a dangerous paradox: such insistence will force one to embrace debilitating restrictions on privacy.

Jeff Kurtz lives in Newark, Ohio, and teaches at Denison University in Granville.

Feeling good by doing good ignores the fact that stakeholders always navigate social and political issues through a disheartening fog of loneliness. Government, at its best, invites us to wrap ourselves in the mantle of the citizen. This title is infinitely more important than stakeholder.

Simon’s logic on behalf of stakeholder capitalism seems compelling. How can you be disappointed with the fervor of millennial workers, 63% of whom believe the “primary goal of businesses should be to improve society?” “

Sentencing of these new workers will prompt companies to side with climate change, immigration, healthcare, education, race relations, income equality and countless other issues. . The boardroom will set us free! The Promised Land is adjacent to the water fountain!

The problem with Simon’s argument is this: the practices of capitalism are baked into the recipe for structure and cannot be reconciled with genuine altruistic engagement with the aforementioned public issues.

Uncompromising attention (because attention must be paid) to profit, to results, to loss of margin and to the mercenary productions demanded by capitalism means that the structural system cannot be adorned with intelligent substitutes. Mashed potatoes call for butter. Lots of butter. Olive oil can be an alternative, but let’s face it, you aren’t eating real mashed potatoes.

Socially minded stakeholders may aspire to see companies do more for the public good; workers may want the companies they give their valuable work to to do more than sift through budget sheets and count their profits in shares.

But the truth is more difficult to accept: capitalism rests on a necessary ethics of exploitation – of resources, time, work – essential to the momentum and the success of the structure. No sugar or gluten in this birthday cake? You can also eat porridge well. And everyone knows it.

The troubling knot of Simon’s meditation is the resignation it projects on politics and governance. Yes, polls confirm that the federal government is one of our least trusted cultural institutions. Yes, partisanship has acted like the purpose for the government.

Following: Two-party system like a “flesh-eating virus” that kills from within, we need a third

But we also know that self-government can push us to confront issues at the local, regional and national / global levels that push us beyond the easy belief of stakeholder capitalism that ‘ethical behavior’ will follow when decisions are made. companies will revel in their “social purpose”.

Stakeholder capitalism will never achieve this public spirit. His claim is about our private feelings, our feelings of self-righteousness, easy engagement, detached stewardship as a social conscience.

Make no mistake: Stakeholder capitalism is your great-grandmother’s capitalism. It is the capitalism of Henry Ford and British Petroleum, of Mark Zuckerberg and of Steven Jobs. She is relentless, indifferent and indifferent to the public good. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Do not believe me ? Check your wallet.

Contrary to Ronald Reagan’s mind about the anxieties that arise when government knocks on doors and offers to help, we must seize the opportunities the government offers to resolve pressing public issues. COVID-19 vaccines weren’t isolated triumphs of the industry. The government mattered. Hitler’s fascism was not defeated in the fabrication shop. The government mattered.

But government cannot be a passive business. We need to be accountable for the practices that genuine self-government requires: we need government, as Lincoln knew, to do what we cannot do for ourselves, things we can accomplish when we work towards ideals greater than ourselves.

Instead of actors, we need citizens. Instead of socially conscious businesses, we need to redouble our efforts on self-government and regain public trust.

Langston Hughes got it right: America can become America again. Not because of compassion, but because we believe in each other.

Jeff Kurtz lives in Newark, Ohio, and teaches at Denison University in Granville.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: America Needs Autonomy, Not American Corporate Government

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Sovereignty

NTI’s push for Inuit self-government is ‘the right thing’, says Idlout

Nunavut MP says she and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ‘support’ recently passed resolution

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said she supports the resolution passed this week by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to continue talks with Ottawa to achieve Inuit self-government.

“I believe NTI is doing the right thing,” Idlout said when asked Thursday what resolution NTI passed this week at its annual general meeting in Rankin Inlet.

“It’s sad for me to say this, but I agree that the Government of Nunavut, to this day, has let the Inuit down,” said Idlout, who is also the NDP spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous relations. .

NTI members on Tuesday passed a resolution to continue a negotiating mandate with the federal government for Inuit self-government.

NTI President Aluki Kotierk said the Government of Nunavut has failed to meet the needs of the territory’s Inuit majority.

“There are so many dire statistics, so many dire Inuit experiences right now,” Kotierk told Nunatsiaq News after the annual general meeting ended.

Idlout said she agrees with Kotierk’s assertion that the GN did not do enough to support the Inuit in the land.

“We have to see with the new Prime Minister and the cabinet that we have a sense of hope, that they will listen to the voters, that they will listen to the Inuit and make sure that they work very hard to improve their relationship with the NTI so we can see improvements for the Inuit community in Nunavut.

Newly elected Prime Minister PJ Akeeagok told reporters on Wednesday he was looking forward to meeting with NTI officials “to really listen in terms of areas where we could collaborate.”

Idlout said she had discussed the motion with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and fully supported the motion.

“[He] is ready to support me and support my work with NTI because these failures have gone on for too long, ”she said. “We have seen it with the passage of Bill 25 in the Education Act and we have seen it with too many other initiatives where the Inuit are deprived of their civil rights. [and] are placed at a different level from that of French language rights.

Kotierk said she appreciates the support of the federal NDP.

“We look forward to working with the federal government and believe we will bring that up to our Crown Partnership process,” she said. She added that she had already had a conversation with the newly elected Premier of Nunavut, PJ Akeeagok, and that she “has no doubt” that the two will have a “positive and constructive working relationship.”

As for what Inuit self-government wants, Kotierk said it is still a work in progress to be determined.

“At this point everything is in the air to decide which areas we want to focus on,” she said. “The presentation we received from [NTI] The director of self-determination talked about … different models that we could look at in terms of seeking self-government. There was a discussion of how there are already models across Canada, but we could create a hybrid, ”she said.

“The next step will be to get the negotiating mandate and then build some capacity within [NTI] to be able to consult with the Inuit of Nunavut and work with our board of directors to determine what the constitution of the arm’s length body would look like, ”said Kotierk.

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Sovereignty

NTI says it will seek to negotiate Inuit self-government with Ottawa

Organization Says “Inuit Quality of Life Has Declined Alarmingly” under Nunavut Public Government

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. says it will continue talks with the federal government to bring about Inuit self-government. NTI President Aluki Kotierk, seen here at the Aqsarniit Hotel in Iqaluit on August 13, said in a statement that the Government of Nunavut is “a regime that does not support us and does not want to that we succeed in realizing the vision of a prosperous and prosperous country. Nunavut. (File photo by Corey Larocque)

Through


Madalyn Howitt

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. says it will seek to negotiate with Ottawa to achieve Inuit self-government.

NTI said in an article on its website that, since the creation of the public government of Nunavut 22 years ago, “the quality of life for Inuit has declined alarmingly.”

He said the Government of Nunavut opposes “policies, programs and services that would meet the needs of the Inuit, the majority population of Nunavut,” while “historic colonial policies, programs and services are championed or reinforced by the government focus on the non-Inuit minority. “

The announcement follows a resolution passed Tuesday by board members at the organization’s annual general meeting in Rankin Inlet this week.

NTI said it would pursue a negotiating mandate, which would open discussions between itself and the Government of Canada to consider “more viable options for the Inuit to take control of their own governance.”

“It will be difficult to continue … under a regime that does not support us and does not want us to achieve the vision of a prosperous and prosperous Nunavut,” NTI President Aluki Kotierk said in a statement.

“To rebuild the hope and dreams that [were] Originally envisioned for Inuit and their future generations, this conversation about self-government needs to start anew, ”said Kotierk. “We owe it to the Inuit to represent their full potential.

In October, NTI filed a lawsuit against the Government of Nunavut, claiming it had failed in its legal obligations to ensure that Inuktitut language instruction was offered throughout the territory’s public school system.

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Self government

Without self-government, Indigenous Peoples Day does not honor the Wabanaki tribes of Maine

The Opinion BDN section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute writing or writing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Clarissa Sabattis is leader of the Maliseet band in Houlton. Kirk Francis is the leader of the Penobscot Nation.

To celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, you must first appreciate and respect Indigenous peoples. You must understand the importance of the inherent sovereignty which is the backbone of our heritage and our culture. You must trust us for the autonomy. The only real way to celebrate the indigenous people of Maine is to change the system that treats us differently from all other tribes in the country.

Due to a 40-year-old settlement called the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, the Wabanaki tribes of Maine generally have more restrictions on our rights than the 570 other federally recognized tribes across the country. The settlement resulted from a federal lawsuit, based on claims by the Passamaquoddy tribe and the Penobscot nation in the 1960s and 1970s that Maine illegally took two-thirds of state land from tribes in direct violation of federal law.

Finally, in 1980, the land claims of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians were settled amicably through a settlement agreement and state law. , the Maine Implementation Act. At the time, our tribes believed that we would be partners with the state and not be treated as wards of the state. Our tribes believed that we would be able to redeem the lands promised in the laws, build our tribal governments, and uplift our communities and economies.

The Federal Settlement Act states that any law passed by Congress for the benefit of Native tribes after 1980 does not apply in Maine if that law affects state jurisdiction, unless Congress specifically includes them. tribes of Maine. While the Wabanaki tribes are not specifically included, we do not benefit from them, unlike the other 570 tribes recognized by the federal government. Since 1980, there have been 151 beneficial laws for the Indian country. These laws cover the gamut from the protection of Wabanaki women against the epidemic of violence against indigenous women to the protection of the environment and access to safe drinking water.

Maine has interpreted state law, Maine’s implementing law, to place tribes under the control of the state. The intention of federal and state law was for tribes and state to work together and solve problems that the settlement law could not foresee. This is why the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission was created. But unfortunately the commission did not play this role of intermediary between the State and the tribal sovereigns. So what happened instead?

For more than 40 years the tribes and the state have been in costly litigation. The state chose to keep paternalistic and aggressively defend the relics of its colonial power over the tribes. And what did it do? It has caused lasting damage to rural communities by interfering with the ability of tribes to provide basic government services, pursue economic development, and take advantage of the benefits and funding provided by federal law.

For example, the state’s treatment of tribes has encouraged foreign mining companies to target Maine due to the perceived lack of Indigenous rights.

Last July, Ron Little, CEO of Wolfden Resources, a Canadian mining company, said in an investor presentation, “there are no indigenous rights in the state of Maine” and that this lack of indigenous rights ” simplifies the authorization process ”.

In all other states, tribes have a seat at the table and can work with federal, state, and local government to create mutually beneficial results. In Maine we face a government that has consistently fought our efforts to protect the environment and we have it now. We shouldn’t have to fight foreign companies to protect our land and our drinking water. Yet this is what we must do because the state largely ignores the rights of the Wabanaki.

Our sovereignty, our right to self-determination, our ability to grow as a community ended in 1980 and the pain persists today. The tribes could not have foreseen the distress in which future generations would have to live because of the colonization law.

We were personally just children at the time. We are not here to debate the intentions of the people who sat around the table in 1980. We are here to say that now – more than a generation removed from the Settlement Act – the law needs to be modernized.

The Maine legislature has investigated and reviewed the Settlement Act and is about to approve a significant change that will put Maine tribes on an equal footing with tribes across the country. There is currently legislation, LD 1626, in Augusta that would remedy much of what afflicts the tribes of Maine.

LD 1626, if passed, will show that people understand, trust and appreciate the tribes of Maine. When this law is passed and hopefully signed by the governor, we can all truly celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Until the system is changed, Indigenous Peoples Day does not honor the Wabanaki tribes.

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Sovereignty

The Métis of northern Lake Superior take another step towards self-government (2 photos)

The Métis claim their rights as a recognized indigenous people.

THUNDER BAY – There are perhaps thousands of people of Métis descent in the Thunder Bay area who do not yet realize that their heritage could provide them with benefits that they do not currently enjoy.

The organizers of an initiative to develop a regional Métis self-government plan say they want to hear from as many Métis as possible in the region in the days and months to come.

The Métis people are recognized as one of three distinct Indigenous groups in Canada, with rights guaranteed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

“If people looked at their genealogy, I would suggest that there are over 5,000-10,000 Métis citizens, and we would all like to involve and involve them in this process,” said Darren Brown, President of Northern Lake Superior Métis. . Self-government steering committee.

In collaboration with the Métis Nation of Ontario, the committee is holding a series of consultations this week in Thunder Bay, Geraldton and Marathon.

Brown says the meetings will help determine how to proceed with self-government in that part of the province.

In 2019, the Métis Nation of Ontario signed an agreement with the federal government that recognizes the MNO’s right to self-government.

Brown said three Métis councils – Thunder Bay, Greenstone and North Superior – subsequently agreed to negotiate self-government for the region as a North Lake Superior Métis community.

He said self-government could help improve many services to Métis people.

“We want a relationship with government so that our child and family service needs are met, our regional health care needs are met, our regional housing and child care needs are met. long-term be satisfied, “said Brown.

“We have this right, and we want to assert it with the government and negotiate directly with it. As well as with the rebate programs for gasoline, energy. We pay the taxes. We want to seek a better relationship, and we want regional harvest control. These are essential. “

Brown said the consultative work done to date has identified several options for self-government, under the Three Canoes, One River banner.

“One is for a relationship with the Métis Nation of Ontario, the second is an autonomous regional relationship directly with the Government of Canada… and the third option is that we are ready to listen to the existing structures of the Métis Nation of Ontario or take a third way. “

The key questions to be resolved are whether the group should incorporate and whether it should have its own constitution.

The Métis community of northern Lake Superior is one of seven Métis communities in Ontario recognized as a “historic” Métis community.

It is the second largest of the nine Métis regions of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and one of six with rights.

It currently has approximately 1,800 registered members.

Thunder Bay area members attended a consultation meeting on Tuesday evening.

Meetings are also scheduled this week for residents of the Greenstone area in Geraldton at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall on Wednesday evening, and for members of the North Rim at the Zero 100 Motor Inn in Marathon on Thursday evening.

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Home rule

The story of over a century of Home Rule debates in Scotland

I VERY rarely plan months in advance and often start this column on a Monday morning without a clue of what I’m about to write – no doubt many of you will have noticed. So the other day, when a piece of Facebook comedy was brought to my attention by a reader, I felt that there was more than just a kernel of story there.

I first saw “A Warning from Ireland” on Facebook in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, but it was re-posted the other day. He states: “Between 1889 and 1914 Irish Home Rule was debated 15 times in Westminster and there were four Home Rule bills. Nothing has changed.”

How many Scots know that between 1886 and 1900 Scottish Home Rule was debated seven times in Westminster? How many Scots know that in 1894 and 1895 the Commons voted for a Home Rule resolution but ran out of parliamentary time? How many knows that in 1913 the Scottish Federal Government Bill was introduced in the House of Commons and the proposal was supported by 204 votes to 159? Only the outbreak of World War I stopped its implementation or we could have had a decentralized Scottish legislature a century ago.

Almost a mythology developed about how Scotland always adhered to the Incorporated Union that was inflicted on us in 1707. Yes, there was a long time, say after the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 until ‘in the 1850s, when Scotland took the building of the British Empire to heart and is doing quite well, but as I have shown in recent chronicles, the Union has not been a great success in the start.

During the first half of the 19th century, Westminster was very happy to be decentralized in many of its functions, and the councils and boards of directors largely dealt with matters of governance, so the Scots were content to take care of business.

With Sir Walter Scott in the foreground, however, as the turn of the 19th century wore on, many people began to worry about the loss of Scottish citizenship – and this was also not based on the class, because the workers and the middle classes worried about this cultural and political creep. intimidation.

The National Association for the Defense of Scottish Rights was formed in 1853, but was short-lived and had little political impact. But her main complaints – that Scotland was under-represented in Parliament and that Scotland did not receive sufficient income for the huge sums it contributed to the Treasury – sparked heated debate, but it fizzled out in 1856.

The Liberals controlled Scotland for decades, but by the 1880s the party was struggling with its Home Rule policy for Ireland, and as a result of this question a Scottish Home Rule Association was started in 1886, the same year that Keir Hardie and others started their labor movement and the following year the Scottish office was founded in support of the Home Rulers.

It is extraordinary to remember the great debate on Scottish Home Rule in the House of Commons that took place in 1889 – the first time it was fully debated in parliament, and a rather astonishing event, frankly, which almost been forgotten.

MP Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham said on this historic day, April 9, 1889: “In view of the great pressure that will soon be brought to bear on this House by social causes on the part of the Scottish electorate, we have not come. here with a frivolous or stupid proposition as we, for the first time, tried to lobby the Scottish Home Rule cause in the House of Commons. ”

Dr Gavin Clark, Member of Parliament for Caithness, proposed to the House of Commons the resolution ‘that, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that arrangements be made for the provision of the Scottish people, through their representatives in a parliament national, management and control of Scottish affairs.

He said: “I have no desire to abrogate the Union between England and Scotland, and I think the Union has been mutually beneficial – a good thing for Scotland, but a better thing. for England.

“I frankly admit that while my motion is primarily based on practical considerations, there is a sentimental basis for the growing Home Rule movement in Scotland. We Scots are all proud of our country and its history.

“An attempt is made here to ignore Scottish nationality. We hear about the English government, and the minister is not called to order for expression. Well, just the other day the Secretary of War talked about the British troops he was sending to Egypt, the Scottish Borderers. ”

So far so familiar even nowadays.

Clark continued: ‘We have confusion, lawlessness and chaos in mixed jurisdictions in Scotland, due to the outrageous state of our Public Health Act, but the House never had time. to deal with this subject, and therefore anarchy continues. There are thousands of preventable deaths every year in Scotland due to our shameful Public Health Act.

“Everyone, even the old Tories across the way, has to admit that change is needed. So what is the cure to be? It must, I think, take the form of a devolution.

The word had been spoken… and it wasn’t until 1889.

William Hunter, Liberal MP for Aberdeen North, seconded the motion, correcting the record:; but it is remarkable that since then there has been no sustained agitation in its support by public meetings or in the press.

“Sir, having decided that Home Rule for Scotland would be good for the country, I then decided to explain my point of view to my constituency in Aberdeen. I had no idea how they would receive it, but I found out very quickly that the constituency was ahead of me, and that the mass of the people had strived for Home Rule to a point that I did not. would not have thought possible. Indeed, I think we won’t have 10 members returning to Scotland in the next general election unless they are committed to Home Rule for Scotland. ”

Sir Hugh Shaw-Stewart, Old Etonian Conservative MP for East Renfrewshire, rose to oppose the motion:. It would be centralization in its worst form.

He added: “I think the spirit which animates my honorable friends is embodied in the advice given by an old Scottish radical to a young man about to enter Parliament: ‘Be asking, and when you get something, be complaining that you can’t have May ‘.

The National:

UP raised the Grand Old Man himself, William Ewart Gladstone (above), former and future prime minister and Liberal leader: question on his merits.

“The principles applicable to the solution of this question are, however, by no means obscure or difficult to understand. I believe that Scotland and Ireland are precisely equal before England as regards their moral and political right to assert before the Imperial Parliament any claims which they may regard as arising out of the interests and demands of these respective countries. They are precisely equal in this right, so that if I am to assume a case in which Scotland, unanimously, or by a clearly casting vote, asks the United Parliament to be treated, not only on the same principle , but like Ireland, I couldn’t deny Scotland’s title to make such a claim. Further, I am obliged to say that I have a perfectly firm belief that if such a claim were made in the manner which I have described as the clear and deliberate statement of Scottish opinion, Parliament would accede to it. ”

What a principled debate, but the vote wasn’t close – 79 yeas, 200 nays, and that seemed like it. But as the Labor movement grew and young Liberal Scots arose, the question of Home Rule for Scotland did not go away, and it preoccupied many minds at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1913, parliament was ready for another Scottish Home Rule debate and William Cowan, Liberal MP for Aberdeenshire Eastern, put it in place with his Scottish Government Bill.

He said: ‘You cannot take a Scottish newspaper today with a good chance of not finding any reference to this burning issue.

“I don’t care who is going to Scotland today, if he talks to someone, if he goes somewhere, if he consults the people, he will find out that it is the most absorbing political subject by Scotland.”

The SNP contingent at Westminster will acknowledge their forthcoming statement: “The English members will be conspicuous by their absence, or be represented by gentlemen who, having shootouts, fisheries or deer forests in Scotland, imagine themselves to be experts in business. and insist on wasting our time and theirs by interfering in the Scottish debates.

He concluded: “Is it any wonder that Scotland is tired and demands its own parliament? That it requires its own legislation for land, for the alcohol trade, for education, for housing, for fishing, for ecclesiastical affairs, for 101 matters of purely local interest?

You can read both debates in Hansard. You will find many sadly familiar points.

In the very unlikely event that Boris Johnson reads this column, I would like to end with a few words from his great hero, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. Speaking in his then constituency of Dundee on October 9, 1913, Churchill said: “You will recall how last year I spoke at a meeting in Dundee on this subject (rule of the House). I made it clear that I was speaking for myself. I made it clear that I was not talking about the immediate future, but … raising an issue for reflection and discussion rather than quick action. I have spoken of the establishment of a federal system in the United Kingdom, in which Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and, if necessary, parts of England, could have institutions legislative and parliamentary, allowing them to develop, in their own way, their own lives according to their own ideas and needs in the same way as the great and prosperous States of the American Union and the great kingdoms and principalities and states of the Empire German.

“I will take the risk of prophecy and tell you that the day will most certainly come – many of you will live to see it – when a federal system will be established in these islands which will give Wales and Scotland control. within the proper limits of their own Welsh and Scottish affairs.

Of course, the real reason there will never be a Federal United Kingdom of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland is that Scotland will first go its own way and will regain its full independence.

Let’s face it, the majority of the British want independence from us, Wales and Northern Ireland. The lesson of history is that federalism will never be enough and that we must all go our separate ways.

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Sovereignty

GOLDSTEIN: True Reconciliation Means Indigenous Self-Government

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From media coverage, one would think that the three biggest issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada today are the discovery of unmarked cemeteries outside residential schools and the burning of churches and the overturning of statues of Sir John A. Macdonald in retaliation for their creation.

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But behind it lies a much larger conflict that is at the heart of Canada’s tortured relationship with its First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

It is their desire to be autonomous and equal partners with the federal government, which means that their status in negotiations with Ottawa would be “nation to nation”.

This is the main stumbling block to reconciliation because Canadian governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have never accepted the concept of Indigenous self-government.

Instead, decades of failed federal policies have sought to raise the standard of living of Indigenous peoples in Canada to that of non-Indigenous Canadians, in the context of their remaining wards of the state. under the Indian Act of Canada, originally enacted in 1876.

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As the Quebec political scientist Thierry Rodon wrote about this impasse, “the indigenous peoples do not seek so much to be fully integrated into so-called common institutions (with Canada), which would mean a loss of their identity and their independence. , but rather the recognition of their existence and the rights as equal partners with the federal government and the provinces.

On July 1, Indigenous Senator Patrick Brazeau published an article authored by political scientist Sophie Roy – “Indigenous Issues in Canada and the Inertia of the Federal Government” – which examines the history of this conflict and helps explain the conflict. the anger of many indigenous peoples. Canadians celebrating Canada Day.

The reason, she writes, is that “for many, the Confederation of Canada (1867) was a dark period in Aboriginal history” because, in the words of Quebec political scientist René Morin, whom she quotes: “To At the time of Canada’s Confederation, they were stripped of their lands and reserves were created under the Indian Act. The Indian issue became simply a matter of federal jurisdiction and indigenous peoples were not consulted.

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This, she argues, was a betrayal of the alliances the French and British forged with Indigenous rulers before the creation of Canada, at a time when the country would not have been viable without their consent, as the first settlers did not did not have sufficient numbers or the power to forge a nation on their own.

In this context, writes Roy, on July 1, 1867 began a long period of subjugation of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, whose residential schools were only one of many wrongs perpetrated by Canadian governments.

The main ally of Indigenous peoples in correcting these injustices, she writes, has not been the federal government, but the Supreme Court of Canada, which over several decades has established in law the right of Indigenous Canadians to have a say in government decisions that affect them, and to be compensated for the lands they have received. taken.

Today, the concept of Indigenous self-government is complicated by the fact that there are three distinct groups representing 1.7 million Indigenous Canadians – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – each with their own unique histories, cultures and priorities, living in all 10 provinces and three territories.

Thus, the idea of ​​a government entity representing them all – even if Ottawa (and the provinces) accepted self-government – would encounter enormous practical difficulties.

But if Canadians want true reconciliation with our indigenous peoples, this is the problem we will have to solve.

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Self government

Manitoba Metis Federation signs self-government agreement with federal government

According to President David Chartrand, an agreement signed with the Canadian government brings the Manitoba Métis Federation one step closer to its long-awaited official recognition as a government under Canadian law.

Chartrand and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett signed the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Accord on Tuesday at a ceremony at Upper Fort Garry in downtown Winnipeg, home of Louis Riel’s provisional government during the Red River Resistance over 150 years ago.

The agreement sets out steps to formally recognize the jurisdiction of the Manitoba Metis Federation over its citizens, elections and the operations of Métis government. It also recognizes the constitution and the general assembly of the federation, the federation said in a statement.

“Whether it be any party in this country, even the Liberals, we will not give up our rights and our place in Confederation to anyone,” Chartrand said.

“This is ours, we have earned it, we have bled for it and we are dying for it. It is a country that we have built, a province that we have built as a people and we will defend it with everything. what we have. ”

Chartrand said the agreement applies to all Métis in Manitoba, no matter where they live.

The deal builds on a $ 154 million funding agreement signed in 2018.

Tuesday’s announcement took place at Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park in downtown Winnipeg. (Jeff Stapleton / CBC)

Some of the money was to be invested to improve the social and economic well-being of the Métis in Manitoba, in areas such as housing, health, child care and early learning.

The plan also began a process of working towards a self-government agreement, which would recognize the federation as a Métis government.

At the time, Chartrand said the Métis Federation was forced to structure itself as a society due to federal and provincial laws, which meant that other governments did not recognize its authority.

The agreements follow a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that found the federal government broke a promise made to the Métis people when Manitoba entered Confederation in 1870.

In a 6-2 decision, the highest court in Canada declared that “the federal Crown has failed to implement the land grant provision set out in section 31 of the Manitoba Act of 1870 in accordance with in the honor of the Crown ”.

This section promised to set aside 5,565 square kilometers of land – including what is now the city of Winnipeg – for 7,000 Red River Métis children.

As the federation celebrated its deal on Tuesday, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas criticized the deal.

In a statement, Dumas said he was “alarmed” that the federal government has signed an agreement with the Manitoba Metis Federation without considering the implications for Manitoba First Nations, who are also negotiating their own self-government agreements and claiming much of the same land as the Métis.

Next steps following the agreement with the Métis Federation include negotiating a treaty and passing implementing legislation in Parliament.

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Self government

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Board of Directors Considering Self-Government Options

“We have to try,” says QIA chairman PJ Akeeagok

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. board members say they want to take a closer look at achieving greater self-government for the Inuit of Nunavut.

How to do this was discussed at NTI’s board meeting in Baker Lake on Wednesday, with several board members expressing disillusionment with the Government of Nunavut and the low number of Inuit among its leadership.

Kunuk Inutiq, director of self-determination of NTI, presented a report on the subject. She said that self-government for the Inuit of Nunavut would not fundamentally change its public government and that territorial leaders could still represent Nunavummiut.

“Inuit self-government would build on the elements of Inuit governance that already exist, quite logically through land claims organizations,” its report said.

But Inuit self-government would require these regional Inuit organizations to include institutions “that can better serve the interests of the Inuit and the Inuit.”

Options moving forward include negotiating with the GN to create an “intergovernmental services agreement,” she said.

Under such an agreement, NTI could take over the delivery of social programs such as education for Inuit in Nunavut.

Another option would be to develop Inuit-focused programs and services independent of the GN.

Or NTI could ask the federal government to enter into a formal self-government agreement, which could take up to 20 years.

PJ Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, said it was worth exploring the possibilities.

“We have to try,” he said after listening to the report.

Inutiq mentioned how Makivik Corp. set a precedent for Inuit seeking a form of self-government that would operate alongside regional public government.

“While Canada’s preference is for public government, federal policy and law do not exclude the possibility of Inuit self-government in Nunavut,” said Inutiq.

The GN would be unable to prevent the Inuit of Nunavut from pursuing a self-government process based on section 35, she said.

Section 35 is the part of the Constitution Act that recognizes and affirms Aboriginal rights and the inherent right of self-government.

But GN involvement would likely be required in all discussions with the federal government, she said.

And if self-government were sought under the Nunavut Accord, the GN would almost certainly be involved.

Either way, NTI said the GN couldn’t stop it from pursuing self-government.

The president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Kono Tattuinee, declared that he was “totally behind this quest which is ours”.

In a resolution, the board said NTI would reconsider self-government at its next annual general meeting.

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Sovereignty

Métis Nation of Alberta takes another step towards self-government

EDMONTON – The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is taking a further step towards the formation of self-government recognized by the federal government by entering a phase of province-wide consultations for its new constitution.

After signing the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement with the federal government in June 2019, the MNA began the process of creating formal self-government recognized by the federal government.

The member is currently consulting Métis citizens on a draft constitution that they believe will modernize their approach to self-government.

“Even though we have been recognized under this accord as a Métis government in Alberta, we know there are things we need to do to achieve greater federal recognition,” said Audrey Poitras, Chair of the MNA, at CTV News Edmonton.

One of those things, Poitras says, is to write a constitution.

“This is something our citizens have been asking for for many, many years.”

Prior to the MGRSA, the MNA created a Constitutional Commission in 2018.

Poitras says the desire for self-determination among the Métis has been around for a long time.

“I can go back, for me, from 30 to 35 years old when I attended annual meetings,” she said. “This has always been the direction given to our leaders… was to do something to get us out of the Societies Act and to develop this constitution so that we can be recognized as the Métis government that we really are. ”

The Commission organized a series of roundtables with members of the MNA Provincial Council, elders, knowledge keepers and community members from each of the six MNA regions.

According to the MNA, self-determination is necessary to ensure that the educational outcomes, employment prospects and personal health of Métis are not inferior to non-Indigenous Canadians.

Once the consultations are complete, the Constitutional Commission will hold a meeting for Métis citizens to consider the final version of the Constitution. If approved, the next step will be a province-wide ratification process.

“We’re at a point where finally we now have recognition,” Poitras said. “We can really now really move forward to talk about achieving this goal.”

The Commission hopes to publish the second draft of its Constitution by early April.

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Sovereignty

Nunavik needs self-government before needing protected lands: Makivik Corp.

Makivik Corp. says Nunavik cannot support Quebec’s plan for new protected areas in the region – not while the organization is working towards self-government.

In December, the Quebec government announced its intention to designate 29,785 square kilometers of new land reserves in Nunavik, as well as to expand two existing reserves.

These areas include the Innuksuac River Basin, the Arnaud River, Tursujuq North, Tursujuq Center, Tursujuq South, Eaton Canyon, Maritime Marsh, George River, George River North and Marralik River.

Once approved, these areas would be protected from industrial development.

But Makivik says the time is not right for the organization to support the plan, as the Inuit of Nunavik are in full consultation on the creation of a new Inuit government for the region.

Makivik refused to collaborate in the Press release of December 11 the Quebec government got angry when it announced the protected areas.

“Right now our focus is our self-determination,” said Adamie Delisle Alaku, vice president of environment, wildlife and research at Makivik Corp. “We are trying to regain our own authority over land and water.

Makivik does not have the means to block the government’s plans, although the proposed protected areas still need to be the subject of public consultations and an impact assessment before the province can give them the green light.

But the Inuit birthright organization hopes its message will be heard in Quebec.

Nunavik organizations participated in the selection of designated areas after the territory launched the Plan Nord, its master plan for development north of the 49th parallel, in 2011. Their participation has continued since then. But Delisle Alaku said the final proposal was brought forward by the province using French place names that most Inuit would not recognize.

Makivik Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government in May 2019 that serves as a framework for negotiations for Inuit self-government for the region.

It is not clear what roles a self-government of Nunavik would assume. But the Ottawa initiative on the recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination promises “the implementation and exercise of indigenous rights,” including the recognition of indigenous legislative power and inherent rights to the land.

Makivik’s chief negotiator is drafting a constitution for Nunavik, which the organization says will establish the conditions for establishing a regional government based on Inuit values, culture and language.

While Makivik is working with the federal government, the organization has not yet signed the same memorandum of understanding to work with Quebec.

“At the moment, we are in the early stages of our negotiations with the federal government, but that will have to change [to Quebec] soon, ”said Delisle Alaku.

“And this whole idea of ​​working together, nation to nation – we have a lot of progress to make.”

When the Quebec government first launched the Plan Nord, it made a commitment to protect 20% of the province’s landmass by 2020.

Today, 10 years and three governments later, this process is underway; François Legault’s government recently launched its own scaled-down version of a Nordic plan.

The latest land designations in Nunavik bring the total protected area of ​​the province to 12.7 percent.

“For me, it’s having a good report card,” said Delisle Alaku. “They are pushing their own agenda forward.”

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Home rule

New book examines black political power in pre-home rule DC

Photograph by Robert A. Landry.

In his new book, Capital of Democracy: Black Political Power in Washington, DC, 1960s-1970s, Lauren Pearlman examines the unique dynamic between local and federal power in the years leading up to the Home Rule Act of 1973. It was then that activists and leaders of the city’s predominantly black population fought against strict congressional oversight and helped DC residents elect their own mayor and representatives.

The House held DC’s first statehood hearing in 25 years last September, but the district still has a long way to go. In his book, which comes out next week, Pearlman, an assistant professor of history at the University of Florida, tells the story of DC’s struggle for democracy.

How did someone in Florida get interested in this?

I got a job at a civil rights law firm in DC [after college, nearly 15 years ago] and I moved to Columbia Heights on the 13th and to Harvard. And I would walk to work on 14th Street and U Street and walk by these dilapidated buildings or sites that hadn’t been rebuilt since the riots.

And that’s when I started to look at the city, just through my walks in the neighborhoods. You know, you could start to see the first signs of gentrification in Columbia Heights, and it made me wonder, “Well, what were those riots for?” I had only a superficial understanding of what happened after Martin Luther King [Jr.] was murdered in ’68. And so the question of what catalyzed the riots and inspired them, what kind of anger was running through the city, was the question I went to college to ponder more deeply. What I learned when I started to think more deeply about this issue is that you can’t tell the story of the riots without talking about government and without talking about self-determination and autonomy, and that this issue of autonomy was under all sorts of issues of civil rights and public order and urban development and renewal throughout the 20th century.

What was your research and writing process?

It started in high school [in 2009] and it started with my thesis work. And what I liked about this research is that my research took me everywhere. I used the George Washington University Special Collections, which houses the unprocessed records of the First Council just in boxes. You would just empty those boxes – well you didn’t because they wouldn’t let you do that [Laughs]. I handled them with care, but they were just in disorganized boxes that hadn’t been processed yet. And then, of course, the Martin Luther King jr. library also in DC, and there is only a treasure trove of DC documents related to activists and business and real estate groups there. And then to Austin, Texas, and Anaheim, California, where I watched the Lyndon Johnson papers and Richard Nixon papers and Department of Justice files and Attorney General files and things like that, because to understand DC’s history is to understand this local/national connection, because all the politics went through the channels federal as well as through local channels.

How would you describe the relationship at that time between the locals and the federal government?

You know, it’s so interesting because there are tensions in certain relationships – the mayor walter washingtonis with Richard Nixon were certainly tense, but there wasn’t much that people said outright about it, partly because if you were appointed to local government your job wasn’t secure and you could be replaced, which happened to some people on the City Council. And in a sense, too, what I discovered while writing this book is that even though the Johnson administration helped advance the issue of home rule by appointing a mayor and city council in 1967, it also really started to limit the settings. what they were able to do. And so, although it is hailed as a success, it also reduces the possibilities of autonomy in the future. And even what you see with some of Marion BarryThe campaign of the late 60s and early 70s is that it’s hard to mobilize people around the issue to vote when you have bills to pay or other issues that affect your life, or that you don’t have a job or that you live in public housing. And so, there were a lot of other issues that took precedence over the right to vote in people’s lives.

One thing that struck me about the book was that even though some black politicians and activists started to take power, there was still this struggle, even for people like Barry, who presented themselves as allies of the poorest black residents to effect change. these people.

Yeah, it’s really interesting, and it’s part of a lot of new postings about what those who were civil rights activists are doing now are part of the political machines. And you can see that in people who study Atlanta and Detroit and different cities where black mayors are appointed and city councils, they’re becoming more representative, but the voters they’re accountable to are often left out of the decision they’re making. Part of that, I think, in DC in particular, is that the white stakeholders that wielded a lot of power were really powerful, and so you see the decisions that they’re able to make [were] really hard to argue. But also development is a problem that most people who are in desktop support. It’s rare to see a politician go against decisions that will help the city benefit, and so when you look at a lot of the construction of a convention center or the development of Pennsylvania Avenue, those are decisions that politicians blacks supported them largely because the hope was that they would bring money to the city. A lot of these decisions were made about drug policy or methadone clinics or things like that with the expectation that they would solve real problems, but then have unintended consequences, like getting more people addicted drugs or things like that. But also, protection from crime is a universal issue, so some of the city council’s and the mayor’s decisions in terms of policing are because their black middle-class constituents also wanted more policing. ‘order. Now, the effects of that were oversurveillance of low-income black residents, but on the surface the idea behind it is a universal idea of ​​protection.

You talk about how elective office was kind of an alternative to activism and protest. Do you think it is possible to maintain a militant position in elected office?

Well, I think there are great examples today of people doing that. But at the time, being a black politician in power, as I show in my book, was a very difficult position to achieve anyway, so your options for radical change are really just precarious positions to take, d especially since home rule became law and you had to appease such a wide range of voters. So I think it’s a challenge. I think the system was not created to help radically change the office.

Did you learn anything that really surprised you during your research?

Yes I did it. I had no intention of writing a book that was so much about policing and police power, police brutality, criminalization and law and order. The body of literature on what we as scholars call prison studies, understanding the laws and policies that structure mass incarceration, simply did not exist when I began to do my research. There’s a group of academics who have done a really dynamic job of interrogating the prison system, but I didn’t really know it was going to be a story about it. And then when I started to do my research, I realized that the police were everywhere and criminalization was happening everywhere, and so that really became the core of the book, is that the use of power of policing to undermine radicalism and the use of law and order to excessively punish black citizens became a huge part of the book’s focus.

Near the end of the book, you address DC’s long fight for statehood. If this were to pass, do you think it would provide solutions to some of the issues raised in the book?

From criminal justice issues to living wages, these are all issues Congress has stepped in on [DC’s] own government could absolutely manage. But, you know, this push for a state is so crucial. To me, it’s disappointing that the state is happening, if and I hope it is happening, in a city that’s rapidly gentrifying, and not when there was a black majority that could have brought about change in the interest of residents who needed it at the time.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Editor

Nathan Diller has also written for DCist, Vulture and Bustle. On Twitter, his name is @nateclaydiller.

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Self government

The End of Self-Government on Norfolk Island – Rear Vision

For several decades, the small population of Norfolk Island was self-sufficient and self-sufficient. But the final steps in making them ordinary Australian citizens will take place on July 1 and, as Keri phillips reports, not everyone is happy.

Since the descendants of the Bounty mutineers took up residence on Norfolk Island, there has been a debate over the independence of the island.

While the people there have long viewed their home as an independent nation, the story of whether they were granted full ownership is murky.

I thought it was direct democracy that worked the best I have ever seen.

Captain Cook was the first European to visit Norfolk Island in 1774, and when Governor Phillip arrived in Sydney with the First Fleet in 1788 he almost immediately sent Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to establish a penal colony there.

At the start of the 19th century, the penal colony was closed, but there were problems on another small island, Pitcairn, where the descendants of the Bounty mutineers were struggling.

They petitioned Queen Victoria, who agreed to move them to Norfolk.

Peter Maywald, who was the Norfolk Island government secretary from 2003 to 2010, said the Pitcairners all moved by 1856.

“This is where the story gets murky, as Norfolk Islanders or Pitcairn descendants claim that Queen Victoria gave them the island in perpetuity on the condition that there are no punitive taxes.” , he said.

“The Australian government is disputing this, and the paperwork is ambiguous, I would say.

“But they still believe they were given Norfolk Island, it’s theirs, it’s not part of Australia, and Australia claims it’s outside territory.”

A successful democracy

Over the years, Norfolk’s administration fell to New South Wales and the federal government, until in the 1970s a royal commission recommended it be completely absorbed into Australia.

But, says Maywald, the locals weren’t happy with this. They communicated their feelings in no uncertain terms to then Home Secretary Bob Ellicott, who surprisingly enough agreed to empower them.

The Norfolk Island Act was passed in 1979, granting the island limited autonomy.

After the passage of the Norfolk Island Act, a legislative assembly, similar to that which governs the ACT, was established. As an advisor to this government, Maywald said he was surprised to see how well the system worked.

“I thought it was direct democracy that worked the best I have ever seen,” he says.

“They had citizen-initiated referendums, they didn’t have political parties, so all members were elected on their own political platform and expected them to deliver when they arrived. Cabinet ministers became the four or five who got the most votes, so the public really elected ministers.

“And parliamentarians were totally accessible to the people. It’s inevitable in a small community … If they were at the Foodland supermarket on a Saturday morning, people would come and ask about roads, retreats or whatever. And the other thing was that all of their parliamentary decisions were totally public and they were all broadcast live.

“It was a functioning parliament on the model on which I thought democratic parliaments should function.”

How the GST and GFC broke Norfolk

Norfolk Island was largely self-financing – it funded the hospital, school, infrastructure and power plant, says Jon Stanhope, who was Norfolk Island’s deputy administrator in the 1990s.

“The Norfolk Island Legislature has developed its own pension scheme, its own social safety net and its own medical benefit scheme, but of course nowhere near as generous as the schemes on the mainland.” , did he declare.

“But unlike that, of course, they don’t pay income tax and contribute to the continent’s tax base.

“I lived there for two years in the early 90s and it was a very, very happy, vibrant and proud community that, if asked, would almost unanimously respond that they had the best lifestyle. in the world.”

But Norfolk Island’s revenues were hit hard by two events in the early 2000s, first the introduction of the GST and then in 2008 the global financial crisis.

Maywald says Norfolk effectively lost its duty-free status when the GST went into effect.

“The things that were taxed at a very high rate on the mainland, the so-called luxury sales taxes on things like perfumes and alcohol and some household appliances and jewelry, they were extremely cheap on the island. from Norfolk because they didn’t have that sales tax, ”he says.

“Tourists would come there for a week and pay for their tickets with all the savings they made on their purchases.

Norfolk Islanders have not been compensated and tax changes have hurt their tourism.

“From that point on, most tourists were retirees or people on fixed incomes,” says Maywald.

Then in 2008, tourism plunged again as GFC made it difficult for the elderly to travel, while the high Australian dollar made vacationing abroad more attractive.

The roadmap to be part of Australia

These increasingly difficult economic circumstances ultimately ended self-government on Norfolk Island.

In 2010, in a decision that apparently surprised many Norfolk Islanders, Chief Minister David Buffett told the Legislature that the island would relinquish its autonomy in exchange for a Commonwealth bailout.

That year, Neil Pope, a former Victorian Labor MP and conflict resolution expert, went there as an administrator to negotiate what was known as the Norfolk Island Roadmap, in order that the island can be part of both the Australian tax system and the social safety net.

“We would back up their budget, but only on the basis that they were able to respond to various aspects included in the roadmap,” Pope said.

“They needed to increase their income, so it was things like trying to introduce property tax, which they never had. They might be props, but basically their only real source of income was a 12 percent GST that applied to everything.

He says the vast majority of the islanders were in favor of joining Australia’s tax system, but the loss of self-government was a sticking point.

“The way it’s portrayed is as if self-government has always existed on Norfolk Island. Well, self-government has only existed on Norfolk Island for 36 years, ”he says.

In 2014, the Standing Joint Committee on the National Capital and Outside Territories conducted a survey of the economic development of Norfolk Island, with particular emphasis on tourism. Jon Stanhope says their mandate was to inquire about the economic future and capacity of Norfolk Island and the main recommendation was to end self-government.

“They didn’t invite submissions on governance. They did not collect evidence on governance. Basically, they deceived the whole community, ”he says.

Integrating Norfolk into our democracy

One of the members of the Joint Standing Committee who recommended getting rid of self-government is Gai Brodtmann, the Labor MP for the Canberra seat, the ACT electorate where the people of Norfolk Island will now be registered to vote.

She says the current governance arrangements are holding back the island’s economic growth.

“Every time I have been up there I have seen a further deterioration in the economic situation: more shops closed, more industries failing and more people leaving the island, and that is very concerning.” , she says.

“All of these reviews highlighted the fact that the existing governance arrangements were not serving the island to the best of their ability. The current arrangements were simply not viable.

From July 1, what is called a regional council will take charge of what is traditionally the competences of local councils: roads, taxes and garbage. At the federal level, it will become compulsory to vote in the Canberra electorate in the ACT.

Where state laws would apply, it will be the laws of New South Wales, although residents of Norfolk Island cannot vote in New South Wales state elections. South.

“Just imagine any other community in Australia on the continent where you’re going to be holus-bolus in an electorate and you aren’t even asked for your opinion on this proposal,” Stanhope says.

“Especially when you live a few thousand miles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and they’ve decided to tie you into a landlocked electorate that is part of the nation’s capital.

“There is no responsibility, there is no political responsibility for the day to day decisions that affect your life.”

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