Dr. Dawg

Harper's Aboriginal enemies list

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Don’t speak up for the rights of Aboriginal children in Canada, or you will pay the price. Just ask Cindy Blackstock.

Blackstock, a University of Alberta academic and well-respected social worker in and for the Aboriginal community, is an outspoken children’s advocate. Recently, as the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, she went to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to fight federal government discrimination against children on reserves.

Her battle led to her being physically prevented from attending a meeting with Ontario Chiefs at the Aboriginal Affairs department.

Now, through an Access to Information request, it has been revealed that Blackstock has been the target of an on-going spy campaign by the Harper government.

There’s a long and scandalous backstory here that I wrote about two years ago. I reproduce some salient paragraphs here:

How many people know that Native children, who comprise 3.8 percent of the Canadian population, account for 30 percent of the children in foster care? Yet the funds provided by the federal government for children’s services on reserves (a federal responsibility) consistently lag equivalent provincial funding to non-Native children by 22 percent.

…At stake is between $80 million to $100 million annually for First Nations children. We aren’t talking extra funding here, but simply the amount that would bring these children’s services up to the level accorded off-reserve children.

Blackstock made a telling point to the Chair of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which one should juxtapose in one’s mind with Harper’s hollow apology to Canada’s aboriginals in 2008:

What is most important for me, and the Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations is that the children could no longer wait. There are more First Nations children in care today, Honourable Chair, than there were in residential schools at the height of their operations by a factor of three. [emphasis added]

Readers may recall that the quirky Harper-appointed Chair, Shirish Chotalia, dilly-dallied for a year and a half on this case before dismissing it on a technicality. Blackstock had some searching commentary at the time about this decision. The battle has since shifted to the federal courts, where Harper’s Department of Justice lawyers have continued to fight tooth and nail against the rights of Aboriginal children.

Meanwhile, the government has been spending taxpayers’ dollars on tailing Blackstock as she attends meetings across the country, and monitoring her Facebook account.

The department has amassed a large file on Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring society.

The file contains emails and notes about Blackstock’s personal information and critical briefings on her activities.

“They have found it necessary to not only put one employee onto tailing, but if you look at the records there are numerous employees on the government payroll who are being asked to comment on what I am doing or to violate my privacy by going on my personal Facebook pages,” said Blackstock.

Does this organized paranoia remind you of anyone? Of anything? It should. Who else is being followed around by Harper operatives in this “free and democratic society” of ours?

[H/t Kev and Buckdog]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 15, 2011 9:22 AM.

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