Friday, October 31, 2014

Afghanistan - Thoughts from the Past


This was my thinking a couple of years ago on the Afghan Challenge, now the west is leaving one wonders what will fill the vacuum. We may be there training (CANADA), but really, how much confidence can we have in the new military. To call the new order in Afghanistan "fledgling" would be optimistic. We have to do better, better than intervening and leaving the job half done, only to have it become undone as it has in Iraq. Please read and judge for yourself whether what was offered here was better than what is happening now.   

Modified Letter to Government.

In my observations of events around Afghanistan and Iraq there has been one single deficiency in the overall approach, that deficiency being a desire to rush to conclusion. While it seems obvious to me, and many others who comment regularly on Afghanistan, that moving a country from a medieval or feudal circumstance to a modern secular state requires thorough planning which contemplates actions spread over decades as opposed to years – the appropriate mission statement “by 2050 the seeds of a modern secular state will have taken root.” To try and plan action around the threats of the United States election cycles is most certainly going to result in painful outcomes rather than in pain for gain; and painful outcomes have been the case in Iraq to a large extent and now a similar possible reality is looming with Afghanistan.

By developing a culture of extended participation within the ranks NATO, other non military participants and the respective supporting electorates of NATO members, the situation may reach a management horizon which is tenable. The forces of oppression resisting progress in Afghanistan believe that if they provide chronic resistance the west will go the way of Russia. The west’s resolve must be demonstrated at every turn, and the message of extended western presence until the country has reached a clearly communicated and predetermined desired state must be loud and clear.

The inclination to simply “add water and stir” resulting in order is sorely evident in what has evolved in Afghanistan to date. Overwhelming military force and underwhelming attention to the long term reality and cultural realities on the ground have contributed to a resurgent Taliban. If there is a single strategic correction to be made, it would be to seek a sustained burn rather than a flash in the pan. We’ve attempted overwhelming force and are approaching a decade of effort now, had we accepted that we were going to be in Afghanistan for a decade at the start, we would very likely be in a better place now. A smaller, well fortified military presence will effect the change we want over time. Expending real military resources, public development resources and public opinion – Afghan and western - in massive quantities for the quick fix is foolhardy. We know it is foolhardy because the breath of very recent experience has shown it to be foolhardy.                 

It is time now to realize that we have to shape a society there that meets the criteria of a member of the world community, over time – time equals decades. A military presence which can secure itself and be sustained there indefinitely is required. A well fortified presence which signals extended presence – presence until objectives are met regardless of time frame. The Taliban say we have the watches and they have the  time and the define victory by our leaving, as long as we are there they have yet to win.

There are many competing factions in Afghanistan, that when absent a common foe would surely seek a dominate position. Among them will be those that threaten to take the country down the path of regression and yet others who would seek a more progressive route should the right incentives and deterrents be put in place. Rather than being preoccupied with functional governance in totality now, it might be better to move the country forward through the direction of “hard” power  for now, with functioning government in totality as an end goal. This strategy melds more effectively with the fractured nature of the Afghanistan’s societal landscape.   
The present circumstance holds a gross asymmetry of power in favour of NATO, yet the Taliban seem, by many accounts, to be gathering influence. Rather than attempting to confront this reality head on, there may be means to be more effective with a passive stance. If the west were to retreat to secure positions and only emerge to effect changes in the balance of power as competing factions from within Afganistan seek control, the bulk of the struggle would take place with NATO troops to the side. The strategy of passive support promises that over time NATO can shape the country by gradually supporting persons sympatric to NATO’s values of secularism and democracy. This sort of effort was demonstrated successful in Iraq with support being given to the Kurds, a functional society emerged there prior to the last invasion and remains a functional region of the country to this day.   

I am extremely proud of Canada’s role in Afghanistan supporting a people whose existence is so merger it is painful to contemplate. We have a choice now, to leave the country in the hands of the violent with subsistence as the only life modality or to take the long view that ensures a meaningful future for Afghanistan and a future for us.  We have to make peace, it is the paradox of peace that at times it must be fought for or earned  over time. If we waver now, the violence we seek to end there may visit us here, a fate I want to nullify out of consideration for my children and grandchildren.  

Letter to Government


The dialog in the press of late around the Afghanistan mission is concerning. The tepid nature of leaders and prominent persons related to the mission is generating a sense of looming failure and emboldening the opponents to the mission. Even Mr. Rasmussen, while speaking on CNN, used rhetoric which was somewhat muted and included the statement “we may have underestimated the mission”. Senator Kenny was on CTV musing about another “Vietnam” and an ardent supporter of the mission and a past Canadian General stated “we can’t stay past 2011”. In the absence of a clear definition of victory and the persistence of tepid or defeatist dialog, the mission is failing not in the provision of security, but in the minds of generals and politicians.

We need clear leadership, strong leadership and bipartisan support. We need to set aside the weak kneed adherence to political correctness and tell the Canadian public that while we have paid dearly with 130 Canadian lives, that Canada is winning the battles in terms of military metrics and in the betterment of Afghan lives. There needs to be amplification in rhetoric stating the consequences of failure, consequences to NATO’s relevance and world political stability. Presently the message is weak or virtually nonexistent, once again opening the door to dissenters.

It is incumbent on leadership now to be clear both here in Canada and on the international stage. There seems to be a propensity presently by many to distance themselves from the mission, as the Afghan circumstance becomes politically risky. Post WW2 history is littered with examples of arrested military enterprise at the leave of meek leadership, with devastating consequence. We need to ensure at this critical juncture that attention is given to Afghanistan and that all the related ramifications of success or failure are communicated with clarity. A more amplified message may generate an environment to allow the kind of leadership to emerge that forms public opinion as opposed to bending to it.   

Thank you for your leadership as Minister of National Defense and matters related to the Afghan mission, your support for the mission has been evident; it is my sincere hope this letter lends support to your efforts.    



In Ethics for the New Millennium the Dalai Lama said “Our interests are inextricably linked, we are compelled to accept ethics as the indispensable interface between my desire for happiness and yours.” As with all wisdom, this quote’s content broaches an almost universal truth and provides a platform for my contemplation regarding government. As our interests are inextricably linked and indeed the need for an effective interface is indispensable, an interface that promotes mutual happiness seems to me to be the most laudable of pursuits. This premise sums perfectly the writer’s view of government, as an indispensable interface between my desire for happiness and yours. Imagine if you will, a government that permits human action, with the only precondition on that action being the freewill of a sovereign citizen, in benign coexistence or in concert with others.

“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another. “ Winston Churchill

In the contemplation of governance, the fundamental question is “do I view the populous as a collection of individuals or a group of people?” Clarifying which perspective finds resonance with you, largely determines whether top down policy or grassroots policy is your preference.

By viewing the populous as a group of individuals, greater attention is directed to a person as a free agent and the requisite personal responsibility is conferred to that individual. By contrast, viewing the populous as a group of people to be managed, a greater significance is placed on the group and the individual tends to be muted. One needs to set a priority on whether they want to extend trust to the grassroots for self and societal direction, or relinquish self and societal direction to the collective. Ironically, democracy can generate action at or near the extremes, or anywhere along the continuum. Most political debate is over the degree and nature of state services as they affect societal positioning along the state control continuum.

Social Capital refers to the ease with which people in a particular culture can form associations. It is suggested that the more facilitated the forming of associations is, the more prosperous a state or entity will be. Sovereign individuals, unconstrained by excessive government oversight are best able to build social capital – and pursue outcomes in the context of creative human action.

Cultural Trajectory is the process of developing concepts by a society (or cultural unit) over time. Trajectory refers to the broadening and increasing complexity of a concept and infers no value. The concept of weight first emerged from humans’ interactions with the physical world. The concept of heavy and light flowed to the concept of balance, by the experience of picking up objects of different weight and discovering one was heavier than the other, these perceptions flowed to the concept of incremental gradient in weight, which flowed to our modern concept of weights and measures. In the context of organizational development, Cultural Trajectory provides a useful conceptual framework for contemplating the emergence of human thought and action in relation to a given environment; the more points of origin, the more vectors of human endeavour, the more opportunity for cultural trajectory. This is a numbers game and it is better to have the mass of the world’s people representing points of origin than a few people in government.

Contrasting to “several points of origin” are societal mega structures with related paternalism and the retraction of self-reliance.  When people become reliant on centralized mega structures that serve them proficiently in day to day terms, albeit inefficiently in the case of government, they lose the sense of self-preservation; apathy and complacency sets in, and they are unprepared to sustain themselves absent the support and direction of societal mega structures.
Strength in structure comes from dispersed component parts providing for the creation of a gestalt, a gestalt comprised of functioning elements with redundancy and diversity. A society built on a foundation of secure, strong, self-reliant, critical thinking individuals, united in a family unit, part of a vibrant community, has inherent in it stability. This structure of self-reliant people collectively functioning creates more than stability; it creates a virtuous path of influence into a governance structure, a government structure which is dependent on the people as a strong foundation.
Order emerges from chaos to generate an entity, only chaos provides this opportunity. Entropy, then is a desirable thing in societal systems; in economic terms we call this “creative destruction”. Sovereign individuals engaging in human exchange in an unencumbered fashion is chaotic, but from that chaos comes new modalities of communion and the resulting outcomes; unpredictable and magnificent in their potential. In the absence of an autonomous individual, this capacity to create new order is suppressed. Entropy is humanity’s constant companion, the unordered state lurking beneath the surface of societal order struggling to consume order again. The greater the order, the greater the pull to chaos and the more energy required to maintain order. The more complex human order becomes, the more important it is for multiple and varied substructures. Centralized systems contain points of weakness and or influence, trip wires that facilitate collapse. A system constructed of a multiplicity of diverse substructures offers stability through repetition (redundancy per engineering), the absence of points of concentrated influence and multiple routes to solution.     
Centralized structures offer efficient mediums for the few to control the many, regardless of the few’s intent. The more centralized systems become, the more centralized the intelligence becomes. It follows then, that the more centralized the system functionality becomes, the more exposed they become too tyrannical risk, and or collapse, as a result of some weak point in their structure.

As is often the case, nature is our best teacher and offers insight here to the reality that the absence of central planning still permits and indeed requires planning. That is to say, entities need to plan, but in response to the natural dynamic of human action, as opposed to the planning of human action. One often observes in the natural world phenomena like a flock of birds numbering in the thousands flying in perfect formation, speeding through the sky darting at obstacles, choosing direction depending on their collective environment. This unison occurs as the group of birds, sharing the same desired outcome and responding to the same environment take action – this event transpires absent a shred of central planning, but we can plan for it. We can through observation understand the various contributing factors determining the birds’ behaviour and anticipate their actions and provide for them. The same is true for spontaneous human action; government has a role to play in anticipating and planning. The key distinction is, when the oppressive central body is removed and replaced by an observer and facilitator, the spontaneity and creativity of the full breadth of human action finds expression.
Take a moment to contemplate your dependency on mega structures which are completely outside your influence: electrical distribution systems, food supply, fuel distribution – the list is extensive. Now ask yourself the length of time you could exist without one or all of them. In business we use the term “burn rate” to describe the time it would take for a company to run out of cash absent income. Ask yourself what your system independent burn rate is, the time you personally could exist absent one or all of these mega systems. Having engaged in this exercise you will have some sense just how close to chaos our daily lives are.

Parents must teach their children well the responsibilities of humanity and society’s need to empower, place faith in and remove constraints from the individual. Every single act of human progress is based on the act of a single individual. Our society needs to transfer trust back to the individual to make their own choices; informed individuals collect and operate in rational ways; centralized entities distort human intent and create precarious structures.

Promoting the fundamental right of self-governance – to exercise personal choice in the absence of obstruction or harm to others this it is my interest in the writing of this blog piece, to make a case for the grassroots to manage and direct their own lives, in the context of two freedoms (to be explained in detail below); and to develop a view of government as a facilitator of human exchange, as opposed to, a controller of people. In western democracies, governments are experiencing mission creep because in democracies governments get elected based on people wanting something and government providing it. This is a good thing, but as has happened with so many civilizations in the past, governments can collapse under their own weight. It is my assertion that by extending to the individual greater status with the commensurate responsibility, governments remain democratic, plastic and less totalitarian.              

Another key influencing factor in the contemplation of government is, at what point does government end and civil society begin, or perhaps more importantly, where does civil society end and government begin? Oil and water make an excellent metaphor for Civil Society and Government, but rather than their separation occurring on the horizontal plane, they would separate on the vertical plane.  When one chooses to view society as a collection of autonomous sovereign individuals, we are able to extend tolerance to human action that may be out of accord with our own life modality. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, all we need for reason to prevail is to accept other’s truths to be as valid as our own. Christianity is the dominant influence in the western narrative and as such Christian morality has found strong expression in our society and by extension in our governments - in the main, this is a good thing.

Challenges  do arise however, when large portions of the population have chosen actions which challenge strict Christian morality and then find themselves marginalised as a result. This phenomenon delegitimizes government in the eyes of those whose views are marginalised. Government needs to, to the extent possible, serialise the presence of morality from government action. By way of example, 30% of Canadians have at some point used Cannabis; the use of Cannabis grates against the Christian moral tenet which challenges the hedonistic pursuit of an altered state – morality, as opposed to science, is at the root of the prohibition of Cannabis use. The specifics of drug policy are discussed another blog, what is important at this point is the realisation that 30% of our population are having morality imposed on them by the most draconian of means available in our society – as autonomous sovereign agents they would have the right to choose.

Freedom extends to all choices absent moral judgment - in the absence of harm to others. If someone’s action is absent harm or influence to others, that breaches a moral tenet of mine, I have the right to engage them intellectually, I am absent the right to incarcerate them. Government’s function is to manage disparate action of people to promote harmonious prosperity; morality belongs in Civil Society where persuasion takes place one individual to another, as opposed to state coercion over a greater or lesser minority.  Christ’s message of love and tolerance is a beautiful thing; the Christian moral complex has given us an outstanding base from which to build. The goal of government is to have people choose the Christian moral complex for themselves as opposed to imposing it through rule of law. The Christian moral complex came to me with my mother’s milk, is an innate part of me – as an adult I have chosen which parts are relative to my life and which are not – that is my right to exercise.            

“The whole virtue of justice, therefore, the most important of all the virtues, is no more than discreet and prudent conduct with regard to our neighbours.” Adam Smith

The progression of order then, when contemplating governance with emphasis on the individual will generate a gradation of influence which runs as follows: individual, family, community, region, country, macro region, world. This progression is sequenced as shown above and linked. To make explicit the writer’s intent, the ultimate culmination of human governance has as its genesis self-governing sovereign individuals on whom the progressive forms of assembly and those assemblies’ actions are dependant, with, as its culmination, a responsive world mode of governance.

The recognition of personal sovereignty as a sanctity inherent in our humanity is the cornerstone of a democracy. Personal sovereignty is for the state to ensure all people have, as opposed to a privilege it can extend. Granted, as the social contract has evolved we have forfeited some sovereignty to facilitate a functioning society; of the upper most concern, however, must be the preservation of choice of personal creed. The right of self-determination must be preserved as the sole domain of the individual. Personal sovereignty must be the paramount focus of governance; every word on every page of legislation should be vetted in the context of personal choice. By extending a sacred emphasis to personal sovereignty, a culture of personal choice builds moving governance away from totalitarian authoritarianism where people live in a state of subordination, to a democratic state of being with free individuals.

This perspective is somewhat different than the common definition of human rights, where every human holds basic rights by virtue of their humanity. While the basic consideration of human rights is certainly valid in governance, the perspective posited here has as its priority choice. These two premises are inclusive, it is the writer’s assertion, however, that choice be the first order of business. There is a harmonic in their interaction; total personal sovereignty has both elements as components. 

The concept of sovereignty is misdirected at states; the extension of sovereignty to the state originates in the tenets of the Westphalian perspective, where credence was granted to the authority of the state. This perspective and its actuation have clearly resulted in harmful nationalism. I am proud to be Canadian and an ardent advocate of the dominion of Canada, but I view Canadian government as a management body for the region in which I live. The extending of sovereignty to the individual precludes both intra and interstate excess. Strong international commitment to personal sovereignty facilitates the fading of the damaging effects of borders, while at the same time permitting an appropriately powerful state.

The two freedoms, (1) the absence of coercion, and (2) the knowledge and the means to self-actuate are what provides the possibility of personal sovereignty and the absence of either precludes sovereign action. The first freedom is the absence of coercion, which extends to the individual the ability to engage in life actions without state coercion or coercion from other citizens – personal choice permitted. The second freedom is the state’s or private citizen’s responsibility to extend the knowledge and means for people to self-actuate. It is the second freedom’s extent of emphasis that determines the size of government, and it is in the contemplation of addressing the second freedom that most political debate emanates from.

The first freedom - the absence of coercion contributes to personal sovereignty by allowing the individual to say “my actions are my own provided they are absent harm to others.” This is a critical element of freedom as it is the first facilitator of personal sovereignty. As Thomas Jefferson said “if a man neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, what do I care if he has one or a hundred gods”.  This quote aptly communicates the appropriateness of any harmless action by any individual and alludes to the separation of church and state.

Personal sovereignty, liberty, freedom are words so seldom heard in contemporary discourse, yet they are what youth should lust after. Under a blanket of prosperity and the resulting apathy, the stark reality is that there is an insidious progression of state into our personal lives. While the sovereign individual is flaunted and exalted in our culture, people are relinquishing choice daily. Human beings have been struggling for millennia to liberate themselves; wars have been fought, governments fallen. What single component of our society is more paramount? What better indicator of success for a society, than the level of personal sovereignty? It is my opinion that personal liberty is waning in Western Society. There are several forces at work eroding our liberty; mass fear and the zealous application of technology to “protect” us; the inclination of government to overextend itself in the context of the second freedom, contemporary governments inclination to protect us from ourselves; the limiting of choice due to monopolist inclinations of government – the list is extensive. We must pull the populace from complacency by making explicit what occurs tacitly every day, just outside our perception; one piece of legislation at a time, our right to govern ourselves is being taken away.   

“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned, an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ottawa Shootings - Intelligent Action Must Be Informed Action

What is a rational response to occurrences in Ottawa? There is no rationale to constrain or erode my freedoms, or the vast majority of Canadians. There is a rationale for the Canadian Government to become more informed as an institution. The focus for our government in the aftermath of recent events needs to be to build intelligence collection capacity. Canada is ideally positioned to be the “information” broker in the NATO alliance, in efforts against terror and in efforts associated with maintaining world order.

Canada has a diverse population, all races and creeds are well represented here. We have many second and third generation citizens of varied ethnicity and religious backgrounds we can draw on in building an effective intelligence network. These individuals are Canadian Patriots, well versed in their respective cultures and religions who believe in the Canadian vision; people we can trust to bring intelligence home.

Canada should direct resources away from conventional warfare to foreign intelligence gathering and cyber effectiveness. The most glaring deficiency in the entire interface with Islam, for example, has been the absence of communications - the appropriate gathering and distribution of information. By a rapid, massive and sustained expansion of intelligence capacity, Canada can become the information broker for all western security efforts. Information is power, information and its creative delivery determines the actions of Nations – investment here permits Canada to leaver defense spending in a way that allows greater influence than trying to function in the ambit conventional military efforts. By focusing on foreign intelligence gathering, there are fewer requirements to impose on our domestic citizenry and put the focus of efforts where the threat is.

As it is better to “jaw jaw jaw than to war war war”, as an extension of the expanded information gathering capacity there should be an expansion of information distribution. An expanded role for the CBC to broadcast to key jurisdictions and expand cyber information distribution, would give the ability to speak to the people – to build better intercultural understanding.

The Canadian government should make robust efforts here; funds directed to conventional military efforts would find a greater effectiveness in this arena.  

Be Mindful of Fear - CANADA It will constrain us

In the aftermath of the Ottawa shootings, the fear level will grow. The loss of two young lives, one aligned culturally and one counter culture is an absolute shame. Each was brought to a circumstance by different paths, one can deliberate of their respective paths, what is unequivocal however, is that their deaths came from a conflict larger than themselves. It is important however, to bring the loss of these two young men into perspective in the context of governance, policy and real threat. While there is no means by which to value their loss, there is a means to ground ourselves in reality so that the sentiment from their loss will be directed appropriately and proportionately.

To offer context, last year, direct deaths attributable to terrorist attacks ZERO, deaths attributable to preventable medical accidents 10, 000. Where, then, should the focus of legislators be and where is it now? It was reported that 3,000 people died in attacks related to 911, that same year in the USA, 100, 000 people died from preventable medical accidents – where did legislators focus their attention. It was reported that due to the fear of flying post 911 there was an incremental increase in deaths related to car accidents that exceeded deaths attributable to 911.  Due to the events around 911, there was an assault launched on civil liberties at a scale that would never have been permitted absent the skewed sense of risk projected by 911, as it was portrayed by media and government. The United States Constitution is a beautiful document that should be held up as the preeminent example of freedom governance, post 911 there was an unprecedented incursion on the spirit of the document and by extension the American way of life. We need to be cognizant of what transpired south of our boarder, and bring the rational mind to the challenge, or we too will forfeit hard-won freedoms given to us by preceding generations to protect.

There is talk of preemptive justice, the capacity for state intervention when someone is “thinking about doing something”. We have as the most basic right, as a fundamental legal tenet the presumption of innocence and for our rightful state of liberty to be interrupted, the state must prove wrong doing. There is no room here for preemptive justice, the notion is oxymoronic. It is the case now, if the state can prove intent to harm, the state can intervene. We have the means by which to counter terrorism, it is a matter of directing them correctly. In the event of a serious domestic or international event, we have the War Measures Act. Watch closely how our government responds to this, it is easy, especially in the face of a direct threat, for legislators to go too far and jeopardize our rights and freedoms.   

“The price for freedom is constant vigilance” Thomas Jefferson    


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Islam - More Pain OR More Solution



Equally true of France ...
Equally true of Manchester ...

Recent events that resulted in the death of two young men may have been a product of lunacy. Lunacy certainly had a part to play, lunacy founded on a chemical imbalance or lunacy induced by dogma or perhaps some combination of the two.  There has been a long-standing human condition, some have beliefs when others disagree, people get to die – and who better to incite to action but a person affected by illness. If only we could begin in some way to accept other’s truths to be as valid as our own. The reality is, however, that there are people who are unwilling to accept any truth but their own, so as a result, they seek to recruit young men (mostly) to do their bidding; it has always been thus. The question is then, what to do, acquiesce to other’s beliefs in the interests of civility OR fight. 

We are faced with a brutal reality in the Middle East, a reality that is a product of competing civilisations. I, for one, am eternally grateful for Islam – Islam that had life modalities that exceeded “our” own hundreds of years ago.  The reality is though, that we – Christendom and Islam – have found conflict for hundreds of years.  We have arrived where we are as a product of European adventurism in the Middle East, or at least, the west’s desire to dominate the region. Christendom's desire to dominate the region, is founded in large measure, I believe, out of well-founded fear – it is quite recently that Islam’s ladders were on the walls of Naples.

The fact is, we, Europeans, have in many ways sowed the seeds of discontent, we have left the young families wanting, and all the while piping Life  Styles of the Rich and Famous into their living rooms via modern media. The clear discrepancy between our living standards, the historical triumph of Islam, the historical “parity” of civilisations in contrast with the present disparity – have conspired to build a pan-Islam resentment of the “West”. We need to go to Islam with an access ticket to prosperity in one hand and a missile in the other and hope we all choose wisely. In Canada we live a privileged life, while we incur angst scouring consumer reports to find out the safest SUV to buy, Islam is incurring carnage – children pay. This disparity in human existence will find balance one day, we would do well to manage it, rather than have it manage us.

We need to confront “extremism” from a position of strength, we need to clearly exert our position – we need to be at once the bridge builder and the quintessential warrior.  We need to remember that the only means by which to confront extremism in Islam, is from a position of strength, it worked in the cold war, and it will work again. There can be no weak-kneed appeasement, only a clearly stated intention with a consistent and undiminished pursuit of that intention. Islam has seen the west deploy “might”, effect some devastation and then leave. Afghanistan is a classic example, the West wanted to add water and stir to arrive at a solution, the reconstruction of a nation is a multi-decade affair, we broached the endeavour between USA election cycles – we are paying the price.

Causation & Walking mile in Islam’s Moccasins

The grievances that drive the extremism in Islam are generations deep and correctly founded when contemplating Islam as theocratic “peers” rather than adversaries.  It is difficult to understand the collective pain that ensued at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, 1000 years of “supremacy” fell into disarray. I had an opportunity once to speak to a young Sudanese Islamic man, he relayed a story about his grandfather. His grandfather was an Islamic Scholar, an eminent man in his own right – in his own country. The British were occupying Sudan and the appointed British official had occasion to visit this young man’s grandfather place of work – the University. As the preeminent scholar, the young man’s grandfather was selected to “greet” the British official, upon meeting the British official a gust of wind came and blew the British Official’s hat off, the British Official ordered the young man’s grandfather to go get it. This represented a gross offence to the young man’s grandfather – of course. The young man and his family came into possession of a deep resentment of the West as a product of what happened that day.  This was an event that was more or less, trivial, trivial in the context of the death and mayhem that has transpired of late – the resentment from that event has lasted in excess of 3 generations. The moral of this story is that we have bred discontent by being content with systematised regional disparity.

The League of Nations Europeans “divvied” up the Middle East, in doing so the cleaved Nation States, Kurdistan and the Pashtun nations are two of note. This cleavage alone is causing discord; these nations existed as the Nation States for thousands of years, they evolved out of the land, the commerce that could occur there and the cultures the came to be. We are feeling the pain now for our willingness to simply draw lines on a map to get agreement – raw territory considered – the technocratic approach to settlement, nary an anthropologist insight.   

We had a cold war, remember, the spectre of the two titans facing off met the end of humanity, so rather than risk that happening, we had fifty years of proxy wars. The Middle East was proxy war central, one shudders at the human toll this took. This is in no way criticism of the West’s desire to prevail, we needed to win, this is a grim acknowledgement that in doing what was required, innocent paid, as is often the case – and it is understandable how one would be radicalized in the environment that emerged from the realities in the Middle East with the cold war realities playing such prominent role.

The Middle East has oil, the lifeblood of our world economy. Afghanistan, still untamed as a pipeline corridor for the Baltic oil and gas reserves to the lucrative and massive Pakistani and Indian markets – First Russia then the West. People often say “it’s all about oil”, as though oil is a trivial thing with profit as the sole consideration – stability relies on commerce, commerce is dependent on oil. People understand the stakes are high with oil, in commerce, in profit – and so oil makes the Middle East a target for power brokers.

Where we've failed in a most grievous way, is to use our might to facilitate our interests at the expense of local populations – when the opportunity has always existed to be generous. We must attach the profit incentive of oil to the local populace so that the wellbeing of children is accelerated as it gets caught in the generalised vortex of accent. I have a bleeding heart for the world’s innocent, most certainly, but this suggestion is bore of pragmatism, everyone likes to prosper, and prosperous people are normally peaceful people.

The people of Abraham have jealous gods at play and competing prophets, we have a metaphysical dog fight occurring and prophets at odds, make no mistake, that for many, this is in no way the rational pursuit of profit and territory, but rather the fight for theological unification and or the preservation of theological mass to then effect dominance in the application of religion. It is curious that the only pacifists in the people of Abraham are the ones holding sway at the moment, no thanks to pacifism. Christ, as a portion of our psychological construct, a truly gentle man who fell prey to persecution, has effected an archetype in the mind of Christendom that has vigilance for Christendom’s collective persecution and persecution’s prevention at the top of mind. There is no more dangerous dog than a fearful dog, there is no more powerful motivator than the fear of loss, there is powerful historical fact to trigger this concern in Christendom. It may be in part rational to conclude, that this has driven our actions and to a degree effected the marginalisation of many in Islam in an irrational or extreme way. 
To what degree is contemplating causality valuable, it is valuable to the point that it informs the appropriate interface with Islam. Islam has erred, Islam has been guilty of radicalising people – certainly, Islam has demonstrated the desire to dominate us in the West. We need to examine our part in this conflict and take responsibility for our actions – it is only from this point that we can understand the interests of Islam, our interests and forge a future together – the world is just too small now for regionalized civilizations – we are one big troubled family now, we need to start functioning.   

The Way Forward

It is the irony of peace that it must be earned with war, the sum total of human existence has found war as our constant companion, our most ugly constant. Peace exists where there is hegemony, it is the configuration of that hegemony that determines the length and breadth of the peace. Presently, the West holds hegemony, at the fall of the wall it was unparalleled, however, of late it is eroding. We need to be strong in NATO, relentless in response to aggression – but most importantly we need to realise how much of a marathon this is, and in doing so, us military action as a short-term measure to contain wrongful action as opposed to seeing it as the solution.  

In Afghanistan, constructive military intervention ended at the bombing of the caves, direct military intervention by Western forces on the ground was bad strategy looking for outcome in a time horizon conceived by military men, rather than by a truthful perusal at history.

You can subdue people, you can take territory – for a time – but human will - will always find it’s way to the surface because human will travels in meams from one generation to another. Like the young man I spoke to about his grandfather, lore builds cultural and over time the wrongs perceived gain mass rather than diminish. There is a cultural inertia in Islam to “get a little back”. The leader of ISIS is emblematic of this reality, he is a genius with a PHD in theology, how can someone who has such insight and time thinking embark on a mission as he has. By what means has ISIS massed, the means I believe has as a component our neglect of the innocent. Money gives power, Christendom has been reluctant to give its old foe power – TRUST is wanting; the outcome here has been people in poverty and general marginalisation, while often, sitting amidst a sea of oil going somewhere else, benefiting someone else. When there is a disparity between living standards, resentment and extremism thrive, when tummies are growling – this is doubly true.

There needs to be a cultural imperative in actors in these regions to seed prosperity. Presently, it is often the case commerce rewards government and ignores people. The oil majors and other actors need only do one simple thing, to provide in a direct way to the people, a portion of royalties paid the government. This could be achieved either through negotiating a portion at the table with government or budgeting funds as a part of operations, to fund the population – a very small investment would garner a great deal of goodwill. It is the reality that in order to get the government you want, you have to circumvent government and provision influence to people. The broader and more diverse the influence, the more stable society becomes over time.  
Winston Churchill understood war, understood humanity and the interplay between the two – his advice was “it is better to jaw jaw jaw than to war war war”. Jawing has been left wanting, at least the kind that directs a meaningful outcome. We have permitted the jaws of extremist Islam to remain wagging in a void of a meaningful counter measure. Even in the midst of media, a society soaked in media every minute of every day; we have failed to harness this resource effectively in swaying the Islamic World toward meaningful coexistence with us. 

We were in Afghanistan in a very financially taxing way – in lives spent and in money spent, “with boots on the ground”, for in excess of a decade. After bombing of the caves, what incremental benefit accrued to our interests? In fairness, there is a marginal benefit, but any gains are tentative at best. The primary driving factor in developing a policy toward Afghanistan was TIME, we in effect “pulled out the stops” in funding militarily action chasing a “timely” solution. What eroded public support for the mission, the death of our soldiers – “our” being NATO personnel?

If we had accepted 50 years for our management horizon, how might we have proceeded? We would have eliminated immediate threat, military intervention required here. Then what, would we have put boots on the ground, people in the middle of an insurgency, why? Let me posit my solution, a solution that is actionable today, as relevant as it has ever been – a solution, most importantly, that would have prevented the death and injury of our young people, a solution that would have placed risk where risk must be, with the beneficiaries of action.

We need do one thing, to build a vanguard in Islam that is aware of the value of secularism; that understands that secularism is the umbrella under which we all can live, that secularism is in no way the absence of theology but a place where all can thrive. Contemplate please, the time, the logistics, resources, life and the nearly trillion dollars spent, that went into our action in Afghanistan to date, hold those costs in mind when contemplating my suggested course of action – my solution draws from the success of Japanese industrialization, focus on effectiveness and let time take care of itself and draws from the success in Turkey where leadership enshrined, under the strength of the military, a secular imperative.

I offer as a solution to recruit to a boarding school environment youth and remunerate them, at as early an age as is ethical, perhaps age 12,. Recruitment would take place from every corner of the country. The facilities would have a campus feel, it is as important for people to experience the quality of life as it is to learn about it, having had it, the desire to maintain it is stronger. The curriculum would be theological, political and militarily based. Attendance would be perhaps 8 years in duration and attendance would be constant – save visits home if possible. This is would be a rigorous proposition for these youths, rigor required given their present fate. 

I offer this should be pursued with military discipline and intensity, at the close of a decade, graduates would number in the thousands – perhaps twenty thousand or more. This is an education mega project founded on the premise that knowledge rules, that proper education enlightens and that the innate good in people can only be actuated absent indoctrination and in a place of independence.

There are challenges in the actuation of this proposal, the outcomes here at worse are some educated young people, by far better than dead and injured young people. The best outcome would be in fifty years the seeds of reason will have taken hold, and a government, Islamic, that understands us and secularism would be present. Give me a trillion, I get it done.

Here is the reality we face if we persist with greed, ineptitude and ineffectiveness – the people of Islam will come here, angry,  to avenge generations of perceived injustice. I quake at the prospect of my generation’s failure leaving my grandchildren’s blood in its wake. Look at the carnage and discord in Islam now, it can come to us in the future. Islam’s children are paying for our indifference, for the indifference of their leadership and for a history of human disregard.  There is an alternate reality for us all, to deploy resources there to fight for reason and prosperity for the people of Islam, as their solution is our solution.

More on the subject 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Law, Legislation and Civil Liberty - Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia - What is to become of us?



1) Introduction 
2) Recognising the Past
3) Situation Analysis
4) Way Forward 


First Nation Concerns

As part of my interests, personal and commercial, I am often contemplating the management and use of Crown Lands. In British Columbia 95% of our province is Crown Land, a massive amount of wealth lays latent in this “land trust”, wealth to fuel our economy and the future wellbeing of our population. So when the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia decision came to my attention, I thought it useful to review the decision from a business perspective, “What are the implications here?” and “How might I direct my efforts in the future?”. Most of the activities I propose to use Crown Land for will find the acceptance of the First Nation People’s (FNPs) and non-native British Columbians alike, the implications for large scale industrial actors however, are substantive, it may mean that some activities undertaken in the past stop, it may mean that who they do business will change – more with the FNP’s and less with the Crown, or in some instances the time between asking to use Crown Land and getting access may render a project untenable – consultation is costly and, at times slow.

The goal for relations with FNPs should be the winnowing away of differences between the FNPs and the general population; in the context of nation specific concerns like the preservation of language, traditions and culture and in the spirit of multiculturalism and parity of living standard. The present modalities of interface are enshrining more deeply "segregation", it is deplorable that we have a document called the "Indian Act", that we have segregated FNP's concerns from the general population in the Constitution of our country. It is worse that, in segregation has come the systemization of confrontation, confrontational processes that impede the most base outcome of reconciliation - harmony of the people.  The concept of an "aboriginal right" is challenging - inherent in this concept is a right held by "them" that I am absent of, it is apartheid in nature. The goal needs to be, to bring the aboriginal peoples into accord with their respective cultures, to ensure they hold a quality of life commensurate with the "norm" and to effect accord with the general population.

Recognizing the past

There should be built into the Canadian Cultural construct a special greeting we give to FNP, a greeting that symbolizes at once our shame and pain for the past, our respect in the present and our commitment to a fair and right future.  I'm unsure what such a word would sound like, or how to create it, or even who would create it, but we should all remember what a human contortion the combination of government power, cultural superiority, inept people and misdirected theology can create and the pain it caused the most innocent of people.

There is beauty the emanates from the extended association between a given land and a given people, and that language and culture the evolves and grows in that association. The Inuit have 220 words for snow, a richness of expression that could only occur where snow is life. Language defines us, words are formed thoughts and work to form thought, when a language dies we all suffer. The systematized destruction of a culture and language is an affront to all humanity; the violence by which this destruction was executed is inexplicable.        

The events around the assimilation process effected a degree of atrocity outside my capacity to understand, as they are outside my life experience. There is an obligation in a reconciliation process to recognize ill treatment, horrendous ill treatment, and seek a just response. As there is no price one can put on a human life, there is no price one can put on the intentional destruction of a people's culture. These types of incursions on the human soul have no recompense, there is no pecuniary cure. Justice here means finding those who perpetrated wrongful action, often obscene affronts to children in the most extreme state of aloneness and making them pay.  When that path of response is overtaken by events, all that is left for justice is to protect future generations from such atrocities and attempt to extend love to people affected.

One seeks to find compassion for the thinking the lead us down this path, the immoral pursuit of a single moral complex, the arrogance that superiority brings, the obscene miss direction of the words of the gentlest man on earth - one tries to find compassion, in most instances one is unable to. 

The challenge with reconciling the past is that the justifiable rage, disgust, brokenness that emanates from incursions on the human soul can work to have a bad past make a grim future.  One needs, with a high degree of trepidation, to caution those affected to focus on building a future founded on realities, on the achievable, and to avoid seeking a solution that is simply beyond the capacity for the world to provide.

The past is irreconcilable, no one can undo the past, the mass and type of affront offer no practical recourse. All we have then is to recognize where we are, and where we want to go and work to build process to achieve reconciliation.  Reconciliation, however, that is more than process, that brings a solution, closure, and functionality.

The government is an organisation with no heart, the compassion the emanates from our innate humanness is lost in the fog of competing interest - the government can never be a caring fiduciary, it is by nature a Machiavellian actor. The FNPs should stop going to the hand that bites them, and seek to liberate themselves from the government, they should seek to lever the good sentiment that accrues to them from the Canadian people's conscience to garner CLOSURE on these issues, rather than continue to be "lead by the nose" by the government. Endless process will impede CLOSURE, a process that ends is the only solution. Injustices of the past should never provide grounds for injustices in the future, reconciliation is a two-way street and should have equity as the overriding consideration.

Situation Analysis

It is a given that the FNP's deserve to be considered in matters pertaining to their interests in the areas they live, the challenge that arises, out of the present "regime", a regime created by a quagmire of the arcane process and outmoded documentation, is another layer of administrative concern. It is costly to consult to the degree that the court process is dictating, the requirement for a near dual sovereign circumstance to find "consensus" is far too onerous. Further, there are very often more than FNP's interest being projected by processes intended for the FNPs, at the announcement of   Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 decision by the relevant FN representative, there was a sign posted behind him saying "stop Gateway". It is hard to imagine how a pipeline will directly impact a FN interest in a manner that would preclude mitigation. It seems perhaps in this example, and certainly, in past actions, the FNP's influence has been misdirected to satisfy other interest - like the interests of preservationist groups.

There has been an inadvertent emphasis placed on conservation, at least apparently inadvertent, by the judiciary, it seems that the FNPs have the right to “hold title” over the land, yet haven't the right to exercise judgment in stewardship or in the ownership or disposition of assets. Certainly less than inadvertent on the part of some in the environmental movement who see the FNP's government considerations as a useful channel to forward their interest. Contemplate the judicially imposed imperative of - ensuring availability of the land for future FNP's use and enjoyment - this imperative seems to have morphed into a near province wide protected area, this, in concert with endless “consultation”, indicates a seeming contentment on the part of the courts with an economically stagnate FNP’s and stagnating private commerce. As a person concerned about the environment I share many of the interests of the environmental movement, the challenge is in the way these interests have found expression in the in processes intended to see to the interests of the Crown – AKA us – the general populous and the FNPs.

There seems an academic element to the SCC analysis of aboriginal rights, that is to say, that the harvesting of fish for food is somehow extended to harvesting timber for commercial reasons OR the relativity passive traditional use of the land by FNPs in the past, somehow equates to highly intensive activities now. There is an insufficient delineation between activities of the past with present activities, to facilitate a rational reconciliation outcome and by extension precludes the appropriate definition of title and further impairs a just overall outcome.

Miss-extrapolation is illustrated in the application of the sparrow test in the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case. The Sparrow Test comes from an incident in which a single individual challenged a general legislation - this support of an individual action has been extrapolated to include all BC FNPs, and to exclude the general population - the SCC has permitted this test to drive jurisprudence in regards to FNPs of Canada's and government interface out of context, and in a manner that is incongruent.  In Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case, was it an infringement by the crown to use trees or not, on what basis is justification of infringement established, surely the monopolization of resource rights by the FNP is an infringement on the general population - is access to resources for commerce use a justifiable “incursion”.  Proportionality applies here, in that, in the Sparrow case a few extra fish were caught, in the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia case millions of cubic meters of lumber were at stake … as well as, all other resources.

The Judiciary has effected a circumstance that has every situation managed separately, in defining the duty to consult and related processes the judiciary has created a circumstance where resolve is impossible - they have enshrined confrontation forever.  The judiciary are the arbitrators of our society, arbitration has inherent in it resolve, closure and a way forward. The judiciary in a number of sequential decisions has given us a confrontation mechanism and enshrined the inferior treatment of FNPs. It is the case that every "land title" claim is unique, however, the mass of government actions is rudimentary, the duty to consult as presently defined by jurisprudence is over taxing to government,  by extension unfair to the general population, worse however, is that it has perpetuated an institutional inertia that leaves all parties wanting and in conflict.

[88]                          In summary, Aboriginal title confers on the group that holds it the exclusive right to decide how the land is used and the right to benefit from those uses, subject to one carve-out — that the uses must be consistent with the group nature of the interest and the enjoyment of the land by future generations.  Government incursions not consented to by the title-holding group must be undertaken in accordance with the Crown’s procedural duty to consult and must also be justified on the basis of a compelling and substantial public interest, and must be consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to the Aboriginal group.

No one else in Canada has these rights by extension of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to extend them in this manner to the aboriginal people's is unfair as we move forward. Reconciliation is the inherent theme of the treaty process as stated in para 17 "The governing ethos is not one of competing interests but of reconciliation". This clause holds the specter of "exclusive use and access" for FNPs to 95% of the province of British Columbia, with expropriation as the means for the government to gain access for the public interests, this is a very costly prospect for the general populous - a prospect, which should it find full expression, would cause widespread revolt and exacerbate the discord now experienced by the first nations people.  The compelling and substantial public interest - for aboriginals & none aboriginals alike - is access to crown resources for commerce.  Reconciliation means to remedy the past and to find harmony in the future, reconciliation will never come at the expense of one party’s entire wealth, the entirety of native land claims must be equal to the parity of living standard and opportunity for the FNPs, with an additional increment for pain caused. TO DO MORE, will generate resistance to the process, will be an encroachment on the general population and will ultimately damage, if not obliterate, any goodwill that accrues to the first nations people by the people at large. The reality is, we are unable to pay the price of 95% of the province and maintain a general living standard commensurate with the postmodern era.  This is a treacherous path that will leave all parties poorer. The remedy must not only be commensurate with ability to pay, but also with the majority’s willingness to pay.    

First, the Crown’s fiduciary duty means that the government must act in a way that respects the fact that Aboriginal title is a group interest that inheres in present and future generations. The beneficial interest in the land held by the Aboriginal group vests communally in the title-holding group.  This means that incursions on Aboriginal title cannot be justified if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.

This consideration effects a state of inertia in the discord that now exists in finding a remedy and harmonizing existing conflicting interests, and fails in granting the leeway needed to find a "permanent solution”. The Aboriginal people deserve the right to come to the parity of living standard in any manner they see fit. It is incongruent with the course of humanity to be completely tied to a map of reality rooted in the past and present, and thereby forgo the happenstance that has benefited us all so much as the future unfolds. It is impossible for courts to know what would deprive or benefit future generations in land use. The government’s actions, the litany of pain for the first nation people's, is rooted in large measure in government mismanagement, the contemplations offered in this clause if adhered to will ensure this goes on ad infinitum. 

Title really is a conflicted term or at least a term of conflict, title to land is clearly a "common law" term associated with fee simple ownership or other ownership arrangements provisioned by law - in the context of FNP's land claims it implies a strength of tenure that exceeds what the crown ever intended to give, this is evidenced by the "cost" to the crown of granting exclusive use, or in effect veto over management decisions which will, or could, evolve to exclusive to the claimants. No entity or individual intending to function would ever agree to forfeit 95% of their land base, as is the case in British Columbia if land claims are ratified per the present judicial direction. In this way, the Courts have reasoned us to a point of unreasonableness. 

In establishing title the courts have drawn from common law and introduced to the mix a more ambiguous set modalities in defining title that attempts to interpret the mindset of the FNPs at the point of contact and through their early association with Europeans.  This is a fair process, in that it gives the courts a way to think about how the FNP's were thinking at the time they entered into agreements at first contact or, in British Columbia's case, how they were thinking when attempting to get treaties. It is equally true then, as arbitrators ruling often "against" their own state, that the courts extend the same consideration to the state, that is to say, to interpret the mindset of the people of the day. Canada, in its infancy, had to "go along to get along" and political pragmatism was a part of that reality, then over time Anglo / French society reached critical mass. This evolution came with de facto outcomes, the most prominent of which is a generalized technological advancement that elevated the value of land in relative terms to the time of contact; given the per acre revenue potential is greater now, the basis by which negotiations take place has changed. One could contemplate this on a purchasing power parity basis, how much would an acre of land contribute to the body general now, and how much then; in terms of the acquisition of material goods. This matters, because in 1753 for example, reduced value perception would have facilitated less resistance to the dispersal of lands "under protection" and less interest in garnering control of lands, as the Europeans were in possession of the capacity of conquest then and the capacity has remained undiminished to this day.  

The judiciary are the arbitrators of our society, arbitration has inherent in it resolve, closure and the way forward. The judiciary in a number to sequential decisions has given us a confrontation mechanism and enshrined the inferior treatment of FNP. 

It is emblematic of the archaic nature of the process that we find ourselves in on “both” sides, that we would have as a base consideration of title claims – conquest and or the capacity to “secure territory” for exclusive use – or, to repel other users. There should be no contemplation of military action in the contemporary setting, it is curious, however, that this consideration is arrested in court contemplation in 1753 – conquest should be in as consideration – or the capacity there of – throughout history – or it should be out – at least in determining present day sovereignty.     

What remains, then, of the Crown’s radical or underlying title to lands held under Aboriginal title?  The authorities suggest two related elements — a fiduciary duty owed by the Crown to Aboriginal people when dealing with Aboriginal lands, and the right to encroach on Aboriginal title if the government can justify this in the broader public interest under s. 35  of the Constitution Act, 1982 .  The Court in Delgamuukw referred to this as a process of reconciling Aboriginal interests with the broader public interests under s. 35  of the Constitution Act1982 .
Inherent in this clause is the recognition that the public interest holds parity with Aboriginal interests on “crown land”. By extension, Aboriginal benefit extended by the crown, from crown land is limited to parity with the general population AND by extension, the general population should incur no cost beyond elevating aboriginal living standards to parity with the general population. To tax the general population beyond parity in a “reconciliation process” is inequitable, discriminatory and –at some point – will encroach on the general populous’ capacity to exercise liberty at parity with the “pre treaty” state of being, perhaps to a sufficient degree to inflict a section 7 infringement.
It must be affirmed that the Canadian Government and by extension Provincial Governments HOLD DOMAIN, that is to say that in the administration of crown land the  Crown's obligations OR fiduciary responsibility is limited to provision living standards that are at parity with the general populous, how that occurs is at the discretion the Canadian Government and its subordinates and the Canadian Government’s “self imposed” obligation to support and recognize Aboriginal people’s traditional use of the land.
Much of this issue rests on the ancient principles of conquest, in fact, the assessment of territory and the validity of a claim stems from a groups ability to in effect "defend" the boundaries of a given territory against incursion. The Canadian people have the plight of the FNP’s weighing on our conscience and are eager to reconcile, contemplating solution with the base principles of the establishment of territory, the capacity for conquest or the capacity to repel; to determine where dominion lies is grossly outmoded. However, the fact that conquest matters is granted to us in the very arguments provided by the first nations in determining traditional territory.

There can only be dominion by one government, in Canada, dominion resides with the crown and none other. The judiciaries are pursuing justice by crown authority, through the crowns legal processes – common law – applying creatively common law traditions to provision for Aboriginal interests is acceptable and laudable conduct, permitting title considerations that impair duly elected government action, is unacceptable – we all live here, we all can prosper, the problems we're encountering now stem from the blatant and barbaric disregard for aboriginal peoples. We are here to reconcile with the aboriginal peoples, there is a bounty in British Columbia which provides for that – there is no obligation in a reconciliation process to marginalize the general populous.       
The FNP’s technology and knowledge forced a certain modality of life at the point of contact, their capacity to extract "wealth" from the land was greatly limited relative to the claims they are making now. There is no continuity of use between the first contact and now, just continuity of occupation.  Fiduciary responsibility requires not just a pre-European lifestyle but a lifestyle that holds parity with the generalized state of being of "the average" Canadian – that is the extent and limit of the government’s fiduciary responsibility. In the context of offering parity of living standard to the FNP's, it is unreasonable to expect the jurisdiction of British Columbia forfeit it's unfettered access to resources, beyond the point of the FNP's reaching parity of living standard, and preserving and maintaining their cultures. To do so would be rightly seen as a "cash grab" by the general population or an over correction if you will, and very likely result in a critical loss of support for the FNP's.

I offer that, "title" held by the FNP's over their traditional territories, hold as imperatives two elements; firstly, the certainty that their culture, traditions and traditional uses of the land hold first priority in land management deliberations, BUT, absent the exclusion of other users, AND, secondly, that the incremental increase in value extracted from the land now relative to the point of contact only be taxed to the point of living standard parity. This is a fair approach, this also sees, I believe in a generous way, to the government’s fiduciary responsibility.  Further, by grounding tile, negotiations and reconciliation in living standard outcomes and culture - living standards and culture will be elevated.   

The Way Forward

The key in contemplating a common future is to attempt to look away from the past, to eliminate confrontation, to cleanse present interface of difference, and to liberate each other in resolve, rather than choke each other with the process.

Pecuniary involvement offers the opportunity to mitigate impact for groups and individuals and balance the scales to effect proportionality. Pecuniary involvement only contributes to reconciliation or impacts mitigation effectively when delivered individually. The only practical means to address reconciliation is to have as a component of the process material elements that are territory neutral. The direct delivery of pecuniary or other territory neutral assets to individuals will permit all FNP’s to benefit from agreements. It is irrational for the government to legislate the imperative of FNPs communitarian association, if that element of culture is pronounced in any given circumstance – the individuals will be happy to pool whatever resources they receive.  

It is essential that over the use of the land, forever, there is an umbrella of FN culture and tradition in place. In the same way that we manage the land base for environmental imperatives, we can manage for the FNPs imperatives – we have a moral obligation to do so. It is important, however, that we leave flexibility in place so that all can access the bounty that is ours in the vast resources of our province.     

The present legislative complex is outmoded and deficient; the courts have done an outstanding job of applying bad law. The constitutional entrenchment of aboriginal title founded on old documents, old mentalities and old prejudices needs to be circumvented – by consent from all parties concerned. Assessments need to be made in terms of “valuing” the FNP’s “title rights” and the full spectrum of the solution needs to be applied toward a just outcome.      

Reconciliation isn't a process - it is outcomes, solution, functionality and clarity in closure.