The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

A museum for human rights that supports the denial of human rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights' publicity machine was humming along on all cyclinders this week.

The newspaper reported that Gail Asper, head fundraiser, had collected another $1.5 million towards the museum.

It failed to mention that, as revealed in The Black Rod, she needs to raise $1.5 million a month just to cover the rising cost of construction.

It's great to be rich. Millionaire moocher Gail Asper shamelessly revealed she has a whole army of mini-moochers, dedicated to "following up on the asks and crystallizing (donations)."

Translation: She's hit up everyone she can think of, and her volunteers have the job of begging them to cough up some moolah.

The panhandlers on Graham should be so lucky; they have to do all the work themselves.

The choreographed news reports also failed to mention that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be the only publicly funded facility dedicated to denying human rights to Canadians. You can bet that piece of news isn't being "crystallized" for donors.


There must be some mistake.

The museum is all about extending human rights, not denying them.

Isn't it?

Well..... It turns out that on the Asper Animal Farm there are some who are more equal than others when it comes to human rights. That should come as no surprise.

The museum's advisory board contains many names. Including Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. There's your first clue.

If you live on an Indian reserve, you are automatically denied the human rights enshrined in the Canadian constitution.

Canadian courts have repeatedly taken note that First Nations discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, race and countless other transgressions of the Human Rights Act. With Fontaine on the board, though, you can bet the Canadian Museum for Human Rights won't be fighting to reverse that in your lifetime.

Last year, the Conservatives in Ottawa tried to pass a bill extending the Canadian Human Rights Act to reserves.

Well, you would have thought they wanted to bring back slavery with human sacrifice and mandatory cannibalism thrown in.

The native industry, with Phil Fontaine leading the charge, fought tooth and nail to kill the bill. They had three arguments:

* 30 years wasn't enough time for the reserves to prepare.

The Canadian Human Rights Act was imposed on everyone else in 1977, but reserves were given an exemption, which some people actually thought was temporary.

* the reserves need much more money to get ready.

So what else is new? Surely you don't expect Chiefs to dip into their travel budgets to build wheelchair ramps? We didn't think so.

* while Canadians have rights, aboriginals have extra rights, added rights and super special rights.

Oh, and ultra special super rights. So take a hike.

"Recent clanging of alarmist bells sounded by the government of Canada and so-called representatives of "grassroots" First Nations regarding the amended Bill C-21, an Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, hides behind a limited, restrictive, and imprecise understanding of the human rights of indigenous peoples," Phil Fontaine wrote opposing Bill C-21. (Human rights of Canada's First Nations people are not a zero-sum game... The Hill Times, May 12th, 2008)

"Not only do First Nations citizens possess the same fundamental human rights that all peoples and people enjoy, we also have inherent and constitutionally-protected collective aboriginal and treaty rights," Fontaine said.

He didn't mention that the Supreme Court has given natives special rights to stay out of jail for all crimes up to and including murder, if they can convince a judge the white man is to blame for their screwed-up lives.

But in its March 29, 2007, submission on Bill C-21 to the House Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, the AFN demanded a non-derogation clause be inserted into the bill.

"The repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act shall not be construed in a manner which abrogates or derogates from any aboriginal or treaty rights including customary rights and traditions that pertain to the First Nations people of Canada such as..."

Translation: you can pass the law but this clause says our "customary rights and traditions" trump anything in the Human Rights Act. Nyaah. Nyaah.

When the bill stalled in Parliament, the Liberal Party's aboriginal affairs critic crowed victory.

"Human rights rammed down a community's throats are not human rights," Anita Neville said (without a trace of irony.)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights goes to great lengths to say it will incorporate the treatment of aboriginal Canadians.

But with the greatest opponent of incorporating the Canadian Human Rights Act onto reserves on its advisory board, you can bet there won't be much call for direct action by those who Phil Fontaine dismissively labels "so-called representatives of "grassroots" First Nations."

A museum for human rights that supports the denial of human rights. Only in Canada, you say.



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