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

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Killing the myths of Idle No More

He wears feathers on his head and calls himself the Grand Chief. Meet Derek Nepinak who fancies himself as a playa on the national scene, what with the mainstream media fawning over him as he makes his, ahem, demands on the Prime Minister.

Nepinak has been honing his schtick in Manitoba for over a year since being elected Big Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. You see, he had an idea.

Indians have no money.

You have money.

So if he could get his hands on your money, that would solve the problem of Indians without money. See how simple it is?

But how to extract more of your money? The answer lay in the word "extract", as in natural resources.

Nepinak has been pushing the idea of something called resource revenue sharing. That's where mining companies, drilling companies, and others have to pay Indians whenever they invest millions of dollars of their own money to develop Canada's natural resources.

Is it because of all those unpaid aboriginal geologists who discovered the untapped ore fields?


Is it because of all those underpaid aboriginal engineers who designed the heavy machinery, the pipelines, the software used to extract natural resources?


Is it because of those unsung aboriginal chemists who devised alloys and compounds that turned those natural resources into consumer products?

Uh uh.

It's because his great grandmother shit in the woods.

That's it.

It doesn't get any more complicated than that. Just because Indians roamed the province 150 years ago, Nepinak says, they should get a cut of all the resources.

Where did he get such an idea? Well, we're guessing from Manitoba Hydro. Yes, Manitoba Hydro. You see, years ago the NDP in Manitoba invented a way to disguise provincial welfare payments as dividends from investment on guess what, natural resource development.

They would pretend that the Nelson House Indian Reserve would be a "partner" in building the Wuskwatim power project, Manitoba Hydro's first new hydroelectric development in 20 years.

The Black Rod reported the scam of the faux partnership in 2008 with details provided by the Public Utilities Board.

In a nutshell, Hydro was to borrow millions of dollars to "lend" to its partner who would then use that money to "invest" in the Wuskwatim project, and "earn" profits from the export of electricity to the U.S.
Hydro even agreed to pay its partner dividends during the years when there were no dividends to pay, and recoup the advance later.

Except that the project turned out to be such a boondoggle that it looks like it will never make a profit and Hydro's partner will never be in a position to pay back any of the money advanced by Hydro.

Even worse, the deal called for Nelson House to pay a portion of any losses by Hydro on the Wuskwatim project for the first 10 years. Nobody imagined that Hydro would lose its shirt on the project. The Winnipeg Free Press has reported that Nelson House now owes Hydro about $38 million.

So guess what? Manitoba Hydro intends to renegotiate the deal so that its "partner" doesn't have to contribute anything to cover Hydro's losses.

Sweet, isn't it. The Indian reserve would buy a third of the Wuskwatim with money provided by Manitoba Hydro, would get "dividends" even in years when the project wasn't making any profits, and won't have to worry about covering losses that they agreed to cover because Hydro will just rewrite the "partnership" to take them off the hook.

And this was going to be the template for all future hydro development.

Money for nothing. Dreams of sugar plums danced in their heads. Chiefs could just sit on their duffs and wait for the cheques to roll in. Does the word freeloading come to mind?

But how to force resource companies to write those cheques? The government was trying to disguise welfare payments. Private companies didn't have to "share" their profits with anyone.

So up came the concept of "traditional" aboriginal lands. Anyone developing natural resources on "traditional" aboriginal land would have to kickback a portion of the profit to Indian bands. Simple, eh.

Simple but for the fact that "we're all treaty people."

This isn't Indian land. It's government land. It's my land and it's your land. The Indians signed a treaty 144 years ago ceding all the land that's now Manitoba. Ever since, they have had no claim to any land. Not even reserves. The Crown agreed, in the treaties, to set aside designated tracts of land, or, in other words, to reserve that land, for the exclusive use of Indians. But that land still belongs to the Crown. Not even reserve land belongs to Indian bands. And there's not a word in the treaties about "sharing" revenues.

That's just one of many falsehoods and untruths being bandied about by the Idle No More crowd and which the mainstream media refuses to address or correct.

Take this exquisite piece of misinformation spun by none other than Lloyd Axworthy
, the president of the University of Winnipeg and self-styled champion of aboriginal people. It appeared in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail:

Canada's future: Let's be divided no more, Jan. 11, 2013.

"The federal government estimates there are natural resource projects worth $500-billion to be developed in the next decade. Our Constitution directs that we have a duty to consult the indigenous people in whose backyards those resources lie. Many in industry have already recognized that better relationships with indigenous people are cultivated at the negotiating table rather than in the courtroom or on the picket line."

Well the fact, Jack, is that there is the Constitution does NOT direct a duty to consult. Got that?

For the slow readers we'll repeat that. There is NO constitutional duty to consult with Indians about anything

The duty to consult was invented out of whole cloth in 2004 by the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. See Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 511, 2004 SCC 73 and Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia (Project Assessment Director), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 550, 2004 SCC 74.

Indian treaties were recognized as part of Canada's constitution as of 1982, the year the Constitution Act was passed. But the Supreme Court cannot amend the constitution of Canada on a whim. There is a clear process that needs to be followed. That process does not include nine unelected people sitting around eating pizza.

The Supreme Court, by inventing a duty to consult, simply informed lawyers that that was how it would interpret the laws from now on. That is a classic case of judicial activism where the judges invent a law that hasn't been passed by the elected legislative bodies of Parliament, or in this matter of the constitution, by the Provinces and federal government.

That may be fine with Lloyd Axworthy, but it is not the law.

The most asinine falsehood was made by a Winnipeg teacher, no less.

Matt Henderson, a social studies teacher at St.John's-Ravenscourt School, wrote a column for the Winnipeg Free Press, published Saturday Jan. 19, 2013, in which, while defending the Idle No More mobs, he declared:

 "Firstly, indigenous people in this country had their land stolen and they want it back."

Say what? This from someone with access to students? Haven't the Idle protestors been saying they want their treaty rights enforced and here is a white man who professes to be a teacher who says the treaties are phony and should be ignored?

Matt Henderson was repudiated one hundred and forty years ago by Chief Mawedopenais of the Rainy River band, one of the main negotiators of the North West Angle Treaty that covered northwestern Ontario.

At the conclusion of the negotiations, Mawedopenais stepped up to Lieutenant Governor Alexander Morris and said:
"Now you see me stand before you all; what has been done here today has been done openly before the Great Spirit, and before the nation, and I hope that I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly; and now, in closing this Council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand, I deliver over my birthright and lands; and in taking your hand, I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will loast as long as the sun goes round and the water flows, as you said."

Alexander Morris was Lt. Governor of Manitoba from 1873 to 1878. He compiled a full report on treaty negotiations with the Indians of Manitoba and Northwest Territories (as they then were) and delivered it to the Earl of Dufferin in 1880. The report contains the texts of Treaties One through Seven, along with accounts of the negotiations and speeches made by representatives from both sides during and after the negotiations. It is an invaluable source.

Among the myths dispelled by the Morris report is the whopper spun by Chiefs Nepinak and his hero Chief Theresa Spence, she of the low-cal diet that holds the MSM spellbound. These, er, leaders insist the Prime Minister has to meet with Indian Chiefs in the presence of the Governor General because Indian treaties were between the local bands and the Crown.

In his contemporary report on treaty negotiations, Morris wrote regarding Treaties No. 1 and 2:

"In the year 1871, the late Honourable Joseph Howe, then Secretary of State of Canada, recommended the appointment, by the Privy Council of Canada, of Mr. Wemyss McKenzie Simpson, as Indian Commissioner, in consequence of "the necessity of arranging with the bands of Indians inhabiting the tract of country between Thunder Bay and the Stone Fort, for the cession, subject to certain reserves such as they should select, of the lands occupied by them"."

His report goes on to explain that the actual treaty negotiations were conducted by Simpson, the Indian Commissioner, and not by himself, the Queen's representative in the territory.

"After a prolonged discussion with them, I consulted with the Lieutenant Governor and determined to let them at once understand the terms that I was prepared to offer, and I pointed out that the terms offered were those which would receive Her Majesty's consent," Simpson wrote to Ottawa on July 30, 1871 from Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba.

Note his words. He is offering terms to which he believes the Queen will consent. He is not bringing the Queen's terms to the Indians. They are negotiating with him, as a representative of the government of Canada which got its authority from the Queen. As head of state, the Queen had to officially guarantee the treaty, but she had no say in the terms and was not involved in negotiations.

And let's not forget Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. He wants---nay, demands---that the Prime Minister of Canada meet government to government with the chiefs of "first nations." Let's see...

Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada which has a population of 34.4 million people.

Derek Nepinak was the Chief of the Pine Creek reserve which has a population of just over 2,700 people.

Stephen Harper is Prime Minister by virtue of the fact that his party collected 5.8 million votes in the las
t election and those 5.8 million votes translated into the most seats in Parliament.

Derek Nepinak got 190 votes to win as Chief of Pine Creek
, then a year later became Grand Chief of the AMC by winning 34 votes on the second ballot. Those 34 votes mean he represents the 59 Chiefs that make up the AMC. Period. He represents only those 59 other Chiefs, not the 128,000 aboriginal people that make up the Indian population of Manitoba.

Having the biggest mouth doesn't mean you have the most say, no matter how many feathers you wear on your head.
Tacit No More.

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