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A sense of fair play

Published in the Toronto Sun
18 April 2007
Re “Legal Channels Denied Natives” (Toronto Sun by H. Freddy Sweetgrass, April 5): I can’t deny the First Nations people have been treated poorly in the past.

I wish to stress firstly that I support the First Nations people in their efforts to resolve land claims disputes and I certainly can’t deny that they have been treated poorly in the past. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. In a society of laws, you simply can’t bargain from behind the barrel of a gun or with a mask atop a barricade. To do any other way simply feeds into the notion that natives can get away with the kinds of civil disobedience (and sometimes violent disobedience, at that) that would land everyone else in jail. Mr. Sweetgrass even points out that “…indigenous people are not reasonable. Not anymore.” Thanks for finally admitting it.

Mr. Sweetgrass goes onto point out how natives don’t have the numbers to influence public policy. Yes, but they do have political (correctness) clout; I call it the “Dudley George effect”. You have governments so fearful of another native protester being killed by police that they completely ignor unlawful behaviour on the part of the native protesters, not to mention a complete refusal to enforce court orders issued by Superior Courts. What does it say about our country when a group is allowed to so blatantly violate the law? Yes, I know that laws get broken all the time with little or no consequence, but when it comes to “law and order” versus “anarchy”, there is no room for discretionary enforcement.

I think the behaviour of native protesters does a disservice to the memory of Dudley George by turning his death into an excuse for lawlessness. Dudley George should not have died and it’s a tragedy that he did, just like it was a tragedy when Corporal Marcel Lemay of the Surete du Qubec was killed during the Oka crisis in 1990. Remember Corporal Lemay?

Mr. Sweetgrass, you do have valid points on land claim issues, but the fact is that barricades and armed protesters don’t make Canadians mad at their government; they make us mad at the First Nations people. It shouldn’t, but it does.

Natives should have to use the same legal channels that everyone else uses; the same legal channels that provide the better benefits and results for people who can afford to hire high-priced lawyers to fight for them and leaves the rest of us swinging in the wind. Maybe natives and non-natives do have more in common that we think.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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