Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Dec.  5, 2005)

Time to end the 'Indian Industry' segregation

John Pifer

Do not expect to hear or see much about Canada’s “native issues” in the current federal election campaign.

After a flurry of photo ops and pretentious posturing at a “summit” on aboriginal matters in Kelowna just before Parliament collapsed, politicians of all stripes turned to the hustings to talk about anything but this never-ending drain on the Canadian taxpayers. It never has been front and center in an election year, and it appears that that pattern will continue for the January 2006 vote.

We may rest assured that promises to end more than a century of confusion and conflict between the Indian bands and assorted governments are likely to end as most political promises do in this country – flushed away without resolution.

No politician seems to have the cojones to address the abuse of the system, wherein billions of tax dollars are poured into reserves and Indian band bank accounts each year … with no checks or balances to ensure that those dollars serve the natives themselves.

The Indian industry that has multiplied in size and cost through the past few decades is peopled with useless bureaucrats, too many lawyers and far too many chiefs, none of whom seem to care that most of the money spent for health and education and housing never seems to get through to the very people it is supposed to support.

And what’s worse, the Auditor General of Canada, the watchdog of the public purse and its spending or misspending, is not allowed to look at the books on this ever-escalating waste. Yes, that’s right, not allowed to review how several billion taxpayers’ dollars are spent each year!

Little wonder that most Canadians want an end to the lack of controls and supervision. Little wonder that the majority of Canadians want answers as to why on most native reserves, there are people living in poverty and squalor, despite the leaders of their respective tribes receiving cheque after cheque to keep them segregated from Canadian society.

Nor is it any wonder that many Indians want to be considered as belonging to nations separate from Canada. Sadly, the politically-correct forces that run this country and bureaucracy have bought into the concept of “First Nations”, and thus treat the Indians’ demands as more important those of other Canadians. This reverse discrimination is odious and contemptible.

Throw in the separate laws and legislation that apply only to natives, and which restrict their ability to be part of the country’s progress and development, and it can be no surprise that they feel segregated and separated from Canadian life.

The bottom line is that continuing to apply the terms of the 130-year-old Indian Act to modern-day Canada is sheer insanity. As Tanis Fiss, aboriginal affairs director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, wrote recently: “Clearly, treating one group of Canadians differently is wrong, both morally and intellectually.” She says that despite human-rights legislation being passed in many countries, “Canada continues to move down the path of segregation and balkanization. It is time to have one set of laws for all Canadians.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear that from the nation’s political leaders, rather than having them ignore the issue, or worse yet, continuing to sustain the Indian industry and the further waste of your tax money?

It is hard to argue with Fiss when she states: “Canadians rightly spoke out against apartheid in South Africa; but (they) are strangely silent when it comes to Canada’s own system of segregation. South Africa abolished apartheid; Canada’s system of segregation is alive and well.”

Sadly, so sadly, she is right.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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