Thank you, Honore : As fellow child of Africa and a proud British Columbian, I am so grateful for the remarkable contributions that Honore Gbedze makes to the African community in British Columbia.
Born in an African village in Togo, Honore learned from a very young age the importance of hard work and education. The son of a teacher and an entrepreneur, Honore inherited a legacy of community development and participation. Honore has found ways to bridge lines of communication, helping Africans to better understand one another, and helping our fellow Canadians to better understand Africans.
Above all else, Honore creates: he publishes the Afro News and founded the Sage Foundation, two local organizations that remind us of our roots and unite us in our diversity. Through his work as editor of the Afro News, Honore shows us that promoting pluralism means joyfully celebrating our cultures and our traditions, our memories and our dreams. He has shown us the importance of coming together and focusing not on what divides but instead on what unites.
In July, I was honoured to present Honore with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. We are stronger as an African community because of his tireless efforts, and we are stronger as a democratic, inclusive Canada because of the values he advances. This December, as we celebrate and reflect on that which we hold most dear—on Ashura and on Hanukkah, on Christmas and on Kwanzaa, among so many other days—let us hold in our hearts special thanks for this incredible man, Honore Gbedze, who continues to enrich our lives and our community.
Senator Mobina Jaffer
Canadian ‘debt clock’
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the federal debt works out to $17,200 for every person in the country. But that $600 billion foregone by the government is now in the hands of the private sector, and if you divide by the Canadian population, it also works out to $17,200 per person. Every government debit is matched by a credit in the private sector! The CTF only presents half of the truth which supports its small government and low tax agenda. But the other side of the coin is that more government spending means more net financial wealth in the non-government sector, and more people employed.
The biggest waste in our society is not government spending; but our keeping 1.4 million Canadians jobless, with the attendant costs of increased stress and sickness, more household breakdowns, additional crime and alcoholism, and the degradation of skills in our workforce. Unemployment of the 1930s was finally ended by massive government spending on armaments and soldiers. Today, the government can put people to work more productively in building transportation infrastructure, and in providing services for health and safety, education, and environmental protection. Paradoxically, as the aftermath of WWII demonstrated, when the economy is sufficiently stimulated with a high level of employment, the debt-to-GDP ratio actually declines.
And now you know the rest of the “debt clock” story!
It’s time to replace the Indian Act
Hundreds of thousands First Nations people live in Canada and they deserve better than to be shackled by the failed colonial and paternalistic policies of the Indian Act, which has helped deny them their rights, fair share in resources, and fostered mistrust and created systemic barriers to self-determination and success. First Nations have been adamant that we need to move beyond it, yet the government has so far refused to get the ball rolling.
The Indian Act is more than 136 years old and touches every aspect of life of First Nations. First Nations need the approval of the Minister to pass bylaws. It puts so much red tape around economic development that it often doesn’t happen. The Act is so intrusive on reserve residents’ lives that they cannot even write a will without the minister’s approval.
Yet, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rightly said, the Act has deep roots and cannot simply be abolished. For decades governments of all stripes have allowed this problem to fester.
Now all parties have a chance to take real leadership on the problem. I have a motion before the House of Commons compelling the federal government to work with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis on a plan to replace the Indian Act with modern agreements based on rights, responsibilities of the Crown, and the original Treaty relationship. With a deadline and a process, we can finally begin to resolve the many long-standing economic and social inequities that plague First Nations communities in Canada.
Yet the Conservatives said they would vote against this progress by opposing the motion. They say they want to change the status quo, but once again, this is just words.
We cannot continue to put this off. Please tell the Conservatives to vote for change.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada