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February 17, 2020 | No Win

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

These are transformative days, n’est-ce pas? The biggest generation is into a shared economy – Uber, AirBnB, gig jobs and co-ownership. The hot word is ‘collaborative.’ Rugged individualism is out. Confrontation, too. Those who disagree with the consensus view, whether on climate, taxes or treaty rights, are paleo. Reactionary.

So, I said to Dorothy, whaddya think about me blogging on the railroad blockades?

“Don’t be an idiot,” she said, giving me that don’t-be-an-idiot look. “This isn’t a debate anymore. It’s black-and-white. You’ve got nothing to gain. Drop it.”

She’s right. So I’ll keep this post short. Maybe she won’t notice…

The T2 government has decided not to provoke the few Mohawk band members who have blocked CN’s main line in Ontario, choking off rail service in the eastern half of the country. The railway has laid off 1,000 workers as a result, so a thousand families will be without paycheques for a while. Containers are piling up on the dock in Halifax, and ships have stopped being unloaded. Supplies of everything from foodstocks to chlorine for hospitals, grain, manufactured goods and propane for home heating are halted. The economic losses are estimated to be $60 million to $100 million per week, and mounting.

The minister responsible for indigenous issues travelled to the blockade, legitimizing the civil disobedience there. He came to negotiate and possibly reopen an ancient treaty, to give the protestors some of what they demanded. After nine hours of talks, nothing. In fact details of the meeting were secretly recorded by the Mohawk participants, then released. Things had not gone well. Demands, no compromise. No end to the illegal blockade.

The protestors burned a court injunction that CN received to have them removed. Neither the RCMP nor the provincial police force have acted to uphold the injunction. The Trudeau government indicated it does not support any aggressive action to have the blockades removed, and prefers an open-ended process of exhaustive talks, leading to the possible rewriting of former agreements granting more land and money. The Ontario natives say they won’t move until indigenous lands in BC – where controversy over a gas pipeline rages – are cleansed of “red coats and blue coats.” In other words, no policing by federal or provincial governments.

The issues are complex. Many indigenous people in BC support the oil and gas industry with its superior-paying jobs. Some don’t. But then unanimity within any group is elusive. Usually democracy prevails, unless you believe in hereditary chiefs, accountable to themselves.

In any case, this has become a national crisis. An economic and financial one. Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier is being tested. People are losing their jobs. Houses in the east will soon go cold, in February. The federal government looks paralyzed and dazed, seized by the political ghosts of Oka and Ipperwash. After Trudeau spent so much personal capital on indigenous issues, there is so little to harvest in return. Not enough good will or trust to deal with a relatively small number of rebels camped on the tracks.

As Dorothy reminded me, this is black-and-white. Supporters have turned it into a climate crusade, seeing the hereditary chiefs – and their Mohawk colleagues – as oppressed defenders of the earth, water and sky standing bravely against a rapacious, resource-hungry, wasteful society. It’s classic left-right warfare. No air in the middle for talk.

The resolution? Concessions or enforcement. The majority must concede, or we send in the cops. Given what the prime minister’s said so far, the outcome is clear. Collaboration.

You may have another word for it.

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February 17th, 2020

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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