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The Editors

Editorial: What we owe Canada’s Aboriginals

As the horrific third-world like conditions in the Northern Ontario Aboriginal reserve of Attawapiskat attracts the interest of Canadian media outlets, all Canadians of conscience rightly feel great shame.Looking at the ghastly images of extreme poverty and the shocking lack of public buildings equipped to sustain harsh Canadian winter temperatures, it seems clear that an “out of sight out of mind” phenomena is at work. Poverty is a fact of life in every community in this country, but we all know that if such extreme and pervasive conditions existed in less remote communities with more non-Aboriginals it would not have taken this long to make headlines. So far, the immediate concerns have rightfully centered on distributing emergency relief and investigating how the substantial tax dollars spent on the reserve ($90 million in 5 years for a population of 2,000) have had so little positive affect. But long term solutions to the grinding poverty in reserves have been severely lacking, as evidenced by former Prime Minister Paul Martin recently suggesting that the further investments promised, but not delivered, by the previous Liberal government represented a solution for Canadian Aboriginals in communities like Attawapiskat.But as a former finance minister like Mr. Martin should be aware, such Band-Aid solutions fail to address the fundamental issue: communities without a strong economic basis for their existence can never achieve decent standards of living from government planning. Indeed, most civilized societies abandoned such discredited thinking after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Canadians tell themselves that we owe Aboriginals privileged legal status out of good will and historical justice. Yet strangely enough, by all appearances these Aboriginal “privileges” look as though they were designed by their worst enemies to systematically destroy their human capital and encourage every form of anti-social pathology in their communities (ie: high… Read More