But there are two moral principles that are touchstones to the libertarian idea that separate it from all other political ideas. The first is the concept of "self-ownership," each of us is a sovereign being. The second is the "non-aggression principle" or NAP, where any unsolicited violent force against another person or their property is wrong because it violates the principle of self-ownership. It is these two ideas that keep libertarians together and pointed in the right direction.
For me those ideas themselves do not comprise a complete philosophy, far from it. My philosophy includes those ideas as well as others which you may find here. Reason and evidence are among the things I try to use daily and believe wholeheartedly. Sadly for me, too many libertarians that I know believe the latter two ideas are irrelevant. But I digress.
My last two posts were about aboriginal issues, and this will be my final post of the series. I see the two touchstones of libertarianism as instructive in how to approach this issue. They can be applied to the aboriginal situation in Canada. By using this reasoning a libertarian resolution to the issue can be achieved at some point in the future.
Let me summarize the present situation in Canada as I see it.
Many natives bands have signed off on the 11 treaties covering a wide swath of the country and gave up their rights to land etc. in return for ongoing payments of goods, various entitlements and money. There are also large parts of the country where lands are disputed by the local native bands. In either case individual natives on reserves have collective, not individual land rights. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs sends tax payers money to the band chiefs on reserves according to the Indian Act, money that is coerced from the rest of us. The Indian Act perpetuates the natives lack of property rights (20. (1) No Indian is lawfully in possession of land in a reserve). The money is distributed to band members according to the wishes of the chief and band council. Even if this was a voluntary arrangement between the Crown and the natives at one time, it most certainly is not now. The fact that the Indian Act precludes even fee simple property rights on reserves to natives without special permission is just wrong. Tax payers being coerced to enforce this legislation obviously contravenes the NAP, as most taxes do. No libertarian should support any of this. I don't.
Natives on the receiving end however, would have a very different view, many feeling entitled to their entitlements, which I think amounts to rent-seeking. Some even hold up the canard of "aboriginal sovereignty" to justify their situation. I'm a sovereign individual too, and my home is my castle. Reading the Indian Act puts the lie to sovereignty. Legislation that confers rights actually does the opposite, it is limiting because it gives permissions. It is not sovereignty, it is dependency. No libertarian should support the Indian Act.
From a governance viewpoint, the paternalistic Indian Act stipulates a type of crony wealth redistribution that is open to the possibility of corrupt practices by the Chiefs or band councils. Here is one Chief that made almost $1 million last year representing a band of just 81 members. This news only came to light after new legislation was instituted that requires bands to report their financial status which is absolutely unbelievable in 2014, but so typical of 'government oversight,' an oxymoron if ever there was one. You're welcome to wade through this opaque mass of government information generated by the transparency legislation here.
In my last post I mentioned the rent-like obligation placed on non-natives. This ongoing debt with no end in sight, is contrary to the NAP because no one wants to have an obligation they did not consent to, and no one should continue to acquiesce to this agreement. No libertarian should support this.
Despite this, native leaders travel the world complaining of the bad treatment aboriginals receive in Canada. I found an exchange between Prof. Walter Block and Lorne Gunter on the issue of 'Human Rights' and natives here. Its well worth the read and contains some interesting data. Prof. Block, by the way, "....support(s) (my) view. Wholeheartedly, and enthusiastically," I asked him.
Some of the apologists for aboriginal 'rights' in Canada will point out that it's really not that expensive to satisfy the obligations in the treaties and agreements with the natives. That may be true (but still no excuse) in the grand scheme, but there are hidden costs that must be factored in:
Aboriginals have the highest incarceration rate in the country:
"While Aboriginal people make up about 4% of the Canadian population, as of February 2013, 23.2% of the federal inmate population is Aboriginal (First Nation, Métis or Inuit). There are approximately 3,400 Aboriginal offenders in federal penitentiaries, approximately 71% are First Nation, 24% Métis and 5% Inuit.Aboriginal youth have the highest suicide rates in the country:
In 2010-11, Canada’s overall incarceration rate was 140 per 100,000 adults. The incarceration rate for Aboriginal adults in Canada is estimated to be 10 times higher than the incarceration rate of non-Aboriginal adults.
The over-representation of Aboriginal people in Canada’s correctional system continued to grow in the last decade. Since 2000-01, the federal Aboriginal inmate population has increased by 56.2%. Their overall representation rate in the inmate population has increased from 17.0% in 2000-01 to 23.2% today.
Since 2005-06, there has been a 43.5% increase in the federal Aboriginal inmate population, compared to a 9.6% increase in non-Aboriginal inmates.
"Suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-Aboriginal youth, and rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average. Some speculate that the problem is actually worse, as stats don't usually include all Aboriginal groups."Aboriginals are treated differently by Police in all jurisdictions across Canada even though the Indian Act specifies:
"General provincial laws applicable to IndiansI won't even go into the issue of contraband cigarettes/tobacco. This may not have been an issue when treaties and agreements were established more than 100 years ago, but things have changed.
88. Subject to the terms of any treaty and any other Act of Parliament, all laws of general application from time to time in force in any province are applicable to and in respect of Indians in the province, except to the extent that those laws are inconsistent with this Act or the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, or with any order, rule, regulation or law of a band made under those Acts, and except to the extent that those provincial laws make provision for any matter for which provision is made by or under those Acts."
Is it possible that the impact of the Indian Act, aboriginal dependency on big government and all of the things I've mentioned plus others, are the cause (direct or indirect) of the present situation? I'd say yes.
Milton Friedman said judge policy by results not intentions. It's very clear to me what the results have been between the various aboriginals and Crown/government over the past hundreds of years. The policies have not worked, particularly for the aboriginals.
I tend to agree with Lorne Gunter, this will not be fixed for a generation or two, if ever, and I have no idea where to start. But let me suggest that a good place to begin is to admit the problem and confront it. This is a huge waste of human resources, people that should be contributing to our country are being wasted literally.
I would like to see the Libertarian Party of Canada take up this issue, no other party seems to have the courage.