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Tom Mulcair: Our home on native land



During the past week, two women of character have put their indelible marks on longstanding issues involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights.

Leah Gazan, an Indigenous woman and the New Democrat member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, has proposed the extension of Criminal Code provisions on hate speech to include denialism of the genocide committed in residential schools.

Award-winning singer Jully Black brilliantly changed one word in the Canadian national anthem at last weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, replacing “our home and native land,” with “our home on native land”. Bam! No more arguments about details of land recognition statements: this one will have all the bases covered right from the start at thousands of major events.

Gazan’s proposal, which has not yet been tabled, is legally simple and straightforward. It is also so timely and necessary that Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller has said he’s willing to consider it. Miller is highly regarded with a sterling track record during his tenure. His nod could give a real boost to the chances of Gazan’s proposal becoming law.



Gazan was already acknowledged for her leadership on the issues when she presented a motion in the House of Commons recognizing that the residential school system was a genocide. Her motion was adopted unanimously. An extraordinary admission by legislators from all parties.

I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing Gazan for many years. Unpretentiously strong, she is a gifted communicator. I invited her several times to speak with graduate students at l’Université de Montreal and she left them awestruck. She has a knack for getting to the substance of complex issues and connecting with those who don’t have her lived experience.

On issues of Indigenous history and rights she is truly inspiring. A part of her own complex family history has also left her with an acutely deep sensitivity to genocide issues. Her father, a Dutch Jew, was the only surviving child of his family when he came out of hiding after the war.

Gazan’s partner, former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, has spoken about his family’s own suffering in the residential school system that he attended. His mother was only shown his brother’s grave decades after his death in a residential school. Gazan’s actions honour the memories of their and so many other families.

Canada’s Criminal Code was recently amended to include the crime of anti-Semitic hate speech in the form of Holocaust denial.

Denying Canada’s genocide, perpetrated by our own governments in the residential school system, should also be proscribed as hate speech in a provision with similar wording.

Anyone who followed the years-long quest by late Ottawa-area Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger to make our national anthem gender neutral realizes that it’s not changed overnight. But thanks to Bélanger’s determination, we now sing “in all of us command” instead of “in all thy sons command.” Positive change is hard to resist.

But it has to start somewhere and with a clear idea. That’s the beauty of Jully’s proposal. It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s impossible to disagree with in good faith, because it’s so profoundly true.

When the Montreal Canadiens, much to the credit of the organization, started making Indigenous land recognition statements prior to games last season, the usual gang of “anti-woke” suspects was up in arms. They tried to nit pick which Nation was there at what epoch. Their real hope was to flush the statement. The Canadiens made some adjustments but have stuck to their statement, a rarity in Quebec.

On the subject of the residential school genocide, the target of denial has often been those who speak out clearly about the deaths of native children. “Lots of children died in that era” is one of the arguments thrown at people who have read the reports, heard the witnesses and know, and affirm, that Indigenous children were indeed killed.

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proved conclusively, there is a huge difference between the mortality rates of First Nation, Inuit and Métis children in residential schools and deaths of children in the general population era for era.

Another typical approach is to take issue based on the historically stated benevolent intention for the schools. As the Commission proved, the real intention of those schools was to “beat the Indian out of the child.”


Maybe we have trouble accepting as true what our own governments did for generations. The time for justification and argument is over. Let’s face the ugly historical fact: Indigenous kids were killed in large numbers in institutions created to destroy their language, culture and identity.

That’s why it was a genocide. Recognized as such, unanimously, by the House of Commons under the leadership of Gazan.

World history tragically includes other genocides, in particular the horror perpetrated by the Ottomans against the Armenians at the height of the First World War. That genocide has been recognized by the Canadian Parliament as well. Hitler famously said on the eve of World War II, in preparing his plans for the Holocaust: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” The world has a collective duty to remember these horrors if we’re to have any hope of avoiding them in the future.

We, as Canadians, have a specific obligation to do everything that we can to acknowledge and atone for what Canada itself has done. Part of that atonement includes putting into Canadian law a prohibition against denial of the residential schools genocide. It won’t necessarily be an easy task in a minority Parliament. Unanimous consent to shorten delays could prove elusive.


On the day, in 2008, when the House of Commons made an historic apology for the suffering and death caused in the residential school system one MP, Pierre Poilievre, showed an abject lack of sensitivity. He said that he wasn’t sure Canada was “getting value for all of this money” being spent to compensate former students in that system.

He added that his “view is that we need to engender the values of hard work and independence and self-reliance. That’s the solution in the long run — more money will not solve it.”

The residential school apology came at the beginning of my career in Ottawa and stands out as one of the most emotional events I’ve ever attended. Stephen Harper deserves full personal credit. The last minute behind the scenes shenanigans by the opposition Liberals to try to scupper the event were shameful and then-NDP leader Jack Layton played a key role in helping the minority Conservatives keep the historic event on track.

Poilievre was forced to issue a complete apology for his statements, but he did make them. Accepting that that apology was sincere is of course the right thing to do. The problem is, he’s still flirting around the edges of the same intolerance.

Just last month Poilievre spoke at a Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) luncheon in Winnipeg.

It is inconceivable that with the full staffing he enjoys as Leader of the opposition, Poilievre didn’t know of the Centre’s shocking positions on residential schools. One example: it ran radio ads in 2018 that said it was a myth that residential schools robbed Indigenous children of their childhood.

Minister Miller once again had the right words: Poilievre’s “stunt” called into question the authenticity of his 2008 apology.

Rationalizing, Poilievre lamely claimed, “We speak with groups all the time with which we disagree.” Fact is, Poilievre would never accept to speak with a group of Holocaust deniers. His justification rang hollow.

Poilievre must’ve had contact with First Nations youth growing up. Whatever it is in his makeup that leads him to these troublesome, repeat positions about indigenous people and their history is for him to explain.

Canadians, who are exhausted with the incompetence of our current government, would normally be tempted to give his second place Conservatives a chance.

Poilievre seems intent on doing everything he can to convince them not to.

Tom Mulcair was the leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada between 2012 and 2017


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Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It



Canada's Climate Crisis

Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.

Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.

What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?

According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.

Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.


Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:

  • Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
  • Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
  • Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
  • Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.

Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.

What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?

Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:

  • Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
  • Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
  • Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy

The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:

  • Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
  • Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
  • Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
  • Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
  • Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.

The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.

Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.

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Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?



If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?

Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.

Average debt by age group in Canada

First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.


These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.

Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:

Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.

The total debt measured includes:

  • Mortgage debt
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)

Median debt by age group in Canada

Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.

When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.

In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.

For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.

For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:

Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?

Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.

In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”

Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.

Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.

  • Pent-up demand and travel

Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”

It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.

  • Increased interest rates

To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.

Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.

Creating a plan to manage your debt

Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.

A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.

Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.


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Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River




The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island.
The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island. (CBC News)

The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.


The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.

The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.

The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.



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