Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Article 32 of the NLCA and the function of "Regional Boards"

A recent editorial by Jim Bell of Nunatsiaq News (NunatsiaqOnline): made me think quite a bit about how to bring the weight of Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to bear upon Nunavut Association of Municipalities' recent resolution to re-instate the Regional Health Boards though I saw no such explicit mention of Article 32 in the resolution.

I think NAM would have been better served to present their case by referring to Article 32 of the NLCA as a general rule of process to follow in actualizing the obligations of  'Governments' referred to in the Article, to help come up with a structure to implement Inuit consultation requirements on government program and policy development; and, to where community groups may access services such as hiring from an approved list of candidates and provide a central depository where they can present their needs; a central place to provide dedicated analytical tools to fulfil policy and program development requirements for each individual case in discussion.

These and other issues can and should be addressed by the technicians from both the Inuit Org.s and Governments, to provide core funding jointly by the parties. Though the translation services are much welcomed, they are not in themselves to be considered in any way as "consultations" - it is the ability to follow the contents of discussion, not the means thereof, that is, ultimately, at issue here.

What every rightful elected official should expect are well-organized and well-drafted briefs and discussion/option papers on pertinent programs and policy files in Inuktitut on hand. The general social policy and programs development discourse should, over time, acquire organicity and compatibility with the Inuit stake-holders where not only the notion of justice/law is learned but just habits are cultivated to guide one's contribution to the discourse. Right and timely information is key to understanding and inputting into the process.

There are also, contrary to intuition, demonstrable benchmarks for Inuit participation, such as reasonable fit and compatibility to set criteria and qualifying points and accountable expenditure of funds dedicated therein. These exercises' in policy and program development should be measured by and accountable for lapses and short-falls as well as in meeting funding and needs assessments at both levels of Government. The Inuit engagement should be easily trackable through mail traffic (both electronic and traditional) and file- and book-keeping where one may tally those outcomes that went in favour of Inuit vs beaucratic expediency.

Most of these files that NAM reminisces of in their resolution require a coordinated and commensurately deliberated responses which feed back into the evaluation and disbursement of any particular policy or program. A properly and strictly mandated and funded/staffed 'regional' entity(ies) that is (are) Article 32 and requisite political direction compliant is a desirable thing for Inuit interests in Nunavut. The selfsame core-funded initiative should be pursued by the NSDC-functioning unit of the Inuit party a vehicle to provide the much-needed and identifiable unifying political direction in exchanges on-record between Governments and Inuit of Nunavut.

Article 32 has not been but is very capable of being operationalized and roles and responsibilities clarified in a centralized (perhaps) regional body and respository to represent the political and fiduciary interests of the Inuit communities as and from one and unified voice.

This is what I found lacking in the Editor's perspective in his on-line piece.


Friday, 5 August 2011

The Age of Feuilleton?

In Hermann Hesse's Magister Ludi (The Glassbead Game) the ficitional story of Joseph Knecht is introduced by a scholar writing about the history of the mysterious glass bead game. There, the narrator specifies periods in the history of the Game, one of which he calls "the age of feuilleton":

"The beginnings of the intellectual movement whose fruits are, among many others, the establishment of the Order and the Glass Bead Game itself, may be traced back to a period which Plinius Ziegenhalss, the historian of literature, designated as the Age of the Feuilleton, by which name it has been known ever since. Such tags are pretty, but dangerous; they constantly tempt us to a biased view of the era in question. And as a matter of fact the Age of the Feuilleton was by no means uncultured; it was not even intellectually impoverished. But if we may believe Ziegenhalss, that age appears to have had only the dimmest notion of what to do with culture. Or rather, it did not know how to assign culture its proper place within the economy of life and the nation. To be frank, we really are very poorly informed about that era, even though it is the soil out of which almost everything that distinguishes our cultural life today has grown.

History is as it has happened. Whether it was good, whether it would have been better not to have happened, whether we will or will not acknowledge that it has had "meaning" -- all this is irrelevant. Thus those struggles for the "freedom" of the human intellect likewise "happened," and subsequently, in the course of the aforementioned Age of the Feuilleton, men came to enjoy an incredible degree of intellectual freedom, more than they could stand. For while they had overthrown the tutelage of the Church completely, and that of the State partially, they had not succeeded in formulating an authentic law they could respect, a genuinely new authority and legitimacy. Ziegenhalss recounts some truly astonishing examples of the intellect's debasement, venality, and self-betrayal during that period."
Whatever these "astonishing examples" are, Hesse's narrator suggests they are churned out for mass consumption, what he calls "mental pablum" with titles not unlike the fare seen in sophomoric academic papers and in political propaganda of our times - derivatives of derivatives, whose claim to fame clumsily juxtapose seemingly disparate areas of concern as subject matter intended puff up half-baked drivel. A "coalition", then, is no longer just plain, old coalition but a "dangerous" and "reckless" coalition; unmitigated rape and deregulation of national economic safe-guards is affected through "the light touch"; etc. etc.

The Age of Feuilleton is, in other words, an aftermath of a collapse of ancien regimes and a period before conventional wisdom reasserts reason, maturity and proper legitimacy to the discourse. The progenitor and spawn is moral/ethical bankruptcy and corruption of public institutions through which further intolerance and intransigence become the cure for the ideological intolerance and intransigence that caused the toxic environment in the first place.

I don't know how to deal with the corruption and arrogance which seem to have cause the downfall of liberalism across the globe and especially here in Canada where the Liberal Party said of itself as "the natural governing party" for so long all the while wallowing in filth shamelessly, but I know that the shift to the extreme right and social conservativism is not the cure for our ills. Sometimes I wonder if we've traded the devil we know for something worst.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Canadian values are right-wing values?

Whenever I read the news and editorials online (be it a national newspaper or Nunatsiaq News) I sometimes look into the readers' comments section at the end of the piece I find interesting. Some of the comments I read are insightful, thoughtful and informative, but a lot of it is just plain vitriolic, racist and completely ignorant of historical facts, political and economic discourse, and literary decorum in general.

A lot of it is anonymous but revealing of violent mindless hatred, hypocrisy and begrudged tolerance of fellow Canadians who are not of WASP persuasion - the kind that Breivik fed on and was birthed from. I dispair for the fragility that which is sane, reasonable and tolerant world I've spent my life reading about and striving to actualize in my surround.

The mean and petty men who openly favour one region over another in this great country of our's arose from the biased, selective, revisionist educational process that has defined our recent experience - whether it be the ersatz system that is aboriginal education to the public and private institutions of learning which seem more interested in keeping up appearances and window-dressing than substance, effort and efficacy. The germ of corporatism roots deep into our public life it seems where institutions of learning dispense accreditations and rewards like brand-name consumer goods.

The Prime Minister crooned innocently to his public that Canada is unique in that it has no history of colonialism and imperialist ambitions (during or shortly after apologizing for the residential schools that were intent on destroying aboriginal groups). A leader who see's nothing wrong in being ignorant of historical facts should be as dismaying as what we see as recent US political discourse.

It seems to have never occurred to Harper that Canada was once part of the British Empire, and unlike the USA, Canada never severed its political ties to the English Crown. His legal and constitutional counsel seems very adept at skirting around the legal frameworks of power but seem to not know why the balances and counter-balances were put there in the first place: to safe-guard, not hijack, the political process of responsible government.

Canadian values are conservative values? The Canada I believe in is not conservative America.


Monday, 1 August 2011

The Iron Cage and the rise of Fundamentalism (in the West and East)

In talking about the contradictions of a rational-legal society, one dominated by bureaucracy and constitutional governance - mind, created by people of high ideals and noble intents and then left to run its course for convenience's sake - , Max Weber wrote:

"How is it at all possible to salvage any remnants of 'individual' freedom of movement in any sense given this all-powerful trend?"

which I take and interpret as, how does individual conscience, responsibility and ethical behaviour come into play when all and everything becomes prescribed and predetermined by the "iron cage"?

I've been thinking about the mass murders that Breivik, Bin Laden, Hitler, the Khmer Rouge, etc. have inflicted upon humanity in terms of Weber's prophetic warnings of the dangers and contradictions of a rational-legal society, one dominated through knowledge and cavalier application of formalized power structures (be it "divinely"- or constitutionally- inspired).

It is said of Breivik that he is not insane, though his acts of mass killing clearly are. But what links him to the other monsters of human history is his own malformed brand of "line of reasoning" within a formalized system of thought that justifies power and the fealty of its subjects.

This nascent satanic verse, this double-edged sword of rational-legal systems (be it theocracies, democracies, ideologies) is easily perversed by apathy, fear, corruption, granfalloons, etc. - ie, by the baser, more selfish side of human nature - and, because it is built into the very fabric of rational governance, one that calls upon us all (as a community) to remain always vigilant in its discourse to counter the lowest common denominators - the Breiviks, the Osamas, the Adolfs, the Pots, the tea parties, the anonymous bureaucrats, and popes and grand masters of the lodge.

It is said of the great Godel in his citizenship hearing that he was just about to point out the logical basis for a dictatorship to hijack the American Constitution when his sponsor, Einstein, shut him and dragged him off before he could jeopardize his citizenship to America. Him, having just seen and fled the devastation of such a coup in Europe, I often wonder what he'd had to say about the American system.