While the state arrests land defenders and the press, a new report highlights government apathy toward climate change

Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.


An all-to-familiar juxtaposition has arisen with the recent arrests of Indigenous land defenders and journalists by the RCMP. On the one hand, we have politicians like Justin Trudeau and John Horgan insisting on the importance of climate change and that we must act now. On the other, these same politicians buy or approve new pipelines, grant fossil fuel subsidies, and arrest protestors.

Under the cover of catastrophic flooding that displaced thousands of people in British Columbia, the RCMP saw their opportunity and seized it. While most of us, including the media, were hyper-focused on these mass-flooding events (how could we not be?), the RCMP flew about 50 officers to a remote service road to arrest Wet’sewet’en land defenders.

The RCMP was heavily armed, equipped with machine guns, military equipment, K9 units, and even threatened to use a chainsaw to break in to a building to “extract unarmed Indigenous land defenders inside.” Defunding the Police has never looked so good as now.

Get Northern Currents straight to your inbox:

A confirmation link will be sent to the email provided. You can unsubscribe at any time.

All of this for a pipeline that could have been re-routed. All of this while Wet’sewet’en hereditary chiefs were in the process of finding a diplomatic solution.

Lessons learned?

More recently, The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development have released a new report, Report 5 – Lessons Learned from Canada’s Record on Climate Change. The report was very critical of Canada’s (in)action on climate change, stating:

Canada’s record on climate change should be judged not only on the
targets and commitments that Canada has made over the years, but also
on its actions. Despite commitments from government after government
to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the past
3 decades, Canada has failed to translate these commitments into real
reductions in net emissions. Instead, Canada’s emissions have continued
to rise.

Repeated commitments, strategies, and action plans to reduce emissions in Canada have not yielded results. According to Canada’s 2021 National Inventory Report, Canada’s emissions were 730 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, while its target for 2020 was 607 megatonnes. Canada’s new target for 2030 equates to approximately 406 to 443 megatonnes. Despite progress in some areas, such as public electricity and heat generation, Canadian emissions have actually increased by more than 20% since 1990.

On our current track, Canada will come up short on the goals of the Paris Agreement, that is, keeping global warming below 1.5-2 degrees: “current global commitments fall far short of [the Paris Agreement], leading to projections of warming by 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.”

The report does acknowledge that Canada has made some progress in “decoupling emissions from population growth and its gross domestic product.” Canada’s emissions have slowed down relative to population and economic growth. At the same time, it finds policies such as Trudeau’s buying of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion as being “incoherent” with progress toward averting climate change.

Follow Northern Currents:

Luckily, it isn’t all doom and gloom. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown what strong, concerted government action can do for large-scale societal problems. If our governments were serious about dealing with climate change, they could invoke emergency measures to get things done, rather than insufficient market-based remedies like the carbon tax.

Market-based remedies miss the underlying issues of our economic system that have created the climate crisis. Our economic system relies on constant, never-ending growth and consumption, on a planet with finite resources. This inherent contradiction of capitalism is manifesting itself in the form of climate change.

Provincial problems

Another core issue related to climate change is the infiltration of economic interests into our democratic systems. Even our left-leaning, social-democratic parties (in name at least) are highly susceptible to this process.

For a clear example, take a look at the career of Mike Farnworth, BC’s Minister of Public Safety. Previous to his career in politics Farnworth worked for energy and resource extraction companies like CP Rail, Gulf Oil, and Mt. Isa Mining. Is it really that surprising that the BCNDP, and indeed it’s federal counterpart, has sided with large energy companies? Or that they have remained relatively silent about the crackdown on Wet’sewet’en protesters, Hereditary Chiefs, and journalists?

Is that not an obvious example of large corporations exerting influence into our democratic institutions? The RCMP are simply there to do the bidding of large corporations, in this case.

The Maple reports that “the B.C. Civil Liberties Association published a letter sent by Farnworth to the RCMP’s ‘E’ Division in January 2020 which authorized the temporary redeployment of police resources to ‘maintain law and order’ in the construction area of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.” According to the same report, David Milward, a law professor at the University of Victoria said that “even if such a directive was not issued, said Milward, it would still be appropriate for Farnworth to speak up publicly if he believed the police’s conduct was inappropriate or unlawful.”

This is emblematic of a larger shift within the NDP over the last 20 years. In an effort to recover from near-collapse at the polls in the 90’s, the NDP sought to meet voters where they were at and moderated their platform and image. This has culminated toward the present day, in which the party boasts many small business owners as elected MP’s and MLA’s.

Some of us, with more socialist sensibilities, would say this shift has gone way too far. It’s one thing to meet voters where they are at, but not at the expense of major issues of climate change and Indigenous reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a sham to our political leaders

Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.

Given the recent events in which Wet’sewet’en land defenders were arrested by BC’s militarized RCMP, it is obvious now that what we call reconciliation is a sham, in the most literal sense of the word, when spoken of by our political elites.

Reconciliation has a double-meaning in Canada. To most of us, it refers to “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country,” as defined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Photo: Gidimt’en Checkpoint Facebook

This implies a nation-to-nation relationship – between many nations in fact – in which each nation stands on equal footing. Indeed, many reconciliations are required to overcome the Canadian state’s colonial acts of aggression toward Indigenous communities.

Unfortunately, our political leaders have another deficient definition of reconciliation though. What they want to reconcile are the contradictory interests between Capital and Indigenous self-determination. Ultimately, our political leaders, embodied by the Canadian state, side with Capital.

RCMP arrest Wet’sewet’en land defenders

Under the cover of catastrophic flooding that displaced thousands of people in British Columbia, the RCMP saw their opportunity and seized it. While most of us, including the media, were hyper-focused on these mass-flooding events (how could we not be?), the RCMP flew about 50 officers to a remote service road to arrest Wet’sewet’en land defenders.

Follow Northern Currents:

At least 14 have been arrested by the RCMP so far.

The RCMP was heavily armed, equipped with machine guns, military equipment, K9 units, and even threatened to use a chainsaw to break in to a building to “extract unarmed Indigenous land defenders inside.”

All of this for a pipeline that could have been re-routed. All of this while Wet’sewet’en hereditary chiefs were in the process of finding a diplomatic solution:


Surely the cops could be put to better use, given that the province is under a state of emergency due to mass floods driven by climate change? Nope, the interests of capital always prevail, it seems. The RCMP are simply doing the bidding of Coastal Gaslink.

It’s almost a yearly ritual at this point. Land defenders make a stand and claim what is theirs, and soon enough RCMP swoops in to crush democratic expression. Maybe it’s possible that policing isn’t the solution to all of our problems?

To me, this sounds all much more like reconciliation from the barrel of a gun, for the benefit of oil and gas companies.

Get Northern Currents straight to your inbox:

A confirmation link will be sent to the email provided. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Silence at the top

To bring the focus back to our political leaders, the most unsettling fact about these recent events is the sheer volume of complete silence from our political leaders. If one were following Justin Trudeau or Erin O’Toole in recent days, one wouldn’t even know this was going on. No statements or even acknowledgement of these developments. This isn’t surprising to those of us on the left.

Even worse, our social-democratic (in name at least) leaders have been nowhere to be found. Leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh, was very quick to comment on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict – happening in another country – but has still remained silent on the issue. John Horgan, premier of BC and leader of the BCNDP, has also remained silent. These are arguably the two most relevant leaders with the ability to center attention to this issue in national media.

It’s worth noting the NDP has finally put out a statement, but it’s simply too little too late. If acted upon earlier, the reckless RCMP invasion could have been avoided altogether.

Other lesser known political leaders have made statements of solidarity with the land defenders such as Dimitri Lascaris, Leah Gazan, Niki Ashton, and members of the Communist Party of Canada.

Equality vs Autonomy

This double-meaning of the word reconciliation has been elucidated by others. In his essay Paved with Comfortable Intentions, published in the book Pathways of Reconciliation, David B. Macdonald has made the distinction between two conceptions of reconciliation: liberal equality and a more radical, transformative Indigenous autonomy, including over land.


His essay spells out how most Canadians (here I would include our political leaders) view reconciliation as an issue to be resolved under a liberal framework of equality under the law. In this view, everyone within the borders of Canada becomes a Canadian citizen, the Indian Act is abolished, and private property is instituted in reservations defined by the Indian Act. Indigenous authorities and Canadian governments “work together” under the same system and the colonial government retains its control.

This view is very convenient for our political and corporate elite; if Indigenous people become solely subjects of the Canadian state, they are therefore subject to its laws, without any special protections or right to self-determination. Thus, an injunction becomes valid, and the RCMP have the right under Canadian law to enforce the interests of Capital, even on unceded land.

This view contrasts with a more transformative view of reconciliation in which emphasizes political autonomy over liberal equality. Macdonald brilliantly explains:

Transformative reconciliation, by contrast, is about fundamentally problematizing the settler state as a colonial creation, a vector of cultural genocide, and one that continues inexorably to suppress Indigenous collective aspirations for self-determination and sovereignty. In this type of reconciliation, we will see the rollback of settler state control over Indigenous individuals and communities, commensurate with Indigenous lands, cultures, laws, languages, and governance traditions. […] We might understand Indigenous self-determination as the “right to political autonomy, the freedom to determine political status and to pursue economic, social, and cultural development.”

In this more radical, anti-colonial interpretation of reconciliation, injunctions and RCMP invasions into politically autonomous regions are invalidated, and Indigenous law would overcome colonial state law.

Understanding the distinction between these two competing concepts is crucial to grasp how our political leaders use words like “reconciliation” or “nation-to-nation relationships.” Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, recently went as far as asserting, “it’s time to give land back.” Does anyone think he has any intention of ceding land in any meaningful sense? Or is it the corporate-friendly framework of liberal equality under the law, which turns Indigenous communities existing on this land for millennia into Canadian state subjects?

Real nation-to-nation relationships require substantive political autonomy as a precondition for determining how the Canadian state interacts with Indigenous communities and individuals. This conception of reconciliation is largely omitted from mainstream news sources, political leaders, and corporate stakeholders. This is for good reason too: it threatens their esteemed positions within capitalist power structures, therefore undermining their ability to profit from environmental destruction and displacement of people.

Wake up Sheeple! How covid conspiracists miss the biggest ‘conspiracy’ of all.

Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.

It’s no secret that conspiracy theories have skyrocketed in popularity over the last 20 months. We all probably know more than a few people who have gone off the deep end promoting theories of a “New World Order” that is supposedly being imposed upon the otherwise oblivious herds of sheeple.

Global News recently reported that “two in five Canadians (40 percent) considered it “definitely” or “probably true” that “certain significant events have been the result of the activity of a small group that secretly manipulates world events.”

Photo: Markus Winkler

It’s as if covid-conspiracists think that none of us have ever heard of these conspiracies before, as if we all didn’t watch the same things on YouTube back in 2010. It’s all exactly the same. “Do your research!” and “Lookup Blackrock!” they exclaim at you, rather parrot-like, while your eyes roll to the back of your head.

This turn toward alternate, outlandish explanations of current events is simply an attempt to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic, no doubt. It is infinitely easier to interpret what is going on when it is assumed that someone or some group of people are in control of the entire situation – even if they have nefarious intentions. It is much harder to accept that maybe, no one really is in control. The pandemic requires a collective effort to beat this virus. It is also true that many of these theories align with Conservativism all too neatly.

What strikes me the most about the claims made by this coalition of covid-conspiracists, including anti-vaccine adherents, is just how close some of them are to understanding what is really going on. Some of them are actually on the brink of grasping broader left-wing ideas of class dynamics in society.

Capitalism itself is not a conspiracy, obviously. But under our global capitalist system, there are two prominent classes of people: those that make a living from owning capital (for example land, money, or a business) and those that rent their time in the form of wage labour or a salary. 

Follow Northern Currents:

Conspiracy theorists rightly point out that certain corporations and people have too much wealth and power. They love to play connect the dots: this billionaire owns this company, and this company has ownership of these companies, who are jointly owned by these other billionaires over there. They love to make connections between certain individuals who will hold seats on the board of directors of multiple companies, or that companies will have an ownership stake in multiple other companies.

All these things are true, this is a feature of capitalism. What they miss though, is the collective class interest of these networks of powerful individuals. 


Conspiracists will attribute all major world events to a select handful of the wealthy elite. We all know the usual individuals incorporated into these theories: George Soros, the Rockefellers, Hillary Clinton and others, and they can turn anti-semitic really quickly. They miss the point that these individuals are a small – but still powerful – subset of the larger capital-owning class that share the same broad interests.

They see the connections but miss the bigger picture.

Photo: Claudio Schwarz

This capital-owning class consists of multiple stakeholders: companies, individuals, families, banks and even governments. All of these compete against each other and form coalitions when it proves to be mutually beneficial. What they do share in common is their class interest in neo-liberal policies of:

  • Lower minimum wages and minimal worker protections
  • Elimination of borders for corporations
  • Deregulation, privatization, lower corporate taxes
  • Hyper-exploitation of under-developed countries’ resources and people
  • Multinational free-trade agreements

Covid-conspiracists will often talk about this “New World Order” as being imposed on us while we are all distracted by Covid-19. Sorry, this is incorrect. The New World Order is already here; we have been living in it the whole time. 

Get Northern Currents straight to your inbox:

A confirmation link will be sent to the email provided. You can unsubscribe at any time.

This already existing New World Order accelerated its brutal levels of inequality during the 1980s with so-called trickle-down economic policies. It was devised under Ronald Reagan in the USA, Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and Brian Mulroney here in Canada, with the help of the wealthy and powerful capital-owners of society. 

Is not the fact that we now have billionaires claiming that they will end world hunger with their own private fortunes enough evidence that we live in a New World Order? If our global capitalist system has such massive concentrations of wealth already, surely this meets the criteria?

To any serious Leftist reading this, this won’t come as a shock to you. I have simply described a simplified Marxist class analysis of capitalism, and a potential inroad for conveying these ideas. As stated earlier, Covid-conspiracists see the connections but miss the bigger picture of class society.

Chrétien comments show that being out of touch is a feature of the Liberal Party

Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.

A recent Hill Times article had an illuminating claim in which Liberal Party MP’s are demanding “an explanation from the leadership and the party headquarters about why the party failed to win a majority for the second time in a row.”

The answer is becoming increasingly clear. The Liberal Party is out of touch with the needs of working-class and Indigenous people. More and more people are realizing this as time goes on.

Photo: CBC

Never mind the fact that Justin Trudeau called an election during a pandemic. Or that there are still no plans to implement universal pharmacare or dental care. Reconciliation is nowhere to be found. The Liberals are uninspiring, elitist, and stagnant. They are not a progressive party. The younger generation in Canada is becoming increasingly attuned to this stagnation, turning to other parties for inspiration.

This is not new, either. Given the recent comments of former Prime Minister and Minister of the (previously named) Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, this out-of-touchness seems to be Liberal Party standard operating procedure.

Get Northern Currents straight to your inbox:

A confirmation link will be sent to the email provided. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Chrétien made a series of horrific claims – horrific in most part because of the fact that he held both the office of PM and the ministry devoted to administering Canada’s apartheid system of the Indian Act – the first about being unaware of abuse in Canada’s residential schools. This is despite the CBC reporting:

A cursory look at the historical record reveals that while Chrétien was minister, his department received at least four reports outlining allegations of abuse and mistreatment of children at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, which operated in the Fort Albany First Nation, along Ontario’s James Bay coast.

This made the waves on social media. Chrétien then went on to compare his experience with a boarding school, to being in a residential school. Keep in mind that the entire point of the residential school system was the elimination of an entire race of people. Out of touch, much?

And it gets worse. The cherry on top of this debacle was his insistence that he had tried to improve the lives of Indigenous by adopting an Indigenous child himself. “I even adopted an Indigenous son, to lead by example,” he said. “This proves my investment in this issue.”

Follow Northern Currents:

Some on Twitter have likened this to the 60’s scoop, in which Indigenous children were removed from their communities and placed in the child welfare system, and then adopted into white families. This was described by the Truth and Reconciliation as being part of the harmful legacy of colonization. Indigenous activists such as Pam Palmater have been calling on the federal government to finally reform the child welfare system by putting child welfare in the hands of Indigenous communities themselves.

All this just goes to show that the Liberal Party has always been out of touch with many communities that reside within the borders of Canada. It’s time for some real, progressive change.

Public health over profit: Covid-19 is surging under Jason Kenney

“The cure cannot be worse than the [virus] itself,” said Trump back in March.

It seems that Alberta premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have taken Trump’s words to heart. The dynamic between the two and Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Health Officer, echoes the uneasy tension between Trump and Anthony Fauci.

Jason Kenney, Tyler Shandro, and Deena Hinshaw. Photo: The Canadian Press

Kenney and Shandro have been antagonizing public health officials, according to CBC News. Covid-19 is currently surging with over 1700 new cases on Saturday. The situation is quickly spiralling out of control.

This comes as former NDP premier Rachel Notley accused Kenney and Shandro of suppressing and undermining public health recommendations by Deena Hinshaw.

From CBC News:

The cabinet committee, to which she and the group reported, was pressuring her to broadly expand serology testing, which is used to detect the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood.

The problem was that the tests had limited large-scale clinical value and Hinshaw believed it would overestimate the virus’s presence in the population. 

“Honestly, after the battle that we had about molecular testing, I don’t have a lot of fight left in me,” Hinshaw said during that meeting.

The level of political direction — and, at times, interference — in Alberta’s pandemic response is revealed in 20 audio recordings of the daily planning meetings of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) obtained by CBC News, as well as in meeting minutes and interviews with staff directly involved in pandemic planning.

Taken together, they reveal how Premier Jason Kenney, Shandro and other cabinet ministers often micromanaged the actions of already overwhelmed civil servants; sometimes overruled their expert advice; and pushed an early relaunch strategy that seemed more focused on the economy and avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans’ freedoms than enforcing compliance to safeguard public health.

But at the daily pandemic briefing Wednesday, as the province announced its 500th death, Hinshaw reiterated her belief that her job is to provide “a range of policy options to government officials outlining what I believe is the recommended approach and the strengths and weaknesses of any alternatives.

 “The final decisions are made by the cabinet,” she said, adding that she has “always felt respected and listened to and that my recommendations have been respectfully considered by policy makers while making their decisions.”

Follow Northern Currents:

Related: The Conservatives are hostile towards those we need the most

Jason Kenney’s attempt at “avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans’ freedoms” is a clear-cut effort to pander toward anti-mask and anti-vaccine people.

Taking aim at healthcare workers, too

Since the start of being premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney has antagonized the most valuable community possible during a pandemic: doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. With 750 layoffs of nurses on the line, Kenney and his government have refused to meet with United Nurses of Alberta to renew contract negotiations. United Nurses of Alberta is the union that represents 30,000 nurses in the province.

Things have gotten so bad under Kenney’s leadership that the Alberta Federation of Labor, a group of unions, has asked Albertans to boycott businesses that support the United Conservative Party. Healthcare workers are leaving Alberta to such an extent that other provinces are looking to poach those leaving the province.

“My message today to Saskatchewan is that we will invest in healthcare,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “My message today to Alberta doctors and nurses: come on over, Saskatchewan will welcome you with open arms under an NDP government.

It gets worse with Kenney too. Many Conservatives in Canada long for the day that we give up our prized healthcare system in favour of a “free market” based system, American style. The UCP is chipping away at socialized healthcare with Bill 30, which allows for public funds to be funnelled to for-profit healthcare. The recently formed party has a history of cutting public sector jobs and voted to reject the commitment of upholding principals in the Canada Health Act.

The track record of Conservatives in power across the country speaks for itself. This is a party hostile to healthcare workers, but not so hostile to big business. Their willingness to stand against healthcare workers during a global pandemic is truly horrifying.

Want to defund the police? One gigantic problem: they don’t care

At this point, we are all aware of what it means to defund the police. It simply means moving money and tasks away from police departments and then funneling that money into new social programs that can properly deal with public health issues. One example of this could be social workers showing up to a mental health crisis.

Photo: @Lulex

Protests have erupted throughout Canada and the USA in response to all-to-familiar accounts of police brutality. One would think that maybe the police might start paying attention?

Wrong. They’ll just punch you in the face.

A pattern of violence

That’s what happened to Genesta Garson of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation. Video has recently surfaced of three RCMP officers in the Thompson, Manitoba detachment trying to get Garson into her cell. 

While surrounded by three officers she struck one officer with her belt. Without hesitation one of them punched Garson right in the face, knocking her out instantly. Then the officers proceeded to drag Garson on the floor to her cell. And the crime that started all of this? The officers arrested her on the “suspicion of being drunk.”

Follow Northern Currents:

Or there’s the story of Celine Samuel, 44, from Northlands Denesuline First Nation. She died in a cell in the same detachment in Thompson, Manitoba. Another victim of the province’s Intoxicated Persons Detention Act (IPDA), which is used disproportionately against Indigenous people.

Another similar event happened earlier this year. On Thursday, June 4th of this year, Police Officers were sent on a wellness check of a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, Chantel Moore. The result of this ‘wellness check’ was that she was shot and killed by the police. 

Clearly, even after protests erupting and calls to defund the police, they are still willing to harm Indigenous people. 

A systemic problem

It gets worse, too. The superintendent of Manitoba RCMP, Kevin Lewis, dismissed the violence, saying that the police were simply “reacting to the situation at hand.” When Garson filed a complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, police showed up at her home and workplace and pressured her to withdraw the complaint.

There are other ways in which policing has failed Canadians. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry has sharply criticized the RCMP for “rotating their most inexperienced officers in and out of remote Indigenous communities” and that they should “instead find ways to install veteran detectives and specialized Indigenous squads,” for example.

“The continued racism and sexism by many RCMP officers directed at Indigenous Peoples, the high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women … have caused many Indigenous Peoples and communities to lose trust and confidence in the Canadian justice system, the RCMP, and police services in general,” according to the report. Consider also that between 2007 and 2017 one third of people killed by police were indigenous. Shifting funding to civilian watchdog groups would be a highly effective measure to provide a counterbalance to often unquestioned police narratives and pressure police to take Indigenous people’s concerns seriously.

There is no doubt that dealing with mental health issues on the spot can be a huge challenge, with split-second decision making and crucial de-escalation tactics needed. That is the point. These challenges require specific training and psychological expertise. The police have 2 major insurmountable problems associated with them: 1 – they are not mental health experts, often with minimal training, and 2 – the mere presence of the police during a mental health crisis can escalate the situation due to perceived hostility of the police toward vulnerable communities.

The idea of redirecting police funds to a new Emergency Crisis Assistance Force is not a new, far fetched idea. In Oregon, the CAHOOTS program has been active since 1989. This program responds to emergency crises such as suicide prevention, conflict resolution and mediation, grief and loss, substance abuse, housing crisis, first aid and emergency care, domestic violence and many more services, free of charge. They respond to roughly 22000 requests annually, making up 20% of all public safety requests in the metropolitan area. This program has been wildly successful and if implemented on a provincial or national scale, could save countless lives and provide effective services that the police simply cannot.

This shift in public safety policy must be done strategically. The last thing Canada needs is to defund policing without having alternative programs in place, leading to a possible power vacuum and ultimately defeating the entire purpose which is public safety. Let’s get to work and build non-authoritarian, non militarized, alternatives to policing. Then we can shift our funding from the police to these new, more effective institutions.

It’s an American election dumpster fire: Canadians need to be vigilant too

The American democratic experiment is stuck in gridlock. It has become clear that Joe Biden will be the next president with a lead of over 4 million votes. More importantly, Biden has passed the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win. However, Trump-style politics are still in favour with millions of Americans.

Even though the election has been called and Biden as the winner, Trump has assembled an army of lawyers ready to contest the results. Some states may even do a recount – drawing the results out even longer. This is a real test of faith for America’s republic.

It is often said that the USA is a divided country. This has been true since the founding of the country, but this is also true everywhere. No country is a monolith. What is true is the country is more polarized – its divisions are much more defined.

What has become clear is that American’s have still not outright rejected Trump-style, far-right politics. Trump has correctly pointed out that he has won the most votes ever for a sitting president. This, to anyone on the left, is a scary thought given all the harmful policies and actions he has taken over the past 4 years.

Follow Northern Currents:

Some common feelings among Canadians on social media have been of both relief and gratitude. Donald Trump has been defeated and many Canadians can now take a deep breath. We are thankful that it could never happen in Canada, right?

Don’t be so sure of that.

Donald Trump is not the root cause of America’s problems. He is a symptom of a much larger movement that has swept through Europe, Asia, and South America as well. This movement has shown its face in the form of anti-immigrant policies, xenophobia, nativism, and outright racism at times.

Examples of this can be found in the Covid-denying, military-dictatorship-supporting, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. In the Netherlands, the PVV party’s leader, Geert Wilders ran on a campaign fueled by Islamophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric. During their last election, the party gained 5 seats and got the second most seats in their parliament, ultimately losing to a coalition party. Other examples of this movement can be found in the Philippines, India, Germany, France, and many more countries.

Canada first politics

Canada has been affected too – the Covid-19 pandemic has provided fertile grounds for the far-right and anti-lockdown folks to cultivate and collaborate. The party closest aligned to these ideals is the People’s Party of Canada, lead by Maxime Bernier. They lost in the last federal election with a feeble 1.6% of the vote.

While this may seem like an irrelevant, fringe party, this could have easily not been the case. It is extremely difficult for newer political parties to gain a foothold in Canadian politics. In lockstep with his counterpart down south, Bernier has joined the choir of democracy denial:

If we rewind a few years to May 2017, you may recall that Maxime Bernier came in a close second to Andrew Scheer during the Conservative Party Leadership race. It was a close call – Bernier finished with 49%, just behind Scheer with 51%. In the first round of voting, Bernier actually had the most votes.

What if, instead of losing and forming his own party, Bernier had won and become the Conservative leader? Would he have defeated Trudeau? Would he have gained a bigger following? What if it was someone more like Donald Trump?

These questions are asked in order to reveal how vulnerable our democracy is. Canadians need to stay vigilant because far-right populism has not gone away. A long chunk of modern Conservatives have aligned themselves with conspiratorial thinking.

Whether the ‘cancelling’ of Trump by his fellow citizens reverses this tide still remains to be seen. Canada’s electoral system is too similar to the USA’s for Canadian’s to shrug their shoulders at the last four years down south.

Breaking away

Canada needs to safeguard our electoral system and prevent the system from being undermined. Our system needs to be democratized further.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP has put forward his support for one reform that would help make our system more democratic. Instead of the winner-take-all first-past-the-post system that we currently have, proportional representation would be a great improvement to our democracy.

Proportional representation has many benefits and provides a much more democratic electoral system.

It may seem that a proportional system could make it easier for fringe parties such as the PPC to gain a foothold in Canadian Politics. If we look at the previously mentioned case of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, ultimately they didn’t stand a chance. Left-wing or center-left parties can (and did) form a coalition to prevent them from taking power.

Reforms similar to this will help Canadians prevent this new, 2020 version of far-right politics from gaining traction. It is healthy for all of us to breathe a sigh of relief now that we know Trump will be gone. However, we cannot simply shrug our shoulders and think that it cannot happen here.

Fascism on the ballot: Will Americans drown out hate?

Today is the day where we get our first glimpse of whether or not our neighbors to the south choose to vote out fascism. This new, 21st-century style of fascism has emerged in various places across the planet such as Brazil, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and others.

Make no mistake, even in Trump loses the election, Fascism and hate will remain. Let’s push it back into the shadows.

Please share this post in the hopes of fighting fascism here in Canada. Also consider signing up to Northern Current’s mailing list:

Success! You're on the list.

By clicking submit, you agree to share your email address with the site owner and Mailchimp to receive marketing, updates, and other emails from the site owner. Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.

Canada is not immune to this export of ideology and we must be vigilant. During our short period as a blog, Northern Currents has published a few pieces on the rise of the far-right. This includes Qanon, anti-maskers, xenophobes, and more. See the following links:

More resources on fighting fascism and hate here in Canada:

Two Conservative candidates have transphobic policies. Why is no-one talking about this?

In the wake of JK Rowling’s most recent twitter debacle in which she (again) spread transphobic slander, it is clear that transphobia is still a pervasive force in our society, and yes, in Canada too. While facing backlash from many in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, Rowling only doubled down in her misinformation and hatred. Lets be clear here, transgender and non-binary people have no obligation to defend the validity of their own lived experience. That is the job of allies to the LGBT+ community.

Even in Canada, the denial of the validity of transgender people’s lived existence remains. Two out of the four leadership candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada want to remove protections for transgender people. The platform of Leslyn Lewis specifically says in no uncertain terms that she would like to repeal Bill C-16, which added gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Removing this protection would enable the harassment of trans individuals by allowing them to be misgendered. It would also allow discrimination broadly against trans people in employment, medical services, schooling, and countless other necessary elements of society.

Follow Northern Currents:

Derek Sloan is much more aggressive in his transphobia. He has appeared on far right talk shows voicing his transphobic views many times along with other conspiracy theories. In a bizarre policy statement, Sloan said that he wanted to “outlaw transgender surgery for children across Canada” as he thought children as young as five were recieving gender affirming surgeries. This is simply not a thing that happens.


Children that young do not undergo any type of surgery related to transitioning. Puberty blockers are prescribed as children undergo puberty to give them more time to grow and understand the direction they would like to take. The WPATH standard of care recommends cross-sex hormones be given at the age of majority (in Canada this is 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory), although it can happen earlier.

This is all in a context of a country which, before European settlers arrived in the land now known as Canada, Indigenous cultures had a variety of conceptions of gender that goes back as far as time itself, according to their traditions. This has been the case throughout the entire world.

By denying the validity of being transgender, it is transgender individuals being erased and marginalized

So, why is what JK Rowling said, wrong?

In short, there are two main problems: she is missing the division between sex and gender, and she is erasing transgender people’s existence, while claiming that woman’s existence is being erased.

Every major health and scientific organization has made the distinction between sex and gender, and has acknowledged that some individuals may have a sense of gender that does not align with their ‘biological sex’. Despite the use of the phrase ‘biological sex’ to mean binary sex by conservatives, there is a wide variety different genetic, hormonal, and physiological variation within the range of biological sex. And on top of that, there is a wide variety among individuals in the way they experience their ‘psychological gender.’ The Canadian Psychological Association clearly states:

The Canadian Psychological Association affirms that all adolescent and adult persons have the right to define their own gender identity regardless of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. Moreover, all adolescent and adult persons have the right to free expression of their self-defined gender identity.

The Canadian Psychological Association opposes stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination on the basis of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role, or on the basis of a self-defined gender identity or the expression thereof in exercising all basic human rights. (October 2010)

By denying the validity of being transgender, it is transgender individuals being erased and marginalized, not women, as Rowling claims.

It’s not just the Canadian Psychological Association that support trans people. Similar scientific and health organizations in the USA, UK, United Nations, and the World Health Organization have all moved in the same direction. The science is very clear.

So what’s an ally to the Trans community to do?

We need to support policies that have beneficial outcomes for Trans people. A meta-analysis of 55 studies has definitively informed us that transitioning improves the overall well-being of transgender people.

We also know that puberty blockers, affirming medical professionals, and sex reassignment surgery have incredibly beneficial outcomes for trans individuals’ mental health and productivity.

Parental support and supportive organizations can reduce the likelihood of younger individuals from attempting committing suicide from 57% to 4%.

We need to affirm and support Transgender people wherever possible, and defend the protections put in place with Bill C-16. Transphobia is still a very strong force in Canada, and must be stamped out.

The far right is more wrong than they think. Less than 5% of Spain and France have Covid-19 antibodies.

Both France and Spain have been hit much harder than Canada during the Covid 19 pandemic. Two studies with preliminary findings have shown that less than 5% of France and Spain’s population have been infected and have produced antibodies that appear to offer some form of protection from reinfection.

While it does point to a much lower closed case death rate of 15%, it does point to a much starker future. If these hard hit countries are only at 5% of their population infected, presumably Canada is much lower, with 5679 deaths already.

Article continues below

Worldwide recovery rate vs death rate over time. Source: worldometer.info

In order to reach a level of herd immunity high enough to afford protection from infection, it is estimated that any given country would need 60-70% of its population to be infected.

If we are to assume that Canada’s healthcare system stays protected from being overloaded, and that Covid-19 antibodies give a long lasting immunity (which has not been proven and is highly unlikely), Canada could see a death rate of about 1%. This means that once this level of herd immunity has been reached, over 250,000 Canadians would have died.

Far right cranks still want to fully reopen the economy. If that were to happen, the number of cases would spike again, and the number of unavoidable deaths would be much higher than 250,000 due to Canadian hospitals being over stressed. We have already seen how quickly cases can spike.

Let’s also not forget that the people who most often suffer are the poorest in our economy. They are those who cannot work from home and must provide the essential services that we all depend on. Data from New York has shown that the hardest hit areas are not the most dense, but the most poor. According to the New York Times:

Nineteen of the twenty neighbourhoods with the lowest percentage of positive tests have been in wealthy ZIP codes in New York.

So what is the best strategy moving forward? Stay the course. Flatten the curve and get the number of daily new cases as low as possible. Then, partially reopen the economy with strict social distancing and hygienic practices. This will allow our health care system to identify and isolate new outbreaks through contact tracing. This is what will save as many lives as possible until a reliable vaccine or treatment is made.