Quote of the Day: Arthur Manuel on How Indigenous Peoples Subsidize Canadian Forest Industry

arthur manuel
[The Indigenous Network of Environment and Trade] argued that Canada's policy of not recognizing aboriginal treaty rights [in the Canadian-US softwood lumber dispute] was a form of a cash subsidy, a real cash subsidy, because the only thing that the World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement recognizes is cash subsidies — nothing else, no 'intangibles'. And the WTO actually accepted our [amicus curiae] submissions three times.

And when we made the same application to NAFTA, the Canadian government, the Quebec, Ontario governments and the forestry ministry launched a joint objection against us, hiring a law firm in Washington DC to fight us on this issue, saying that we had nothing extra to contribute to this discussion on trade subsidies.

And NAFTA still accepted our submission, even after those objections.

In a way, it says that aboriginal peoples are subsidizing Canada, because no matter where it is in the world, industry is supposed to pay for all the resources it gets in order to process them North American companies that have assumed that, under the colonial doctrines of discovery, that it can take from the indigenous peoples without paying a dime for the trees and that's part of the poverty that indigenous peoples are suffering. There's no remuneration, so there's a whole idea of economic subsidy that's involved in this.

-- Arthur Manuel at a McGill University lecture titled "Canada, a Pariah State? Indigenous rights in Domestic and International Law."

Arthur Manuel is the former Chief of the Neskonlith Band in British Columbia, and chairperson of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and Interior Alliance of BC First Nations. As a longtime advocate of human and indigenous rights in Canada and abroad, he is currently the spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET), a network of Indigenous organizations working to achieve recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at the international level.

In 2006, the Harper-led government of Canada, along with the United States, Australia and New Zealand were the only four nations to reject the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which outlines the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development according to their own needs and aspirations.

Image: McGill University
Related Links on Indigenous Rights
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Indigenous Groups Document Environmental Destruction Using GPS and Google Earth
The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Amnesty Canada - links to recent events)
Land Rights Canada (Suite 101)

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