Want to do something for the poor? Stop voting for progressives.

To begin with on this rant, I will shed the label “progressive” for policies and refer to them for what they are on the spectrum: “left wing”. The left/right political spectrum is an accurate measure in describing general political leanings particularly with policies if not with people. Many keep wrongly trying to claim that the left/right concept on the political spectrum is out of date or inaccurate. Almost invariably those trying to hide from the left/right descriptor are people who land on the left side of things as they try to describe themselves as “progressive” (despite opposing most forms of progress). Left leaning folks in Canada are understanding that hard left-wing policy is unsalable to the electorate when presented openly thus while retaining the philosophies they try to mask the real intent politically. We see this most often in civic politics where the lack of a party structure has allowed many hard-left leaning candidates slip by the electorate when they typically would have been rejected.

 One of the biggest contradictions in the left-wing world has been their constant claims of wanting to support the poor while supporting so many policies that harm the poor further. There are two factors that strongly affect people in low income situations; the economy and the cost of living. If we really want to ease the pain for low income people, we should be ensuring that we have a strong economy so that income may be found for those who seek it and that the cost of living remains as reasonable as possible. Unfortunately, left wing initiatives only harm the economy and shoot the cost of living through the roof.

With the left gravitating so much towards civic politics, we have seen quite a trend of an almost religious-like urbanism that is zealously focused on increasing population density at all costs. In Calgary we have seen this with the importing and hiring (at huge cost) of American municipal planner Rollin Stanley who is so obsessively density focused that he is actually controversial and somewhat well known. It takes quite the extreme viewpoints for one to stand out so much in the typically dry world of urban planning but Stanley has managed to do so with his unreasonable anti-vehicle and consumer outlooks.

Through regulatory abuse and red tape, Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with left-wing allies on council such as Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott have essentially frozen suburban development. 97% of Calgary’s growth has been in the suburbs over the years and there is a good reason for that: it is affordable and people don’t want to raise their families squashed like sardines in a dense urban environment. Despite such overwhelming demand by consumers, the density obsessed are working hard to take away consumer choice through regulation. There is a great little saying about socialism: “Ideas so good that they have to be mandatory.” We can’t let those unwashed citizens choose where to spend their lives and dollars! It is upon the urban planners to force these people into what we see as “sustainable” living.

Now when one meddles with the law of supply and demand there is always a consequence. In Calgary (and many other cities) housing is being choked by ideologically extreme councils thus causing the cost of housing to go through the roof. Many of density zealots love to wistfully speak of Manhattan and San Francisco as great density models to follow. What these ideologues constantly forget to mention is that these centers are catastrophically expensive to live in with average homes costing over a million dollars in Manhattan and nearly as much in San Francisco.

Housing is one of the largest expenses in everybody’s lives. People with low incomes are harmed terribly when housing supply is choked. The poor who the left claim to care about get pushed further and further from urban centers seeking affordable housing which of course leads to even more suburban growth which is second only to the holocaust in it’s evil! To fight this trend, Nenshi has been supporting huge property tax hikes every year along with development levies in order to make suburban living as expensive as living in a downtown density paradise. The left wing density gang does realize that they can’t reduce the cost of living downtown so they hope that in raising the cost of living artificially elsewhere that they can at least equalize the poverty throughout the city.

The poor in cities are now being driven further and further out from the city centers as left-wing policies make living untenable for them. While Nenshi and his followers love to pejoratively toss out the word “sprawl” and feed a myth that the suburbs are subsidized, they are actually feeding outward growth as they raise the cost of living for our most vulnerable. While bedroom communities offer more affordable housing, they often have less employment opportunities nearby so lower income folks either have to commute great distances (environmental evil) or remain unemployed.This comes at a cost to the low-income in lost personal time and in transportation.

The cycle only gets uglier as civic governments try to battle with reality along with supply and demand. Large urban governments are constantly demanding more taxation powers along with charters that will allow them to bully neighboring smaller communities. Satellite cities have seen explosive growth as people retreat from the high costs and purposely traffic-hindered downtowns caused by density focused civic governments. Mayors like Nenshi want to use taxes as a hammer along with control of neighboring communities in order to force a halt to the consumer exodus from their cities.

As the urban poor get hammered by high housing costs caused by left-wing local governments, they get hit yet again through increases in their costs of consumer goods. Protectionism and opposition to big-box product distribution causes the costs of all goods to rise quickly. Mayor Nenshi called new big-box developments “crap” when trying to justify why city hall was using red tape (something Nenshi claimed to oppose) to hinder a viable development. Well, Nenshi not every person can afford to ride a bike to Kensington to purchase handcrafted items from local artisans. Those poor that the left claim to care about get harmed terribly when affordable consumer options are taken from them.

In the early 90s I made my living through pizza delivery. Much of my diet consisted of food from work and what other consumer goods I bought at that time were limited and dear. I remember financing the purchase of a VCR over two years. I think I paid about $500 dollars for that thing by the time I was finished paying. Through open foreign trade and big-box distribution, those types of items along with clothing and countless other things are a fraction of the cost that they were 20 years ago. Despite this, the left wing opposes free trade and large product distribution. Let the poor buy designer clothing I guess.

Ahh but electronics are wants not needs right? Well the left leaves no stone unturned and is ensuring that needs are expensive too. Despite scientific realities proving no nutritional benefits to organic produce, grossly lower crop yields with organic produces, no definable flavor difference with organic products and a massively higher cost for organic products, the left supports these products. GMOs have proven to be harmless and have greatly increased yields thus lowering the cost of food around the entire planet. Despite this, the left hysterically opposes GMOs as the real target of the left is an anti-corporate outlook rather than food safety or affordability. Meanwhile the cost of foods goes up and up.

Idiotic “100 mile diets” which ignore our local climate and consumer demand are pushed along with a raft of other loopy food policies laid out in Calgary’s food plan which was inspired by the insane ImagineCalgary plan which Nenshi participated in building. These plans go as far as trying to force food stores to carry local products and to force them to build into areas that don’t have enough consumer demand to support them (to save the world from long shopping drives). These costs are of course passed along to the consumer and yet again the poor get hit hard.

Now it is pretty clearly established that left-wing policies hurt the poor terribly when it comes to the cost of housing, eating, entertainment, travel and pretty much every other consumer good, let’s have a look at how the left harms the economy.

Lowering the cost of living helps mitigate some of the challenges of being low-income but it does not solve the problem that put the person into a low-income situation in the first place. Big intrusive government does not ease poverty. What people in low income situations need is a strong economy with growing local employment leading to a high labor demand which of course leads to full work weeks at higher pay. Left wing people really do have some sort of mental deficit that makes the concept of supply and demand incomprehensible to them unfortunately. This leads to those who claim to care for the poor constantly championing against industry which is actually the only thing that will ease the poverty.

An area where both business viability and cost of living are very strongly affected is in energy. The left always strongly latches on to environmental causes whether there is an alternative or not. The initiatives within Calgary plans such as Planit and ImagineCalgary are crazy in their limitations but emissions control is used to justify trying to force people into forms of energy generation and use that simply are not viable or affordable. High energy costs cause every product to rise in cost and are a huge factor in business viability. There are few better ways to harm an economy than raising the cost of energy. Ontario’s rush to embrace “green” generation has been a catastrophe which is costing business and consumers alike. This has very strongly hurt the poor who yet again find less employment and a higher cost of living.

 The left has become so fanatical against conventional energy generation that they now oppose all initiatives no matter what. Even the reversal of a safe and harmless pipeline is now being opposed though these extremists never present realistic alternatives to the energy that they are opposing. Until we see an invention of the flux-capacitor or some other fictional (for now) form of energy generation, fossil fuels are by far our best means of powering our society. The left’s chronic opposition to all forms of energy is costing the poor terribly.

One of the best ways to keep a strong local economy is to have a business friendly climate. A couple weeks ago Mayor Nenshi went on a tirade where he demonized local business leaders and referenced jetsetting and such in ways that would have made Marx proud. Nenshi is now fundraising and building a polarized us vs them climate in Calgary where the affluent and hardworking are demonized. Now think about it, as a business considering locating in a city like Calgary would you really want to move to a place where the Mayor is prone to decrying you as an evil rich industrialist? It is hard to measure the exact amount of damage being caused by Nenshi’s anti-industry attitude but it is very real. While Calgary’s Mayor is not attacking all business people, he has made it clear that he will not hesitate to do so when he feels irked. His tantrum with the homebuilder’s association was almost embarrassing in it’s vitriol.

How about having city hall break it’s own bylaws by allowing a radical advocacy group fundraise in city hall itself to raise money to battle against Alberta’s industries? Not exactly a pro-business welcome mat being laid out by Calgary city there.

The left does like firing out the simplistic cries of “tax the rich” or “tax the corporations”! People should have a look at where the vast majority of charitable contributions come from. When people of any income get tax hikes they re-examine their expenditures and charities often are among what gets cut from spending. Charities are often much more effective in poverty mitigation as they target their programs based on real need as opposed to government organizations that more often are based on mass employment of bureaucrats and scoring points for political optics.

The left almost always overlooks philanthropy when attacking those they have determined to be “too rich” in their envious and divisive eyes. As Naheed Nenshi continues his crusade against Cal Wenzel in Calgary, I wonder how this will affect Wenzel’s decisions on his charitable works in the city? Cal Wenzel’s donations to the arts and housing charities in Calgary are well into seven figures. Why should he continue to invest in a city like that when the Mayor works so actively to demonize him?

Naheed Nenshi is a classic example of one who campaigns from the center and governs from the left. One need not scratch Nenshi’s increasingly thin skin much to find that the color underneath is not purple, it is very red. Nenshi’s quest for larger government, higher taxes and his clear loathing of industry are showing his true nature and this bodes poorly for attracting new industry or retaining current industry in Calgary.

Yes indeed, some rich folks do jet around the world and live in big houses. Some of them drive big cars and some can be pretty darned arrogant (though Nenshi has no high horse to ride on regarding arrogance). You don’t have to like those nasty successful people but you had better recognize that we need them. The arrogant rich guy may be annoying but he also potentially employs thousands. While your altruistic Uncle Bob may be a real sweet guy, he won’t be building industry in a city. We need those large industries and the general income that comes with them.

Demonizing the affluent and taxing the crap of them only causes them to leave. Capital and people are mobile and they can and will leave. Yet again in such cases, the poor are stuck holding the bag.

Let’s imagine such a city without evil industries where those nasty, selfish business people have been driven out. Oh what sort of paradise would we have? Well, last year I worked on a contract in Stuebenville Ohio for a while and took some video while down there. Have a look at how a city looks when the rich have gone away.

Imperial Oil, CP, CN and other companies are leaving downtown Calgary. These businesses will go outward to follow the labor migration to the suburbs and to escape the demonization of their industries by local governments and the fanatics supported by them. Developments are fleeing too and we will see more giant malls such as Cross Iron Mills being built just outside of the city limits to avoid punitive local governments. Supply and demand will always win in the end but ideologues such as Nenshi can do terrible damage to the poor in trying to fight it.

The world is full of contradictions and hypocrisy. There are few areas more glaring in this than that of the left claiming to care about the poor. If you care for the state of the poor, avoid “progressives” at the polls at all costs.


By every measure the Canadian reserve system is an abject failure.

For decades Canada has been doing everything possible to try and repair the grossly broken native reserve system. Every year expenditures directed to reserves are increased by all levels of government. Veritable armies of consultants are sent to reserves to improve conditions. Summits, conferences and special events are held constantly trying to address challenges on reserves in Canada and academics churn out endless long-winded but hollow papers expounding on how reserves are essential to the well being of natives in Canada.

Despite all of these efforts, the socioeconomic misery of native reserves continues and is actually growing worse. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in misery on these race based enclaves with utterly no sign of relief in sight.

When will it be time to face reality and accept that the reserve system itself is a total failure? How much more time will we let pass before coming to this general realization? How much more suffering has to happen?

One of the main things that has neutered politicians and the press alike has been the tactic utilized by people invested in the status quo of labelling all who criticize the system as racists. The tactic has now been so overused that it really is beginning to lose effect. True native leaders are beginning to surface and seek systemic change and self-serving activists like Pam Palmater & Theresa Spence are finding themselves delegated to the sidelines due to their own extremism

I am going to list the stats below that clearly demonstrate the catastrophic failure in the system. It is not racist to do this. I am not claiming these stats are like this because of the shortcomings of a race. These stats are like this due to people living in the apartheid system of racial segregation that we call reserves. Any race would be dysfunctional in the circumstances that reserve-born people find themselves in under the Indian Act.

Please look at those stats and honestly try to think to yourself how any of them will change in the current system. We can do some things to ease these issues, but as long as we have a separate class of people segregated racially and living under different set of laws, these conditions simply will not change.


The stats below came from here.


Healthcare is always a dominant issue in Canadian politics. It is cliché but true that if you don’t have your health, you truly have nothing. While supporters of the status quo love to quote a discredited study showing apparent increased cancer rates among natives near oilsands areas, they neglect to mention that natives on reserves suffer from higher cancer rates on pretty much every reserve in Canada due to lifestyles that create health problems.

Teams are sent to reserves and health education programs tailored to on-reserve natives are myriad. Despite that, the health issues and challenges faced by reserve dwelling natives are untenable.

While over 76% of Canadians are non-smokers now, only 41% of natives on reserve are non smokers.One doesn’t need to be a doctor to see how this increases cases of cancer on reserves.

Drinking and other substance abuses are well above and beyond those suffered by off-reserve citizens.

Obesity rates are more than double that of off-reserve Canadians. This leads to all sorts of complications such as diabetes and heart disease.

Suicide rates among native youth are 5-6 times that of non-native youth.

All of these factors among others lead to a general and unacceptable gap in life expectancies between natives and non-natives.

In 2000, life expectancy at birth for the Registered Indian population was estimated at 68.9 years for males and 76.6 years for females. This reflects differences of 8.1 years and 5.5 years, respectively, from the 2001 Canadian population’s life expectancies.

Many health issues are related to the overwhelming poverty of residents of reserves.

Housing and poverty 

Housing is a chronic issue on native reserves and I have written on why it will never improve in the current system here.

Members of the Indian Industry and others who personally benefit from the current system keep insisting that if we simply increase expenditures on housing that problems will end. That has been proven wrong so many times that it is depressingly laughable. The capacity to absorb resources for housing on reserves is infinite.

Davis Inlet was a perfect and prime example. Like so many reserves, Davis Inlet hit the wall and hit an untenable wall of substance abuse and housing shortcomings. At a cost of $200 million the entire community of a few hundred people was moved to a brand new location.  Despite that move, the issues remain and continue in the town’s new location. It is the system, not the lack of expenditures that is destroying these people!

Native housing falls below normal standards by every measure.

Sewage, water and emergency services all fall short on reserves despite money spent as well.

Generating local taxes on reserves is one idea but with the appalling differential in income between on and off reserve natives, it simply will not work. The money is not there.


Education is often and correctly pointed out as a means to ease native poverty. Despite this knowledge, despite extra-spending through scholarships, grants, affirmative action in post-secondary institutions and countless other native education plans and programs, the outcomes simply are falling short.

Just over a third of reserve residents manage to even graduate high-school.

The inspiration to pursue education simply is not there for a dependent people who see no future for themselves no matter how many opportunities are presented.


 As can be seen below, crime rates are incredibly higher on reserves as compared to off of them. Much goes unreported of course in cases of domestic abuse and animal cruelty that are difficult to monitor. What do we expect with people locked into isolated locations of poverty and misery?

Criminal Code incidents reported to police on-reserve, 2004 
Location of incident
On-reserve Outside reserves
Number of incidents Rate per 100,000 population Number of incidents Rate per 100,000 population
Homicide 41 13 581 2
Attempted murder 24 7 693 2
Robbery 162 50 27,315 93
Assault 20,804 6,464 225,843 770
Sexual assault 1,694 526 21,840 74
Other sexual offences 123 38 2,502 9
Abduction 30 9 605 2
Total violent crimes 22,878 7,108 279,379 953
Breaking and entering 7,276 2,261 267,441 912
Motor vehicle theft 2,887 897 166,657 568
Theft over $5,000 257 80 17,037 58
Theft $5,000 and under 7,586 2,357 673,299 2,297
Possession of stolen goods 594 185 34,806 119
Fraud 691 215 96,400 329
Total property crimes 19,291 5,994 1,255,640 4,283
Prostitution 9 3 6,484 22
Gaming and betting 2 1 191 1
Offensive weapons 1,289 400 16,713 57
Arson 603 187 12,545 43
Bail violations 5,337 1,658 98,997 338
Counterfeiting currency 282 88 159,607 544
Disturbing the peace 13,721 4,263 103,301 352
Mischief (property damage over $5,000) 810 252 11,836 40
Mischief (property damage $5,000 and under) 15,990 4,968 325,025 1,109
Other 12,883 4,003 209,047 713
Total other Criminal Code offences 50,926 15,823 943,746 3,219
Total Criminal Code offences 93,095 28,925 2,478,765 8,455

Increased law enforcement will not ease this epidemic of crime. Natives are already hugely over-represented in our justice system. Again we have to change the system rather than trying to patch the current failing one.

We often hear of people trying to claim that we need to maintain the reserve system in order to preserve native culture. As with so many things, that is failing dismally. Language and cultural practices are vanishing  quickly on reserve. When one starts looking into the more accomplished native artists and performers out there, they will invariably find that most of those people have left their reserves or were never on one to begin with. As has been said before; poverty will kill culture far faster than prosperity ever will.

Do Chinese Canadians need utter separation from society in order to retain their culture? Jamaican Canadians? Ukranian? Of course not.

Ending the reserve system is not cultural genocide nor assimilation!

I really get tired of idiots perpetuating the crap above. Cultures flourish all around the world without segregation and native ones can and will too. The current culture being fostered on native reserves is simply one of dependency and misery. Hardly a reflection of some kind of noble past culture that some naïve academics and activists appear to envision.

Nobody can honestly look at the trends and numbers with regards to the Canadian reserve system and claim that it is sustainable or even humane. It is a catastrophic failure being held together by the racist Indian Act. We need to work to get away from both the Indian Act and the reserve system as it stands or things will only get worse for everybody concerned.

I understand that we can’t simply end these sorts of things overnight. Until we set ending the system as an end goal though, all we are doing is futilely trying to fix a system that needs ending rather than repair.

I look forward to informed and realistic discussions seeking ways to end the cycle of misery that we have in Canada with the reserve system under the Indian Act.

Realities of reserve housing.

Every new year we see a pile of retrospective “stories of the year” being reprinted and broadcast. The reality is that much of the press is enjoying their holiday season and those “year that was” sort of things make for good filler. One story that is in every compilation of issues this year has been the housing crisis on the Attawapiskat reserve. We can pretty much see that story every year in January, the only thing that really changes is the name of the reserve that has hit crisis levels.

The optics from Attawapiskat were striking. People were living in terrible conditions on a Northern reserve with a long cold winter looming before them. A person would have to be totally heartless to not feel terribly for the conditions that these people are living in and enduring.

When most people see scenes like that, they want to see the situation changed and as soon as possible. Unfortunately people often gravitate towards the the most simplistic of solutions to troubles and assume that government has somehow been shorting our aboriginal communities in support for housing. Our State Broadcaster (the CBC) is always overjoyed to perpetuate that myth.

The reality is that we have been massively increasing support for housing on aboriginal communities through funding and education in management. The harder reality is that little will change on reserves in Canada no matter how much we increase resources directed towards them because the entire concept of the reserve system and the Indian Act is a catastrophic and unworkable failure.

I suspect that many people don’t understand the damage that has been done due to generations of utter dependency and a lack of property ownership in our system of racial segregation through reserves. I took a drive to a nearby reserve the other day to take some pictures and demonstrate the futility of trying to build new housing in perpetuity.

The reserve I toured was a Dene one in Northern Alberta. This reserve is actually in much better shape than many that I have worked on in the North. Much of that is due to relatively easy access, a nearby flourishing energy industry and an large band based oilfield services company. Despite all that though, 70% of the adult population of this reserve is unemployed (the service company primarily employs off-reserve people) and only 18% of adult members possess a high school equivalent diploma despite constantly rebuilt educational facilities. This is no fault of the residents. Nobody can easily be functional in the workforce or educational system when raised in these messed up enclaves of dependency and misery that we call reserves. Simply  working one’s way out of a rut is not really an option for most though the means appear to be right there.

Despite being better than your typical reserve, this one demonstrates the many traits that are common to all isolated reserves. One can see trends of housing types as different contracts are awarded and designs utilized year by year to try and keep up with the insatiable demand. The condition of the houses varies widely depending on the condition of the occupants. There are very very few housed to be found that are more than 20 years old as they simply do not last that long on reserves.

Below are some typical houses on the reserve. Most are of modest size, simple and functional.


Now the above pictures are of standard houses on the reserve. Below is the exception that is invariably found on a reserve. The house below is likely that of the Chief or at least one of the Chief’s close friends or relatives. On almost every reserve one can find this disparity in housing provision as like it or not, corruption is rampant and the designation of housing falls directly to the Chief and council. A small group of large and often opulent houses can be found on almost every reserve. This one was not the most striking that I have seen in that regard but the house and yard below clearly surpass that being given to the typical band member.

One can see some of the frustration of band members when they are living with a large family crammed into a modest 700 square foot house while the Chief and friends enjoy large modern homes with nicely landscaped yards. This is one of the things that helps lead to the complete disregard for the condition of their own homes.

As band members do not actually own their own homes and their disposition is at the whim of the Chief and council, there is pretty much little to no incentive to perform any maintenance upon their houses. Why replace a window when you can’t own or sell the place? Why reshingle? Why maintain sewage piping or drainage?

Below it can be seen what happens when windows get broken on reserve housing.

Poly can be used.

 Tuck tape can be used.

  Most commonly boards are used.

 With no work being done to maintain them, houses deteriorate very quickly. With a very harsh Northern climate, this problem is even more acute.

One can always find houses in their final state of disrepair  yet still occupied to demonstrate the housing problems on reserves. The only real variable is where the finger of blame gets pointed.

A very common sight on all reserves are seeing relatively new houses boarded up and abandoned as they have become uninhabitable. Mold and fire are the most common causes. These houses are essentially destroyed from the inside out due to lack of maintenance and respect for the house itself. These are everywhere.

The anger, disrespect and social challenges lead to having to turn all band services buildings into small fortresses to protect them from vandalism and break ins. This too is common of pretty much all reserves.

All of the buildings have barred windows or heavy rolling shutters along with heavy iron doors. At the least this must be psychologically disturbing to residents.

Getting back to my initial point, the problem on these reserves is not for lack of funding. New houses are being constructed (at great expense in isolated communities) all the time. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the destruction however.


We see a great deal of hysteria finger pointing when Canadian reserve conditions come to light. Most Canadians are urban living and have never had opportunity or need to actually spend time on reserves in person. This leaves many people vulnerable to such myths as that of Canada not directing enough resources towards reserve housing. That is why I hope that providing a pictoral posting helps people see a little more and understand just how it is on these reserves.

It is without doubt that there is housing crisis on Canadian reserves. There is no denying that there are countless other social and economic challenges being endured by reserve natives. The question is not whether or not current conditions are acceptable. The question is how to change this.

My conclusion is to work towards a complete end to the reserve system and rescinding the Indian Act. Decades have pretty much proven that this current path is an utter failure that is only causing human suffering at great expense to the rest of the nation.

Some people indeed may have a case to make on fixing the system as it is. I look forward to seeing some more creative solutions.

To claim that not enough resources have been directed to Canadian reserves however is shallow and simply wrong. These are a deeply troubled people and the capacity for them to consume resources is infinite with no visible sign of progress. The entire system must change.

We need to stop looking at the past and trying to somehow use it as an excuse to justify the mess we are enduring presently. The status-quo is serving nobody aside from some chiefs and many overpaid, parasitic bureaucrats and lawyers who make their living in the “Indian industry”. We need to recognize that the status-quo is not sustainable and we need to honestly look at how to work towards a better future.

I hope that more people begin to look more deeply at these issues so that we may begin to make real progress on this. It truly is a shame that we have so many people living like this in a land so blessed with resources.