– 18 –


Not just Parkdale and Regent Park, not just Toronto, but other parts of Canada were being rescued from their racist past. As part of the reparations, the Atlantic provinces had been ceded to Hydro-Québec, along with the region’s white guys, most of whom now worked on construction mega-projects building dams, wind farms, tidal stations, generating plants and transmission networks to bring electricity from Quebec’s most easterly provinces to the powerhouse nation’s customers in the U.S.

The Airlifts continued to bring multiculturalism to northern and western Ontario, the Prairies and the North, planeload by planeload, one village, one tribe, one clan and one faction at a time.

Beyond that, across the Rockies in British Columbia, the situation wasn’t so clear. Mackenzie had been there years earlier, as journalists from all over the country arrived to cover the beginning of First Nations self-government, presided over by Grand Chief Willie Joe’s life skills coach. Soon after, Lacey at the Point Grey Human Rights Commission decided it was time to give B.C. back to the aboriginals. A land mass of nearly 370,000 square miles with resources worth trillions was given to less than five per cent of the population. Still the First Nations remained in desperate poverty.

The provincial government, having become largely a social service agency for drug addicts, then arranged with B.C.’s owners to create a network of environmental preserves for ecologically correct drug injection centres. Mackenzie had thought it strange that B.C. did so much for drug addicts especially, in those pre-camp days, when so many of them were white guys. She mentioned that once to Mr. Cohen. He laughed and she had another of those did-he-actually-say-that? moments when she thought she heard something like: “Vancouver went ga-ga over junkies because it didn’t have blacks.”

So the B.C. government borrowed billions to pay aboriginals to allow addicts to do drugs on their land. Still the First Nations remained in desperate poverty.

The first of the ecologically correct drug injection centres was planned for Moresby Island, a pristine wilderness of old-growth forest off B.C.’s northern coast. But when a white-guy construction crew arrived, the forest was gone. In its place was mud, slash and stumps. The waves lapping against the shore were black with oil.

The five white guys drew the immediate attention of the First Nations, dozens of whom trudged through the mud to welcome them to their spiritual land and inquire, by the way, about spare change. The white guys claimed they had no money because they lived in a camp and worked only for food and shelter. They deserved what happened next. After all, the First Nations lived in desperate poverty.

Demonstrating the strength of aboriginal initiative, one heavily armed tribe set up a roadblock, a tradition that had long been understood as the RCMP’s cue to deliver badly needed provisions. But Canadian police no longer had jurisdiction in B.C. After a few weeks when no Mounties, food, beer or smokes arrived, the natives moved to another highway junction. There they encountered another heavily armed tribe setting up another roadblock. A dispute erupted over who owned the land, not easily settled among people with no concept of land ownership. Similar confrontations flared up all over B.C. with escalating violence.

Survivors of these disputes accused other tribes of genocide. The United Nations sent peacekeepers. But whenever First Nations tried to explain the spare change protocol to the newly arrived soldiers, the Somalis beheaded them.

Nevertheless B.C. underwent the most breathtaking development boom in its history. The previous impediments of government reviews, environmental activism and native opposition gave way to rapid, unprecedented progress in forestry, mining, oil and gas, hydro electricity and other resources. All this reflected the new certainty of ecological awareness. Miraculously, foreign corporations finally came to agree with the longstanding tenet of environmentalists that First Nations were the ideal stewards of the land. But no amount of strip mining, clear-cutting or offshore drilling could change the fact that those First Nations remained in desperate poverty.

As takeovers swallowed one corporation after another, rumours suggested that B.C.’s foreign investment was now coming from a single source. Then came the puzzling news that white guys weren’t the only people in B.C.’s camps anymore. They weren’t even the majority.

Finally, a Greenpeace yacht trying to investigate one of the oil spills left an oil spill of its own after being sunk by the People’s Liberation Army. Premier Chung Li Khan went on TV, waving the historic document that had given B.C. back to the First Nations. It was now the property of China, he said, which had bought B.C. He held up a receipt, signed by Grand Chief Willie Joe, for trillions and trillions of dollars.

Still the First Nations lived in desperate poverty.

Nor did things go well when the grand chief applied for foreign aid. He missed a crucial meeting after his white guy servants deserted him to seek amnesty, leaving him to lie helplessly in his vomit and excrement in a Port-au-Prince hotel room.

About the same time, vague reports from B.C.’s Lower Mainland said Chinese military had taken up positions outside the breakaway state of New Punjab and some territory ruled by one or another Hispanic cartel.

Was Mackenzie supposed to fill a newspaper with stuff like that? She glanced at a few reports from other parts of the country. Some hijackings and kidnappings after the Somali peacekeepers were Airlifted to Saskatchewan. A human rights complaint from the Winnipeg Assembly of First Nations that Airlifted gangs decapitated all the native gangs. A local disturbance in the Northwest Territories after the Tutsi had been Airlifted a little too close to the Hutu. An Airlift reception centre somewhere or another in Manitoba torched to ward off evil spirits. A few machete attacks in Alberta when an Airlift tribe demanded that their welfare be paid in American dollars. Some kind of conflagration way the hell up north after Airlift refugees discovered they were being served Pepsi instead of Coke. Sharia declared over Thunder Bay. The usual litany of beheadings and bride burnings elsewhere.

Really, junk like that hardly merited attention. Except for visits by the Prime Minister’s Wife, pretty well nothing newsworthy ever happened out there.

And now she was back in Ottawa, her western tour having ended abruptly due to a sudden outbreak of co-ordinated incidents. Reporting from Moose Jaw, CBC analyst Kimberley McCloud cast light on the perpetrators’ real motives.

“Let’s not mislabel these individuals,” she emphasized. “They’re criminals, pure and simple. They revel in the power of holding and humiliating hostages, they delight in filming and publicizing hostages’ self-abasement before beheading them, they kidnap and gang-rape women, even forcing their gang rape victims to phone their families and describe their ordeals in minute detail. They bomb, maim and murder women and children, turning homes, schools, hospitals, public places into hellish scenes of utter carnage. Words fail to describe the people who commit such atrocities but they don’t reflect the Religion of Peace at all. They’re unbridled psychopaths with an extraordinary capacity for cruelty and a bloodlust that knows no bounds. They just say they’re Muslim to scare people.”

But the Prime Minister’s Wife and her entourage were safe, that was the important thing. Moreover incidents like these, co-ordinated or not, have to be discussed, if at all, in a nuanced manner. It’s only with a nuanced approach, nuanced understanding, nuanced sensitivity that we can get to the root causes. And Mackenzie was looking at some root causes now, toiling nervously in their orange coveralls.

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