Offended by Offence

Pseudoleftist support for “Mohawk Warriors” in Caledonia

If you scroll down to the post on this blog entitled “Caledonia: A glimpse of aboriginal self-government” (November 23, 2009), you will find a lengthy comment by Mark Vandermaas, the editor of and co-founder of CANACE (Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality).  I recently became acquainted with Mr. Vandermaas and his organization after he sent me a message in appreciation of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry.  Vandermaas noted that, while not mentioned specifically in our book, other circumstances that we had documented were eerily reminiscent of what had transpired in Caledonia and Ipperwash (interestingly, Albert Howard and I had followed some of the media coverage and hearings pertaining to Ipperwash, and were disturbed by the  inconsistencies and subterfuge that we observed.  For example, it was maintained that the aboriginal people involved were not in possession of guns, but one person was told by their lawyer to retract their testimony about participating in target practice with a rifle earlier that day).

One of the most significant aspects of Vandermaas’ post is that he notes that “[Caledonia: A glimpse of self-government”] makes an excellent point about non-natives having no expectation of justice under an aboriginal system…” but there should also be the reconition that “native people themselves have been badly victimized by native extremists and by the refusal of police to enforce the law”.  Vandermaas then provides the following links that document the problems of lawlessness for vulnerable members of aboriginal communities: and

This was an unfortunate omission of my previous post.  It should be stressed that both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people are harmed by lawlessness.  As we pointed out in chapter six, “Justice: Rewarding Friends and Punishing Enemies”, in Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry (pp. 129-159), lawlessness in aboriginal communities results in the continued oppression of the most vulnerable members of aboriginal communities – especially women and children – because no mechanism exists to protect them from powerful abusers in the community.  “Justice” is kinship-based, and those not related to powerful families in aboriginal communities can be oppressed with impunity.

Some might question how my support for the rule of law in Caledonia is consistent with the historical materialist analysis that informs Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry.  How can someone who claims to be on the “left” be supportive of the laws enforced by the Canadian state?  Such an argument fails to recognize that equality under law is a progressive principle, and is an advancement over kinship-based “justice” systems.  Although the wealthy can often gain advantages in a modern legal system by, for example, hiring highly skilled legal help, we pointed out in Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry that “modern laws serve the interests of society in common, and so, have the general support of all citizens.  Equal, objective and impersonal application of the law makes sexual assault of anyone and everyone illegal, regardless of social position” (p. 140).

It should be recognized, therefore, that the non-aboriginal supporters of the “Mohawk Warriors”  are right-wing, not left-wing.  They are right-wing because they advocate a return to tribal politics, where entitlements are determined by kinship (blood and marriage), not laws that apply universally to the citizenry, regardless of their status and/or ancestry.  Accepting the views of the pseudoleftist supporters of the “Mohawk Warriors” would make Canada more unequal than it is right now (and inequality is the essence of right-wing ideologies).  In fact, current demands for “aboriginal nationalism” and “sovereignty”, because they connect land to ancestry, have more in common with the ideology of Nazi Germany than left-wing ideas.

Support for the “Mohawk Warriors” exists because it is mistakenly assumed that this criminal gang, which is often acting to protect its drug and gambling turf, represents socialist ideals.  Therefore, any argument put forward is accepted, regardless of the implications that this has for working class people in towns like Caledonia and marginalized members of the aboriginal population.  Although left-wing thinkers should support those who are struggling for social justice and equality, achieving this will mean challenging the romantic reactionaries that have turned Caledonia into a tribal war zone.

5 thoughts on “Pseudoleftist support for “Mohawk Warriors” in Caledonia

  1. RP attempted to post a comment here, but I could not do so because it contained libelous comments about Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas.

    RP seems to think that this post is complete hogwash (he used another, less polite word) because it “yet again attempts to portray native culture without systems of justice and means to enforce justice for all the people…”. Paul then suggests that the idea that tribal cultures lack systems of justice is consistent with the arguments being made by white supremacists.

    RP should really do his research on this matter. It is widely understood, even by advocacy documents, that aboriginal culture is kinship-based, and therefore loyalty to one’s kin is the overriding principle in aboriginal “justice systems”. This means that those who are not closely related to the family in power, do not receive the same benefits or protection as those who are. This contravenes the principle of equality under the law, which is so important in modern societies.

    RP’s attempts to libel me as a white supremacist also shows that he does not know what he is talking about. In Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, Albert Howard and I have gone to great lengths to show how our views rely on an understanding of cultural development (learned behaviour), not racial characteristics. It is actually the arguments of the Aboriginal Industry that are racist because they assume that aboriginal people are genetically “superior” to all others.

  2. I don’t quite understand the reference to the “non-political conference” – the forum is intended to bring in opposing points of view to debate aboriginal policy – but McHale and Vandermaas are paying for their own airfare.

  3. I did not read what you read, but was concerned about the association that you were making.

    The expert points of views being solicited from Ontario are from David Newhouse (Trent University).

    A few guests are having their expenses paid up front. If additional funds are forthcoming, as funding is very limited, they will be redistributed among the other participants (including McHale and Vandermaas).

  4. Canadian law, the constitution, “recognizes and affirms” Aboriginal rights, including self governance. Are you, then, proposing and pursuing constitutional change?

  5. There is no evidence that the constitution “recognizes and affirms” aboriginal self-governance. There were attempts to entrench this right in the 1980s, but they were unsuccessful. If Aboriginal Industry lawyers were attempting to entrench the right in the 1980s, and these attempts were unsuccessful, wouldn’t an objective observer conclude that the right had not been entrenched?

Comments are closed.