Uncommons is an interview series with experts, advocates, and elected representatives on issues of the day, hosted by Liberal Member of Parliament Nate Erskine-Smith.
Indigenous child welfare with Cindy Blackstock
Powerful advocate Cindy Blackstock joins Nate to discuss Indigenous child welfare, including the Human Rights Tribunal decision and judicial review application related the equality of treatment for First Nations children, and compensation to kids for discrimination.
Blackstock is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, co-applicant with the Assembly of First Nations in the court case. She is also a professor in the School of Social Work at McGill.
On a previous episode, Nate was joined by Minister Miller to discuss the human rights tribunal case from the government's perspective.
For background, Jordan's principle is named after Jordan River Anderson, a First Nations child who died in hospital at the age of 5 while provincial and federal governments could not agree on who was financially responsible for his home care in a medical foster home. Jordan's Principle is really a child-first principle to ensure that services for First Nations children are not delayed due to jurisdictional disputes. TRC Call to Action number 3 calls on “all levels of government to fully implement Jordan’s Principle.”
To read more about the long history of the case before the Human Rights Tribunal and federal court, you can find the Caring Society's timeline here, and the government's timeline here.
Global vaccine equity, international climate finance, and Canada's role in the world with Karina Gould
While international development doesn't always steal national headlines, there are few more important ministries when one considers the global challenges of mass vaccination against COVID-19 and action to prevent catastrophic and runaway climate change.
On this episode, Minister Karina Gould joins Nate to discuss global vaccine equity and international climate finance, as well as development assistance more broadly and Canada's role in the world.
Minister Gould is the youngest cabinet member in Canadian history, one of the hardest working Ministers you'll meet, and there's no doubt she'll continue to play an important role on the world stage in the coming years.
Decriminalization and housing affordability with Kennedy Stewart
Vancouver's Mayor Kennedy Stewart joins Nate to discuss the city's proposal to decriminalize all drugs for personal use, and solutions to deliver affordable housing.
Canada faces an opioid crisis that continues to kill thousands, and a housing affordability crisis that is leaving a younger generation of Canadians worse off than their parents. Both of these issues are particularly acute in Vancouver. In response to the opioid crisis, the city has applied for a federal exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize all drugs, and has increased funding for safer supply and peer support. In response to the housing crisis, it has moved towards more inclusive zoning, and it is working with the federal government to deliver rapid housing and to build affordable rental units.
Before his mayoral run in 2018, Stewart served as an NDP MP in our House of Commons starting in 2011. He and Nate were colleagues from 2015 to 2018.
A just transition with Hassan Yussuff
Hassan Yussuff joins Nate to discuss a just and fair transition for workers as we set Canada on a credible path towards net zero, with reference to his work as co-chair of the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities.
Yussuff was recently appointed to the Senate, after serving two terms as the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. In addition to his involvement on the Just Transition task force, he has previously served on the government's NAFTA Council, Sustainable Development Advisory Council, and the Net-Zero Advisory Body.
In addition to their conversation on a just and fair transition, they also discuss what Yussuff hopes to bring to his role as a Senator and the progress he helped to oversee in his tenure at the CLC.
Fighting for democracy in Russia with Leonid Volkov
Leonid Volkov is Alexei Navalny's top aide, and he joins Nate to discuss the fight against corruption and for democracy in Russia.
Upon his return to Russia after being poisoned, Navalny has been imprisoned by Russian authorities in order to silence opposition. Volkov himself has been forced out of the country, subject to false and politically motivated charges.
Volkov and others have made it clear that continued appeasement of Russia is destined to fail, and in testimony before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs committee, he called for sanctions against Russian oligarchs.
Recently, the Putin regime has enacted even more repressive measures to criminalize democratic opposition as 'extremist', forcing the closure of in-person operations, so Volkov and his team are increasingly focused on growing the democratic movement online, looking ahead to this fall's elections.
Anti-hate action with Amira Elghawaby
Amira Elghawaby joins Nate to discuss hate and Islamophobia in Canada, and how the federal government should act.
Amira is a journalist, columnist, human rights advocate, board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and she recently served on the Canadian Commission for Democratic Expression, which made recommendations to the government to address hate online.
This conversation was recorded in the wake of the horrific and hate-motivated murder of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario. Since then, our federal government has tabled Bill C-36, an act to address online hate through through a return to a civil remedy in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The legislation builds on some other significant steps to date, from restoring the anti-racism directorate, to new funding through Heritage Canada to address racism, to adding white nationalist groups to the terror list, and more.