"[First Nations people] are very insistent on having the Governor-General there, but the Governor-General says this is a policy matter with the government and that [he] shouldn't be there. We agree with that."
Andrew MacDougall, PM Office spokesperson
An implacable test of wills. The dieting Chief Spence seeking to impose her version of treaty rights over the decision of the Prime Minister to ensure working meetings attempting to establish guidelines by which the Assembly of First Nations' National Chief Shawn Atleo and his AFN colleagues meeting with Mr. Harper and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs accomplish meaningful steps in coming together to solve intractable problems haunting both sides for far too many years of irresolute inaction.
The strictly ceremonial appearance of Governor General David Johnston may satisfy some atavistic process of heritage memory, but it would represent nothing but a photo opportunity for Chief Spence's beaming success at having coerced Government and Crown to her conceit of a power play triumphant. Chief Spence insists it must be her way or no way at all, which is why the January 11 conference with First Nations Chiefs and the Prime Minister failed, in their estimation.
And which brought indignation and opprobrium down upon the head of National Chief Atleo from Manitoba Chiefs who have aligned themselves staunchly behind Chief Spence's hollow ploys for attention as a spokesperson for the Idle No More movement, out of whose resistance to articles in the Budget emanated an inchoate and confounding series of accusations and demands.
Political Science Professor Christopher Manfredi from his McGill University perch has parsed the situation, standing behind Prime Minister Harper to add his political science interpretation of interaction between Government and First Nations, that discussions between Messrs. Harper and Atleo, strictly involving policy offer no place for the Governor General. That such an absurd fuss is made over picayune demands is nonsensical.
The divisions that have arisen between a small but vocal number of First Nations chiefs, from among the 600 that represent the make-up of the Assembly of First Nations, in tandem with Chief Spence's too-well-publicized personal 'sacrifice' on behalf of her people (the vinegar in that sugar pot is her having sacrificed her people on the alter of her personal well-being) have succeeded in ramping up the pressure on Chief Atleo and the Government.
To which National Chief Atleo responded: "The National Executive of the AFN and I are going to maintain this pressure on [Canadian] governments, as it presents the greatest opportunity to make real progress for all of our peoples in too many years." The significant difference between Chief Atleo and his supporters like Matthew Coon-Come is that they really are sturdily invested in representing the interests of their people in a realistic manner.
While their adversaries are invested in maintaining the ritual antagonisms that have always marked relations between First Nations and the Government of Canada, solving nothing at all.