This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making Headlines - Being Important

The pilgrimage starts at the left.  Self-importance and an inflated sense of righteousness can sometimes work wonders in the minds of those who view the events and feel that someone like Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation is rightfully elevated to inspire attention to the plight of Canada's First Nations people.  She feels vindicated, as a result in her personal adventure to stage her hunger strike to demonstrate how wrong and how heartless the government is.

She has, after all, the official sanction of the Assembly of First Nations; not ordinarily granted to sporadic efforts of some individuals and groups to draw attention to their victimization by official Canada. Right on cue leading figures of the very political party that has ruled in Canada far more frequently than any other, and not managed to come to grips with these intractable problems have appeared at her side to commiserate and throw the weight of their sympathy behind her for public consumption.

Marc Garneau and Justin Trudeau have made their political obeisance to Chief Spence's determination to shame Canada into submitting to First Nations' demands irrespective of usefulness.  A "renewed understanding" should be achieved with Canada's First Nations, according to Mr. Garneau, vying with Mr. Trudeau who appeared on Victoria Island for a photo-op-confab with Ms. Spence.  As though the Conservative government is not actively striving to achieve just that.

The efforts of Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to appease and to achieve a face-to-face meeting with Chief Spence have been loftily dismissed by her as insufficient unto the day.  Chief Spence, incapable of directing her attention to the well-being of her northern Ontario reserve, preferring to consider ineptitude and nepotism and a little corruption as evidence of her good intentions, insists on holding Canada's feet to the fire of her indignation.

"Given your willingness to accept meetings now I am hoping that you will consider my offer, as a Minister of the Crown, to meet or speak with you by phone to discuss the issues you have raised publicly" appealed Mr. Duncan to the truculent Ms. Spence.  But no; as Senator Patrick Brazeau observed ..."it seems that she doesn't want to meet with government officials or government representatives, but certainly she's open to meeting with NDP members and Liberal Party members."

Nothing will do to satisfy Ms. Spence's sense of outraged entitlement but to meet personally with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor-General David Johnston. None others need apply for they will be curtly, robustly and rudely rejected.  From Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to Kenora MP Greg Rickford, Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and presumably others not persuasively elite enough for her taste. So her taste remains with fish broth, lemon water and medicinal teas.

For she, as a chief of her nation must meet with the chief of the Canadian nation.  The Idle No More troupe states that it is convinced that the government's attempts to make changes to the Indian Act, which the First Nations communities, the government and the Assembly of First Nations all consider to be inept and failed, will erode their traditional rights.  Chief Spence rants that changes must not take place without close consultation with First Nations.

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs sent missives to the Assembly of First Nations and individual chiefs, that "First Nations can make recommendations on the department website as to what they'd like to see in terms of a First Nations Education act. We will be doing regional consultations in the new year and have committed to sharing the draft legislation with First Nations."

Misconceptions with respect to on-reserve "land designation" which appear in the Conservative omnibus budget bill do not reflect the reality that "These amendments are only about leasing and have nothing to do with surrendering reserve lands."  They are meant to produce a benefit for First Nations, "to economically benefit from their lands and to manage them according to their bylaws".

As for legislation that would require chiefs to make public their salaries and expenses, that move was propelled by "grassroots" members of First Nations, themselves hugely disgruntled at the autocratic method by which their reserves' entitlements are monopolized by their band councils.  "The sad reality is that there are a lot of people who would like to meet with the prime minister but ... there is a chain of command within our parliamentary process", commented Senator Brazeau.
"The minister involved in this particular issue has extended his invitation and has opened his door to meeting with Chief Spence, and I think that she should think twice and perhaps think hard about the opportunity that is being presented to her." 

Mentioning as well, in his considered opinion, that Chief Spence's defiance of reasonable behaviour sets a poor example for aboriginal youth, "especially in Canada, living in a democratic society where there's a lot of processes and procedures in place for all Canadians - of all creeds, religion, race and colour - to have their voices heard."

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