Not an auspicious beginning


Today's Crown First Nations Gathering was supposed to be historic. It would mark the first occasion since he became prime minister in 2006 that Stephen Harper would meet with First Nations leaders. So there was quite a bit of negative publicity when it was learned that Harper intended to leave the summit early. In order to counter that, an extra meeting was hastily convened yesterday evening between Harper and his minister of aboriginal affairs and the most senior of First Nations leaders.

I don't think it accomplished what the government was hoping for. Here's the headline on the APTN story reporting on the meeting: Harper tells chiefs they should contact their MPs.

So a prime minister who has been happy to continue with the trend of recent decades — to concentrate power in the PMO and turn MPs into bit players who stand up on cue and vote the way they're told — has just told First Nations leaders to talk to the hand the bit players.

Here's how the meeting was reported by someone who attended.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said there were about 45 people in the room, including chiefs, elders, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and his Parliamentary Secretary Greg Rickford.

Harper opened the meeting saying he was there to listen.

"I was extremely proud of some of the profoundly powerful statements made by some of the elders, grand chiefs and regional chiefs that were in the room," said Phillip. "In the end we waited for the response from the prime minister, which was very, very brief, almost disappointingly brief."

Phillip said the prime minister basically told chiefs that he couldn't just focus on their issues because he had to run the country.

"He did make a point of saying basically that, as the prime minister of Canada, he had many, many other issues. He talked about the great responsibility and many interests on this 'great ship of state' as he described the country," said Phillip. "Quite the very end he was recommending we go home and talk to our MPs."

After all the talk about historic summits and new beginnings, Harper made it all about himself. He brushed off the First Nations leadership by telling them that he's just too busy to pay attention to their issues because governing is hard work. (And who does that remind you of?)

That better be some powerful speech he makes this morning or all of this may have just made things worse, not better.

Bookmark and Share                                


Sounds like Harper plans to "modernize" the Indian Act to ease economic development. That's the only concrete thing I heard.

The rest of it was all pomp and pageantry with special attention paid to the War of 1812 and other military history.

Was bound to happen. Harper normally has two categories of people he deals with:
1. People he commands to unquestioning obedience
2. Enemies

First Nations don't seem to want to be either, and he doesn't know how to handle that. Add in the fact that few of them are millionaires and he doesn't understand why anyone expects him to have dealings with them in the first place.
It's kind of like with the farmers.

None of this should be the least bit surprising to anyone who recalls that Harper is close friends with Tom Flanagan, the Calgary School professor whose "solution" to the problem is for Aboriginal people to simply abandon their identities and assimilate into mainstream society, much like Duncan Campbell Scott wanted back in the 1920s.

Meanwhile, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples has been gathering dust on a shelf for the last fifteen-odd years, despite being a strong, clear statement from Aboriginals themselves on what they want their relationship with Canada to be like.

Obviously it wasn't perfect, as Alan Cairns pointed out in his book "Citizens Plus", but it's still a sight better than the ugly divisions between the likes of Tom Flanagan on one side and the radicals who make up part of the Caledonia occupation on the other.

As to when someone would actually have the courage to implement it...well, like the old Nickelback song goes, "I know you're wondering when!"


Tip Jar

Total donations to date: $115.00

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by pogge published on January 24, 2012 8:59 AM.

Friday night: RIP Etta James was the previous entry in this blog.

Transparency! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Blogging Change

Progressive Bloggers

      Canadian Blogosphere  

      Blogging Canadians  

NO Deep integration!

Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by Movable Type 4.37