Saturday, January 12, 2013

Harper's Word

A new day is dawning, the media conglomerates tell us this morning. We are told how, during yesterday's meeting with some -- but not all -- of the chiefs, the prime minister vowed to focus on aboriginal issues. Andrew Coyne tells us that Shawn Atleo has been "courageous to meet with Harper as his constituency revolts." And yet -- after attending last night's meeting with the Governor-General -- Theresa Spence has decided to continue her hunger strike. Somebody's missing something.

As Michael Harris wrote last week:

Surely the press, steeped in the tradition of standing up against injustice and tyranny, wouldn’t allow the state to turn its big guns on a single, middle-aged aboriginal woman from a Third World reserve right here in Canada, said to have a Grade Seven or Grade Eight education?

Sadly, crusading has never been the rage in newsrooms. It is less so now, thanks to a corporate death grip on vast swaths of this profession. As Lewis Lapham put it, “The big media identify themselves with wealth and privilege and the wisdom in office. They preserve the myths that society deems precious … By telling their audience what they assume they already know, the news media reflect what the society wants to believe about itself.”

When the PMO leaked the Attawapiskat audit, our big papers were all over the story -- even though, as Harris points out, most of the "malfeasance" occurred before Spence was elected chief. Moreover, the auditor reported, things had improved over Spence's tenure.

No, aboriginals are simply incompetent, lazy goldbricks: "When Indians weren’t sniffing glue, getting stoned or sobering up in the drunk tank, they were taking the public for a ride."  Just who is taking the public for a ride?

But if a lack of paperwork is a crime, then what can be said of the government’s fifty-million dollar downpayment on Tony Clement’s re-election in Muskoka?

Didn’t the government itself say that it didn’t have time to pass legislation to authorize significant parts of the G8/20 spending? And where was the due diligence in selecting a new fighter jet that will cost $30 billion more to acquire and operate than the Harper government admitted? And was it really worth $45,000 of public money to send the PM to a Yankees game? Just missing paperwork, nothing more.

Why is Spence still starving herself? Well, there was a passing reference to the fact that the government made no commitment to re-examine its gutting of environmental legislation, which sparked the Idle No More movement in the first place. The media movers and shakers still have not learned the lesson which Jack Layton said he learned early in his dealings with Mr. Harper: You can't take him at his word.

Theresa Spence knows what Jack Layton was talking about.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I don't understand why meeting with Chief Spence by the Prime Minister together with the Governor General is such a problem. Long ago, they could have quietly stopped by her tent without the press and had a sympathetic conversation with her.
There is no reason they could not have met her demand that together they meet with the Chiefs. After all, last year they did at a similar meeting.

I am disappointed with the outcome of the meeting with the Chiefs and the Prime Minister. They came away with little concrete action and a lot of vague promise to keep meeting. ( last years result not followed through on.) I was looking for something really concrete. How about an agreement to pay the same per pupil amount to Reserve schools as the Provincial schools. How about a commitment to build a new school this year in Attawapiskat to replace the one destroyed in 1979 (Yes 1979! so much for an emergency). This could have been done on the spot.
I thought a large part of the Idle No More protest was the protection of the environment. Nothing was resolved on this other than to say what has been done by the government will not be undone. The environment is to be sacrificed. Those who thought they could speak for the movement on the streets seem to have abandoned these important issues. It seems the establishment chiefs got what they wanted and ignored what the masses wanted. The First Nations Communities in BC and Quebec have done very well for themselves on land claims. Who was speaking for the desperate First Nations in Northern Ontario and Manitoba and North of 60. These groups and non-natives like myself who hope the native community could offer hope to us all, were sold out.

Owen Gray said...

The Idle No More folks know they have been sold out, Philip. When they say they can bring the economy to a halt, they're not kidding.

But, as is the case with Theresa Spence, the powers that be are not taking them seriously.

There will be a price to pay for such stupidity.

karen said...

Some time after the meetings I heard a news report that said Harper offered the chiefs revenue sharing on resource extraction projects. I'm pretty sure that is not what the Idle No More founders had in mind and I am pretty sure that is not what most of it's supporters are looking for.

Owen Gray said...

Harper's fatal flaw is that he thinks everything and everybody is for sale, Karen. What he doesn't understand is that justice can't be sold or bought.

It must be given. It means giving everyone his or her due. That's a concept that is foreign to Stephen Harper.

Anonymous said...

This country no longer belongs, to Canadians of the 99%. Neither does this country permit, F.N. to have Human Rights. The rest of us, have no rights either, especially since Canada became a dictatorship country.

This was Chief Spence's show. All the other Chiefs did, was undermine Chief Spence and her efforts. They made Chief Spence look a fool.

Owen Gray said...

She's no fool, Anon. The government has done its best to marginalize her, but the protests keep growing.

Anonymous said...

3440I absolutely know Chief Spence is no fool. However, how can you have 600 bands, demanding 600 different issues? Chief Spence clearly said. She wanted to meet with Harper and the GG, at the same sitting. Chiefs went ahead and met with Harper anyway. Those Chiefs prolonged Chief Spence's ordeal, by butting in. There was chaos and confusion. Therefore, Chief Spence doesn't even know, what she really wants. Therefore none of the F.N. have a cohesive plan to present to Harper. If that fiasco helped Chief Spence, in her sacrifice? Convince me? Is she eating? How many more times, must her objective be delayed?

Owen Gray said...

The same criticism was made of the Occupy Movement, Anon. Movements aren't political parties. They influence parties; and parties focus their agendas. But, what's happening these days goes beyond any of the existing political parties.

Moreover, some natives feel that their leaders are too close to the Conservative Party.

Perhaps those leaders should re-examine their relationship with the Harper Party.