As Theresa Spence's hunger strike continues, Stephen Harper remains silent. But his acolytes have had plenty to say. Christie Blatchford and John Ivison have brushed aside Spence's demand for a meeting with the prime minister.
Still, Stephen Harper has remained tight lipped -- except for one throw away line in his New Year's Message about how his government "continued to strengthen First Nation relationships in 2012." Michael Harris writes:
In Robert Bolt’s great play A Man for all Seasons, the prosecutor asks the jury a question about Thomas More’s unspoken opinion of the king’s marriage: “What does it betoken, this silence?” Well, what does Stephen Harper’s silence betoken? At one level it is obviously a contest of wills, precisely the kind of brick-wall standoff the PM so enjoys. He likes his political opposition in powder form. But there is another, much darker aspect to a leader’s silence when powerful emotions are running through the land.
Harper is playing to all the negative stereotypes about native people:
Elsewhere, all of the ugly stereotypes have been on display: Indians as lazy, Indians “freeloading” (that quote belongs to former Manitoba Tory youth leader Braydon Mazurkiewich), drinking all day, fighting all night and living lives that are just one long flight from responsible living. As for their leaders, we’re told they steal from their own people, are profligate with public money and try to hide from public accountability.
It's classic Harper strategy -- create a straw man and burn it down. The problem this time is that Theresa Spence is no straw woman -- and Stephen Harper is no Thomas More.