Friday, January 04, 2013

The Meaning Of Silence

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.


Lorne said...

As I recall, Owen, Thomas More's response to the question was that if anything was to be construed by his silence, it was that silence betokens consent.

I guess that Harper's ongoing silence betokens consent for Chief Spence to starve herself to death. It would seem that martyrdom is not not simply an historical artifact under this regime.

Owen Gray said...

I love the Bolt play, Lorne; and I taught it many times over the years. More relied on the law for his defense. He had no wish to become a martyr.

I'd call my students' attention to this line:

"Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's — and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."

Canada's native peoples know that, when it comes to the environment, all the laws have been cut down -- and they're having a tough time standing upright in the winds that Mr. Harper has unleashed.

Anonymous said...

What rights do any Canadians have? Harper is giving this country to Communist China. The resources and the resource jobs. Harper's omnibus bill, gives China the right to sue any Canadians, getting in China's way. Chine sued in BC, to take the BC mining jobs.

Harper's omnibus bill gives himself permission, to pollute and destroy the F.N. waterways, fish and their hunting grounds. Harper has given himself to pollute Canada, whichever way he chooses, especially for China's benefit.

Canada's Democracy, Civil Rights and Liberties, Freedom of Speech, the Charter and our Human Rights, are all vanishing. Harper is an out and out Dictator.

Harper's x-mas interview, he declared himself a Christian? Harper has no morals nor ethics, what-so-ever. Chief Spence can't take Harper's word on anything. Neither can the rest of us.

Owen Gray said...

There is word today that Harper is going to meet with the chiefs -- including Spence -- Anon.

This way he saves face. It will be interesting to see if he changes anything in the omnibus bill.