Stephen Harper is desperately trying to get Canada's First Peoples to buy into the Northern Gateway Pipeline. But, Michael Harris writes, they will not be snookered by Mr. Harper. They know the man too well:
Stephen Harper’s trust account is badly overdrawn. Native leaders will not soon forget how the Conservatives blithely walked away from the work-in-progress that was the Kelowna Accord.
Although former prime minister Paul Martin wasn’t around long enough to implement a program that aimed at ending native poverty in a decade, his plan enjoyed wide support and created something even more seductive: a sense of optimism.
Then-Opposition leader Stephen Harper claimed that he supported the plan to end native poverty and the principles of the Kelowna Accord, though he differed on how that should be accomplished.
This is one of the things that Harper said in a letter to Dwight Dorey of the Congress of Aboriginal People dated January 10, 2006: “The Conservative Party of Canada is committed to holding another meeting with First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders within the next two or three years to measure the progress of the Kelowna commitments.”
Put that in the same category with Harper’s promises not to mess with income trusts or the Old Age Supplement. Canada’s First Nations leaders have had their bags packed for that meeting for going on seven years but the invitation, apparently, is still in the mail.
There was Harper's treatment of Theresa Spence and:
The last blow to the PM’s credibility on the aboriginal street may well be the government’s vaunted native education legislation — a plan AFN Chief Shawn Atleo has already panned because it was conceived, as most of this government’s legislation is, unilaterally.
The First Nations know that Stephen Harper doesn't negotiate with anyone -- not with the opposition parties, not with the provinces, and certainly not with them. His present desperation is the harvest of his own failure.