In last week's debate, when Stephen Harper talked about "old stock" Canadians, he wasn't talking about the oldest stock Canadians -- Canada's native peoples. Consider his record of that file. Michael Harris writes:
It was a telling moment in the debate. It was also perfectly in keeping with the Harper government’s view of indigenous peoples. They are invisible, except when beating drums or wearing feathers at one of those ghastly public ceremonies the Harperites like to substitute for real action on the injustices facing Aboriginals. Here’s just one example among many: Shoal Lake #40 – a reserve without safe drinking water for 17 years and counting.
The Crown-First Nations gathering of January 2012 promised renewal of the relationship and real engagement between the two parties. A year later, it was the same old same old. The Governor General didn’t even bother showing up for the anniversary. And that was a big diss since David Johnston represents the Crown, and First Nations treaties are with the Crown — not with any crass politico who fills an office by representing something less than a majority of Canadians.
Harper talks endlessly. But his words are plug nickels:
It would be hard to imagine a person for whom talk is cheaper than Stephen Harper. Point of fact: Harper record on Aboriginal issues is abysmal. Under the Constitution Act of 1982, Section 35 expressly affirms native treaty rights. In 1995, under the same section, Canada recognized that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government.
But instead of hitting the reset button, instead of consulting with First Nations as required by law, and moving towards full implementation of treaty rights and native self-government, Harper has lowered the boom on Canada’s natives at every opportunity. He wouldn’t meet Chief Teresa Spence but he did sic Deloitte on her and publish their audit during her hunger strike.
First, Harper poisoned the relationship by ramming through omnibus legislation, Bills C-38 and C-45. Both of them had a profound effect on native concerns for the environment and sharing in resource
The Harper government also made surreptitious and unilateral changes to the contribution agreements with Canada’s 630 bands. These contribution agreements are their primary source of income. Conditions buried in the appendix to the agreement appeared to suggest the bands would have to support the government’s omnibus legislation in order to access their funding.
After setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get to the bottom of the residential school fiasco, referred to by former prime minister Paul Martin as “cultural genocide,” the Harper government refused to hand over documents requested by the commissioners. In the end, the Commission had to sue the very government that created it in order to do its job.
Mr. Harper's definition of "Canadians" are people who look and act like him. Put another way, he is a supreme narcissist.