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Monday, 7 January 2013

Idle No More, The Occupy Movement and the Politics of Power

Is Steven Harper brilliant or a bigot? 

Anyone who has watched the Prime Minister’s inaction akin to burying his head in the sand would probably lean towards the later.  Idle No More hasn’t gone away and keeps growing steam.

That other politically touchy issue the Occupy movement was carefully dismantled and compartmentalized with minimal political damage.

Was the hope, that Idle No More would go the same route?  Or, was there a hint of altruistic brilliance behind the obstinance? 

Aboriginal issues are a Canadian blemish.  This site has touched on several times in the past (eg Feb 2012 Aboriginal health,  October 2011 equity ). Lets face it, the handling of the Attawapiskit affair a year ago was not a fine moment in Harper’s approach to Aboriginal issues, it stank of the very colonialistic approaches that we have been found guilty of ( Attawapiskit ).

Both the Occupy movement and Idle No More suffer from a lack of specificity of what they are trying to achieve.  They are expressions of discontent with the status quo.  Both without concrete solutions where solutions are needed.   The Idle No More movement might effectively end with the agreed to meeting between the PM and Aboriginal leaders, and general bureaucratic acknowledgement that study and reports need to be undertaken to develop solutions – by which time governments and leaders will have changed and the effect may follow the Kelowna Accord agreement (which Harper effectively ignored). 

What Idle No More has done, just as Occupy camps did (Occupy movement  ) – was take the issues to the general populace.  They have been effective public education tools.  The peaceful round dances, and the occasional interruption in transportation services have engendered real attention.  Had the movement been truncated early by Harper agreeing to a meeting, lost would have been the needed public support for anything that might come from such a meeting.  At least now though, Canadians across the country have become more informed about the plight of our Aboriginal citizens who are caught in this jurisdictional quandary of powers assigned under the Constitution.

It must be an uphill battle to correct certain beliefs about Aboriginal populations.  There are likely many unenlightened individuals with discriminatory beliefs who do not feel obliged to the commitment that our non-Aboriginal ancestors made to share this land.  Perhaps some like the Fraser Institute may take even more discriminatory positions Calgary Herald article, and not without reason published in Harper's home community. No mention is made of made of our commitment, or of the numerous examples where non-Aboriginals have broken that commitment.

Lost though in the movement, beyond Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger paining demands for the meeting, is what is it all about?

On the surface, the objections stem from lack of consultation on budget cuts.  But really, what Canadians have been consulted on any of the omnibus pieces of budgetary reduction legislation?  Do any of us want tax increases or spending cuts – we need only look south to what pains the US suffering from such approaches.  Were there evidence of inequitable sharing of the pain, there would be plenty to protest.  The complexity and secrecy of Harper’s fiscal planning would make it difficult for anyone to accurately determine what Canadians have suffered more.   That the Calgary article speaks to concerns over the sale of reserves is a form of misdirection and misleading the public perception that the Idle No Movement is trying to correct. 

When it comes to the budget reductions, only in the area of refugee health has there been any other concerted national effort to have the policy shifts changed, and that has not been successful either. 

So, Mr. Harper, you have the opportunity to astound us Canadians with your brilliance by turning the Idle No More movement into a positive construct with solutions.  

Given your propensity for corporate welfare and the most recent example with the auto industry handout of a quarter of a billion, perhaps DrPHealth might share some of that skepticism of our Aboriginal brethren.  Please prove us wrong and show your brilliance rather than bigotism. 

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