Buckingham Palace rejects appeal to intervene in Chief Spence’s protest: letter

OTTAWA – The Queen has rejected an appeal to intervene in Chief Theresa Spence’s liquids-only protest, but says she is taking “careful note” of concerns for the chief’s health.

In a letter dated Jan. 7, obtained by The Canadian Press, Buckingham Palace tells a supporter of Spence that the chief should deal instead with the federal cabinet.

“This is not a matter in which The Queen would intervene,” says the letter.

“As a constitutional Sovereign, Her Majesty acts through her personal representative, the Governor General, on the advice of her Canadian Ministers and, therefore, it is to them that your appeal should be directed.”

The letter also says the Queen understands the concerns about the welfare of Spence, who is now well into her sixth week of protest, surviving on fish broth and tea.

“Her Majesty has taken careful note of the concern you express for the welfare of Attawapiskat First Nations Chief Theresa Spence who is currently on a politically motivated hunger strike in Canada.”

The response is addressed to Jonathan Francoeur, a small businessman in British Columbia who took it upon himself to write to the Queen on Dec. 15. It is signed by Miss Jennie Vine, deputy to the senior correspondence officer.

A spokesman for Spence said he believed the letter to be a fake, but he also said he did not know Francoeur. He did not respond to questions about why he believed the letter was not genuine. Francoeur said he wrote the letter on his own initiative and not in an official capacity. There is a long Facebook trail starting Dec. 15 describing the process he went through to write the letter, decide the content and post it. Francoeur received the response earlier this week and said there was absolutely no reason to believe the response was a fake.

Joanne Charette, spokeswoman for Rideau Hall, also said the letter looked genuine.

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said they would not comment on personal correspondence.

“I was reading a (Facebook) post and it was explaining the cause,” Francoeur said in a telephone interview, when asked why he wrote to Buckingham Palace.

“It said to support the cause, it would be good for somebody to write the Queen and the prime minister.”

Francoeur said he was at home nursing a broken toe and had time on his hands to compose the letters. He has not yet heard back from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, so now he has written to the Queen a second time.

“I can’t communicate with the prime minister,” he said. “I wanted her to know.”

Spence is camped out on Victoria Island, within site of the Parliament Buildings, where she says she will continue to protest until the Governor General and the prime minister meet all chiefs on the plight of First Nations people.

She announced last week she would boycott a meeting between the Assembly of First Nations and Harper because the Governor General would not be attending.

“We have sent a letter to Buckingham Palace, requesting that Queen Elizabeth II send forth her representative, which is the Governor General of Canada,” Spence said in a statement on Jan. 9.

By that day, the response from the palace to Francoeur was already in the mail. The Queen’s response was circulated among chiefs and Spence supporters this week.

While the letter may remove the palace from any official role in the controversy, it does send a signal to the prime minister that he bears great responsibility for the lengthy protest by Spence, said Isadore Day, chief of the Serpent River reserve near Elliot Lake, Ont.

“The prime minister needs to have a little bit of moral reflection,” Day said.

The fact the Queen wrote back at all is telling, he said.

“What I hear in that letter is a recognition and a concern for her health. That message should get through to the prime minister.”

A growing list of political leaders and chiefs has begged Spence to give up her protest in order to maintain her health and lead her people. On Thursday, chiefs from Ontario who have been among her most ardent supporters echoed that message.

“We think she’s done her part, done her job. We don’t want anyone to die,” said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Union of Ontario Indians.

Spence did not speak to reporters Thursday, nor did her spokespeople return messages. But Michele Audette, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada who has grown close to Spence, says the chief was feeling “lively” on Wednesday night.

Chiefs are reluctantly beginning to contemplate what could happen if Spence or her co-protester Raymond Robinson die from their hunger protests.

“We have no idea about what this would trigger. So we’re scared about that,” said Madahbee.

Many chiefs are hoping that elders and people with cultural ties to Spence will be able to appeal to her to eat solid food again.

But Spence has indicated she will persist until the prime minister and Governor General hold a meeting with a broad array of chiefs.

There’s a small chance there could be a meeting Jan. 24, but Harper’s officials have said that it would be a one-on-one with National Chief Shawn Atleo, currently on sick leave because of the flu and exhaustion from dealing with political crises.

“I really think there will be a huge backlash of some sort” if Spence actually dies, said Judith Sayers, a University of Victoria assistant professor with decades of experience working with First Nations.

So many First Nations people are newly engaged in daily politics these days because of the Idle No More protest movement, and they are upset about the way meetings last week between Harper and the AFN took place, Sayers said.

“I think it could be mayhem.”




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Buckingham Palace rejects appeal to intervene in Chief Spence’s protest: letter

  1. So Ms Spence – what’s next ?

    • she is going to request a meeting with God……give her what 2 years on her diet and it might just happen

  2. ‘Her Majesty acts through her personal representative, the Governor General’

    Which is why they want the GG present to formally represent the Crown.

    • And what would you have the Governor General DO? The GG isn’t allowed to talk about policy, hasn’t been for almost a century. The role is strictly ceremonial, which is why David Johnston had a ceremonial meeting after the real one. In modern Canada the Crown is a concept, not a person. The Prime Minister ACTS in the name of the Crown. Spence doesn’t want to end her fast. Her demands were met, now she’s just becoming more and more ridiculous.

      • There is no such rule….I don’t know where this rubbish is coming from, but the GG has the same powers as the Queen.

        • The GG does NOT have “the same powers as”; the GG is the Queen’s representative, not an actual monarch. And the Queen just gave the GG clear marching orders. “This is not a matter in which The Queen would intervene” means it is therefore also not a matter in which her representative would intervene; to do so would be to act in contravention of the Queen’s wishes.

          • You can lead Emily to Wiki but you cant make her think Keith

        • The only powers of the Governor General are to call an election when the Prime Minister tells them to and to sign the laws passed by Parliament. That is all. Anything else would be a coup and would plunge our country into the worst constitutional crisis in its history. The last time the Governor General tried to do anything that wasn’t on the advice of the PM was in 1926. The GG didn’t win that one.

          • Oh don’t be daft….a coup by who? LOL

            Sorry, the GG is quite different than what you think.

            ‘Though the monarch retains all executive, legislative, and judicial power in and over Canada,[54][55] the governor general is permitted to exercise most of this, including the Royal Prerogative, in the sovereign’s name; some as outlined in the Constitution Act, 1867, and some through various letters patent issued over the decades, particularly those from 1947 that constitute the Office of Governor General of Canada’

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_General_of_Canada#Constitutional_role

    • You are willfully ignoring half – the important half – of that sentence:

      “…on the advice of her Canadian Ministers and, therefore, it is to them that your appeal should be directed.” (the them being the Canadian Ministers, not the GG.)

      The Queen is saying that it is the elected side of government with whom all such discussions should be held; she has, in effect, publicly ordered the GG not to intervene.

      Remedial reading, Emily; I keep telling you it’s time you take some classes…

      • Last time Bram….because I get bored with people who are so keen to ‘gotcha’ they don’t pay attention to the topic

        ‘Though the monarch retains all executive, legislative, and judicial power in and over Canada,[54][55] the governor general is permitted to exercise most of this, including the Royal Prerogative, in the sovereign’s name; some as outlined in the Constitution Act, 1867, and some through various letters patent issued over the decades, particularly those from 1947 that constitute the Office of Governor General of Canada’

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_General_of_Canada#Constitutional_role

        >>>>>>>>

        Now try the quote again

        ‘Her Majesty acts through her personal
        representative, the Governor General, on the advice of her Canadian Ministers
        and, therefore, it is to them that your appeal should be directed’

        >>>>>>>>

        ‘Her Majesty acts through her personal representative, the Governor General’

        Which is why they want the GG present to formally represent the Crown.

        >>>>>>>>>>

        And the Crown has power…and exercises it.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new

        It’s in the Telegraph too

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new

        • Who is not paying attention? You are taking the Queen’s words (assuming they are hers and not fake as one person quoted in the story alleged) out of context and trying to render some different meaning other than the meaning that is plain and evident when read in context.

          Let’s use your Wikipedia quote again, this time putting in emphasis on the key words:

          ‘Though the monarch retains all executive, legislative, and judicial
          power in and over Canada,[54][55] the governor general is permitted to
          exercise most of this, …’

          The GG serves as the Queen’s representative. He cannot override the Queen. If the Queen says, as she does here,“This is not a matter in which The Queen would intervene,” then it becomes a matter in which the GG must not intervene, as doing so would be insubordination.

          Not sure what your links to the papers are about, as they aren’t working. Are they real stories, or are you just trying some deceit in an effort to add weightiness to your story in the eyes of those too lazy to click through?

          It’s bad enough when you try this out-of-context-quoting nonsense with my posts, but with the Queen’s words? Just… wow!

          • (Not sure how that last bit ended up in italics but I can’t seem to remove the italics via edit)
            [Edit: Figured it out...]

          • Sorry Bram, not interested in arguing plain English with you.

            Or the Constitution.

            I’m gandhi….Ciao.

          • You’re no Ghandi, you’re just a regular old nine to fiver, and a bit of a clock watcher too, by the looks of it.

          • I have no idea what that even means…probably you don’t either.

          • You have no idea?
            I’m not sure what to say. Many many people, thousands possibly, rely on your perceptive point of view and vast Wikipedic knowledge.

        • “And the Crown has power…and exercises it.”

          If only it were true.

          A good Queen with an ounce of common sense would run you through the guillotine in a second and justifiably expect lifetime fealty from the rest of us for doing it..

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