‘Dialogue is always useful,’ Joe Clark says after meeting Theresa Spence


OTTAWA – Former prime minister Joe Clark says he’s concerned Canada and its First Nations are “headed in a dangerous direction.”

Clark issued a statement after meeting Saturday with Chief Theresa Spence, who has been fasting for more than two weeks in an effort to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with her and other First Nations leaders over treaty issues.

Clark, who was a Tory prime minister from 1979 to 1980, says friends of his in the First Nations community had suggested he meet with Spence, chief of a remote reserve in Northern Ontario.

He says National Chief Shawn Atleo managed to get him an invitation to visit Spence and also accompanied Clark on a visit to Victoria Island near Parliament Hill, where Spence has taken up residence during her protest.

Clark says he found Spence to have a “humble and achievable” vision and adds that those no longer in active political life may still have a role to play in helping discussions resume.

Spence stopped eating solid food on Dec. 11.

Clark says he appreciated having an opportunity to listen to Spence’s concerns.

“My experience has been that direct and honest dialogue is always useful and sometimes essential, particularly in dealing with issues as complex and multi-faceted as the relations between First Nations and Canada,” his statement read.

“Chief Spence expressed a humble and achievable vision — one which I believe all Canadians can embrace.”

Spence’s fast has drawn attention to current First Nations issues but there have also been calls for her to abandon the fast.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq joined other federal officials Friday asking Spence to accept a meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan but Spence rejected the recommendation.

The government points to a meeting it held last January with First Nations leaders as proof it is serious about improving their relationship, and adds it has spent millions on aboriginal health, housing and education.

But aboriginal leaders say they are being left out of the discussion the Harper government is having about how best to develop Canada’s lucrative natural resources.

A series of protests over the last two weeks under the banner of Idle No More were in part spurred by the recent budget bill which removed federal oversight over waterways without consulting aboriginal groups who depend on them for water and food.

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‘Dialogue is always useful,’ Joe Clark says after meeting Theresa Spence

  1. Joe Clark…thank you for your statesmanship!

    • The only contributing her ‘first nation’ is doing is leaving a mess all over that reserve… garbage, trash, abandoned vehicles, poorly maintained houses, trashed houses, etc

  2. Joe Clark”s meeting with Chief Spence solidifies his spot as a footmark in history – soft and mushy. Exactly why a vulnerable PierreTrudeau clobbered him.

    • No it isn’t. He lost to Trudeau because his govt couldn’t count.

  3. Hence the reason why when I ran as a PC candidate during the 2011 Federal Election. I believe that we need a party between the Liberals and the Conservatives to bring people from all over the spectrum together. We need moderate conservatives back in parliament. The name of the party I ran for is called the Progressive Canadian party and it is the successor party of the old PC Party of Canada. It can be found at pcparty.org. Check it out and we need to elect people from minor parties and independents from all over the spectrum to get real accountability, transparency and holding any party in power to account. We cannot settle for majority governments. We need endless minority government to get true democracy and ensuring that more people take part in the process. Never settle for second best.

  4. Joe Clark is a man who was too good to be a politician. We need more honest people like that in parliament who tell it like it is.

    Bringing people together is what Canada needs. Also parties in parliament not from international organizations is another important factor which Canadians must look for.

    We need to get away from the major party oligarchy and elect people based on communication, merit, and finally elect people for MP independence and not for following the party leader.

    Reject the major party oligarchy and elect people who truly care about Canadians and the direction our country is going in.

    Thank you.

    We need more people like Joe Clark in parliament and around the Western world.

  5. Here you have a taste of Joe Clark’s leadership, and why he not only lost the country, but more importantly why his type of leadership lost his caucus. As Prime Minister, unlike a successful Prime Minister like Stephen Harper, Clark would undercut his Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and essentially declare him incompetent, and not qualified to meet with Chief Spence, not realizing that reflects badly on himself and his ineptness, in his selection of the minister. This is a lot worse than losing your luggage.

    • But Duncan IS incompetent.

  6. We need more politicians like Clark to keep the nation together. If Clark had became the Tory prime minister instead of Mulroney in 1984 then I believe the Progressive Conservative party would have still been around even today.

    The Conservative party is the worst thing to ever have came to Canada.

    We don’t need a Republican clone party in this country. We need a party that truly empathizes with the plight of people and that means all people. The current PM isn’t even half the man Joe Clark is. True conservatism means keeping what you want in society and ensuring you live within your means in a balanced way. Reaganism ruined conservatism. Therefore progressive conservatism is real conservatism.

    I am a red tory because of Joe Clark and I believe red toryism is due for a comeback.

    • I sure hope not, because then there’d be no one left to vote for.

      We don’t need three leftist parties in this country.

    • the space you would need to squeeze between the liberals and CP probably wouldn’t fit in a single voter – maybe two if you’re lucky. Everybody has shifted to the right in the past 20 years – the NDP might just be closest to the middle right now.

  7. This ‘idle’ movement is a whole lot of feathers and not much chicken.

  8. Forget about her childish hunger games. Lets talk about the real issues like what happened to the missing millions on her reserve. Canada should only talk once the reserves open up the books. Fat chance there, they probably got burned in a fireplace a long time ago.

  9. Watch this CTV report to see how and why openness and accountability is required, and how Chief Theresa Spence and her daughter, spent $8400 on a charter trip to Toronto, which at first she adamantly denied happening until confronted with the receipt of payment for the trip, and was caught in the big lie.
    Since Spence was caught telling a blatant lie here with the media why should we believe that this hunger strike is on the up and up. However we can now see why she would not allow the government third party manager on the reserve, to examine the band books


  10. The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance expresses its global support for Idle No More … it’s been said that this movement is more than an “Indian thing” … I would argue that it is more than a “Canada thing” – it is becoming a global flashpoint for conversation about the Rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. I only hope it continues to grow and that these issues of poverty and self-determination become part of the public discourse.


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