Aboriginal demands dominate news agenda - Macleans.ca

Aboriginal demands dominate news agenda

Tease the day: How long will Idle No More hold our attention?


CP/Adrian Wyld

One month ago, who would have guessed that Aboriginal issues would basically dominate the news agenda? On Dec. 9, Idle No More demonstrators across Canada were planning the next day’s sea of demonstrations. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence was preparing to embark on a hunger strike. Days earlier, Aboriginal leaders attempted to charge into the House of Commons, and a handful of columnists opined about native issues, but few would have guessed just how much that was the calm before the storm.

One month later, and Aboriginal activists dominate three national front pages (the Toronto Star excepted). They control the news agenda. They’ve captured the attention of exasperated national columnists. For a movement with no leader, no communications strategy, and very little coordination, all of it by design, the achievements are remarkable. What will we be talking about on Feb. 9?

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with yesterday’s Federal Court ruling that Métis and non-status Indians qualify as “Indians” under the constitution. The National Post fronts the British National Weather Service’s tempered predictions of global warming. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with “bizarre” rules governing what Ontario’s children’s advocate can say publicly about inquests into children who died in government custody. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the unclear path forward when Aboriginal leaders meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper this Friday. iPolitics fronts the next steps for Canada’s optimistic climate change ambassador. CBC.ca leads with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s potential absence from this Friday’s meeting with Harper unless Governor General David Johnston also attends. National Newswatch showcases the same CBC story.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Radarsat. Industry Minister Christian Paradis will apparently announce today that a controversial satellite program that’s seen its costs balloon will apparently go ahead. 2. Haiti. Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe wants his government to play a bigger role in distributing aid that comes from Canada, a move he says would improve its effectiveness.
3. Dief’s son? A man claiming to be former prime minister John Diefenbaker’s son, George Dryden, is pleading with his mother to back him up. She’s not responding to his overtures. 4. No conflict. A federal watchdog cleared the prime minister’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, of any wrongdoing regarding his ongoing relationship with mining giant Barrick Gold.


Aboriginal demands dominate news agenda

  1. ‘They’ve captured the attention of exasperated national columnists.’

    And just why are national columnists ‘exasperated?’

    They should have been all over this situation years ago. People living in Third World conditions in a First World country, with even the UN reporting on the poverty here…..the whole situation is a chaotic mess, while Harper preaches and brags to the world.

    However columnists pay more attention to things like the Ikea monkey.

    • Canadians are tired of throwing money to people who cant bother to account for it.
      Thats why the situation is so bad, not because of Canada, the government, the boogeyman or Santa Claus.
      If the reserves fiscal house is not in order, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously, let alone help?

      • No they aren’t. Canadians are aware we have treaty obligations….contracts….that we are legally bound to uphold.

        What they are appalled at is the terrible poverty on reserves….we can do better than that.

        Do you really think that this audit distraction is going to change all that?

        • Emily. I don’t think the problem is with the government, or even band council. The problem is with each individual living on or off a reserve. No pride, no determination. If I would not bother to clean up my living room or kitchen or back yard, it would be a mess. But I have pride in my home, so I do. In my opinion, if someone decides not to do that, what is a chief supposed to do about it? Or the government? How about someone would have an initiative to build a couple of green houses and grow their own veggies? And figure out how to preserve them for winter? That’s what I do. Most reserves are in forested areas. Natives can hunt year round. No reason for people to be hungry. But someone needs to have the initiative. Each person is responsible for their own problems. And I’m not talking about little children. And that’s how changes will happen

          • Well not only are you discussing a different culture, but you’re discussing that culture after 2 centuries of repression and with a ton of laws preventing what you want done.

            What you’re also saying is that ‘Indians’, by their very nature, are lazy.

            Which is the same thing that Americans used to say about blacks.

          • not saying they are lazy at all. I have worked with a few natives and most of them were hard working. Wanting to learn how things work and do a good job. Then there was the one young man, that showed up for “work”, and sat down on a crate and said he was getting paid if he did something or not. Because he is native all he has to do is show up. So here is what I’m trying to say, it’s up to each individual. To have the drive, or not

          • ‘Drive’ is a major function in an industrial capitalist society. Previous societies like the agricultural and hunter/gatherer ones only had it in fits and starts. At specific times….like on a hunt or during a harvest.

        • I’ve looked through those Treaties pretty carefully and I don’t see any mention anywhere of having to buy any Indian Chief a $25,000 Eagle Feather War Bonnet, or a Zamboni or a new car every year.

          Every time I see one of those War Bonnets I wonder how many Chinese Silk Worms you could smuggle in one.

          • Funny, I wonder the same thing every time I see a gazebo.

        • Audit “distraction”,LMAO.Are you serious EmilyOne?

          • The budgets are audited every year, and posted online. The PMO is trying to distract you …..so don’t wander off after some new ‘shiny thing’

    • This comment was deleted.

      • First of all, it wasn’t “your” money. It’s paid out under treaty obligations duly signed by the Government of Canada.
        Second, Chief Spence was only chief for two of the 6 years covered in the audit. And those two years showed a marked improvement in record-keeping. Look for yourself.
        Third: Chief Fatty? Please, for the love of god, grow up.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • “The only problem is the Government doesn’t have any money…”

            It’s not the First Nations’ fault that our federal government is running a deficit. These payments are an obligation, not discretionary. And as Robert Nault put it:

            ” I never looked at transparency from the aspect of First Nations being transparent for the federal government; I looked at it as transparency for First Nations citizens. That’s the way it should work, not the First Nations being accountable to Ottawa.”

            First Nations are spending their money, not yours.

            As for the rest, APTN has rebutted Sun News’ coverage here: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/01/04/chief-spence-meets-the-spin-cycle/
            If you’re interested in accuracy, maybe you should read that and investigate for yourself. Rather than repeating Ezra Levant’s words as gospel.

          • Well you can spew “transparency” all you like but as far as I can tell you’ve spent your entire life in a thick impenetrable fog.

            And it now turns out under the searchlight, that your big Chief’s band, while under her jurisdiction, has spent several hundred thousand dollars of band money and has nothing to back it up.

            And I know nothing whatsoever of Ezra Levant’s view of this. I read Deloitte’s report at your suggestion. And I would suppose that in complete contradistinction from you, Deloittes know what they’re talking about.

            The big starving Chief is on the run here, she didn’t come up with the paperwork she was asked for and now her butt is frying on account of this report.

          • How, exactly, does one “spew transparency?” And isn’t transparency a good thing? And just what do you know of my life beyond our last day or two of interaction?

            Of course, not even Sun Media is suggesting that Spence “personally” spent specific money. They would know that absence of documentation doesn’t mean money was stolen, and to suggest otherwise would be libel. Sun relies on useful idiots to run with the allegations they only hint at.
            You’re out of your depth here. I’m afraid your “butt is frying,” whatever the hell that means.

          • She signs the cheques, she’s the Chief Executive Officer and Deloitte has reported there was was no supporting documentation.

            It should be a very easy matter to resolve.

            By the way you should look up the term “useful idiot” because your use of it means I know a lot more about you than I did 5 minutes ago.

  2. After journalist-minders had reporters kicked out of the hotel of Spence’s fiefdom, to the bemusement of even Huffington, they should stop being gluttons for punishment, abandon the fish-broth drama queen and focus on legitimate FN issues.

  3. ” For a movement with no leader, no communications strategy, and very
    little coordination, all of it by design, the achievements are
    remarkable. What will we be talking about on Feb. 9?”

    My prediction will be that by Feb 9 we will be talking about a movement in disarray, a movement silently slipping into obscurity because for a movement with no leader, no communication strategy, and very little coordination, all of it by design, such outcome is predictable.

    Stories that will be (mostly) missed: how, in Canada, it is impossible for the police departments to treat all citizens equally.

  4. Obviously they should have gone into this with a fully formed
    communications strategy involving a cutesy blonde spokesthingy
    prepared to spout finely-honed talking points at awe-struck TV hosts
    whose scripts don’t allow for subtle follow-ups. Kinda like Alexander of
    Kandahar. Reporters like that … they don’t have the time to run around
    talking to a lot of people … especially people who might view them with
    some contempt.
    Oh, and an Outrageous Manifesto with an introductory cover letter filled
    with bullet points outlining specific sneer-worthy demands is always
    helpful to the punditi … it eases the media path, reduces friction ..
    kinda like the oil that is ethical ..