History in the making


On the eve of today’s summit between the Harper government and Aboriginal leaders, the Prime Minister met privately with a delegation of chiefs. It seems to have not gone entirely well.

Harper told chiefs that they should consider contacting their MPs and that he can’t just focus on Aboriginal issues because he has to run the country, according to three chiefs who were present at the meeting. His comments left chiefs concerned the prime minister was not taking their issues seriously.

“To hear the prime minister make reference to the number of issues he is dealing with raises questions in my mind and those questions will need to be answered in his words tomorrow to First Nations,” said Serpent River Chief Isadore Day. “Tomorrow will be a very good indication of where the prime minister is in his resolve, or lack thereof, to deal with First Nations issues.”

The Prime Minister had already been criticized for plans to leave the summit early. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, meanwhile, warns of a peaceful “uprising” if the situation for Aboriginal doesn’t improve.


History in the making

  1. “I am too busy to serve the citizens I was elected to serve.”

    • …”so call on the MP, whom I have effectively muzzled and placed in a corner on a back bench and told to never speak.” 

      Of course, if your MP is a cabinet minister, (s)he will be too busy with other issues to help you.  If your MP is not from the government side, well, too bad for you.  And it’s not as though there’s an actual minister for aboriginal affairs…oh wait.  Well, he’s busy with his constituent issues…

      • “If your MP is not from the government side, well, too bad for you”

        No, that’s why failed candidates like Saulie Zajdel have been given government appointments.

  2. I attended 3-day conference on Native issues when I was in university 20 years ago – Mulroney would have been PM – and it is same issues as today. Why is there no discussion about performance of bureaucracy – decent housing and clean water are fundamental to good productive life but we can’t even provide simple things like warm homes and drinkable water to natives that we provide to every other Canadian who doesn’t live on reserves.

    The problem is that Canada operates an apartheid system with Natives and no amount of meetings, conferences and bureaucratic tinkering is going to fix it. The problem is not that PM Harper doesn’t have good intentions, the problem is that entire system is racist and can’t be repaired.

    When I taught english to Koreans, they would ask about Natives and why they so troubled. First time I had to explain Indian Acts, blood lines decide who is Native and who isn’t, no private property rights, Natives not included in Human Rights Act …. etc. I quickly realized what an appalling system Canada operates and it is not going to get magically better if Harper would just hold more conferences where everyone sits around and talks about nothing much.

    • …except that Harper, unlike the vast swaths of the rest of us, *does* have the power and the influence to affect major changes that dismantle the system that keeps the colonial project running. If the Prime Minister at the helm of a majority government can’t move on some change…

      This was not about any conference in and of itself – it should have been used to mark (another) new beginning for the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples in Canada and instead he chose to attend an even of much lower importance. It says much that he couldn’t be arsed to stick around and at least listen for a couple of days to the most aggrieved segment of the population.

  3. Harper’s not really handling this file well. 

    • It is unfortunate, he made a bold step with the residential school apology; and managed that process and ceremony very well.  All of that good-will is now squandered.

      • He’s certainly at his best delivering half-sincere platitudes that don’t need follow up or committment afterwards.

  4. That’s what you get when you have a control freak at the helm with “… a steady hand on the tiller.”  LOL!

  5. All this build-up to a ‘historic’ conference, raising everybody’s hopes….and it’s just another photo-op.

    It seems he planned to be in Davos instead all along.

    • He knows where the outhouse is located in Davos.

      • Given his previous history at these sorts of confabs he will need it.

  6. 3 chiefs. Of how many? And you guys want to write the whole thing off, because of 3 chiefs?

    I’m guessing these same 3 chiefs while they want him to spend more time governing First Nations, will also cry bloody murder when they feel their losing their ability to “self-govern”. It’s patently ridiculous. Thankfully, I’m sure that 95% of the chiefs attending understand that you can’t have self-governance while demanding someone else solve all of your problems.

    Harper’s exactly right when he promotes a two-way working relationship, and he’s exactly right when he says the chiefs need to talk to their MPs more also. That’s how our democracy is supposed to work.

    Sorry for interrupting your Harper-Hate-Fest. I’m sure you all have very important things to do.

    • Harper’s not looking for a two-way relationship. It’s little more than a hamfisted and transparent attempt to distract from the demand for more self-government and a clean transition. They’re not buying it.

      • If these 3 chiefs are demanding that the PM spend all of his time working on FN issues, they’re not demanding self-government. And I think it’s pretty clear that the PM is looking for a 2-way relationship when he makes it quite clear that the gov’t is willing to provide opportunities, but it’s up to them to take advantage of those opportunities.

        But by no means let my logic get in the way of your speculation and hearsay.

        • What opportunities is he offering? 

          • The Northern Gateway Pipeline, for one.

        • I missed where the Chiefs demanded the PM spend all of his time working on FN issues. It’s either my Harper hatred blinding me or the chiefs made no such demand.

          • “To hear the prime minister make reference to the number of issues he is dealing with raises questions in my mind”

          • The implication being that the PM is too busy to deal with FN issues. If the job’s too much for him….

        • “But by no means let my logic get in the way of your speculation and hearsay.”

          Sorry, but of the two, I prefer CR’s speculation and hearsay to your speculation and hearsay.

          • What part of what I said was hearsay or speculation?

          • Unless you were there, all of it.

    • There’s the problem – Harper has to keep people with your mentality happy in order to continue to govern. 

  7. What’s left out is that the meeting wasn’t face to face but Harper spoke by telephone, on speakerphone setting :)

    • This was the Un-Kelowna.

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