Theresa Spence’s hunger strike didn’t immediately capture Canada’s attention. Spence, the Attawapiskat First Nation’s chief, announced her strike on Dec. 10. She’s demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown, and she wants the government to respect her people’s treaty rights. At the time, when only a handful out newspapers gave Spence’s demands any ink, I called it a “lonely fight.” What a difference a few weeks makes.
Spence’s hunger strike, which is now in its third week, galvanized the larger Idle No More protests—or #idlenomore, if you’ve been watching Twitter—that have sprouted across Canada. No one’s dared dismiss the movement as fleeting. Spence was front-page news in this morning’s Globe and Mail, which predicted that the growing “attitude of defiance” on First Nations “suggests this could be a long year of conflict between the government and indigenous people.”
It’s now fashionable for ambitious politicians to defend Spence. Liberal leadership hopefuls have voiced support for the hunger strike—Justin Trudeau in person over the holidays, and Marc Garneau by way of a letter to the prime minister. Adam Beach, a Saulteaux actor who stars in CBC’s Arctic Air, also visited Spence on Victoria Island. The Globe described the mood around her as “celebratory,” even as she consumes only water, medicinal tea and fish broth.
A lonely fight? Not even close.
What’s above the fold this morning?
The Globe and Mail leads with the continuing “fiscal cliff” stalemate in Washington, D.C. The National Post fronts a look back at the poisonous politics surrounding pipelines in 2012 (not online). The Toronto Star goes above the fold with federal Liberal efforts to use the ongoing leadership campaign as a data-gathering exercise. The Ottawa Citizen leads with a Syrian general’s defection to the rebel side. iPolitics fronts potential drug-supply issues posed by a voluntary federal “drug notice” policy. CBC.ca leads with the massive snowstorm that hit eastern Canada. National Newswatch showcases Lawrence Martin’s iPolitics column that looks back at each federal party’s successes in 2012.
Stories that will be (mostly) missed
|1. Border dispute. Machias Seal Island, a rocky outcropping in the Bay of Fundy claimed by both Canada and the United States, is home to lobster fishermen from both countries.||2. Libyan fighters. Several men who were beaten and tortured fighting for the rebel side in the recent Libyan conflict, including Ayoub Badi, are in Toronto receiving medical care.|
|3. E. Coli. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was unable to find the source of E. Coli contamination in recalled meat distributed by an Ontario company that made five people sick.||4. Sesquicentennial. Planning for Canada’s 150th birthday has barely started at federal departments, a late start some critics say needs to turn around immediately.|