With a special guest appearance by the Governor General? - Macleans.ca

With a special guest appearance by the Governor General?

A possible compromise to end Theresa Spence’s hunger strike


While the Prime Minister’s Office and Ned Franks explain the reasons for not involving the Governor General in a meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations leaders, Charlie Angus seems to try to articulate a compromise.

But NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose Northern Ontario riding includes Ms. Spence’s Attawapiskat community, said the Prime Minister should allow the Governor-General to open any future meeting in order to build trust and “dial down the rhetoric.” “I’m concerned about the symbolism if [Ms. Spence] got sick or something happened — I think it would really throw everything off track,” he said. “If [Mr. Harper] sends some message of goodwill, we could ratchet this down a lot.”

This sounds like a proposal to have the Governor General do what he did a year ago at the Crown-First Nations gathering.

There are a couple ways to question this proposal. The first is the practical: Would this be enough to satisfy Theresa Spence and those who are following her lead on this demand that the Governor General be involved? If the answer is no, this proposal is moot.

But even if this would be sufficient to appease Ms. Spence, there is the philosophical question: Is any compromise worth making when it is based on a very problematic understanding of how our democracy works? Is it worth finding a compromise at the risk of perpetuating—or seeming to give into—a very problematic understanding of how our democracy works?

I think I generally lean towards upholding the principles of our democracy and refusing demands that seem to be based on a very problematic understanding our how our democracy works, but if having David Johnston stand up and say a few words (presuming he then takes his leave and goes back to Rideau Hall) would be enough to get past this odd stand-off, I’m somewhat tempted to say go for it and be done with it. (Alternatively, you refuse a compromise, stick with the principled view and assume that this point of dispute will ultimately pass. I suppose this calculation involves judging Ms. Spence’s present and future health and the likelihood she’ll give up her protest or otherwise be fine.)


With a special guest appearance by the Governor General?

  1. Fram air filters used to run an ad….it ended with the memorable line ‘so, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later’

    And of course there’s the old ‘ounce of prevention’ proverb

    The GG needs to sit down with the Chiefs and listen to their grievances…..just listen, is all they’re asking. Then he formally turns the problems over to his ministers for solving and goes home in time for tea and scones.

    After that it is up to Harper.

    Everybody is respected, everybody is happy, we avoid a native uprising in the 21st century….and nobody dies.

    • ‘The GG needs to sit down with the Chiefs and listen to their grievances…..just listen, is all they’re asking. Then he formally turns the problems over to his ministers for solving and goes home in time for tea and scones.’

      Are you SURE that’s how it would go down? Let’s say he sits down and just listens, then hands it over… what happens if the chiefs say, “No, we’re negotiating with you, not them.”?

      Things would get trickier then… trickier than they already are.

      • Well you can ‘what if’ something to bits…..but this is what they’re asking, and this is what the govt should do.

        The GG isn’t familiar enough with the situation to be able to discuss it fully with them anyway. This is symbolic, not a ‘working session’.

        • The ‘symbolic’ meeting didn’t satisfy a couple of weeks ago…

          • It was a reception. Not what they asked for.

          • IMHO, I don’t think the natives have been this adamant to have the GG involved in these meetings only to be placated by an in-and-out, ‘just listening’ appearance by Johnston. Do you honestly think a lady is starving herself in order to be tossed a purely symbolic bone?

          • It’s what she’s been asking for all this time.

            The symbolism here is vital. The Crown is the treaty partner.

          • So… she’s starving herself because the symbolic reception wasn’t good enough, and that the symbolic attendance at negotiations is the only thing that will suffice? C’mon. Sorry, perhaps my understanding of native affairs is lacking, but that fails my logic test.

            There’s more to this. I think they don’t want to negotiate with Harper. They want to negotiate with the Crown representative, Johnston. Who would go to all this trouble — not only putting a woman’s life at risk but threatening any kind of progress in resolving native issues — because of symbolism (or, to be more precise, how that symbolism is manifested)?

          • Yes, your understanding is lacking.

          • Well, then Spence and the Idle No More movement is far more obstinate and stupid than I ever believed up to this point.

            I’m giving them a bit more credit than what you’re affording them, however. I can’t believe that someone would allow themselves to starve to death over which symbolic event the GG attends. They’re aiming for something bigger. At least, I truly hope they are, for their sake. Talk about picking the wrong hill to die on.

          • Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

            It may not be important to you, but it’s vital to them.

          • More important than working towards solving ongoing suffering on native reserves? Really? It’s THAT important?

            Nah, my judgement will stand until further notice. And any enlightening of my understanding is more than welcome.

          • The ends, the means….in general they both need to be considered, but their relative importance can vary greatly from one situation to the next.

            In this case I am confused that Spence and supporters are investing SO much time/effort talking about the means at the expense of the ends.

          • I totally share your confusion.

          • You can only be enlightened if you wish to be.

          • Well, I did say any enlightenment was more than welcome. I’m not married to this argument. I’ll change my mind if presented with compelling evidence otherwise.

          • As I’ve already said….the GG represents the crown in Canada….and the Crown is who they signed the treaties with. There is no one any higher than the GG….talk to him, you’re talking to QEII. The great white mother, and all that.

            They’ve spent 145 years talking to the govt of the day, and gotten nowhere…..bandaid solutions….patchwork…..outright disasters like the residential schools….good PMs and ugly PMs….so they’ve decided to go to the top this time. It’s the GG or nothing.

          • They’ve decided to go to the top… for a symbolic meeting with the GG?

            I actually agree with you on all of what you just wrote, but I don’t think they want a simply symbolic meeting. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make all along. They want him to play a role that’s more than symbolic.

          • Yes, then the GG directs the ministers to sort it out….i doubt there is any plot underway.

          • Lemme get this straight. First Nations leadership are willing to prolong the suffering for the communities they represent simply in order to have the GG sit there and do nothing but hand over the gruntwork to ministers?

            Yeah, you’ve lost me again. Thanks for trying, though.

          • You’re just being stubborn….after 145 years of suffering, a few weeks more won’t make any difference.

            The PRESENCE of the GG, and him LISTENING is the point.

          • Unless he mishandles a ceremonial belt and then Ms. Spence will feel “disrespected” and leave in a huff like she did after the reception.

          • Perhaps a way out of this is for the GG to indeed meet with Spence et al.

            At that meeting the GG can hear the concerns. The GG and Spence can go on to talk about the history of the Crown and the GG and Responsible Government and all of that, with the GG’s basic message being that over the last many decades the power to actually get things done, to negotiate new agreements or to renegotiate existing agreements and so on has been essentially completely given over to Parliament. I suppose that the GG still has ultimate power to withhold approval, but has no real power (other than moral suasion) to compel Parliament to do anything.

            Even if it took days and days and days of dawn to dusk discussions for the GG to convince Spence that she is fundamentally asking the wrong person to intervene, a year from now we would still be way further ahead than the current trajectory.

          • Giving in to threats is not a good idea. This is not a game of poker.

          • I get where you are coming from with giving in to threats and all – my suggestion is not risk free by any means. Some folks will never be satisfied with the results, and might try to repeat this strategy again and again. But many folks might be, and then the whiners will have only a handful of supporters.

            But the potential upside is significant, and I’m inclined to take those risks. Also, the current approach seems to be having some pretty dismal results.

          • Richard Sanders, earlier: “The story is that the entitlement is what the treaty (contract) specifies. Some people need to be reminded of that and probably threatened with it in some cases.”

            And now: “Giving in to threats is not a good idea. This is not a game of poker.”

            How do you reconcile these two statements?

          • Maybe, though I’m inclined to think the reason why the GG is staying away is because it’ll cause a constitutional conundrum just by having him show up. The GG has constitutional advisors, and I’m sure that’s what they’re telling him.

            If that’s not the reason, it’s because Harper doesn’t want to cave in to the demands of the FN leadership. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who don’t want him to give an inch. But, if that were the case, he wouldn’t have met with them at all a couple of weeks ago.

          • Agree that there is a risk from the “constitutional conundrum” POV, but (obviously) I’m inclined to believe that there has to be a way that the GG could be very, very clear before, during and after such a meeting of the current limitations.


          • You to have to remember that a couple of weeks ago, they were demanding not only to meet with the GG and PM BUT that the meeting HAD to be on their turf (the Delta Hotel) and had to include a room full of chiefs which would have essentially made a “working meeting” impossible. How can 60 people sit down together and get something accomplished when they are all yelling their demands out. The chiefs, including Theresa Spence wouldn’t agree to ANY meeting if Harper didn’t agree to all their demands for how the meeting would be run and where it would be located. As it is, Spence still wants “more chiefs” in this meeting with the GG and Harper. She said this in her interview with Kevin Newman.

          • Chiefy was over at Rideau Hall on invitation and she blew it by storming out and dissing the Queen’s representative in the bargain.

            This all nothing but bull roar. and your nonsense is Bull Roar x 2.

          • Being enlightened by you EmilyOne. What a hoot this comment board is becoming. I can just picture it: EmilyOne sitting back in her chair, all puffed up about feeling important enough to engage into a debate she has no understanding of. Just like Chief Spence. So hilarious.

          • Idol no more is a joke. I have spent far to much time living next to reservations watching the squalor they choose to live in. Honestly how many wrecked cars, refridgerators and babies wandering around naked at midnight do we have to watch. Go to Mcdonalds anywhere at midnight and I bet you will find a immensely overweight native family in there with all their kids on a school night chowing down on a huge meal of burgers and fries and giant pops. I had to watch this every time I picked my son up from his shift there. Perhaps when they have some self respect and start caring about their community we can begin to see eye to eye. Im tired of being called a whiteback or called a racist just because I am white.

          • Yes Emily, YOU are the only one who understands them. So after you get through your mail this morning, please help them.

          • Actually, when it comes to issues of pride and face, people will do some amazing(ly stupid) things.

          • Well, that’s not a very satisfying explanation, but it’s no less satisfying than any other explanation I’ve heard.

          • The AFN doesnt seem to think so

          • I think you should dress up like “GG” and go have a talk with the “starving” hag. That should satisfy them. Who better than you?

            With your new houses and old houses and auction sales and new furniture and old furniture and hybrid cars and Canadian history back to 1848, you’re much more qualified to deal with this than some gold braided, battered, political hack from Guelph.

            Go for it Emily. See if you can mesmerize the “starving” wretch and save Canada from the Apaches. You’ll be famous.

          • I second that notion: have EmilyOne go at it!

          • I’ll ask you the same question i asked above. Point to one credible leader [ there are always fringe loonies in any group] who has publicly, explictly said the GG has to discuss policy with them rather than the PM. I haven’t come across one yet. If that is what they want – the GG to discuss policy or allow himself to be a pawn in their battle with the govt than obviously that is out. I just can’t see someone as savvy as Atleo signing on to that.
            We have always talked past each other – Canada and FNs, we are doing it still. It is truly a sad spectacle.

          • You can check this out:


            It’s pretty clear they want the GG at the negotiating table with Harper, and they’re pretty clear his presence is necessary in order discuss native treaty relationships with the Crown. You have to ask yourself: Why does the GG HAVE to be there? Why are they SO adamant on this point? I could be off by suggesting they want to negotiate with the GG instead of the PM (’cause I’ll admit that’s a bit speculative), but I don’t think I’m far off at all by suggesting they want him to have an active role at the table.

            And, sadly, what Atleo does or doesn’t sign onto isn’t that important anymore. From where I sit, the ‘GG or no meeting’ crew has won the day among native leaders.

          • I”ll read your link a little later, but my understanding is the Manitoba chiefs are among the dissident group.

            They have always been adamant on the point of the GG being a part of any negotiation of a high level in the past as far as i know – it isn’t some new demand. But you could be right, it is a power move. We’ll have to see about that one. FNs are pretty badly split right now, but i have to disagree about Atleo. On this point about the GG being relevant to the nation to nation question he has been onside from the beginning. I haven’t seen anyone of any prominence in the FN’s leadership out right disparaging this notion. This is what i find so odd, that we can’t see. That for a group that is divided in so many ways there isn’t much division on what role the GG has to play in FN’s mythology. His office is a symbol of their independence.
            Edit: The link makes it pretty clear that they see some role for the GG in discussing treaty issues, but i don’t necessarily think that has to mean it will draw the GG into a political conflict – although the danger is there if Harper’s views are somehow diametrically opposed to those of FNs. I’m still nt convinced this a power play on their part. It has been a long standing view of how FNs see their place in Canada.

          • Did you miss the interviews with Grand Chief Coon Come from Quebec. He is a very prominent and widely respected chief and an Atleo supporter. He went with Atleo to the meeting with Harper. In fact, someone outside the meeting cried and begged him not to go in because he has such sway within the FN communities and the AFN. He said that there is NO reason to have the GG in the meetings because since Canada patriated the constitution the GG can make NO deals. If he feels this way and is vocal about it, chances are Atleo and many other chiefs who support him and attended the meeting despite threats to oust Atleo if they did so, also feel this way.

            The dissidents as you call them not only wanted the GG there, they wanted lots of chiefs there and the meeting to be held at the Delta Hotel. Some people speculated they planned to have protesters in the lobby. They had no intention of meeting unless all their demands were met.

          • Do you know where you saw the interview. I know who he is and if he said that it should have gotten much more airtime?
            All the chiefs getting some kind of meeting at a larger venue is perfectly ok. It fits with FNs consensual values, nothing sinister about it.

          • Matthew Coon Come has been giving quite a few interviews. If you go to the cbc news online site and google his name you will see all the interviews he gave them including one about Ms. Spence and the GG. He said Ms. Spence was getting bad advice regarding her hunger strike and her belief that the GG needed to be in the meetings.

          • Why the demands to have the talks on their own turf – the Delta Hotel and the demand to fill the room with chiefs so no working meeting is achievable? You are right Atleo is a credible leader but remember there is an element that is trying to oust him because he isn’t rebuffing the PM and demanding that the PM meet him at his hotel.

          • You’re making a whole lot of assumptions about the motives of one side of the FNs divide that you can’t possibly substantiate.

          • I am just looking for a plausible explanation why the PM should attend the Delta Hotel. There are security reasons why it isn’t easy during a protest to set up a meeting in the Delta Hotel. There are also reasons why a working meeting with 60 people isn’t doable. You say I am “making assumptions”. Then come up with some possible plausible reasons why you would let an important meeting hinge on the venue and the numbers, especially given the fact the Atleo was overwhelmingly voted in as head of the AFN and that chiefs from EVERY geographical area in Canada were to represented at the meeting. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

          • Also most of these things I have pointed out have been reported by Atleo’s “side of the divide”. They aren’t exactly “my assumptions”.

          • It is just a matter of respecting the way they like to do things – by consensus. There was no reason that a working group couldn’t be formed up afterward. Respect! is a powerful word in the Aboriginal community.[Edit]Atleo and company didn’t really show enough, hence the big problems with the other chiefs.

          • Honestly she hasnt a leg to stand on, the community finances are a mess and she is driving an escalade, She cant even get people in her community to get off their collective asses to hand out the donations that were given to the community last year, they are still sitting in a shed, heaters blankets, etc…

          • Could we have done with the racism please…..I’ve met quite enough Ugly Canadians this last couple of weeks.

          • Go have a plate of maggot food for yourself.
            There’s no racism in the comment.

          • Oh Emily, I know, I know. When you were at the inauguration a few days ago you must have found yourself buried in “Ugly Canadians.”

            That embassy in Washington is full of them and the more martinis they get into themselves the “UGLIER” they get.

            Did you give Barry a little smoochie face when he drove by in his armoured Escalade?

      • “The GG needs to sit down with the Chiefs and listen to their grievances…..just listen, is all they’re asking.”

        If the GG is like me he is tired of hearing about the ever growing list of grievances.

        Perhaps it is time to give the Indians what they signed up for. I understand treaty no 9 calls for $4 per head per year (not indexed to inflation). Lets honor our part of the bargain to the letter and insist that they honor their part.

        • I suspect the First Nations people would be much happier if Canada honored their part of the treaties.

          • I am up for it at $4 per head per year and they also agreed to keep their “warriors” under control so as not to bother the white man. And lets not forget that they ceded all the land to the crown and thus do not need to be consulted on the use of the land.

          • They have denied ever ceding the land from the beginning. I still hear modern day chiefs saying that the written treaties were a lie. That happens to be their perspective.

          • Some people think that income tax is optional, in that you can opt out, some have even tried it.

            As for the treaties being a lie, I guess they should not have signed on the dotted line and taken the money, ignorance is not a legal defense. A contract is a contract, it can be re negotiated but the negotiation has to be by mutual consent. Perhaps government should start some breach of contract litigation.

          • Most Aboriginal people pay income tax – unless they incur the income on reserve. You may have noticed there isn’t a lt of work on reserve.
            I agree the treaties cannot be unilaterally re written [ ironic you use the word contract when contracts were not considered valid under the indian act – maybe they still aren’t?]
            Perhaps FNs should start some breach of contract litigation.

          • My understanding is that this is a fundamental cultural clash. We believe the written word takes precedent.. because it can be looked at later by all parties and disputes about what it says are quickly laid to rest.

            They, on the other hand, believe that the written word is irrelevant as compared to what was said in the treaty meetings. Because what was written down can be destroyed or changed, but the true history will be remembered by the people involved.

            So both sides came at this whole thing with a fundamental misunderstanding of what was going on.

            Personally, in my mind that means the whole thing should just be counted as null and void.

          • Null and void is ok by me, lets do it the traditional way. Like any other hostile takeover. The Roman invasion of Britain, the Anglo Saxon invasion, the Viking hordes and lastly the Norman conquest. Some where in this mess the Britons have disappeared.

          • I am up for it at $4 per head per year…

            I said treaties. Plural. There are lots and lots of them, just like there are lots and lots of First Nations.

          • Start doing your own research. I was only looking at treaty no 9.

        • Just curious about the “not indexed to inflation” portion….well OK, the rest of the treaty as well, I suppose.
          Got a link that I could peruse? Obviously I could Google something, but then we might not be looking at the same source….

          • Thanks for the link…haven’t read it yet….hopefully over the weekend.

            In the spirit of actually getting to a workable resolution, wouldn’t it be more helpful to index that $4 figure to inflation?

          • I could buy into that and there would probably be a big refund with interest going to government.

            When you are getting more than you are contractually entitled to, don’t rock the boat.

          • [edit]As you say, confusing behaviour…[end edit]

            Given that our obligations truly are limited to that $4 figure, as a strong gesture of our good will I’d even be willing to forgo that repayment.

            I hope that there isn’t actually more to the story.

          • The story is that the entitlement is what the treaty (contract) specifies. Some people need to be reminded of that and probably threatened with it in some cases. And do it as an example to set the stage.

          • Sounds good. I probably won’t bother to check out the link then. Thanks very much for your info and your time.

      • go back to school and learn about Canada, the GG has already on behalf of the queen invited MR Harper to form the government officially, the authority is given,,the chiefs needing to get with the 21st century is what is at the root of this,,then there is the issue with someone using blackmail via a phony “diet” to gain sympathy,, a pathetic attempt to divert attention from her financial fiasco on her own reserve.. stop treating this woman as if she is in any way legitimate,….

        • Sigh.

          My point is your view of the authority of the GG (which happens to perfectly align with my own view) doesn’t jibe with the native view of the position of the GG. My point is that if the GG does sit in on those talks, he’s going to be the guy the natives want to negotiate with, not Harper. I’m not saying they’d be correct in doing that, but I think that’s what they’re aiming for, and it’s a constitutional can of worms.

          And if a degree in Canadian History isn’t enough school, well, I’m going to have to scrape by with the book-learnin’ I already gots.

      • EmilyOne is not that smart. Her thinking does not reach that deep as you may suggest. Really, it doesn`t.

    • And when you phrase it that way, my sympathies for them drains. When violence is used, they cease being protesters and become terrorists. To be dealt with accordingly.

      • I haven’t phrased it in any particular way. Nor have natives used violence….in fact they’ve stressed non-violence.

        I notice you’re quick to threathen it though

        • So “….and nobody dies” was just you being an idiot, or did you intend that phrase and its implied threat?

          Certainly a much stronger implied threat than “to be dealt with accordingly”

          • Sigh….we have 2 people on a hunger strike, Thwim.

            What is wrong with you people?

          • With me? Well, personally it’s that I really don’t give a crap about any sort of “life is sacred” argument. If someone wants to off themselves, more power to them. If they’re threatening to off themselves to get something from someone else, that’s just a form of extortion and I’ve no sympathy for that either.

          • No, if it’s one thing we know from history it’s that no one considers life sacred.

            However, Canadians used to be more laid back than this….lately everything is a lie, or fraud or a plot or conspiracy or a threat ….fercryinoutloud!

          • We`ve been telling you not to look into the mirror too much. Scary stuff going on there……………………………fercryinoutloud!

          • Emily you’re the only one who sees it, THE ONLY ONE, please come forward and give these people housing and food from your personal resources.

            Others will follow you Emily but YOU must start the turn of the tide. We beseech you Emily, please help these people.

        • Look Emily, no one is “threathening” them, let’s make that clear.

          What’s needed here is housing for the FN, and Emily you have housing everywhere: empty ones, full ones, furniture yada yada .

          So look Emily we need you to do your duty and give a couple of your spare houses to Chief Spence. It’s the least you can do for tyhe downtrodden FN who are being ignored by Her Majesty and by her Majesty’s representatives.

          The Crown is dumping on these poor people and you’re the only one who can see the issue and are in a position to help.

          Please do your duty as the only thoughtful Canadian and help these people

  2. If he was able to present himself at last year’s gathering, then it stands to reason that he can present himself (mindful of the interruption to his very very busy schedule) to this meeting.

  3. Why is a demand for a meeting with the Governor General still news? The only news I want to hear now concerning Spence is when she is charged with fraud.

    • What evidence do you have that she committed fraud?

      • Where is the money. I don’t know is not good enough. Try that sort of stunt with the tax man.

        • Have you read the audit? It explicitly says there isn’t evidence of fraud.

          • Where is the money?

          • Check out the band’s debt situation – part of the answer is likely there. It was the incompetence of INAC that got them into debt in the first place.

          • 2 Zambonis 1 ice rink ?

            A stock portfolio and people living in tents.

          • I don’t know all the answers and neither do you, but that doesn’t stop you speculating anyway. The investments are tied up according to the band. Why they would have a zamboni i haven’t a clue.

          • TWO Zambonis and ONE ice rink, clue to incompetence.

            Stocks are liquid assets and can be liquidated and turned into housing, a clue to incompetence.

            Actually it is chief and band counsel abusing the joe ordinary band member, particularly the ones in greatest need.

          • Do you have anything to support this TWO Zambonis for Attawapiskat assertion?

            I can’t find anything at all suggesting there were two Zambonis purchased.

          • So they purchased a Zamboni to replace one that was worn out and unsafe.

            I don’t understand why you keep referring to TWO Zambonis. Have you ever replaced a worn-our car, then told everyone you had two cars?

          • Don’t forget that there were 6 new houses near completion sitting empty for 2 years while those people lived in tents in the freezing cold AND the recreation centre was not even operational when she bought one of the Zamboni’s. Further she couldn’t organize the unpacking of heaters, blankets and warm clothing…

          • Thats kinda like blaming Moneymart isnt it

          • Sure, cuz we all know that Indian and Northen Affairs or whatever it is called now, is like moneymart.

          • You’re the one accusing Spence of criminal activity. Where is your evidence?

            The auditors didn’t find any evidence of fraud. What do you have?

          • No have not, I have only asked “where is the money”. That will be the telling of fraud or incompetence. It is one or the other.

          • “The only news I want to hear now concerning Spence is when she is charged with fraud.”

            Sounds like your mind is made up, even in the absence of evidence.

          • It looks like we have a case of its not often you a right but you are wrong again.

            I DID NOT SAY “The only news I want to hear now concerning Spence is when she is charged with fraud.”

            These were J Story’s words, You are obviously confused, about more than just who said what.

            But if it will give you your jollies I will fess up to it as long as you understand it is an act of kindness on my part..

          • My mistake on the attribution.

            I don’t know what jollies you’re talking about, but you can keep them.

  4. Just say no to that fraud Chief Spence.

  5. Spence does not want to deal with the PM she wants to deal with the GG – Nation to Nation.
    Thus, whether the GG attends as a symbolic figurehead, or not, it will never be enough for Spence. She lives in a dream, 150 years old, when the Queen’s representative came to an agreement through a treaty with the Indians at that time. Fast forward to 2013, it ain’t going to happen and the PM is quite aware of this.

  6. Stop the bs and photo ops and get to work. The mayor with three hundred households could not get the time of day, but an aboriginal woman goes on a diet and the whole Canadian media is at her feet. Grow up.

    diet and gets millions ogdollars in publicity

  7. “it is based on a very problematic understanding of how our democracy works?”

    You pundits have a very problematic understanding of the relationship between the treaty nations and the Crown. The Queen’s and King’s representatives helped negotiate some of the treaties and the Queen’s current representatives need to acknowledge that relationship.

    You should consult some prominent historians such as J.R. Miller, Arthur Ray, Frank Tough, to find out what the treaties were about. Many First Nations people have a deeper understanding of the treaties than you pundits do, for all your assumption that they are all more ignorant than you are. Learn a little humility.




    “…Finally, they took at face value the reassurances of Canadian negotiators that the newcomers had no desire to interfere with their way of life, and that Canada would provide the Queen’s “bounty and benevolence.” Western First Nations saw the agreements they made as continuations of the pacts they had had with the Hudson’s Bay, covenants that did not involve major alterations to their way of life and that brought the newcomers into the First Nations’ kinship system. They were to be bitterly disappointed by these later treaties…”


    • Thanks for putting some actual facts on the thread. Although i suspect most here aren’t in the mood to listen anyway.

    • Waw, Holly IS capable of writing down more than a line at a time. Good progress Holly Stick. Welcome to the world of giving it a try. Does your home front know you are posting over here……and would it be allowed to stray that far with so much to say………….


  9. chief spence is a piece of work.millions missing her reserve,new homes on reserve not being lived in and she is trying to bleed us for more.time to kick her to the curb,the world is better off without leeches like her.the gov,general has no ministers get with the real world .she deserves nothing.good luck if she dies,better off with out her

  10. “Is any compromise worth making when it is based on a very problematic understanding of how our democracy works?”

    While it is entirely clear that the demands for meetings with or the intervention of the Governor General and/or the Queen is indeed a misunderstanding of Canadian democracy and the system/principle of Responsible Government, many commentators whose mission it has been to continually point out that fact (often in an effort to dismiss Indigenous complaints) have missed the point.

    A not-insignificant number of people in the country have come to find that our democracy – such as it works – is unresponsive to their needs and in some cases, downright hostile to them. Making fundamentally normative arguments that are, in essence “this is how the system works and this is how it should work because this is how the system works” ignores that many, such as the Idle No More protesters (among others) see no way to resolve their issues through the Office of the Prime Minister or the largely subjugated and subordinate House of Commons and are seeking alternative avenues to have their needs (as they may be perceived and articulated) met.

    There does not exist a significant body of work discussing the issues surrounding the concentration of power in the PM/O for no reason. When it comes to many outstanding issues, an unresponsive PMO is often pointed out as a major road block and an affront to the democratic will or public good. Yet, when the issue is one offered up by Indigenous peoples in Canada, suddenly the very worrying trend of the last 40 years (NPG) is acceptable, natural, and the way that things should work.

    None of this is an argument for dramatic or ill-considered reform. First Nations’ demands for what would amount to a more empowered Governor General do not need to be met in the way that they have articulated or in the way that the media has reported it. However, their grievance and interests are clearly shining through in the core of that request. There is perhaps something to it.

    • Fantastic post.

  11. http://www.thestar.com/videozone/1315540–theresa-spence-s-well-made-point-salutin

    Salutin makes a point in favour of the GG being there from the pov of the FNs. What i find odd about all this is this insistence on the part of even smart guys like Frank that the chiefs think they will actually get to talk policy with the GG on some kind of equal footing to the PM. They have their own lawyers these days, they really aren’t that obtuse, they get the constitutional ramifications as well as Franks does. Where has the Aboriginal leadership [ read Atleo] actually said they want to discuss policy matters with the GG? It’s the symbolism guys! Really how is that we are so hung up on this issue?

    Another oddity is in how the media refuses to do the hard work involved in asking some probing questions[sarc] As in…so you want the GG to be there. Do you see him actually participating in the discussions? If so surely you realize this is problematic under our present constitutional arrangements? Do you see a way of resolving this? How do you see it working?…i could go on. Personally i’m really disappointed with the shallow role the media as assigned it self in the dispute. It is no wonder so many of us think they actually love the theatre more than they take their role of public informer seriously – at times anyway.

    • “Really how is that we are so hung up on this issue?”

      For the same reason that people are talking about the hunger strike, the audit etc. It’s a deliberate distraction from the issue at hand, perpetrated by the usual mouthpieces.

      Heck, Senator Patrick Brazeau has disgraced himself by accusing Spence of staging the hunger strike to distract from the audit. And with that, spin swallowed itself whole and irony dropped dead.

      • That’s simply stupid[ PB] If she wanted to distract from the issue plonking herself down on an island just across for the parliament, and starting a public hunger/fast strike, is a strange way to go about it. Sooner or later someone is bound to ask some tough questions anyway. Pity no body has really bothered to ask any smart questions.

        • The smart questions were and are being asked. The simplistic replies are not reported on enough though. That is the problem.

    • Regarding your second paragraph, I don’t know if it’s the shallow media or what, but I found the same problem. All of us commenters are full of speculation on those very questions. I did some searching on the interwebs for some answers to those questions, and came up with diddly.

      • You can’t even seem to get a straight answer from the APTN site. There’s way too much speculating without all the relevant facts around FNs issues. A lot of people should just pack it in.

    • Yes, they are THAT obtuse.

      • Well, you’d be a good judge of that i guess.

  12. Has anybody noticed the irony of the fact that we have a Prime Minister who tries to re-introduce the monarchy into everything (citizenship guide, air force and navy, royal tours etc., etc., etc.) but when it comes to one area where the symbolic and the practical actually have some overlap (the treaties were signed with the Crown and the relationship is with the Crown) he completely wants to avoid the slightest hint of involvement of the viceroy.

    • We have a constitutional monarchy so the PM is correct. this can be changed if enough of us want it so.

      Just think of all the crown land that the government owns. Crown = government and government = crown. The GG has a limited and symbolic role only and takes advice from the PM (the PM keeps the GG up to speed). The GGs main job is to meet and greet FOREIGN heads of state and be pleasant even when dealing with an absolute peasant.