Shawn Atleo: No one should mistake Chief Theresa Spence's resolve

Politics on TV: Talking about #IdleNoMore, Justin Trudeau and Jacques Duchesneau

Message of the day

“The relationship between the First Nations and the government is now toxic.”

Hot Topics

  1. First Nations #IdleNoMore protests
  2. Supreme Court decision on niqabs
  3. Pat Martin’s Twitter tirade

Questions not answered

  • Will Stephen Harper continue to insist that the First Nations should meet instead with Minister Duncan?

First Nations Protests

Power & Politics had an interview with Grand Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations regarding the mounting protests and Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. Atleo said that no one should mistake Spence’s resolve, and that the #IdleNoMore protests are about the accumulation of unilateral action on the part of government along with the continuing human rights crisis among First Nations communities. Atleo said that Spence will end the hunger strike if there is an agreement to a meeting with the Prime Minister and Crown with regards to treaty rights and title rights. Atleo admits that there is criticism of his job implicit in the protests, which he accepts, but notes that the relationship with the government is now toxic and they need to get back to a more respectful place.

P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts, where Tom Flanagan said that it reminds him of the Occupy movement, including the diffuse demands, while Amanda Alvaro said it’s a powerful message and movement that is more than just the youth taking action. Gerry Caplan said that Harper must not stand on principle and meet with Chief Spence before she dies, and Marie Vastel said she can’t see how it will go forward in the short term since PMO seems to say that meeting with Minister Duncan should be good enough.

Supreme Court Decision

Power Play got a briefing from CTV’s Richard Madden about the split decision at the Supreme Court that allows Muslim women to wear the niqab in court under certain cases, while not in others, under an attempt to balance religious freedoms versus the right to face one’s accuser in court.

Power & Politics also had a briefing from CBC’s Ron Charles, who said that Muslim groups are largely pleased with the decision and the respect for religion therein.

Pat Martin on Twitter

P&P’s Power Panel took on the issue of Pat Martin’s latest Twitter tirade, where Flanagan said that he doesn’t understand the Pat Martin that they see in the media as he knows he’s much more civil in person. Vastel said that Martin is a bit too impulsive to use Twitter, and needs a better self-censor. Caplan said that the outburst reflects the extreme hostility that exists in the Commons that has reached new levels. Alvaro said that it’s a poor reflection of the people who youth are supposed to look up to.


Power Play chose Justin Trudeau as the fourth of their “Power Players” of the year. Trudeau said that he needed to be in a place where he was comfortable to be able to say “no” before he was ready to run for the leadership, and that being a good father to his kids was more than just being at home for them, but rather was about leaving a better world. Trudeau said that part of his authenticity means that he sometimes makes mistakes when he speaks and apologizes for it, but that was better than simply being plastic and spinning constantly. Trudeau also vowed to keep engaging with Alberta as he does with every other part of the country.

Power & Politics chose Corruption in Quebec as one of their “Game Changers,” and spoke with Quebec MNA Jacques Duchesneau. Duchesneau said that his awareness of corruption goes back to his run for mayor of Montreal in 1998, and noted that he was asked by the Liberals to head the anti-collusion unit in 2010. Duchesneau said that the testimony that shocked him the most was as to how widespread it was – not just in the Transport department, and that it’s not just Montreal but province-wide. Duchesneau rejected the now infamous Maclean’s cover that Quebec was Canada’s most corrupt province, and said that similar corruption is likely happening in other provinces.

P&P’s Power Panel then gave their thoughts on the year in Quebec, where Vastel said that the Charbonneau Commission was probably the biggest issue in Quebec, and that it will continue to dominate in 2013. Flanagan said that it’s laudable that Quebec is trying to clean up their system – which he says Alberta needs to do – but noted that the lack of coherent demands from the PQ that will likely blunt a separatist movement. Alvaro said that despite Charest’s attempt to make the narrative about the economy didn’t work as well as he’d hoped because issues of ethics kept dogging him. Caplan said that the student protests were likely a sign of a larger disaffection, though he’s not sure what it is.

Don Martin got a year-in-review from the Senate, speaking with Government Leader in the Senate Marjorie LeBreton, and Liberal Senate leader James Cowan. Senator Cowan noted that the bill on Senate reform is stalled in the Commons, and shows no sign of movement, which is why the Senate itself hasn’t addressed it, and while the Liberals are in support of some of the measures, it would require a constitutional amendment, which is unlikely to happen. Senator LeBreton said that she believes the legislation will eventually pass – entirely ignoring the constitutional issues. Regarding the questions on residency expenses, Senator LeBreton noted that the matter has been turned over to a sub-committee headed by a former provincial auditor general.

Worth Noting:

  • CAW president Ken Lewenza said that the closure of the Camero plant likely doesn’t have anything to do with “right-to-work” legislation in Michigan, but is about the consolidation of rear-wheel-drive units into the same plant, though he will fight the loss of jobs.
  • Mount Royal University’s Keith Brownsey said that the Wildrose is being a much more vocal opposition in Alberta than the government there is used to, but there really are no scandals and just a lot of mud slinging.
  • Jonathan Fowlie of the Vancouver Sun said that there is a strong appetite for change in BC, but noted that not that long ago, they thought the BC Conservatives might be a credible force, but they have since been sidelined entirely.
  • Jeffrey Simpson said that austerity will likely rule 2013 because of sluggish economic growth. Craig Oliver said that Flaherty has talked about there being “blood on the floor” in order to ensure that the deficit is eliminated by the next election.
  • Conservative MP Michelle Rempel – a trained sommelier – gives her picks for Canadian wines, along with MPs Scott Brison, Rick Dykstra and Dan Albas, who each represent wine-growing regions.

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