Getting to Friday - Macleans.ca

Getting to Friday

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Global News journalists were told to leave Attawapiskat yesterday, apparently at the behest of Chief Theresa Spence, which brings about the following two paragraphs in this Globe story.

It was the audit that led to the media ban, said Ms. Kataquapit. “We are just going to wait for the results of Chief Spence’s meeting with the Prime Minister and government officials on Friday,” before deciding if media will be allowed back into Attawapiskat, she said.

It could be a long wait. Mr. Johnston’s office said Tuesday that he will not be at the meeting and Ms. Spence’s spokesman said that means she may also decide not to show up.

Rideau Hall announced yesterday that the Governor General won’t be attending Friday’s meeting. And Chief Spence’s spokesman says she won’t be there if Mr. Johnston isn’t.

Spence’s spokesman Danny Metatawabin said the chief, who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11 consuming only fish broth, medicine tea and water, wouldn’t attend the meeting if Johnston didn’t show. “If he is not going to be there Theresa is not going to the meeting,” said Metatawabin. “We are going to take it day by day.”

Metatawabin said they’ve relayed their position to Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. “We are going to have to take it day by day at this point to see if somehow he could be there,” he said.

Rideau Hall’s explanation is that Mr. Johnston won’t attend Friday’s meeting “because it consists of a working meeting with government on public policy issues.” Ultimately, his attendance depends on what the role of the governor general is supposed to be and what he is supposed to be involved. Here is how Philippe Lagasse explained matters last night.

As is often the case, the debate over the GG attending the meeting is coming down to how we define/understand the Crown.

If your looking at the Crown as the concept of the state and you want to emphasize equal sovereignties, you’ll go for GG attending.

If your defining the Crown as the executive here and want to stress that we’re all part of a united Canada, then you want GG away from it.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I don’t see how the Crown could be there as the state, so it must be there as the executive power, so no GG.

A statement from AFN Chief Shawn Atleo on Monday described Friday’s meeting as follows.

The January 11 meeting between First Nation leaders and the Prime Minister is not a gathering or summit, rather a focused working meeting that must lead to a tangible plan for change. We all know that the hard work of First Nations does not start or end with one meeting, and that one meeting will not produce immediate results; however First Nation leaders will seek clear and concrete commitments to advancing existing priorities and ongoing work.  This includes the implementation of Treaties on a Treaty by Treaty basis, respect for the nation-to-nation relationship, First Nations inherent rights, title and the responsibilities of First Nations to the lands and resources.  Grounded firmly in our rights, we must achieve fair, sustainable financial relations and First Nation driven solutions on key priorities including ensuring safety, security and opportunity for all First Nation citizens.

Update 10:03am. The CBC talks to Chief Spence’s spokesman this morning and reports that she will attend. But CTV’s Robert Fife now tweets that Chief Spence wants the AFN to cancel the meeting if the Governor General and Ontario Premier Dalton  McGuinty don’t attend.

Update 10:48am. Global is told Chief Spence won’t attend if the Governor General isn’t there.