The #IdleNoMore debate - Macleans.ca

The #IdleNoMore debate

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The Agenda convenes a panel.

Adam Goldenberg looks forward.

But none of it will come to pass if Idle No More loses its coherence, or if it becomes an unwieldy dog’s breakfast of protest and pageantry that alienates the very Canadians who should be its audience. The movement’s first task should be to resist the easy analogies of ordinary politics — of “stakeholder relations” — by making its case not to the Conservatives, but to the people who put them in office.

We will know when it succeeds. When no Canadian is able to shrug off as unreasonable a demand from an aboriginal leader to meet with the government officials who advise and represent the Crown — namely, the prime minister and the Governor General — and not with some lesser minister in their stead; when First Nations no longer need to hire professional lobbyists in Ottawa to make their case to the government of Canada; and when the federal government recognizes, once and for all, that aboriginal peoples are partners in Confederation, not just stakeholders in politics, then Idle No More will have made an important and lasting contribution to the way we understand and govern our country.

Bob Rae considers the concerns.

It is a universal in life that people want recognition and respect. The deeper meaning of last year’s summit, and the Prime Minister’s eloquent apology in the House of Commons, is that there is a hunger for this respect, and appreciation when it is offered and followed with effective action. The Prime Minister faces a deep challenge. Many in his party are opposed to the recognition and constitutional protection that Aboriginal people have achieved, and to its implications. At the same time, the old bromides of assimilation and “let’s concentrate on education and the economy” completely ignore the aspirations for self-government, autonomy, and a real transfer of power and resources that have the deepest roots in today’s aboriginal politics. Mr. Harper’s apology in the House of Commons, and the summit he called last year, have simply not been followed by effective action.

More from Alex Himelfarb, Heather Menzies, Michael Den Tandt and Andrew Coyne.