As I sit here listening to Christmas music, Chief of Attawapiskat Theresa Spence and other Chiefs and Elders across Canada are on hunger strikes. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to meet with them, and is not permitting Governor General Johnson to meet either. The reason for this confrontation is Harper Government legislation that violates the treaties with Canada’s First Nations.
Idle No More is a campaign started by four Aboriginal lawyers to show support for Chief Spence and their outrage at the latest moves by the current government. It is still mainly a movement of Aboriginal people but look at a map of the #idlenomore hash tag from Twitter and you will see it has spread around the globe.
Conservative spin says it is sour grapes over transparency for salary and expenses. I got into a Twitter debate with Senator Brazeau on this but it is far more than accountability. Two articles, one in the conservative National Post and another in the British Guardian explain the issues that have lead to this.
This could very well be a defining moment for Canada, for the relationship between Canada and the First Nations Canada has Treaties with. Liberals such as Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Justin Trudeau have come out in support. In fact the only party not coming out in favour of supporting Idle No More is the Conservatives. All Liberals need to be behind this movement.
I attended the rally here in London, blogged twice about it and Tweeted or reTweeted constantly since being made aware of this issue. Many Native and non-Native have ceased being idle on Canada’s shameful record dealing with First Nations. Liberals in the past have made mistakes in Canada/Aboriginal relations but now we must not let this opportunity slip by. We can do some for Canada and is not that why we are Liberals?
As said above this is a global movement now. A video from the Ukraine showing support, rallies planned at Canada House in London England, rallies and protest across the boarder in the United States to name a few actions. The world is beginning to notice. The Harper government has attacked so many, bullied civil servants, defamed officials, demonized opponents and destroyed much of what Canadians have tried to build. Canada’s reputation is on the line. Not to mention Peace, Order and Good Government.
Before you enjoy the festivities of this time of year I would leave you with a quote from a German Theologian:
First they came for the came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me
VP of Policy,
London-Fanshawe Federal Liberal Association