Stephen Harper & Thomas Mulcair Duck Attawapiskat Chief Spence – It’s All About Money – by Jamie Gilcig

800px-BandofficeAttawapiskatCFN – I remember my first year with CFN.   I asked all the leaders of Federal parties for an interview.   Elizabeth May kindly granted me some time.  The late Jack Layton called me at home personally for an awesome interview.   Michael Ignatieff’s people couldn’t be bothered to return two requests, but Stephen Harper’s media guy, speaking for our Prime Minister at the time called me back promptly and told me to go **** myself 🙂

Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but not by much.


Look, I’d be happy with ten, no five minutes.

Mr. McDougall

I don’t give the Globe and Mail 5 minutes.  Why the **** should I give you five minutes?

I laughed.  I couldn’t argue with that. Heck I couldn’t say much.  They did call back promptly and were quite clear.     Could our PM have looked awesome giving me five minutes of his life, sure, but it was his choice.   Fair Dinkum.

Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat is now hunkered down in Ottawa with over 20 days of hunger strike behind her.  Her story and tale have become the hottest story in the media right across Canada as protests and actions are taking place as well.

Chief Spence seems to be attempting to bring attention to conditions on her reserve and respecting of treaty rights.

Living on the border here in Cornwall with the community of Akwsasne and being one of the only media people allowed in the tent during the bridge crisis was highly educational in many ways.

Lord knows Native & Aboriginal issues are complicated with no simple solutions available.   While covering the bridge crisis here there were at least three groups with strong voices in that community.  Mix in hundreds of voices across this great country of Canada and it can get even more confusing especially when arguing over which treaty trumps which treaty?

There are land claims right across Canada.   The land that I’m typing from is under land claim.    Yet none of these ever get settled if what I was told is correct land claims can only result in cash payments.   They never result in returned land.

So this all comes down to money; as usual, and of course no surprise.


Now anyone that’s read CFN over the four years of our existence knows that I’m not a huge fan of our PM, but in this case, as weird as it feels, I have to agree with Mr. Harper and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Mulcair in that they are not obligated to visit the Chief.  It’s not even proper.  While it’s a gut wrench emotional reaction to a hunger strike that I even I feel empathy towards these are the leaders of our great Country.

Mr. Harper has offered his Native Affairs minister, and while the Chief may be miffed I’m sure the results of meeting the Minister would be the same as meeting the PM.

The fact that Mr. Mulcair has chosen to this point to not visit Chief Spence surely shows volumes about the role of a PM.

456px-William_Shatner_Star_TrekAfter all this isn’t Star Trek where Captain Kirk would greet every alien personally; especially if she was a hot alien.

Chief Spence isn’t Stephen Harper’s kind of hot alien.   He’s going to duck and stay warm.  He’s going to drink a beer or two and probably get ready to watch NHL hockey again which probably will blow away Chief Spence’s story when they announce the end to the lock out Friday.

The world keeps on spinning.   Stories come; stories go.  Injustice is always there.

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  1. But Chief Spence is not an alien, her people were here before us.
    They joined us in the ware of 1812 and when they were not needed cast aside. Sad!

  2. Chief Spence is exploiting her extortion option (hunger strike) to coerced Mr. Harper to behave according to her desires. Her community is coercing the public by victimizing the public’s mobility options. They (first nations) lost their lands and way of life. They are fighting our system while their system fails to benefit them. Both systems are collapsing. So be it.

  3. Spence claims to be on a hunger strike but is consuming broth several times a day, plus several cups of tea and water. Not exactly a hunger strike, more of a diet!

    It was revealed she demands the meeting with Harper be a minimum one week meeting. That in my opinion is ridiculous if not delusional. She has already refused meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan which could have been a stepping stone to meeting with Harper or at very least creating a exit from what is becoming brinkmanship in which both sides refuse to blink.

    Harper should not give in to such antics as it sets a slippery precedent. Hopefully a door opens that accomplishes something constructive and allows both sides to save face.

    Unless Spence is prepared to undertake a real hunger strike other events shall overtake her cause. Time, human nature and circumstance has a way of acclimatizing.

    As Jamie conveys…. The world keeps on spinning. Stories come; stories go. Injustice is always there.

  4. Go big or stay home, Garfield. Should she ask only a minute of Harpers time?

    And leaders speak to leaders when they want something. Those who waste their time with minions who have no power, well another 200 years of oppression?

    Yes, definitely, Ms Spence should take the advice of citizens who have no clue. That is the best way to serve her people……pshaw!

  5. Go big or go home… if that’s the only two options(which it is not) she should mount a real and sincere hunger strike or indeed go home.

    As Chief in her dilapidated community she, unlike other residents, is with perks and decent home. In receiving $90 million from federal gov’t over five years, in addition to payments from provincial gov’t, mining companies and casino monies there requires to be accountability for her people who are living in squalor and substandard housing. Instead Spence staunchly refuses to be acceptive of accountability. I doubt she would be willing to give one of her own people a week of her time, yet she demands such of Harper. In my opinion she is obstinate and hypocritical. In sticking only to extremes there is no option for compromise.

    In that Harper is stubborn, pragmatic, a micro-manager, skilled strategist, tactician, not in habit of catering to political correctness and very much at home with hardball tactics, he shall not be easily pushed. Unless Spence gets serious with her hunger strike Harper will not be coerced to meeting with her and definitely not for a week or more as she demands. What national leader would!!! She has had opportunity via Aboriginal Minister Duncan and that door remains open regardless if she refuses to access it. To stomp her feet, to commence a diet, does not entitle her to circumvent protocol.

    Her diet in guise of a hunger strike is designed for media attention and as galvanizing rally cry. She has enjoyed success, caught much media attention thus far and kudos to her. I suspect she has piqued and unless she gets serious with her current diet, unless her health falters and forces Harper’s hand… then time becomes to be on Harper’s side.

  6. “Stories come; stories go. Injustice is always there.”

    Ah yes, Jamie, but is Chief Spence’s story just passing media buzz, or a sign of something much bigger?

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” (Martin Luther King jr.) In similar vein from an earlier age, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

    Timeless words of wisdom that Chief Spence is acting on?

    More to the point, there is a price for doing nothing. Think Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria. Think Delhi, India. Think the Occupy Movement. Think the student revolt in Quebec, which effectively toppled the Charest government. And now “Idle No More”— a seven-day wonder or the beginning of something Big?

    Eric’s point about accountability is well taken. But does it go far enough? I don’t think so. Today, people everywhere are taking the measure of corporate and political accountability (the two go hand in hand) on a global scale, and they are not pleased.

    A must-read for our world and times: The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (W.W.Norton, 2012), by Joseph Stiglitz, nobel laureate in economics. While Stiglitz’s focus is the United States and the widening gap there between the 1% and the 99%, his analysis has universal application.

    “Injustice is always there” — yes, but it can be and needs to be addressed.

  7. Make that Nobel laureate.

  8. Omg Garfield, are you saying Ms. Spence has recieved personally “$90 million from federal gov’t over five years, in addition to payments from provincial gov’t, mining companies and casino monies”? Because if you are, I call BS.

    Or are you saying the reserve recieved the monies which was divied up just as they are required to do by order of the government? Because you know there are rules about how their money is spent, and where they can use it?

    Are you saying she is an irresponsible care taker of her people? Prove it with more than just your own personal doubts.

    I wonder also Garfield, how long you could subsist on a diet of broth and tea, living in a teepee in this weather? Who are you to dictate how others protest and whether or not it is legitamate? King of the indians?

    Give up and meet with Minister Duncan? The same minister who made several false statements laying blame anywhere but on his boss? Oh yes, let us waste our time with him again. He was so helpful last time!

    Must be hard to live up to the Garfield expectaions, where failure is the only option and the bully always wins.

  9. Xerxes: There will be no glory in your sacrifice. I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories! Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned. Every Greek historian, and every scribe shall have their eyes pulled out, and their tongues cut from their mouths. Why, uttering the very name of Sparta, or Leonidas, will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!
    King Leonidas: The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed.

  10. Author

    Wild quotes! Thanks Weeder and welcome to CFN!

  11. The British (Margaret Thatcher) allowed Bobby Sands to starve himself to death instead of meeting with him. Ten or twelve others also died of starvation. How many remember this? The govt. knows that people will forget, so the PM will not meet Chief Spence.

    Google Bobby Sands.

  12. Bella I suspect you are with intellect and capability to very well realize I’m not conveying Spence personally received over $100 million dollars in a five year period. Thus your placing words in my mouth aside, I obviously do not require to highlight for you Spence’s position as Chief created so she is with direct awareness and active input as to how and where community monies are spent.

    There are a number of interesting and questionable financial tidbits. Attawapiskat is with 1500 people living in 300 homes… a small population with 3 chiefs and 18 councillors on the payroll — 21 full-time politicians! In the middle of their housing crisis where they demand more money, Chief Spence and the band has a $9 million stock portfolio. Another tidbit that caught caught media attention was the town school which smelled of diesel fumes because of where it was built. They tore it down but instead of rebuilding the school they decided to build a hockey arena, then bought a $70,000 Zamboni and paid $80,000 more to have it shipped. When the crisis exploded, Harper sent in a financial grownup to see where all the money was going. The local chief, who happened to be dating the financial officer, sued to kick out the manager.

    In addition to federal and provincial monies which are substantial, De Beers is investing $1-billion in the Victor mine and agreed to pay the band $30-million over the 12-year life span of the mine. A further $325-million in contracts has been funnelled through companies owned by the band, to supply catering, helicopters, dynamite, etc. How is it Attawapiskat Resources Inc. has only made profits of $100,000 on that level of revenue. Seemingly such speculations are common regarding finances of this community. Accountability apparently is not a familiar word in Attawapiskat nor to Spence.

    I did not convey her protest was not legitimate. In that she has galvanized supporters, achieved media coverage and increased awareness, not only is her protest legitimate but also with partial success. Kudos to her for that success. What I in fact stated is her protest is more a hard-core diet in that she partakes of broth, tea and water multiple times a day. Unless she partakes of a more serious hunger strike and one that actually affects her health negatively, she likely shall not succeed in her effort to coerce Harper to have a minimum one week meeting with her. Harper is more pragmatic and logical than emotional; thus not prone to knee jerk reactions, political correctness or following the crowd.

    Apart from Spence’s attempt in essence blackmailing the Prime Minister with her threat(thus far empty threat) of suicide, it’s evident she’s unreasonable. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has expressed a willingness to meet with her, but she has rebuffed him. A personal meeting with the senior member of cabinet tasked with managing the Crown’s relationship with First Nations would have been a good and a logical starting point. To have followed that option and in event it failed she would be on more solid footing.

    I think in achieving what she has, she shall achieve little more with her obstinance. Time to pack up her winter tent!

  13. Garfield……well said and true. After reading an article in a daily, it certainly changed the perspective of things. The poor certainly did not benefit from the gov funds. Shame on them!!

  14. oh please! quote Ezra Levant at me. There’s a hater if ever met one. thanks Garfield, now I get you.

  15. @Garfield, Despite affirmation from Stella that what you say is “true”, you both could benefit from a little self research instead of repeating sudo-facts spewed by Ezra Lavant or”some daily”. Here let me get you started on the road of knowledge , all of which you both could have easily found for yourselves, had you truly wanted too.  
    First off Attawapiskat reserve’s financial statements are all published on line for all to see. Had you bothered you would know that the “stock portfolio” you refer to is a managed trust approved by the federal government. The trust is not managed by the reserve, is only allowed to transfer about 400,000 annually to the reserve. As for what the money was spent on go ahead look it up as I said their finances are published on line for all to see and analyze, well not all, only those willing to shed their shroud of ignorance, but most won’on’t,  despite its ease of accessibility.

    Secondly the Zambonie, the money raised for that was raised by the community through many fund raising activities, none of the Zamboni money came from the band’s budget.

    Thirdly the third party over sight stopped welfare payments to band members….So all that was accomplished was to put a heavy burden on the most vulnerable members of this community. The supreme court of Canada finally put an end to this pretty punitive action imposed by the Fed government…..that’s right the supreme court of Canada.

    If Harper wanted to know where the money was spent he didn’t have to invoke a third party all he had to do was to check the online published financials or call the federally approved accounting firm that does the books.

      So instead of just being a sheeople, repeating the vitriol of the likes of Ezra Lavant and company, why not take a moment to remove the blindfold of ignorance and do your own research as it is only a click away.  

  16. @ Garfield – January 3, 2013


    Interesting coinage. A condition of obstinate abstinence?

    Fits Chief Spence in part: her continued abstinence (aka hunger strike).

    Fits Harper to a T: obstinate to a fault, and, when the heat gets too much for him, abstains by proroguing.

  17. @ PJ. That Harper fella is a cunning fox (slippery snake) who goes to sleep every night with a big sh!t-eating grin on his gob. I bet he never dreamed that he would wield such power. I am really glad that he stopped saying “God Bless Canada” and stuff like that. And, hey, we could have had Stockwell Day as PM instead of Steve. That would have been seriously scary.

  18. Ah yes, Ed, but First Nations Peoples have been here forever and know all about forked tongues. So maybe, just maybe they have Harper’s number. We can only hope.

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