Saturday, January 12, 2013

What did the National Chief meeting accomplish?

It was historic in and of itself to see the government cave to the demands of a disgraced aboriginal Chief on a diet along with the demands of unrepresentative, unelected, violent, criminal protesters.  But nevertheless, the meeting, which was attended by high-ranking government officials from the Privy Council, Treasury Board, Aboriginal Affairs as well as aboriginal officials including Shawn Atleo and several Regional and Grand Chiefs, did accomplish something.

Just a few of the accomplishments:
  • An agreement to "revisit" treaties
  • An agreement to speed up land claims
  • A special briefing with the cabinet on aboriginal affairs and issues
  • A commitment to use the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office to directly oversee treaty implementation and comprehensive land claims
And yet, the aboriginals' goal posts continue to shift to the extent their ever-changing demands can never be met:

Idle No More/Theresa Spence's demands
  1. We demand a meeting with the Prime Minister.  The government agreed.
  2. We demand a meting with the Queen.  The government offered the Governor General.
  3. We demand a meeting with the Prime Minister and Governor General in the same room.
  4. We demand you repeal the 2012 Budget (C-45).
  5. We demand more money to solve the "under-funding" crisis on reserves.
  6. We demand a larger percentage of government money from resource development.
  7. We demand a larger role in deciding whether resource development can take place.
The National Assembly of First Nations, however, has released their own official list of demands on what they want, including:
  1. Enforcement of treaties on a nation-to-nation basis.
  2. Resolution of land claims
  3. Repealing items pertaining to aboriginal affairs in C-38 and C-45 (the 2012-2013 Budget Bills)
  4. Resource development equity and revenue sharing
  5. Removal of all caps on First Nation programs and services
  6. National public inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women
  7. A First Nations school on every reserve
  8. "Direct political oversight" in the implementation of these goals, including a dedicated cabinet committee under the Privy Council Office with the specific responsibility to implement measures between First Nations and the Canadian government.
It's no wonder, then, that even many aboriginals are becoming frustrated with their fragmented and shifting demands.  Idle No More has no place at the table with the Prime Minister, and their defacto leader, Theresa Spence, has ridiculously vowed to continue her diet, even after she had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister.  The official groups are not accomplishing what the unrepresentative radicals want, so what is the immediate response from aboriginals?
  • Blocking of major roads, highways, and railways
  • "Shutting down" the economy - "bringing it to its knees" if necessary
  • A vote of non-confidence against National Chief Shawn Atleo
  • Tell international investors their investments in resource development are not safe
It's no small feat to have the PMO and PCO agree to directly oversee your cause, especially when, you know, an entire government department already exists to handle that cause.  Yet, that doesn't seem to be enough for many people.

What is the way forward to quell the criminal activity while also properly resolving any issues?