Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
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Addressing many wrongs
Re: Pivot point for Idle No More (Jan. 3). "We're here. We're unclear. Get used to it." This had to have been one of my favourite signs from the Occupy movement. It both acknowledged a truth but also spoke to their detractors. How could a mass movement coalesce around one or two issues when in the midst of a global economic meltdown caused by a wide variety of special interest groups?
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It is my understanding that Idle No More largely began in response to the second of two of the largest omnibus budget bills ever to have been muscled through Parliament. That the movement is trying to address the many wrongs they see in this legislation should be put down to the Harper Conservative government's insistence on cramming as much into it as possible, no doubt in the hopes of completely overwhelming any opposition.
Perhaps this movement is not as well organized as, say, the Conservative Party of Canada's election machine. But if they were to get more organized, become more formal and perhaps even get a registered charity number so they could accept donations to continue their work in a more structured way, they would quickly lose that status under the above legislation for spending more than 10 per cent of their resources on political advocacy.
Now that is a neat little package with a bow on it, isn't it?
I appreciate Bartley Kives' Jan. 3 column article, Pivot point for Idle No More, and also the other articles and letters on this movement.
But, to my mind, it is the usual stupidity when protest is disruptive to the general populace. These ticked off people will not be asking officials to tackle the aboriginal problems, but to do something about the problem aboriginals. Protest should focus on the actual people with the power to solve the problems.
Focus should be on members of Parliament and especially the useless chiefs. Protest where they work and where they live.
Re: New demonstration shuts down part of Portage Avenue (Jan. 4). How do you go about getting permission to shut down Portage Avenue? I've been involved in peaceful protests, and if you stand in the road, the police will give you a ticket for obstructing traffic.
Since the police kept their distance, I have to guess that they had instruction from their political masters to stand down. Who is responsible? The mayor? The premier? I'd like to know so I can vote for someone else next time around.
Re: Fasting chief urged to meet minister (Dec. 29) Health Minister Leona Aglukkag is wrong to urge Chief Theresa Spence to meet with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan. Spence is an elected chief. She is at the same level as the elected chief of Canada, the prime minister.
A councillor or a bureaucrat would be the appropriate person to meet with Duncan, who does not have the authority to speak on behalf of Canada. The Governor General of Canada is the other person who must also be present as he represents the Crown in Canada. The treaties were signed with the Crown.
Each side has responsibilities. The governor-general and the British monarch have an interest in ensuring that the treaties are being upheld. First Nations across Canada are only asking that the treaties be respected and the promises kept.
The prime minister, as well as a number of his ministers, are disrespecting the Constitution of Canada by ignoring treaties. By ignoring Chief Spence's request for a meeting, the prime minister and the Governor General demonstrate their lack of understanding of treaties and the treaty process.
North Bay, Ont.
While I recognize and commend reporters for the coverage of aboriginal news, I believe the amount of attention this subject receives is unbalanced. Perhaps I have missed something but I have yet to see an article about how wrong these tactics are. The hunger strikes are dangerous.
While all Canadians have the right to peaceable protest, why aren't the protests kept off the roadways? At some point someone is going to get hurt.
Another point I would like to draw to your attention is zero printed interviews by people who oppose these actions.
MARGARET G. CHASE
Having broth and tea a few times a day is not a real hunger strike. Just ask Nelson Mandela, for example.
In addition, the Idle No More protest seems more about making us regular working-class citizens sit in our cars and "idle" when we should be working. Instead, we are watching the protesters wander around on sometimes-major infrastructure that taxpayers have paid for.
Both protests appear to be a waste of time and energy. It must be nice to have so much time on your hands as to be able to waste everyone else's time.
Try another playbook
If the NHL players want to attract and increase the support for their cause, I suggest that they go on a hunger strike.
Reflecting wider society
Re: Refugee family member 'too black' (Dec. 29). So the superintendent of the Pembina Trails School Division is convinced George Hambira was not kicked but "nudged" by a student who wanted to see if "he was all right."
I guess the superintendent was there at the time.
Of course, there is no bullying or abuse in the school and the laudable efforts of the teachers and administration have completely cured all students of racism. But in a country where the prime minister, among many others, demonstrates arrogance toward other races and cultures (e.g. his refusal to meet with Chief Theresa Spence), it is reasonable to expect our children will from time to time reflect the society around them.
Obviously, from the reaction of the other families in the school, the community is aware there exist elements that need to be balanced with special attention to Hambira and his family's need to feel accepted.
But one can only wonder at bureaucracies that would rather deny wrongdoing than acknowledge the great progress our society has yet to make.
To my utter disgust, the Free Press, at the expense, no doubt, of its publishing integrity, devoted a full Detour section (Dec. 29) to the printing of absolute astrological rubbish. I am eagerly awaiting next week's sizzling exposé of the mating habits of unicorns.
Reason for the season
How wonderful to see a picture of the Christmas nativity on the front page of your Dec. 24 edition.
After all, the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason for the holiday season.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2013 A11
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