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Getting down to business

Re: Spence emerges to meet with GG (Jan. 12). Chief Theresa Spence now has the ear of the prime minister and top government officials, so it is time to stop her hunger strike and get down to the business of dealing with the issues.

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These are important issues to the aboriginal people, but at this point the attention has become focused on her starvation.

Spence noticeably looked frail and tired and had trouble walking. She is not going to have energy left to fight the true battle. Even several chiefs were publicly urging her to end her protest, as she is putting her health in danger.

Spence may have helped bring the issues to the forefront of the media and that is a good thing. Now she has overdone it. She has made the major issue her own health and this is deflecting attention from the difficult issues that need to be resolved.




I support the principle behind the Idle No More movement, but I hope that everyone soon realizes that we must make both aboriginal and government leadership accountable.

It's as simple as following the money. The prime minister, his minister and government agencies control the legislation, policy, budgets and funding allocations. The Governor General does not. If you want to make a change, you have to work with those with the real power.

I applaud the chiefs who recognized this and met with the PM and staff. Those who go on restricted diets, refuse to meet with the power brokers, make unrealistic demands and threats, or just have a general beef with everything, are obfuscating and hiding behind their constituents' emotions.

There is a short window for the INM movement to capture the emotional and political support of the voters and taxpayers of Canada, and enlist them in supporting the changes needed. Solid aboriginal leadership can demonstrate the frustration that everyone has with the situation can enable a mutual path forward to the benefit of all stakeholders.




The Idle No More debate has been unproductive, partly because it has been so poorly defined. To clarify the assertion that treaty rights have been infringed, it would be helpful to see the terms of one or more of the relevant treaties in print.

They are not overly long. Spell out what was agreed and let us compare that with what has been provided. We are told that we are all treaty people.

Let's start by finding out what that means.




Not only have aboriginal people been unjustly treated for centuries by the Canadian government but also the leaders of their own tribes. It's good to see that the people are standing up for what was promised to them, and it doesn't matter that people believe what they have received is foolish because legal documents were signed. They have full rights to what they were promised and the Canadian government shouldn't be allowed to change these treaties.

Currently, the reserves in Canada have little government to fight for their rights, so a quiet revolution is in the making. If the aboriginals are not treated justly in the near future, this quiet revolution could become violent, and that is unnecessary.




I hope that the Idle No More protesters understand that blockading roads, rails and businesses only reduces the productivity of those people who pay the taxes that pay for the entitlements to those protesters who blockade the roads, rails and businesses.




Hopefully, the Idle No More movement will help the aboriginal people get more rights throughout Canada. This movement is really just trying to get the government to follow through on their promises to the aboriginals.

They want them to act upon the treaties and give them the rights to the land that was originally theirs. This needed to happen, because we live in one of the richest countries in the world and the aboriginal people around us are living in Third World conditions. They deserve the same rights as everyone else.




Considerable criticism has been directed at Chief Theresa Spence for her supposed annual salary of $250,000 for running the reserve of 1,500 people at Attawapiskat. Well, I challenge any of Deloitte's consultants to go there for even one year, for her salary, and resolve the problems of mass unemployment, inadequate housing, lack of proper water and sewer, poor heating, lousy roads and high food and gasoline costs.

Add to that the social ills of inadequate child schooling and entertainment, band members' alcoholism, drug addiction, crime and disputes over resource allocation. Anyone wish to bet that there are no takers?



A serious mistake

With regard to the Jan. 12 article Lower speeds on residential streets rejected, I have only one word: seriously?

As a parent of a child who is on a school safety patrol, I can attest to the fact that there are many motorists on the road who don't even know how to come to a complete stop, never mind follow the speed limit.

It is a fact and let's just get past it. Lower the speed limit and try to increase safety in our school zones and neighbourhoods. If the city council committee feels the need to conduct more "studies," they shouldn't. It's simply not necessary.




Snow-clearing time is a good time for drivers to imagine streets from a pedestrian or cyclist perspective. Pretend that you are the only driver in a compact car and everyone else is driving a large snow-clearing front-end loader. These seven-ton machines drive four times faster than you.

Most of the drivers are polite and skilful but some follow you so closely that if you make an emergency stop they will probably drive right over you. Others convey their annoyance with your insignificance by driving literally one foot away from your mirror. Other massive machines race up behind you, whip around your little car and cut back in front of you to save a second or two before they turn onto a side street. You can understand that lower speed limits would be a good idea.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2013 A10

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