Just when you thought an election was around the corner, politics can show you that life isn’t as predictable as you might have hoped. I know if you were the Liberals a while ago you weren’t hoping for a trip to the polls as much as Stephen Harper, et al.
With the polls saying that Harper is our most popular choice for Prime Minister, he is showing surprising charisma. Harper appears to have overcome his image of a wooden, emotionally stunted, politician.Instead he looks like someone we could listen to. We might not have agreed with all his policies but he made sense and seemed to be in control of his government. His place in history is guaranteed as his reign marks the time when the Canadian Loonie is outshining the almighty US dollar.But that shine could get tarnished as the water starts to freeze on the election arena. The players are starting to suit up while the referees wonder when the game will really start.
We can already see the opening shots. Media printed, talked and televised allegations of election fraud where monies traveled through channels unacceptable to current rules. No answers on the validity of such statements as of yet but no doubt we shall hear from those politicians again when the time is appropriate to their electoral hopes.One only has to mention Brian Mulroney to wonder how much Harper is following the polls. While the rest of Canada contemplates the deficits of the past and the possible sins of the present Aboriginal Canada struggles on.
Aboriginals may actually get angry enough to vote this time around. Who can forget Canada being one of the four who voted against the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Under the Liberals, Canada had convinced many Indigenous groups to support this Declaration and now many feel betrayed.
This historic vote did not get much coverage in Canada. One wished there was another reporter like Boyce Richardson out there to really cover the issue. As a person of Aboriginal descent I take issue with Canada’s vote. Would it have been too much to acknowledge the rights we have had and still have? We should, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, work on solutions together, and quickly.
Then there was Harper’s visit to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. This is a group that claims to represent off-reserve Aboriginals, except that no one votes for the group’s leadership, says the Assembly of First Nations. A bit like a pot calling the kettle black, as only band chiefs can vote for the AFN National Chief.Therein lays the crux of the problem. While I would wish the National Chief was an elected position voted upon by all of Canada’s Aboriginal citizens, at least the chiefs are elected and represent their people. This is not true of CAP and having no way to legitimize your organization as representing an Indigenous population beyond saying, “I said so,” is not the representation I would ever want or accept.I am fully capable of speaking for myself or assigning someone to speak upon my behalf. I will not give that right up without a fight, nor should any Canadian.For all the allegations tossed at the feet of Prime Minister Harper and his party I am willing to listen and hear the arguments placed in defense of the stance taken.
To have my voice co-opted without my permission is not acceptable. I am not willing to accept this as a legitimate consultation of Aboriginal peoples. What is next, the naming of unknown random people to sign binding treaties for the difficult tribes?It was a mistake on Harper’s part and one he should admit. Just say the waters of the Indigenous world are at times deep. No loss of face.There are a lot of places where Aboriginal populations are a swing vote. It could be an important move in the never-ending and ever-changing story of Canadian politics.