Ever since the 1995 Quebec Referendum I’ve been very careful about how I fill out my ballot. I’ve marked my X with extreme precision, staying inside the box and probably paying more attention to that than who or what I was voting for. Luckily, the last presidential election in the States, with all those defective chads and too-close-to-call results, slapped me wide awake. I learned that everyone’s vote can count and everyone’s vote could be in jeopardy. This past Cree election confirmed that lesson.
We Crees seem to have a love/hate relationship with this thing called democracy. Maybe we think it’s too good to be true and it will never work. Maybe we only love it when it works in our favour and hate it when it cheats on us.
Remember how proud you felt when the Cree voted 90 something point something per cent to stay with Canada during the 95 ‘dum? I felt proud too until a Cree lawyer laughed and said I didn’t know a damned thing after I reminded him of it. He seemed to know what went down then and his laugh angered me because I knew he was right. It had been a sham. It wasn’t what it seemed. Even though it was claimed that many Cree voted and officials were helicoptered in to make sure the maximum number of voters had their say.
The same thing happened with our referendum on the “New Relationship” with Quebec. Or as a friend so eloquently coined it, “The Rug Burn Agreement.” Whoever said, “The tree of liberty must be nourished by the blood of patriots from time to time” must have been thinking about brother Henry. Think of it, less than 50 percent actually approve all of our major decisions and when the results come in the people who won say it was a triumph for democracy and the losers say democracy has been triumphed over.
And then there’s the whole thing about margins. People can say the overwhelming margins tell the story or the margins don’t mean a thing and it’s the numbers that count. Tight margins can kill the winner’s victory. Look at Quebec sovereignty. The PQ are only now cautiously broaching the subject and they’re careful to give themselves lots of room and time. And it’s been what, seven years?
I have to say Ted Moses did not walk with his usual swagger the morning the results of his “victory” were announced. There was no immediate press release issued from his office saying the Crees were united in choosing him as leader and therefore confirmed the results of the AIP referendum. No. The results said what the AIP opposition has been saying all along: Slow down and let’s do this right. We need time, we have to understand this, what’s the hurry? How I would have loved to have been on the guest list to that “victory party.” If there was one at all.
There are many unanswered questions about this past election. Why is it that some doofus of a returning officer got locked out of his home while trying to furnish more ballots, just minutes before the voting deadline? Why weren’t 30 Chisasibi voters allowed time off from backbreaking labour to go and vote? Why were 500 beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement who just happen to live in Ontario told they were “outsiders?” and ergo, could take a long walk off a short dock.
I want to know. I reeeaallly want to know.
If the Cree are going to have a committed relationship with democracy we should at least try to do it right, instead of slapping it around once awhile saying, “make me breakfast, b*tch!” I told many people this election was going to be the most interesting one in years. However, I was Will’s campaign manager, so what the hell do I know?