- Lana Payne sounds the alarm about the choice of the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to cry "deficit!" as an excuse to slash social spending when the actual deficit is virtually identical to the amount it's spending on added resource development - and far less than what the province has handed to wealthy residents in tax cuts.
- Chantal Hebert rightly notes that Idle No More and the predictable bigoted backlash only serve as a single example of Canada's need to better address minorities:
Over the past few weeks, there are those who have been dismayed by the toxic tone of the social media as the First Nations issue has heated up. But the twittersphere is only providing a more public outlet for a visceral and polarizing current that systematically surfaces in tandem with any discussion of the place of the country’s national minorities in modern-day Canada.- Meanwhile, Lloyd Axworthy and Wab Kinew write about the need to respond to Idle No More with real change in how Canada addresses First Nations:
It was just easier to diminish the existence of that current back when it was not in plain sight.
Does not anyone remember the quasi-hysterical reaction and the over-the-top language that attended the adoption of a mere House of Commons resolution dealing with Quebec’s national status in 2006 in some otherwise mainstream quarters?
Or what about the vitriolic comments that so routinely make their way below media stories related to Quebec these days that many no longer take notice of them?
There are many admirable features to Canada’s attachment to a civic form of nationalism but the tendency to use it to refuse to come to terms with the distinctive elements that are at the root of the country’s identity is not one of them.
As the Idle No More movement marches its way into our national consciousness, it has become too easy to forget that this country began with co-operation between indigenous and European peoples. The responses have divided many, making supporters of some “average Canadians” and drawing vehement and, occasionally, vitriolic opposition from others.- Finally, Lee Berthiaume reports that the Cons are backtracking on their previous plans to send disaster areas a bill for calling in the Canadian Forces. Which certainly beats the alternative - but nonetheless serves as rather stark evidence as to how they'd like to govern if they could get away with it.
While discussion always strengthens democracy, we ought not to get too caught up in the bickering to ignore the broader opportunity that Idle No More offers us: the chance to engage in nation-building, to make the country we love stronger. Canada’s future is strongly tied to the well-being of its indigenous peoples.
Some Canadians may fear that they’ll be worse off or face a higher tax burden if indigenous people do better. But the nation’s well-being is not a zero-sum game. Right now, there are thousands of young indigenous people who face much longer odds on the road to success than the average child. If we help them better fulfill their potential, they’ll eventually contribute more to our society. As the first peoples do better, we’ll all do better.
There’s a strong moral argument in favour of doing right by this country’s first peoples as well. Idle No More has garnered international attention, in the form of solidarity protests and also from some serious media outlets. Do Canadians really want to stand in front of the world opposed to equal and equitable opportunities for first nations, Inuit and Métis children? Do we really want to say we’re a country that dishonours its treaty commitments? We think not.