January 11, 2013

Harper meets chiefs

After Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he would meet with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, the story took several twists and turns:

Theresa Spence pulls out of meeting with Harper

Hunger-striking Attawapiskat chief says Gov. Gen. David Johnston should be at meeting Friday

Attawapiskat Chief Spence has drawn up will, prepared for death: aides

Theresa Spence Refuses to Meet Without Governor General, Draws Up Will

Harper’s meeting with chiefs on verge of collapse

Kelly McParland: Theresa Spence’s carefully woven cause starts to unravelIf she’d set out to deliberately provide ordinary Canadians with a glimpse of why successive governments have found it so difficult to deal with the very real problems facing Canada’s aboriginals, she couldn’t have done a better job. There is no reason on earth for the Governor General to attend a meeting at which public policy is to be discussed. Mr. Johnston is the Queen’s representative in Canada, but as any student armed with the most rudimentary understanding of Canadian government could tell you, his is a ceremonial position with no input into decision-making.Pressure mounts on Shawn Atleo, the quiet man at centre of First Nations storm

The big day

No one was sure what would happen Friday, the day of the meeting:

Governor-General offers chief 'special welcome' at ceremonial meeting

Idle No More’s thunder heard through walls of Prime Minister’s Office

Harper meets chiefs, vows improved relations

Harper commits to 'high-level' treaty talks with First Nations

But Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence vows to continue hunger strike

Rift opens among chiefs as some attack Atleo for meeting Harper

B.C. chiefs’ call for overhaul of land claims process among demands handed to the PM

Theresa Spence Not Satisfied With Governor General Meeting, Continues Fasting

Harper gives illusion of consultation with First Nations: Activist

Comment:  To sum it up, Spence said she wanted to meet with Harper, then said she wanted to meet with Governor-General Johnston too. Johnston showed up at the meeting, but Spence wasn't satisfied, so she walked out.

Meanwhile, Assembly of First Nations leader Shawn Atleo talked to Harper, who apparently mouthed the usual platitudes. The other chiefs elected Atleo, but some consider him an appeaser who doesn't fight hard enough. The Idle No More protesters are taking their cue from Spence, not Atleo, putting him in a tough position.

Stay tuned for more developments.

For more on Idle No More, see Idle No More = Occupy and Harper to Meet with Chiefs.

Below:  "The meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 20 First Nations Chiefs, including National Chief Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations." (Jason Ransom/PMO)

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