Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Idle No More? The natives are restless

If you don't live in Canada, you probably haven't heard of Idle No More. The movement was the brainchild -- the runt of the litter -- of some First Nations people [That's the PC term for Indians. Ed.] who want the federal government to "do something"about the sad plight of the aboriginal people [Another term for Indians, although Eskimos -- oops, Inuit -- could be included. Ed.].

In Canada, FN people -- for short -- come under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under a 19th-century law called the Indian Act. Along with the jurisdiction comes responsibility, or so the FNs say. The feds are responsible, in their view, for all the ills of their society, including unemployment, alcoholism and poverty. And these problems do exist, as the briefest of visits to any Indian reserve (or whatever they're called now) will confirm.

Case in point: Attawapiskat, a chunk of the third or fourth world embarrassingly located in northern Ontario, not far from the shores of Hudson Bay. The deplorable living conditions there -- chipboard shanties with broken or no windows, no running water, no electricity, etc etc -- came to public notice when the band chief, Theresa Spence, declared a state of emergency and demanded the government send her yet more money to alleviate the misery of her people.

More beaver bucks were duly dispatched, but seem to have vanished into the muskeg, just like all the foreign aid sent to Haiti. So what did the feds do? Call in the auditors of course! Yesterday they released Deloitte and Touche's review of the Attawapiskat council's books for the last 6½ years. The accounting firm found "no evidence of due diligence in the use of public funds, including the use of funds for housing".

The auditors aren't alleging fraud. Their report is being called "political" as it is. (The term "racist" hasn't been used yet, but wait for it.) What they do say is that more than 400 of the transactions they reviewed lacked proper -- or, most of the time, any -- supporting paperwork or receipts. Page after page of the D&T report shows spending on contracts or services where the vendors are "unknown" or the documentation is questionable or non-existent.

"An average of 81 per cent of files did not have adequate supporting documents and over 60 per cent had no documentation of the reason for payment," said the firm. In an Aug. 28 letter to Spence, it called the lack of records "inappropriate for any recipient of public funds."

But Chief Spence is no dumb wooden Indian. 28 days ago she pre-empted the potentially embarrassing report by going on a hunger strike. The point? To get a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister "Call me Steve" Harpoon. Why talk with the monkey -- Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan -- if you can get to the organ-grinder! Now the chief shrugs off the audit report as "a distraction", released now just to make her and her council look bad -- which it certainly does.

Which brings us back to Idle No More. When Theresa Spence went on her much-needed diet of fish broth and tea, the "organizers" of that movement were quick to see her and the Attawapiskat situation as emblematic of everything that's wrong with the way Canadians treat the natives. Hey, they were there first! Then the evil whites came and gypped them out of their land, and reduced them to living on welfare. But they will be "idle no more". Geddit?

Now it seems every Indian in Canada -- not forgetting Métis and "non-status Indians", who just yesterday were declared by the Supreme Court of Canada to be entitled to the same entitlements as status Indians -- plus the usual gang of guilt-ridden white liberals and professional agitators, is demonstrating their indignation about nearly everything.

In so doing, Idle No More has come to resemble nothing so much as the Occupy movement of last year. "The Occupy and Idle No More movements share two characteristics," says Robert Brym, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto. "They both have relatively diffuse demands and decentralized leadership."

But they also differ in one important respect. "The Occupy movement's demand for greater economic equality seems to have resonated with a large part of the Canadian population, which has experienced growing income disparity and slow growth in real income for decades.... In contrast, I believe the public has more mixed feelings about the Idle No More movement."

The professor's "large part of the Canadian population" apparently doesn't include any of Walt's Canadian agents, whose comments about the Occupiers were less than charitable. [Geddit? Ed.] The phrase "welfare bums" is one of the few that we can print.

As for what the Canucks in TROC -- the real Canada outside of the tony parts of Toronto and Vancouver -- are saying about Idle No More, Walt is reminded of the remark attributed to American General Philip Sheridan. So far, no-one, not even Don Cherry, has used those exact words, but stay tuned.

Worth reading: Whatever the Canadian state cedes to Theresa Spence, it will never be enough, by John Ivison in the online edition of today's National Post. Don't bother to e-mail John and threaten to send his racist immigrant ass back to Scotland. He's heard that -- and worse -- already.

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