Friday, December 21, 2012

How Harper deals with First Nations

Michael Harris, iPolitics:

If you want to know why Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is on a hunger strike, it is because official apologies from on high do not feed families, build houses, install water systems or educate kids. It is because some of the poorest bands in the country have concluded that Stephen Harper has to be put on the spot.

Canada’s natives fill the prisons and jails, live in impoverished housing, disappear along highways without much of a fuss, die in infancy, drop out of high school and kill themselves at rates significantly higher than other Canadians.

Their health needs are looked after by 150 doctors and 1,200 nurses. A sickening percentage of First Nations citizens of this country get third world educations, short shrift in the courts, and virtually no consistent coverage in the media.

Harper purposely and falsely left the impression with Canadians that the Conservatives had given every person in Attawapiskat $50,000. As NDP MP Charlie Angus pointed out at the time, what the PM didn’t say was that the money was spread out over six years. So when the real calculation was done, each resident of Attawapiskat received $8,000 per year — or less than half of what is spent per capita on other Canadians on things like health and education.

As Angus put it, "Harper’s line rang out like a dog whistle to a racist base that believed that those Indians couldn’t be trusted with our money."

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