Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mulcair to Harper: heed Idle No More


Ottawa – NDP leader Thomas Mulcair called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “act” swiftly, listen to the message from the Idle No More movement and re-engage with First Nations people to avoid a potential “personal tragedy” unfolding on Victoria Island in Ottawa where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has entered the eighth day of a hunger strike.

Spence has been on a hunger strike to force a meeting between the prime minister, the governor general and First Nations leaders to discuss the treaties.

The PMO has indicated it’s unlikely Harper would participate in such a meeting and Gov. Gen. David Johnston refused to answer questions on the issue Tuesday.

Mulcair wrote a letter to Harper Tuesday calling on the prime minister to re-engage with First Nations peoples while the chief from the impoverished northern Ontario First Nations continues a hunger strike and protests sweep across the country.

“As you know, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation has also embarked on a hunger strike, living in a (teepee) on Anishinabe traditional territory of Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, barely a kilometre from Parliament,” wrote Mulcair, who is leader of the Official Opposition. “I ask that you please act swiftly to avoid a personal tragedy for Chief Spence.”

Mulcair said in his letter that it was time for the Harper government to truly commit to “reconciliation.” Mulcair said the prime minister should take the Idle No More rallies seriously and honour the commitments he made during last January’s Crown-First Nations gathering.

“From coast to coast to coast, an unprecedented wave of grassroots action is sweeping across First Nations communities,” wrote Mulcair. “When you met with First Nations leaders less than a year ago, you committed your government to working in partnership with First Nations Canadians. The #IdleNoMore protests are proof that Aboriginal Canadians are demanding you fulfill that solemn commitment.”

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