Political engagement on 'What's hot' list for 2013
As everything else seemed to slow to a halt over the Christmas season, the burgeoning Idle No More movement continued to grow in what has surely been one of the biggest news stories of the past month.
First Nations have united behind this movement for a number of reasons, including their dissatisfaction with Bill C-45, a budget implementation bill.
The Conservatives’ budget bill passed in the spring of 2012 was hotly debated in Parliament, with opposition MPs introducing several amendments in an attempt to stall its passage and staying awake around the clock to vote and show their resistance. Some might have said it was a ridiculous effort, since the Conservatives commanded a majority and were bound to pass the bill anyway, but I never felt that way. I was impressed with the opposition parties’ efforts to stand up for what they felt was their duty, to say, ‘This is not right,’ and to fight the passing of the bill, even when they knew it would be ultimately useless.
While the Conservatives have argued that this bill, and the subsequent Bill C-45, need to be passed for jobs, growth, prosperity, the economy, etc., I believe ramming these omnibus bills through on the strength of a majority is a problem. This happens provincially as well, and what it means is that parties don’t have enough time to look at each proposed change and flesh it out. Meaningful amendments get passed over, important debate is stifled, and at the end of the day, who knows if the overall bloated bill really is in the best interest of the country? I mean, do the MPs themselves even have time to read these bills over without falling asleep somewhere around page 300?
The fact that First Nations people are standing up against this bill – and for their people’s future as a whole – makes me glad. Apathy, after all, is boring. We moan about the fact that people don’t turn out to vote or don’t engage in politics, so when any person or group of peoples does take a stand, we should applaud their engagement.
When the Occupy movement took place, there was a feeling of real unity and a sense of revolution, that things might change if enough people stood up together. Even if some people didn’t agree with the Occupy protesters’ views that things needed to change - that it wasn’t right that most wealth is concentrated amongst the top one per cent of income earners - there was something powerful and inspiring in the fact that so many people all over the world could unite for change, just as with the Arab Spring movement that began in December of 2010.
Revolution doesn’t have to be bloody or violent. After all, in any campaign, it is more important to win “hearts and minds” of those that seem to stand on the other side of the fence, and this is better achieved through peaceful protests such as the ones seen under the Idle No More movement.
First Nations Chief Theresa Spence is currently on a hunger strike until she gets a treaty meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. With the strength of this movement and the extent of the hurt, outrage and pain seen within First Nations communities, one wonders why the Prime Minister has not yet made time to meet with Spence. It would be a good sign of the government’s commitment to consult and engage with First Nations people and Canadians as a whole on the issues that will shape this country in 2013 and beyond.
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