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News headlines are head shakers to me

Two news items this week causing me to “glaze over” are the
resumption of the NHL season this coming weekend, and the Idle No More protest
being staged by some of Canada’s first nations people.

I know. I will probably go to hell for being critical of our
national treasures, but I can’t help it.

My first thought on the whole NHL strike/lockout issue over
the past few months, is “good, let them sit out a whole season. Let both sides
sit out five seasons. Is the world going to stop? Missing one, two or three
years of hockey might help these guys realize their true value.”

I hear how much both players and owners love the game, and
“we just want to play hockey”, but of course the caveat there is “as long as I

am paid 50 billion dollars…I know I am getting five billion now, but it is just
not enough.” They are all welcome and deserve to be paid well, but then
somewhere along the line we move into stupid. 

The only other news that would cause me greater personal
angst is if Kim Kardashian announced she wouldn’t make any more public
appearances until her appearance fees were doubled. Now that would be a

But on the hockey front fortunately by the grace of God an
agreement was reached and a short season salvaged. I was hoping that fans would
stay away by the busload, and send a message that might connect with these
misguided players and owners, but it doesn’t appear that is happening either.
Fans are right back at the ticket booth, paying crazy prizes to watch over paid
teenagers, provide lackluster performances, and put more money in the pockets
of billionaires. I know I won’t be watching.


And the Idle No More movement has been somewhat of a puzzle
to me since I first saw the Tsuu T’ina Nation protestors with placards along 16th
Ave in Calgary, and that was several weeks ago now. It reminds me a bit of “The
Occupy” movement of a couple years ago. It is spreading and getting bigger and
more vocal, but I am still not clear about what the protestors want.

We saw Chief Theresa Spence’s hungry strike phase in her bid
to have a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And then when that was
finally arranged, Spence held out further because she also wanted the Queen to
be at the meeting and I thought, “oh ya, here is someone dealing with
reality.”  And now the Idle No More
movement has spreads across the country and is moving to a strategy to
disruption of transportation. That should help.

I was also reading reports of a recent Ipos Reid poll and
they didn’t ask me, but it seemed to capture some of my thoughts.

The poll claims that while most Canadians believe the
government must act to improve on-reserve quality of life, they have serious
concerns about reserve financial accountability.

Here are some top-line results from the survey:

– 64 per cent agree that Canada’s aboriginal peoples
receive too much support from Canadian taxpayers

– Only 31 per cent agree that First Nation’s protesters
are conducting justified and legitimate protests by shutting down roads and
rail lines going through their communities

– 81 per cent agree that no additional taxpayers money
should go to any Reserve until external auditors can be put in place to ensure
financial accountability

– 60 per cent agree that most of the problems of native
people are brought on by themselves

“Taken together, these data suggest that recent
protests have done little to build sympathy for First Nations issues, and have
instead created a new issue for First Nation leaders to struggle with –
financial accountability,” notes the survey report.

I don’t want to see anyone or any group of our society live
in poverty and starvation or any measure of sub-standard living. But at the
same time I have this perception that the Canadian government has been throwing
millions and millions of dollars at this problem for decades and nothing seems
to improve.  So what is the
problem? What is wrong here? My gut feeling is this isn’t a problem money can

I didn’t negotiate any treaty with Canada’s first nations
and none of the people on the Idle No More protest line were at the table for
the Indian Act of 1876. So don’t blame me for it, and if the old Act is flawed,
or irrelevant today then sit down and renegotiate in good faith. But the
challenge there is to get more than 600 bands on more than 2,600 reserves all
working in the same direction.

As a Canadian who would like to see this situation resolved
somehow, my first thought is that the First Nation’s people have to quit
playing the blame game, get off the pity pot and the woe-is-me wagon, and come
up with a realistic, unified plan of action. You can’t change the past, but
what has to change or happen today to move forward.? And I know Canadian
politics and governments aren’t perfect, but for now it is the only system we

Long-time Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson, wasn’t
particularly optimistic of any early resolutions. In a column this week, he

“….many aboriginals do not believe governments negotiate in
good faith, and governments struggle to understand aboriginals’ bottom lines.
It is a recipe for slow progress at best. So yesterday, another meeting
occurred, surrounded by controversy and fiery rhetoric, threats to bring the
nation’s economy to a halt, a meeting cobbled together quickly, with a shifting
agenda and the likelihood of sustained progress almost nil, given past

Hockey and first nation issues make me weary.

Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]


About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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