Let’s be clear. It was Stephen Harper’s second Omnibus Budget Bill (C-45), as well as a host of other legislation passed by the Harper government, that triggered this new movement. People are waking up. They have had enough of the abuse of power and the bullying that we see from the Conservatives.
Idle No More speaks to the very notion of our democracy and, how Canada under the current Harper government ignores fundamental decency in the way we engage one another, how we speak to one another. Canadians are much better than the divisive, mean-spirited, and spiteful politics we see embodied in the government of Stephen Harper.
The Stephen Harper version of democracy is victory at all cost. In that world, democracy is only expressed and found at the ballot box. Once victory is achieved, in Harper Land, the victors can do as they wish. So, that is why over six years we see other “voices“ shut down. Whether it is childcare advocates, women`s groups, charities, you name it – if you disagree with Harper, you get shut down, or worse, smeared.
Idle No More, it seems to me, is about standing up to bullies and saying enough is enough. In a democracy, other voices should be heard, not stamped out.
In recent weeks, many, including those in the Aboriginal community, have expressed a worry and concern about the health of our democracy and about how we treat one another. Despite the recent smear campaign against Chief Spence, it must be acknowledged that real people, our fellow citizens, in aboriginal communities across Canada, are living in conditions that are shocking.
This isn’t about Chief Spence; it is about poverty. It is also about honestly addressing our problems together, to be open, frank and transparent in doing so, but to do so in the Canadian way – being respectful to one another, not smearing people. It is about being to be of good nature. It is about a willingness to listen to others and their views – all with the goal to solve real problems.
Idle No More captures a sentiment many of us share: That poverty matters, that equal rights matter, that priorities matter, that not wasting billions on fighter jets matters, that our environment matters, that our future as a planet matters, that basic human decency matters, that telling the truth matters, that employment insurance matters, that pensions matters. All the things we used to be proud of, as Canadians.
Let’s be clear. Idle No More is about fighting for our democracy, and standing up to bullies.
With respect to our aboriginal community, it is clear that we really do need to get back to the table with open and transparent talks about the future of our Aboriginal Canadians. Nothing of substance has happened since the Kelowna Accord in 2005 – an Accord cancelled by Harper in 2006.
We all agree that public money should be allocated and spent in a way that is not wasteful. That money spent must address the real needs of people. I agree with calls for self-governance, accountability and transparency and yet, all of this needs to done on a basis of trust and understanding.
I hope that the “Idle No More“ movement will continue to work with our Aboriginal peoples, to raise awareness about our eroding democracy and the serious concerns of poverty, of equality and opportunity and how we treat one another. We can do better than the current `win at all cost` approach so often embodied by the Harper government.
I will be attending another Idle No More event in Charlottetown tomorrow at 6pm at the Charlottetown Mall. I hope many of you will attend.