NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair adds his voice to those calling on Chief Spence to eat something

- January 13th, 2013

Transcript provided by CTV of Leader of the Official Opposition Thomas Mulcair on CTV’s Question Period this afternoon. Kevin Newman is the interviewer:

NEWMAN: On December 18th, you called on the government to hold a meeting with First Nations. That’s now happened. You also called for the prime minister to meet with Chief Spence. He offered, she declined. Is it time for her to end her protest?

MULCAIR: I’m always very concerned when someone appears to be willing to end their own life, even though they’re fighting for a cause that they find that important. I would sincerely call upon Chief Spence to realize that there has been a step in the right direction, to try to see now if we can keep putting pressure on the government to follow through. It has been a year where nothing was done after a very formal meeting. But finally the government seems to be moving so I think that the best thing to do would be to step back from that now.
NEWMAN: So at this point there’s nothing more you think that the prime minister should do to try to convince her to be part of the process.

MULCAIR: There is a process, that’s the good news. There’s been promises made with regard to treaty rights, and that’s long overdue. Don’t forget the constitution going back to 1982, in section 35, had clear language on that. The royal proclamation, 250 years ago this year, promised that we would protect. There have been a lot of broken promises over the year, Kevin, so we can understand the frustration. But I think we show a lot of respect for the chiefs who were there negotiating and working hard on Friday when we acknowledged that there has been movement, and I think we should be supportive of them in that.

NEWMAN: So the process then, just so I have it clear, that is underway with the chiefs, the 20 chiefs at least, there’s several of them off-side, you’re behind that process that that’s the best way forward.

MULCAIR: I think that it’s a step in the right direction and we have to show support for the chiefs. That is the process that’s in place right now. Can there be things that are changed? Of course. Everyone is talking about a review of the Indian Act. That’s long overdue. Even the name, Indian Act, is an indication that it dates from another era. That’s fine. We can move forward on all of that. But I do think that the government has shown that it is finally starting to get the message. The danger that I see is if they repeat the same mistake. Last year, almost exactly a year ago, day for day, they held a very formal meeting and they promised action, and nothing happened. That’s the danger. If this becomes another broken promise, then we’re really going to see a strong reaction from First Nations, and it’s going to be an understandable strong reaction.

Categories: Aboriginal Affairs, Politics/NDP

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4 comments

  1. Tony Hoeppner says:

    This is becoming a gong show. Mulcair is becoming more of a media hound than Trudeau. The hunger strike that Theresa Spence is on can’t even be considered a diet. She still has a double chin after a month of no food. It seems Mulcair is so desperate for votes he will even over look a fake hunger strike to get them.

  2. JamesHalifax says:

    Well, I think it’s been shown that the entire “Hunger Strike” was a complete gong-show to begin with. No one believes the Chief is serious any longer, and at her current rate, her health will not even be a concern until well after the next election.

    My aunt lost more weight in half the time using Jenny Craig.

  3. Rich says:

    Mulcair’s comments re broken promises in the past year; how facetious of him. The government has introduced numerous bills in Parliament for the first nations and the NDP/Liberal voted against these bills. eg Matrimonial property rights for native women, accountability to the leaders of the different reserves. And most importantly in budget C45 there were a number of changes to the Indian Act to allow First Nation Bands to take greater responsibility for economic development on their respective reserves without first having to go to the Department of Indian Affairs. Prime example the right to lease their land to developers to construct shopping malls, time share condos, etc. Is there more that needs to be done on the Reserves, most definitely but these changes in the past year is a good first step. Remember, there has been years of neglect from previous liberal governments, changes are not going to happen over night. MSM needs to research their political topics a little bit better and need to ask intelligent questions not soft ball questions designed to embarass the government.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree for someone on a hunger strike and supposedly close to death she has not lost a pound. I also like how as soon as the books came out she suddenly kicked reporters off the reserve. I feel a big problem is the funding that is suppose to be used for the upkeep of these reserves is going into the chiefs pockets instead. If she is not doing this she should be willing to show where all the money the reserve gets is going. I have no problem with the Indians getting a bigger share of the profits from developments on there land such as the oil sands but by the same token they should expect less of a hand out from the government.

    Most of the rest of us have to look for work to get welfare, wait on a list for public housing, and have to pay for our own education, and we have to pay taxes on everything. What more do the Indians want?? They would not have the same rights they have now if they were not on the reserve. Is it not the chief and band council who are responsible for the maintenance of the reserve, etc.? If so then they aren’t doing their job.

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