Cowichan News Leader

Harper's Tories misjudging strength of Idle No More, Cowichan MP says

A repeat of a recent local Idle No More rally is set for Feb. 3 at Duncan
A repeat of a recent local Idle No More rally is set for Feb. 3 at Duncan's former Mound, while MP Jean Crowder claims the feds are misjudging the Native movement's strength.
— image credit: Andrew Leong file

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is misjudging the political muscle of the Idle No More movement, Cowichan MP Jean Crowder indicates.

"I don't think Harper's taking it seriously," the NDP member told the News Leader Pictorial last week just before Aboriginal chiefs unveiled their 13-point treat-rights' declaration.

Crowder signalled its folly for Harper's Tories to dismiss Idle No More actions and rallies.

Those include a recent Cowichan gathering, plus another set for 1 p.m. Feb. 3 at Duncan's former Trunk Road Mound site.

"They (Tories) expect it to have its day and fade away, and they won't have to deal with it, but he's seriously misjudging it. "It started with (Harper's 2008) residential-school apology, but nothing's changed."

The feds' inaction on Native treaty rights, slum conditions — from lousy housing, to deplorable sewage and water treatment on reserves such as Attawapiskat — plus other issues fueled Idle No More, Crowder indicated.

"We've seen deterioration of relations in the past year.

"But the young (First Nations) people are far more educated and knowledgeable about how the system works, and you don't want to ignore these young people."

And Idle No More is much more than Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who ended a six-week hunger strike in Ottawa Thursday, passing the protest torch to other chiefs.

"(Idle) has raised a whole bunch of issues outside Attawapiskat," noted Crowder. "I heard Idle No More will have a rally on Parliament Hill Jan. 28 when the House goes back."

Some folks say the Aboriginal rallies across Canada are having little impact on Harper's Tories as Native leaders' demands are too splintered.

Wrong, explained Crowder.

"Expecting Idle No More (leaders) to speak with one voice is like asking any political party to speak with one voice; it just doesn't happen."

"Idle No More says they're being very specific: they want their treaties respected," said Crowder, aware progress on Cowichan Tribes' treaty, through the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group, remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, she declined to say if NDP leader Thomas Mulcair aims to meet with Chief Spence.

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