Chief Teresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nations is into her third week of her hunger strike. Her chief demand has NOT been for a personal meeting with Harper, as some are claiming (both friends and opponents) but:
Spence launched her protest with a vow to “die” unless the Conservative government started showing more respect to First Nations concerns and aboriginal treaties. She is demanding a meeting between the Crown, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders to create a new relationship.
That has been reiterated in a tweet by Bob Rae this AM:
Chief Spence has made it clear to me in our conversations she is NOT asking private audience with Mr Harper. Wants promise to meet chiefs.
A personal meeting with Spence would be actually going above and beyond what Spence has been asking for, and hunger-striking about – though it would be a gesture that would show some …humanity on Harper’s part. Harper’s relationship with the First Nations has never been cozy (other then the “apology” he offered in the House of Commons for past actions, which appears to have been nothing more then words), and the relationship with Attawapiskat has been particularly frosty, but is he really that pig-headed to allow a Chief to die rather then meet a bunch of the AFN chiefs on respecting current treaties?
Creating a martyr will be far worse then meeting the Chiefs. A few of the rednecks on Harper’s base might bellow about it, but their views don’t represent the vast majority of the Canadian people, or voters.