Hereditary chiefs, Ottawa would disenfranchise indigenous people

miller
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller talks with reporters after meeting with representatives of the Hohawk nation.

Was there ever more pathetic a sight than seeing Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller blather on about the need for dialogue in order to solve the shutdown of rail traffic across large swaths of the country?

Miller met with Mohawk protesters who have erected a rail blockade in Ontario on Saturday. He said in his mewing voice that what we have is a failure to communicate.

“Tonight, we made some modest progress by opening up a dialogue with the people standing out there in the cold and doing so for eight or nine days,” the minister told reporters. “We talked openly, frankly, painfully at times, and sometimes with humour. There’s a lot more work to be done.”

Oh please.

You do not “dialogue” with terrorists.

Terrorists? What else do you call the protesters who have blockaded rail lines, roads, bridges in an effort to force government to accede to their wishes?

That will only encourage anyone with a grievance to copy the tactic.

This is supposed to be a civilized country, one that resolves disputes in courts of law and at the ballot box.

Miller should have told the protesters there would be no dialogue, no negotiations until the illegal blockade had been removed.

Instead, the minister made it clear that he sides with the protesters and basically agrees with them that the root cause of anger lies at the feet of Canada.

Please.

This is such nonsense. The dispute which spawned this protest is a travesty of the first order. The vast majority of indigenous people support the CoastalGasLink pipeline. Fully 20 native communities have voiced their approval. Their elected chiefs have asked their people what they want. Eighty-five per cent have said they want the pipeline and the revenue and jobs that come with it.

That is all that should matter. The people have spoken. The indigenous people have spoken.

But a handful – and it is truly a handful – of so-called hereditary chiefs claim to represent their people and are determined to exert authority over democratically elected representatives.

That is utter nonsense. This is not the 15th Century. Self-selected, hereditary leaders do not get to make those choices for people.

If we allow this, we will disenfranchise indigenous people. We will abrogate their democratic rights.

No. A thousand times no. We are a democracy. We want all our citizens indigenous and non-indigenous to thrive, to be able to voice their opinions, to elect their own leaders.

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