MISGUIDED VICTORIA JOURNALIST MISUNDERSTANDS IDLE NO MORE
by Don Maroc
Terry Glavin is a well know media commentator on all things cultural and political. He claims to be left-leaning although he doesn’t always come off that way in his books and regular column in the Ottawa Citizen.
In his latest book about contemporary Afghanistan, Come from the Shadows, his claim to authenticity is his access to the story line of the northern Tajik provinces.
Like many others who have never been to Afghanistan, I sort of accepted Glavin’s version, in spite of concern about believing the Tajik version of events.
I recall that the northern war lords, Tajiks, fought the Taliban government after the Russians high tailed it. It also was said that the northern provinces are where all the opium poppies were grown after the Taliban outlawed the practice in all areas under their control.
Like many Canadians, I accepted rather uncritically most of what Glavin wrote, that is until the last couple of weeks when the Victoria writer seemed to slip his moorings in an effort to understand the blossoming Idle No More movement.
He seems to have a bit of a grudge against Chief Theresa Spence, but who knows maybe he has some reason. He starts off with appalling stats about young First Nations’ people committing suicide. Which we are all concerned about among the Cowichan Tribes.
He then writes, “Since December 11th, Spence has been camped in a teepee on an island in the Ottawa River, threatening to starve herself to death — to kill herself — unless the prime minister and the Governor General accede to her variously contradictory and ambiguous demands.”
That kind of takes one’s breath away. First of all it’s a rather snotty analogy, Chief Spence is not committing suicide. The noble lady is taking a risk that our coldly calculating Prime Minister will have to back down and talk with her whether he likes it or not, because Stephen Harper knows that if something terrible happens to Chief Spence his political career is toast.
Mr. Harper may not care a lot about Chief Spence and what she represents but he certainly is very concerned about his own hide.
As for finding her demands to be, “contradictory and ambiguous”, it appears that as Glavin ages he may be having a problem with reading comprehension, just as many of us are.
Then it looks like Terry has regained his grasp of reality when he compares the Idle No More movement with last year’s Occupy Wall Street. But no, making it look like he’s lost his left-wing credentials Terry said of Occupy, “It ended up more like the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962, and so far, Idle No More appears headed in exactly the same direction.”
Poor Terry, he doesn’t seems to realize that Occupy created a new financial-political dialog for the U.S. which had a profound effect on last November’s presidential election.
Like many journalists Glavin must have been dozing through some of his university political science classes. The reason Chief Spence insists on having the Governor General present at her meeting with Prime Minister Harper is that Mr. Harper is not the Head of State for Canada, he is only leader of the largest political party in Parliament, chosen to be the government by the Governor General, who represents the sovereign Crown in Canada.
Chief Spence insists on dealing nation-to-nation, not conqueror to vanquished as Harper tends to do.
Then out-of-touch Glavin throws up his hands with the tired old complaint against the Occupy immaturity, “Nobody’s in charge. It can mean whatever you want it to mean. Wow!”
Sorry Terry that kind of a comment does not deserve a response.
Then Glavin plays one of his trump cards, “And never mind that Kahnewake Mohawks have about as much in common with Kwakwaka’wakw people as with Corsicans or Marsh Arabs.”
True, there are significant differences between Cowichan culture and geography and that of the Iroquoian Mohawks, although they both deeply understand and respect the natural environment they live in.
They also know they share a common enemy, currently represented in Canada by the Harper government.
Glavin believes that under the leadership of Vancouver Island’s Shawn Atleo the Assembly of First Nations has made “remarkable progress” working with Harper.
Then in his clever prose Glavin writes, “Sorry, but the choice isn’t between the Folk Devil Stephen Harper and those graceful blue creatures from Avatar. It’s between play-acting in period costume and actual and real political engagement. Unless it’s the latter, Idle No More will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.”
Poor Terry, like many other worn out old leftwingers, seems to have succumbed to the twisted, mean spirited views of Harper’s Wild Rose conservatism.