Monday, January 14, 2013

Idle No More Confronts the Canadian Political Establishment

Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta stated that more blockades are planned for highway 63 if the federal government does not act sufficiently; the highway leads to the center of the controversial Alberta tar sands. (Photo credit: Garth Lenz, Energy & Ecology Project)
The Idle No More movement which was started by four women from Saskatchewan represents a backlash against the neoliberal policies of Canada's federal conservative government and current federal political structures. (Neoliberalism refers to an economic ideology centered around the values of a global economy, or globalization: free market, free trade, and the unrestricted flow of capital. Neoliberals advocate minimal government spending, minimal taxation, minimal regulations, and minimal direct involvement in the economy. Neoliberals believe market forces naturally fill many areas of jurisdiction for the highest overall gain (Urban Dictionary, 2012). Neoliberalism has been linked to crony capitalism, gross social inequities, corporatocracy, and globalization.)

The Idle No More movement is an indictment and rejection of the conservative government's policies and neoliberal ideology. The failed First Nations meeting with Prime Minister Harper is indicative of the clash in ideologies and perspectives between the sides.

Based on an in-depth interview of Sheelah McLean, one of the founders of the Idle No More movement, she states clearly that the Idle No More represents a grassroots action against:

1. First Nations inequality and rights issues including exclusion in federal policy decision-making.

2. Reduction in environmental protections and marginalization of environmental issues, in which the conservative government removes Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, fast tracks industrial development and resource extraction at the expense of the environment and First Nations, and reduces significantly protections on Canada's lakes, streams, rivers, and air.

3. Omnibus budget bill C-45, which amounts to a rejection of the conservative government's policies. 

4. Canadian political structural which marginalizes the political voice of First Nations, allows minority political parties to control the Canadian parliament as is the case with the conservative government, and the prime minister to have excessive powers. 

Interestingly, instead of waiting for the next federal election in 2015 to voice its opposition to the conservative government, the Idle No More movement is acting now, which suggests the seriousness of its grievances and likely lack of confidence in the Canadian political system.

At the start of the Canadian media coverage of the Idle No More movement in December 2012, the movement was being portrayed as a Chief Theresa Spence protest via her hunger strike, and has now shifted to a First Nations issue. The reality is that the movement was started as mentioned by one white Canadian and three First Nations Canadians (Sheelah McLean, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, and Jess Gordon), and the movement deals with national and international issues which involve all of humanity. To sideline the movement as solely a First Nations movement is simply false and corrupts Canadian political discourse and the ability of Canadians to form an objective opinion of the movement.

Sheelah McLean Interview

Understanding the Canadian Prime Minister Powers

FDA Reports, Articles, Podcasts on Canada

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director

Question for Readers: 

Is neoliberalism, which basically gambles on the marketplace to direct humanity in the better direction, the better ideology to deal with global environmental and human and political rights issues?

Or in the alternative, is neoliberalism a cause of global environmental and human and political rights issues?


1 comment:

  1. Idle No More plans 'solidarity' walk from St. Catharines to Niagara Falls Wednesday:


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