Roundup: Spence versus Responsible Government

It was another fraught day with regards to the whole Prime Minister-First Nations meeting, Chief Theresa Spence, and civic literacy in general. Chief Spence first said that she wasn’t going to go to the meeting because the Governor General wouldn’t be there. And then, briefly, she was going to be there, and then no, no she wasn’t and to add to that, she was going to keep up her liquid diet, and had signed her will because she was ready to die. So really, no dramatics there. But not only that, the continued insistence that the Governor General be there to represent “the Crown” is both wrong and misguided, and yet nobody seems willing to tell Spence that she’s barking up the wrong tree. In fact, she’s decided to write the Queen to have her insist that the GG show up – because the Queen is magic, and Canada is apparently still a colony under direct Crown control. “Oh, but it’s an important symbol that he be there,” Spence’s supporters insist. Except that the only symbolic message that would be sent is that the Queen and by extension the GG are the ones who make public policy in Canada and that the whole 167 years of Responsible Government were all just a dream – like that season of Dallas. Because without trying to be too glib, this is exactly what Spence is demanding. And not to put too fine of a point on it, I’ll add this quote: “Spence is demanding a meeting with a ghost, with a Crown that by 1763 had already ceded much of its discretionary powers to Parliament.” This from a post that explains the metaphors that Spence is trying to interact with on a literal basis. And the fact that people don’t understand that it’s inappropriate to involve the Sovereign or her representative in what is supposed to be a working policy discussion is troubling, because it means that they have no working understanding of what Responsible Government is, let alone that it’s a real thing, a system of governing principles that is the foundation for our democracy. That anyone would honestly suggest otherwise, that the Queen could swan in and make proclamations or declarations at whim, is an indictment of the crisis state of our civic illiteracy, and it really needs to be rectified.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit of context for that Attawapiskat audit, in that more than a quarter of all First Nations bands are under some kind of financial supervision by the government. John Geddes writes about the uncomfortable questions raised by the Federal Court decisions on who counts as “status Indians.” Here is a well-articulated post about the 14 things that Idle No More needs to do in order to move forward. Andrew Coyne suggests that Harper marginalise the radical voices among the Aboriginal protesters and deal with the moderates in order to make concrete changes. Colby Cosh offers advice for how to properly conduct a hunger strike – and the implicit message is that Chief Spence isn’t doing it right.

The new RADARSAT satellite construction will finally be moving ahead.

A $900 million class action settlement for military veteran pension clawbacks has been reached and will be finalised next month.

What’s that? Counterfeit parts in our military transport planes might actually be a problem that the government needs to address? You don’t say!

Greenpeace has obtained a letter from oil and gas industry partners to the government that suggested changes to environmental legislation, and lo, much of it appears to have come to pass. Interesting to be sure.

And over in the Liberal leadership race, Marc Garneau wants you to know that he is listening to your concerns.