Tom Fletcher says that one of the claims “repeated in media coverage” as the reason behind Chief Teresa Spence’s hunger strike, the Idle No More protests across the country, and the meetings of chiefs and politicians is that the federal government is moving to allow the sale of reserve lands (BC Views, The Journal, Jan. 10, 2013). The only place this particular media addict sees this claim singled out is by Mr. Fletcher and his conservative media confrères Tom Flanagan (Mr. Harper’s mentor at the University of Alberta) in the Globe and Mail and Mark Milke (Fraser Institute) in the Vancouver Sun.
The catch-all “omnibus” Bill C-45, contains a number of amendments to existing legislation, including the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Act and others. These amendments, like many others initiated by this wrong-headed government, are all about getting the feds out of the business of environmental management. Mr. Harper believes that the best government is the smallest government, so he is simply vacating jurisdiction in many critical areas.
But the federal government must, by law, consult with First Nations before taking actions that affect treaty rights or unresolved issues of title and rights where treaties do not exist. And the federal government did not consult with anyone, nor allow debate or any public process at all on this vast sweeping legislation. And that, as Mr. Fletcher must surely know, is the set of issues, much larger than questions of leasing land, and of grave importance to all of us, at the root of Idle No More.