Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Channeling the Mad Man of the Airwaves

No sooner did a "third party" manager come to take control of the financial affairs of Attawapiskat than he was told to get the hell out of Dodge.   Chief Theresa Spence must have channeled Howard Beale when she said that her band of 2800 Cree were "not going to taking it no more."   Surprised she didn't add, "We're as mad as hell."   Because the events of the last few days have been as outrageous as what has happened -- or not happened rather -- over the years.

Of course it is perfectly reasonable for us to demand what happened with $80 million over the last few years.    I for one would like to know that.  But sending in a white "manager" in a grey suit is as insulting as when Britain kept sending Governors General to Canada a full 21 years after we became formally independent in 1931.   The band is more than capable of hiring its own auditor and if there is funny business going on the band members can vote out the chief and the council and hire people who will do the job right.

Most places, if a new school is needed, it can go from blueprint to finished product in a year or less.   Attawapiskat has waited eleven years, and counting (so the Liberals have a lot to answer for on this too).   Most places that get flooded out are abandoned as the population is moved to higher ground.   This place and others like it keep getting flooded out, and what happens is squat.

Of course, it also doesn't help that all of James and Hudson Bays are severed from the North American road network.   This can be a problem not just for getting supplies in during an emergency but also people out.

There is a small hospital there but serious medical emergencies require MEDEVAC transport -- flying sometimes several hours to an available bed in a far away city.   $1200 an hour -- to start.   It's supposed to be covered by insurance but there is always that nasty co-payment which is a lot higher than for a land ambulance.  ($125 or more)    And the acute shortage of doctors is especially acute on tribal lands.   The bonuses offered to have doctors work full time and on an extended stay basis just don't seem to be enough incentive -- and while we should be opening up opportunities for more aboriginal doctors many teens commit suicide before finishing high school.

And lastly, there is that piece of legislation called the Far North Act which was written and passed by the provincial legislature with very little consultation with the aboriginal and non-aboriginal people north of Algonquin Park.   Our northern resources need to be better managed to ensure prosperity for people of all races, to make the North less dependent on the South while helping the South with balancing the books.   But not at the expense of exploiting the good nature of miners and forestry workers as well as making a mockery of Treaty 9.   It's interesting that this legislation managed to unite natives and non-natives, business and the labour movement but that didn't seem matter to Pointy Head.   And as far as the feds go, as long as they have the veto power who cares what the little people think?

How much blame can be pinned on poor management of transfers by community leaders?    Hard to say.   But a presumption of guilt, that is a reverse onus, is contrary to our system of laws.   I'd put my foot down too.

For a so called fresh start on the aboriginal file, both Harper and McGuinty have failed Canadians big time.


Troy said...

"Of course it is perfectly reasonable for us to demand what happened with $80 million over the last few years. I for one would like to know that."

Eh? You've missed this?

She lays down how that $90 million was spent, and even links to the band's online public budget.

The band has already been independently audited, which is vitally important to keeping INAC from stopping future funding.

All the information in the world is available as to how that $90 million has been spent.

Furthermore, First Nations bands have to get approval to spend money on almost anything, which means Harper and Duncan know exactly how all that money has been spent. All they're doing right now is a dog and pony show to deflect criticism from themselves onto the chief and council of Attawapiskat.

Anonymous said...

When you say Liberals are to blame also,don't you mean Chretien as when Martin came to power he was working on the Kelowna accord to help them all? just too bad some prominent Liblogs were part of his demise. They called him a ditherer because he thought things over before he acted. What a loss.Some of those same LIBLOGS are now trying to take over Presidency and install new leader of the Liberal Party. Makes this old fellow very sad.

Kirbycairo said...

When you say you "it is perfectly reasonable for us to demand what happened with $80 million" you are simply buying into the narrative of the CPC. Rightwingers constantly rail against the supposed waste of money by groups such as natives forgetting that these monies are always accounted for with continual reports that are annually audited.

The irony is that by attempting a third party administration the Government is a priori suggesting that they have not been monitoring the funds the way that they are supposed to be monitored.