The Sound of Silence

—October 24, 2017—

So, what would have possessed the AFN chiefs committee on legislative reform to break-off discussions with the Trudeau Liberals? This rash action comes as the native legal winning streak in the resources sector closes-in on the 250-mark. Maybe they don’t think that they’ve won enough rulings to sit down and have a discussion about getting this country back to work. Success on resource projects is the one sure area that would ‘raise all our boats’ economically.

But that initiative requires real work and, of course, compromise on the road to reconciliation.

And what a time to break-off dialogue. The Prime Minister is besieged with tax controversy and NAFTA priorities. Right wing politicians are circling in Alberta and Ontario hoping to take power.

Any change in the geo-political landscape would likely see this key window of opportunity close. Better to maximize the opportunity at hand and work with the Trudeau Liberals. So why doesn’t the AFN want to participate by making this a priority during the run-up to the next election? Because all bets will be off after that. The AFN’s back-tracking is a seriously flawed strategy.

This news coincided with the Energy East decision to quit the regulatory approval process. If you were to review the massive reporting on that decision, you would not find one paragraph, nor even one sentence, that said that natives had anything to do with the pipeline’s demise. That’s because mainstream-media is running with the agenda of not reporting on the rise of native empowerment. Don’t credit them for killing Energy East; better to blame it on Ottawa!

The four-year saga of native pushback across Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, is now being essentially bleached right out of the Energy East narrative by journalists who are overly deferential to corporate Canada. Of course, there’s also no mention of the proponent’s strategic shortcomings in the management of the project (but that’s another story entirely).

So, we now have two concurrent native empowerment news blackouts: mainstream media being in purposeful denial on Energy East; and the AFN walking out on the Liberal’s legislative reform initiative. Amazingly, these so-called ‘strategies’ are playing-out just at the moment that the rise of native empowerment is peaking in the country. One might reasonably expect that the native-side would be going ‘all in’ to score on the open net; instead they’ve turned out to be a bunch of thumb-suckers, showing just how strategically out-of-touch the AFN can be when it comes to the heavy-lifting.

Could it be that the AFN leadership is scared of being accused by the rank-and-file of ‘getting too close’ to official Ottawa? That was the rap that they laid on former National Chief Atleo over his Education Accord with the Harper government. If so, this would mean that the AFN has just self-selected itself out of the national reconciliation process on legislative reform. Unbelievable! Given that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls upon both sides to make a proper effort in tuning-up legislative deficiencies that are holding back reconciliation (and resource development). Instead, what are Canadians hearing? It’s the sound of silence; leaving Canadians to wonder just what useful service does this lobby organization provide?