Trudeau and the dangers of trying to be the Great White Father

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde greets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

If only 2020 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had traveled back in time to meet 2015 candidate Trudeau, we might not be at loggerheads with indigenous groups today.

In 2015, Trudeau fancied himself the great white saviour of the First Nations. It was he who would finally set things right with indigenous people. It was he who bring about the Great Reconciliation.

Recall that it was Trudeau who told a town hall that he would repeal legislation that did not respect the rights of indigenous peoples. He told them he would give First Nations a veto over development in their territories.

The Great Saviour Trudeau also promised to implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on indigenous residential schools.

During the election campaign, the Great White Father also said he would increase the funding for First Nations schools by billions of dollars.

First Nations voters came out in droves for Trudeau come polling day. Some polls even ran out of ballots.

Trudeau’s election was seen as the first necessary step in Reconciliation. Optimism was high. Hope was high.

Fast forward to 2020 and we can all see that that there is a danger to over promising – a big danger.

Many reserves today still lack clean water, decent schools and precious little in the way of job opportunities.

And when hope dies, it is quickly replaced by anger.

That much is clear today. Hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs are demanding exactly what Trudeau promised them – a veto – and native activists are shutting down the country to back up their demands.

Trudeau was foolish to have promised them a veto. The Supreme Court of Canada never ruled First Nations had a veto over development. All it said was that indigenous people should be consulted.

So here we are at an impasse that really has no resolution. Instead of a serious discussion on improving the lives of indigenous people AND developing our resources, we are facing an insurrection.

In a few more days, the blockades will really begin to hurt, as cities, companies, people and entire regions run short of much needed supplies. The economic damage will be severe if the blockade goes on long enough.

Sooner or later, the blockades will have to be taken down by force if necessary. There is simply no getting around that fact.

It’s doubtful, too, that Trudeau can talk his way out of this crisis. Everyone knows his promises are worthless.

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