Monday, 21 May 2012

Linda Duncan: Exactly How is the Argument “Thin?”

             Back in mid April there was an interesting ‘discussion’ that had  with Linda Duncan, the NDP MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, via twitter. In Mid-April it was becoming more apparent on how much funding was being cut by the CPC government and Linda Duncan opted to comment that she “Demand[s] Harper stop cuts to our most vulnerable communities.” This was followed by another post by Duncan which stated “Harper strikes another low blow to aboriginal peoples cutting longstanding health programs including for women.” I found this interesting because of the hypocrisy this represented. Before I continue I will acknowledge that Linda Duncan was not an MP when this happened but I always call into question when any parliamentarian blindly follows their party’s mantra without thinking how they themselves helped impact the end result.
The Kelowna Accord: What it Meant to Others and Myself:

During my political development I began to slide towards the Liberals due to Paul Martin and the Kelowna Accord, which was to help bring Indigenous nations up to the same level as Canadians on Infrastructure, housing, education, and health care. This was a document that took 18 months of negotiation and became the first policy in relation to Indigenous people where you had a federal government of Canada, all Provincial governments, and almost all Indigenous Chiefs agree. In other words, the Kelowna Accord was supported by Indigenous Chiefs, and it could be argued, by a majority of Indigenous people. This Accord symbolized a new relationship that was forming with a Canadian leader who began showing an understanding and a need to work with us rather than over us. It was an exciting time – especially for someone like myself, who looks at myself as being a duel citizen of the Anishinaabeg Nation and Canadian state.

The 2006 Federal Election:

            The Kelowna Accord was, of course, formulated, during the minority government years of Martin and thus relied on NDP support to keep the government alive. In late 2005 some interesting things began to develop. This development was of course the release of some of the information on the Gomery Inquiry, which led to the Liberals slipping in the polls and the NDP and CPC gaining. It just so happened that when polls showed the NDP gaining and potentially doubling their seat count, the opted to no longer support the Martin government. The problem with this was that some important items were now at risk, Including the Kelowna Accord (Current Green Party MP also discusses how this was the blow that destroyed Canada’s environmental standing and support of the Kyoto Accord via her book Losing Confidence).

            At this time I truly did lean between the NDP and Liberals as Both parties were far more willing to work with us, as Indigenous people, and also move Canada, and Canadians, forward compared to the CPC. The NDP stood for Indigenous rights, respecting treaties, equality for everyone, and much more. However, with their decision to pull support they opted, in my personal point of view, to sacrifice all of those for an extra dozen seats at the time. Many NDPers get mad at me when I state this and try to express that the Liberals did it on purpose to keep them afloat and that it was this reasoning that the Kelowna Accord was introduced in October/November of 2005. I also have some who tell me that Martin never planned to allow it to be passed, which is completely absurd – I suggest meeting the man and also looking at what he does post-politics today.

            However, we all know what was to happen. The Martin government fell, the Tories formed a Minority government in January 2006 and the NDP got their handful of extra seats. This was followed by the destruction of the Kelowna Accord, funding for various things in relation to Indigenous people, and legislation forced upon us – leading Canada away from a progressive relationship with the Indigenous nations and returning to a pre-1990 standard. In fact, it could be argued that it returned to a ‘1969 White Paper’ standard.

            Since 2006, funding has been cut, education has grown weaker, health continues to get worse, and infrastructure continues to be a problem. Due to my entire family still living on-reserve, and the great friends and kin I also have on reserves in other parts of Canada, I take this not only at a shock value standard but a personal one. Why? Because I can relate to the articles that come forth about horrible conditions. I can relate to the questions of how is it this bad. Lastly, I can relate to the frustration of watching it all be done due to the lack of understanding of Canadians and politicians of the blue and orange strip trying to cover up their hands in making it worse.

            So yes, as we see I hold the NDP accountable to this not only because of what they did in 2005 but because of many other things they have done since then, such as with the MRP Bill that the CPC can now forcibly push on us since gaining a majority.

Forward: Linda Duncan and My Twitter Conversation:

            Due to this outlook I will admit that I have a tendency to launch into a response to NDP MPs who comment on these conditions but don’t acknowledge that they put seats and votes before lives (in my personal point of view). Thus after Duncan commenting on this in mid-may I tweeted back to her “If only Kelowna Accord had been passed. Too bad an election was called = #CPC govt that killed it in 06. Thanks #NDP #canpoli.” I will admit it was a political jab to an extent, but also full of sheer frustration at how the NDP try to play the “pro-Indigenous” card without acknowledging their mistake (I also do this to the Liberals so no, I am not being biased and partisan).

Eventually Duncan replied to me, but I will admit I did not read it for a good couple of weeks due to my schedule and other items that were occurring for me at the time. When I did read it, I was a bit floored at what her response was. Duncan had replied “@ChadCowie that argument is wearing thin. What did they do for almost 13 years of majority power?” I couldn’t believe the response because the main argument I put forth in my original response was “If only the Kelowna Accord had been passed.”

It was probably a good thing I had not witnessed her response for a bit because I was a bit more composed when I replied. Clearly from her comment she didn’t understand a few things in my personal opinion. I thus tweeted back “@LindaDUncanMP Martin & Chretien = 2 different leaders. Kelowna was 2005, not 1993-2003. #NDP has done squat.” In Canadian politics the leader does have a lot of impact and thus I find the argument about the Liberals holding power from 1993-2006 to be problematic as there were two different leaders, with Martin trying to rectify many promises that had been made pre-2003 and making new ones post-2003. Many of which were on the verge to becoming a reality in 2005/2006.

My last response to Duncan was “Also, last I checked the well being of fellow #Indigenous ppl was not a “thin” argument #distasteful #shame #canpoli.” I stand by this comment because when it comes to Indigenous items I am not partisan on this. My idealism would like to see a complete change of every Canadian political party’s understanding in order to re-align the Canadian/Indigenous relationship. It seems like it has become an uphill battle in Canadian politics since Martin stepped down and left the political light. But, he is proof it can be done and the understanding and knowledge comes from working with and listening to the Indigenous people when it relates to them.

Thus Duncan, it is not a thin argument. When you have many Indigenous people still looking to the Kelowna Accord and feeling betrayed that it didn’t become a law then there was obviously a bad decision made in not letting it be passed. I will always call people out on this because I grew up in it and I watch many others grow up in it. While people play politics in Ottawa and express their sadness for the situations, yet do nothing, then I find that a problem. If the NDP are so committed to the well being of Indigenous people then why have they not moved to have a similar piece of legislation come forth in the entire 6 years that they have been increasing their seat count? To me, no matter what, even if I am a Liberal, I will never back down to any party, or cater to them, when it comes to trying to bring forth education and understanding on how best to work with the Indigenous nations. I will never allow it to be considered a ‘thin argument’ when it comes to the well being of people who continue to face much adversity and who deal with it on a daily basis. Therefore Linda Duncan, it is your comment that was thin and distasteful. I am still awaiting your response Ms. Duncan.

Note: The conversation I had copied and pasted onto a word document just in case it was to disappear on twitter – Interestingly, I went to find it again today and cannot locate it anymore),_2006
(Note: I do not condone using wikipedia for insight/citations - however upon checking to make sure the opinion polls were correct It seems to be ok to use this one and I opted to because of the amount of polls it shows from 2004-the election results in January 2006)

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