Bad Optics?

You have to wonder about the wisdom of allegedly putting your boyfriend in charge of the hunger-strike donation account when you’re the leader of a “Sovereign Nation” trying to garner sympathy and force a meeting with “the leader of Canada.”

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H/T to Norman Spector for link to column by Tom Flanagan on land lease aspect of  Bill C-45.

How long can one survive on a hunger strike?CTV:

How long one survives without food is thought to be affected by a few factors, most importantly, whether one is also taking in fluids. (Without fluids, most die within 10 days.) One’s health before the strike can be another big factor affecting how long they survive. A high amount of body fat appears to also be important…

Great post by Sandy: Trudeau & Garneau make Chief Spence hunger strike another partisan “gotcha”Crux of the Matter.

Some Attawapiskat Residents At Odds With ChiefHuffPo:

Some residents of Attawapiskat First Nations support the government’s plan to put the reserve under third-party management, a move strongly opposed by the chief and band council.

“I think it would be a good thing. We need to clean up our financial crisis here in Attawapiskat because it’s been like this too long now,” Greg Shisheesh, a former deputy chief of the reserve, told CBC News in a phone interview.

“I was happy to hear the federal government was stepping in to clean the mess up.”

Shisheesh, who said he has lived on the reserve all his life, said he believes a forensic audit should be conducted on a number of organizations on the reserve, including the band office and economic development office.

“If our leaders have nothing to hide, by all means do it.”

Oh boy. That is one courageous native.
Attawapiskat audit finds ‘no evidence of due diligence’CBC

This entry was posted in Accountability, Appeasement never works, Attawapiskat, Big Bureaucracy, Canadian Government, Native Issues, Two-tiered justice, Your tax-dollars. Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Bad Optics?

  1. Richco says:

    Just posted this under the previous thread Joanne. It’s worth a look here also IMO. Santa left me a Year in Review copy of MacLean’s in my stocking this year. I am VERY glad that Santa took time out of his busy night to remind me why I cancelled my subscription:-) Even Feschuk isn’t funny any more.

  2. Joanne says:

    Check out which party’s logo is on this Facebook twitter bomb page.

  3. Bubba Brown says:

    Hmmm here we go again perhaps Chief Spence could explain to me why you need donations for a hunger strike?
    I think enough of our tax dollars have been gifted to an management group that ate 32% of the 34 million given to it in 2010 11.2 million in salaries and expenses.
    Indian wisdom…… The Chief’s driveway is always paved.
    Seems to me the Federal Government is still waiting for Chief Spence to tell them by way of a set of plans, a drawing what kind of new holes besides the ones already built they actually want.
    Still waiting.
    Of course as last time the Attawapiskat was in the news Lil’ Justin and the space guy showed up to get some reflected glory.
    The aspiring leadership hopefuls of the third place party meet the third world in a teepee, there is a country song in that somewhere.
    Where is Mr Muclair?
    This is not helpful and I think is all about the Chiefs keeping control than actually helping anyone.
    This Government has done more to reach out and actually help than any I can think of.
    I am not counting Paul Martins 4 billion dollar attempt to solve the problem by dumping truck loads of our dollars into the Chiefs hands.
    Idle No More Protests
    The Government hosted an historic gathering of the Crown and First Nations this past January.
    Since then, the Government has been working with First Nations leadership to make progress in several areas, most notably education and infrastructure on reserve.
    In fact, the Prime Minister and Minister Duncan met recently with National Chief Atleo to review the progress to date and to discuss a range of issues.
    The Government remains willing to work with Chief Spence, and all chiefs, to deliver better outcomes for First Nations communities.
    Minister Duncan has repeatedly offered to meet with Chief Spence but has not as yet received a response from her.
    Parliamentary Secretary Rickford has also asked to visit Attawapiskat to see first-hand the improvements made on this particular reserve, including the construction of new modular homes.
    First Nations Blockades
    We respect First Nations’ right to peaceful protest, but we’re disappointed with their actions.
    We believe that working together is the best way to achieve results.
    We expect protesters to respect and adhere to the law.
    Since 2006 the Government has taken concrete action on priorities like health, education, economic development and housing for First Nations. For instance, we have:
    Built over 30 new schools on reserve and renovated more than 200 others;
    Invested in safe drinking water systems;
    Built over 10,000 new homes and renovated thousands more;
    Increased funding for child and family services by 25%;
    Introduced legislation ensuring the Canadian Human Rights Act applies on reserves;
    Introduced legislation to improve the accountability of First Nations governments to their people;
    Delivered on our promise to First Nation community members to improve accountability and transparency of First Nations government;
    Settled over 80 outstanding land claims; and
    Invested in over 700 projects linking Aboriginals across Canada with job training and counselling services.
    Each year our Government holds over 5,000 consultations with First Nations.
    Our Conservative Caucus includes the largest aboriginal representation of all parties.

    My apologies for a lengthy article Jo, but it seems to me that the people living in the shacks are being kept that way.
    A quote from a former slave who fled to Canada;
    “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
    Frederick Douglass.
    I think the changes to allow the ordinary native to know what and where the money goes will be the game changer and improve their lot in life.

  4. Bubba Brown says:

    Darn spell check! Homes, not holes.

  5. Liz J says:

    Perhaps it’s the First Nations people who should be out protesting against their chiefs for blaming the government of the day for their problems.

    • dmorris says:

      You don’t bitch about the Chief or Band Council while living on the Rez, or you’ll find your welfare cheques suddenly go missing, only to be found after you’ve retracted your original complaint.

      Reservation “justice” is very direct,open your mouth,they cut off the money. Works beautifully.

  6. Mary T says:

    I still have not received an answer to my question, if she is on a hunger stike, why does she need donations for money for food. She doesn’t look like she is not eating for over 2 weeks. Does she not know that many of been lost for days with no food and when found they look horribe. We also have seen pics of real hunger strikers who have gone for days and they look horrible. But she still seems to look the same. Has she lost weight.

  7. Bubba Brown says:

    Yes MaryT, the rule of thumb is you can survive
    3 weeks without food,
    3 days without water
    3 minutes without air.
    Chief Spence does not look at all discomfited to me.
    Why is she not at home?
    Drama is not leadership.
    Could it be her home is just a little nicer than the rest of the tribe?

  8. Gabby in QC says:

    Optics … a very important word in today’s instant communications world, a world that is often devoid of factual information. Anticipating media coverage and the optics created by such coverage should be an essential part of the PM’s communications strategy team.

    Regardless of how justified the PM may be in refusing to bend to Chief Spence’s unreasonable demand, the optics created by that refusal in the MSM is that he doesn’t care about her self-created plight, and by extension, that of her people.
    An aside … I was surprised by a media personality (either the CP’s Stephanie Levitz or the HuffPost’s Althia Raj on CPAC, can’t recall who) saying the PM could not reasonably be expected to meet with everyone who asked for a private audience. (paraphrase]

    What could have been done differently? Yes, I know that 20/20 hindsight is really annoying and downright pointless but …
    • Maybe, on the very first day the hunger-striking chief announced what she intended to do, the PMO could have set a date for a meeting with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo. Atleo’s leadership style is being challenged by other chiefs, especially those like Pam Palmater, who made a leadership bid for the AFN. so his influence with the government should be seen to be strengthened.

    • Maybe during the year-end interviews, the PM could have listed the improvements to First Nations’ conditions that have taken place under his administration. Bubba Brown listed them in his comment above. Mind you, those year-end interviews are taped a few weeks before air time, so the hunger strike might not have started yet at that time.

    • Maybe the Minister of Indian Affairs should have been even more prominent in media appearances, telling the government’s side of the story. Political junkies may be aware that Minister Duncan wrote a letter to Chief Spence but unless they have read the letter in its entirety, are they aware of the following?: [excerpts from Minister Duncan’s letter]
    • “… December 7 my office called and E-Mailed both you and the band office to extend an offer to have Kenora MP Greg Rickford visit Attawapiskat on December 12 or 13 to ensure your community has what it needs for winter. We did not receive a response.
    • …December 11, I indicated publicly, through the media, my willingness to meet with you or speak to you.
    • … December 13, my office again reached out to the band office seeking another number where you might be reached. Unfortunately, the band office declined to provide a number.
    • I attempted to contact you that day on your cell phone and via your home number.
    • I followed up by sending you a letter that day, reiterating my offer to meet with or speak to you. I did not receive a response.
    • I tried again to reach you by phone on Dec. 18 but was unable to reach you.
    • I followed this up with another letter on Dec. 23 in which I outlined our Government’s commitment to engaging in discussions with First Nations leaders on the treaty relationship.
    • Yesterday, Dec. 24, Senator Brazeau attempted to meet with you on Victoria Island but was turned away by your representatives. …”

    By my count, that’s 9 attempts by the Minister to contact Chief Spence — but she only has time for the media or publicity-seeking politicians.

    IMO, NDP MP Charlie Angus has probably played a prominent role in goading Chief Spence into this kind of action. Angus probably also had a hand in encouraging the aboriginal chiefs to get into the House of Commons on Dec 4. All of it to say, few people are really working to actually improve the situation.

    Yes indeed, it’s a lot to do with optics.

    • Joanne says:

      Very insightful observations Gabby.

      And of course it’s not just the PM Spence wants to meet with. It’s the GG too – and she has specifics about how that meeting should occur and which native leaders should also be there.

      David Johnson was asked about that in a year-end interview (perhaps on CBC). He said that it’s very complicated because he’s supposed to be neutral and not get involved in anything political. If I get time I’ll look for that interview because it told a side of the story we don’t often hear.

  9. ed says:

    I agree with Gabby’s comments that the government has to get out their side of the story to the Canadian public. How many times do we have to say the government must be much more effective in getting out their message. Because of the biased media, they really must intensify their efforts in this area. Long overdo!!

    As for the media, I agree with Gabby’s view that we read all points of view so we can confront the lies, etc. that are spewed from time to time. I think it’s vital to know the “enemy” in order to protect our interests. And to go after them, full throttle, whenever they attempt to misguide the public. “The best defense is a good offense!!”

    Didn’t Churchill say we must confront the enemy wherever they may be? :-)

  10. fh says:

    Our Conservative Canadian Government working hard for ALL Canadians

  11. Liz J says:

    Who among us taxpaying Canadians could go out and block a roadway or railway and not get arrested immediately?
    Not only do the Indians think they’re above our laws, our police and governments do as well.

    • Joanne says:

      It’s two-tiered justice for sure but many natives including Chief Spence don’t really believe they are part of Canada. They believe First Nations are separate from Canada if I am understanding it correctly.

      • Liz J says:

        It’s complicated but if they consider themselves separate from Canada and refuse to abide our laws it may be time to stop delivering the money bags with no accountability.
        A fish broth is appropriate for this whole fishy “hunger” strike.

        • Fay says:

          I think Chief Theresa Spence knows exactly what she is doing. She got away with manipulating the media last year and she is back for more this year!
          The CBC is playing a dangerous game with this unaccountable chief while ignoring the crys for help from the vulnerable natives who living on this reserve.
          There are some chiefs in Canada who govern fairly but many more like Spence.

  12. Jen says:

    Somehow I get the feeling that the NDP have a hand on this especially Charlie Angus who knows very well the total amount of taxpayers dollars has been given to the Attawapiskat.

  13. Jen says:

    Neil Edmondson ‏@NeilJEdmondson
    Why does Attawapiskat trust own shares in Enbridge, Pembina Pipeline, Halliburton, & Exxon? … #idlenomore #cdnpoli

    • Gabby in QC says:

      I was curious to read some of the tweets by the person you referred to and I found this one, found here, rather puzzling:
      ChiefTheresaSpence ‏@ChiefTheresa
      @Oprah – On behave [sic] of Theresa Spence, you are welcome to visit us on Victoria Island in Ottawa.
      So, Chief Spence wants Oprah to intercede?

      This other tweet, though, is not at all puzzling:
      Megan Leslie, MP ‏@MeganLeslieMP
      Chief Spence has invited MPs and Senators to meet with her tomorrow. I just booked my flight along w @RobertNDP. #IdleNoMore

      More of the NDP & allies mediatization
      Wiki def: In communication studies or media studies, mediatization is a theory that argues that the media shapes and frames the processes and discourse of political communication as well as the society in which that communication takes place … [my highlighting]

  14. Bubba Brown says:

    Jen @ 12:09 gee that is a healthy lookin’ little financial package.
    This is just more politics, more Harper derangement syndrome, more petty maneuvering from the “Fresh Prince of Big Hair”
    This Chief will not meet with the Minister responsible, thanks for that information Gabby.
    She however has time to visit with an opposition MP from the third place party.
    This is just another dog, pony and fish stew ‘an Justin too story.
    The tribes cache seems to be plumb full to burstin’ .
    I am guessing that Chief Spence is in the teepee cause her home with the Cadillac in the driveway would be poor optics for a hard luck story.
    This too will pass.
    The accountably act for Natives is the right thing to do, this is what real leadership looks like.
    Not the popular thing but the right thing to do.

  15. Jen says:

    check this out:
    Hunger-striking chief holds out for meeting with PM

    Read more:

    Read some of the comments some who mentioned what this government has done in 2008-9 and another mentioning the PM and FN meetings etc.

  16. Sandy says:

    Someone just left me a comment about this and I deleted it for legal reasons. Of course you are right to question things. But, be careful Jo.

    • Joanne says:

      A comment about what, Sandy?

      • Sandy says:

        No one should mention specific names about the donation fund and/or attribute possible motives for said fund, etc. You don’t specifically say anything like that in your actual post, your just wonder, but your commenters need to be careful for your sake.

        Emotions are running high on all sides of this debate obviously. I have had to delete several comments on my latest post because of actual names being used in a defammatory way.

        People are fed up and frustrated but BLY is read far and wide. So, I thought I would just give you a heads up.

  17. Gabby in QC says:

    It’s surprising to see so many comments against the hunger strike under a CBC article.

    I read only through the first 50 comments and the majority of those commenters do not support the hunger strike tactic. Judging by the number of thumbs up those comments received, Chief Spence appears to be losing whatever support she may have had.

  18. Liz J says:

    WK has an attention grabbing in his Sun column:”Long rule ahead for our hockey dad Prime Minister Stephen Harper”.
    Reading the column belies the seemingly friendly headline….just another bit of the usual screed.

  19. Bubba Brown says:

    Good morning all! Listening and talking to others around my community I have yet to find a single person who thinks that this “strike” is justified or that anyone is missing any meals.
    Joe Clark has chimed in, (1979-1980 PM) still pining for those glory days, his 9 months being the big kahuna, no doubt.
    Bell bottoms, platform shoes, ooh yeah!
    I don’t know who else in on the guest list, Oprah has been mentioned.
    Everyone but Minister Duncan.
    Winston Churchill is very quotable Ed, here is one of my favorites seems to be applicable.
    “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
    As a political party, as a movement in Canada and a Government we have been under attack from reform days.
    This is just more of the same.
    Focusing attention on your self, when most people in Canada are questioning what the heck are we getting for the billions we are pouring into what are admittedly some very sad situations.
    As a Canadian and a taxpayer I want something out of this also.
    I want a full accounting of all money being sent to the Bands.
    Some are very successful, they are prospering, what exactly is happening at Attawapiskat?
    The ordinary band members are the victims here IMO.
    Turning away the Minister responsible, only meeting those with an axe to grind is not helpful.
    I think also that one should always be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

    • Joanne says:

      I want a full accounting of all money being sent to the Bands.
      Some are very successful, they are prospering, what exactly is happening at Attawapiskat?
      The ordinary band members are the victims here IMO.

      All excellent points Bubba.

  20. Gabby in QC says:

    I hesitate to post this … but according to some aboriginal — at least, that’s what they suggested they were — commenters whose comments I read elsewhere, Chief Spence is doing a disservice to the aboriginal community, especially its young people: a community which is plagued by the not uncommon incidence of suicide. By stating she is willing to die for her cause, Chief Spence is thus role-modelling suicide as a legitimate solution to aboriginals’ problems, those commenters argue.

    What I find puzzling is why Chief Spence, whose argument, among others, is that the government is disrespecting First Nations, refuses to meet with the Minister in charge of that portfolio, who is an aboriginal himself. Isn’t she thus disrespecting him. implying he’s not important enough?

    • Joanne says:

      Both issues are very compelling and entirely valid points IMHO.

      I also read some reaction from natives in Attawapiskat which was not at all supportive of Chief Spence. Wish I could find that link now.

        • Bec says:

          “A reserve member, who didn’t want to be identified, said leadership on the reserve is like a dictatorship. “It’s bad enough that we’re under the Indian Act, but it just seems like our leadership becomes the oppressor in the end.

          “It’s always been like that,” the resident said.”

          These are THE VICTIMS and that is what the media should be focusing on. This is what people like Trudeau, Garneau and his NDP brethren should be asking this Chief.
          Why are they not? Is it because they wish to make it a political gotcha spectacle?

          That’s how it looks and for me, that’s what it is.

    • Bec says:

      Bang on!!! For me, YOU have hit the nail on the head because I too have thought of the ‘optics’ that her behaviour/decisions are implying to fragile minds and have held back for the same obvious reasons.

      Clarity is important for resolution and the dramatics, victim-hood, double standard nature of this just so political, it stinks… stinks badly. The REAL victims are all but forgotten by this event and someone should really think about delivering a full length mirror.

  21. Liz J says:

    And then there’s the visit to the Island of hunger by Joe Clark, private citizen, unless he’s thinking of running for the Liberal leadership.
    What a spectacle, what a farce.

    • Bec says:

      An embarrassment here in AB. and as soon as our Premier proves to be of HIS PC ilk (i.e very red Tory), he will quit making headlines.
      The only thing about JC which (imo) was a positive during his later days was his aptitude for diplomacy. He hasn’t proven THAT to be true at all (imo) since leaving politics because he appears to be rigid, opinionated and unswayed from the anger with the successful meld of the parties. Iow, he never got over it and is bitter to this day.

      I can’t see him doing this junket for any other reason than political. 20 years ago I could have.

  22. Mary T says:

    Just heard on the news that only 400 turned out to protest in front of the PM’s constituency office in Calgary. Guess AB natives and non natives do not support her phony hunger strike.
    But did hear a report that her health is getting worse every day. But not bad enough to keep all the wannabe famous MPs and others away from her.
    She is hurting her cause, if she really had one other than to keep the govt out of her money management ways.

  23. Bubba Brown says:

    Seems like a tempest in a teepee is not getting traction.
    Starving for attention is not leadership.
    But, there is the “Streisand effect”
    When google first made their map app available Bab-waa realized the great unwashed could zero in on her beach house from outer space, and went ballistic.
    The traffic on google map increased exponentially the” Striesland effect”
    I always figured you could see her schnooz from outer space, she dated Trudeau senior, must have been a shock to date a woman only 23 years younger than himself.
    Soo Chief Spence is meeting with people like Canada’s Jimmy Carter, Mr Clark the red Tory.
    Justin Trudeau, that NDP guy they are all alike trying desperately to somehow get something. anything on PM Harper and the Conservatives.
    None of them care about the ordinary native people who have no say in how resources are allocated.
    They have no solutions, just photo ops and little pathetic cardboard “stop” signs.
    This is wrong, the leadership is the problem.
    Slightly OT but along the same vein.
    Mr Kinsella is seemingly distraught PM Harper whom he says will win in 2015.
    Boo frickkin hoo.
    While this bunch of would be contenders flit about diving on every little thing like Oprah on a baked ham .
    Havin’ tea in the teepee is not at all helpful to the people that really, really need help.
    The ordinary native people who are being forgotten here, perhaps Justin and the NDP guy could go have tea there and find out what the disenfranchised really look like.
    I do agree with Mr Kinsella, but must add that Mr Harper will also win because he is a Leader.
    Mr Kinsella seems to fell PM Harper isn’t lovable.
    I for one don’t want any “man love” from my leader, just a good competent job.
    I am getting that, Liberals are needy they need hugs.
    Gonna have to settle for the purple dino.
    It ain’t just that the left is fighting amongst themselves, splitting the vote, there are no leaders on the left.
    No vision, no plan.
    No compassion.
    Just whining.
    Gotcha won’t getcha in power.
    Please continue, while y’all are playin’ games the Conservatives are doin’ the heavy lifting and running the Country.

  24. fh says:

    Another very successful year for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his hard working Conservative team
    I am looking forward to 2013.
    My spouse is improving health wise everyday.
    Counting my blessings each day
    Son is flying back to Switzerland tonight so will be praying for a safe trip for him.
    God bless all at BLY

  25. ed says:

    CFRA Soundoff
    Are hunger strikes an appropriate means of drawing attention to an important issue? (Please vote first. To comment, email

    1. Yes, sometimes when an issue is being ignored, extreme measures are necessary to motivate political leaders into action.

    2. No, a hunger strike is a form of blackmail and intimidation typically used when someone isn’t getting what they want through appropriate channels.

  26. Joanne says:

    Having a few more technical problems today. Thanks again for your patience.

  27. Jen says:

    I came across this:

    Federal funding for Attawapiskat First Nation
    by Attawapiskat and Mining » Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:20 pm

    Federal funding for Attawapiskat First Nation . . .

    • fh says:

      Jen that puts the poor us to rest
      Where does the MONEY go? Attawapiskat must show the Federal Government their books NOW?

      • Jen says:

        Have you read what Dalton and the fed gov at the time had done for Attawapiskat?

        I notice that other ‘FN are not baring fruits ($$$$) for their own kind Attawapiskat out of its misery.
        Normally when situation become grave we pull together to help the unfortunate. Well, where are the other FNs.

  28. ed says:

    Do you agree with former prime minister Joe Clark that the relationship between Canada and the First Nations is headed in a “dangerous direction”? (Please vote first. To comment, email

    1. I agree there has been a breakdown in the dialogue and the government can fix that by starting a new conversation with Aboriginal leaders.

    2. I think the dangerous direction is the current pattern of throwing millions of dollars at every problem rather than find a permanent, sustainable solution.

    Thank God we don’t have his type running the country today.

    Good news: Canada 4 Russia 1. The Juniors played a classic Canadian game as they overwhelmed the Russians. They were brilliant. We just “know” the game, it’s in our DNA. It just comes naturally. :-) Congratulations, Juniors!!

    (Heard game on the radio.)

  29. fh says:

    another good example of the reason Canadians are proud of our Prime Minister Stephen Harper

  30. Sandy says:

    I am going to put up a post about the accomplishments that the PM’s statement touched on this morning.

    I haven’t been able to keep up my old list because too much is going on. But, at least the PMO communications department said something today.

    Happy New Year Jo and all the BLY virtual family.

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