Straight Talk
ERIC DUHAIME - Anti-transparency coalition: Could it be that the Idle No More movement is aligned with unions?

"Idle No More" protesters gather in front of the Toronto Sun building in Toronto, on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY

ERIC DUHAIME | QMI AGENCY

Should the Idle No More movement be rebranded the Anti-Transparency Coalition?

When we look at what's going on now, the question becomes quite relevant.

Six weeks ago, many of us wondered why the chief of Attawapiskat, Theresa Spence, started her so-called hunger strike/diet.

We're still wondering with her shifting demands. She wanted a meeting with the prime minister and the governor general. When they agreed to meet - but not at the same time - she decided not to show up and kept eating her fish bouillon.

Was Spence trying to become the symbol of an Aboriginal awakening or, less nobly, trying to divert attention from what's happening on reserves?

Less than a month before the "crisis" started, the federal government adopted

Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, to ensure that leaders of those communities are held to the same laws of accountability and transparency as all other elected public officials.

It's the kind of legislation that will ensure that we find out as taxpayers how, for example, Spence's band spent over 100 million public dollars over the last seven years managing a community of

300 families.

We won't need a Deloitte audit in future to figure out that more than 80% of the spending is made with insufficient or no paperwork at all.

But solidarity is always stronger when you have comrades. Enter the unions.

Canadian unions fought unsuccessfully during 2012 to kill an act to also force them to open their books so the public could see how much they spend on political causes. The bill passed last December.

Well-fed Aboriginal elites and union bosses have a common enemy - the Conservative government that is threatening their rich and famous lifestyle. They felt the need to express their frustration.

Is it possible they decided to use the teepee, the drums and Spence as props to undermine those who requested transparency?

Could they have then turned to the CBC to spread their propaganda? Our national broadcaster is no friend of transparency. The CBC was forced against its will to comply with the Access to Information Act launched by the Conservatives in 2007. It challenged the Canadian information commissioner's requests and lost in court in 2010, and in appeal in 2011.

I am mentioning this not because I want to become a conspiracy theorist, but because the Idle No More movement reminds me too much of what happened last year with the student crisis in Quebec. The left wanted to get their Parti Quebecois allies in power. The unions funded students' associations while the CBC spread their message.

Currently in Quebec, the former red squares (carres rouges) are transforming themselves into red feathers. They rally at Place Emilie-Gamelin, where the Maple Spring all started. Will we soon find out that unions are once again secretly paying the bills? Unions are already distributing their brochures at Aboriginal protests in Ottawa and carrying their signs in Winnipeg marches.

There is hope, however: 49% of Canadians and 52% of Aboriginals oppose the Idle No More movement. Millions of Canadians clearly want no part of the anti-transparency coalition.

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