Shawn Atleo wants the government’s attention

Tease the day: The aboriginal leader says the government must listen to his people

CP/Fred Chartrand

It almost seems an eternity ago that, in the throes of winter, Idle No More protesters took their fight to Parliament Hill. On Jan. 11, they took over the steps beneath the Peace Tower, surrounded a door to the Prime Minister’s Office across the street, and praised relentlessly the protest of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who’d given up eating solid food for weeks. Their gripes were myriad, but they commonly hoped for more respect from the government with respect to treaty rights, as well as a nation-to-nation relationship.

None of that was forthcoming from the government, if you asked anyone from Idle No More.

On the same day, Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo and a number of aboriginal leaders met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other federal representatives. They were on the other side of the door blocked by Manitoba chief Derek Neepinak, a prominent critic of Atleo’s leadership. Out of that meeting, the government pledged a new approach to aboriginal relations, and committed to what the AFN characterized as “high-level discussions” on comprehensive claims and treaty implementation.

Five months later, and counting, and Atleo’s not satisfied. Today, on National Aboriginal Day, The Globe and Mail says Atleo is “talking less about conciliation and more about things that will be done to drive home the urgency of the situation.” When it comes to getting the government’s attention, Atleo told the Globe that “all avenues are required”—including blockades, which are divisive and economically disruptive, but certainly attention-grabbing.

The summer’s on, and politicians have fled Ottawa for the safety of the barbecue circuit. But Idle No More remains simmering, and aboriginal protests could be coming to a community near you.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with massive flooding in Alberta that’s forced the evacuation of up to 100,000 Calgary residents. The National Post fronts the floods and warns that the worst is yet to come. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the widening RCMP investigation into the Senate expenses scandal. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the Mounties’ probe into the Senate, which now includes Senator Mac Harb. iPolitics fronts mid-term advice for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. leads with more rain in Alberta. CTV News leads with the Alberta floods. National Newswatch showcases a Montreal Gazette story about strong Liberal numbers in a new national poll.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Budget cuts. Veterans Affairs Canada will cut 297 employees, including 153 at its headquarters in Charlottetown. The government says the cuts won’t affect client services. 2. Afghanistan. Canada’s final rotation of troops into Kabul—about 100 soldiers from Alberta and Manitoba—made their way overseas yesterday. They’ll serve until March 2014.
3. War of 1812. The feds spent $700,000 at a British auction to acquire the records of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812. 4. Libyan rebel. Muhsen Ahmed Agraira, a former Libyan rebel who’s lived in Canada since 1997, was denied permanent residency by the Supreme Court on “national security” grounds.
5. Brazil. Protesters and police clashed in Brazilian streets, as demonstrations hit 80 cities as the country hosts the Confederations Cup. Protesters are demanding better governance. 6. India. Thousands of Indians trapped by landslides in the Himalayas were reached by helicopters, but rescuers have been unable to reach eight villages hit by massive flooding.

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