Theresa Spence hunger strike working to a crescendo

Tease the day: Attawapiskat chief gives the PM a 72-hour ultimatum

CP/Sean Kilpatrick

Theresa Spence’s hunger strike is working to a crescendo. The Attawapiskat chief’s refusal to eat solid food has attracted significant media attention almost from the beginning, but it’s naturally taken on greater urgency as the days and weeks pass. Yesterday, she gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper a 72-hour ultimatum—either meet with her and other Aboriginal leaders, or watch her grow yet weaker. Meanwhile, the Assembly of First Nations has requested its own meeting with Harper for Jan. 24, a year after its Crown-First Nations meeting of early 2012. That prospective meeting in three weeks isn’t good enough for Spence, who says she can’t last that long but, importantly, won’t eat until a meeting actually occurs.

This emerging  combination of urgency and conflicting messaging on the Aboriginal side, fused with the decentralized demands of the broader Idle No More movement that is deliberately independent of traditional Aboriginal leadership, can’t help the cause. The prime minister’s being forced to choose which Aboriginal voices represent the movement, and which of their issues are most important. This can’t go on forever, if anyone on the Aboriginal side hopes to meet with Harper before Spence’s health takes a turn. How they solve that puzzle is utterly unclear.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with a $250-million federal subsidy for the country’s automakers. The National Post fronts Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s 72-hour ultimatum to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with labour unrest among Ontario’s teachers. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the same story. iPolitics fronts Russia’s potential dominance of Arctic shipping. leads with the release from hospital of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban. National Newswatch showcases a Sun News Network story asking questions about finances on the Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Injunction. First Nations groups will take the federal government to court over its pending approval of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement. 2. US blacklist. People who apply for Canadian visas will have their identities checked against American blacklists, and those from several countries will be fingerprinted during the process.
3. Embassy issues. A federal investigation into allegations of widespread improprieties at Canada’s embassy in Denmark confirmed that problems did, or do, exist. 4. Ship damage. A Canadian ship, HMCS Athabaskan, was damaged off the coast of Cape Breton, and Navy officials are currently assessing the ship’s weakened hull.

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