Theresa Spence knows how to court controversy

The controversial chief wins re-election in Attawapiskat

Fred Chatrand/CP

Chief Theresa Spence can’t seem to escape controversy. Earlier this year, Spence famously sustained herself on a liquid diet for six weeks of bitter cold on Ottawa’s Victoria Island, in protest of the government’s treatment of aboriginal people. That protest united aboriginal activists and galvanized the Idle No More movement, but Spence wasn’t universally applauded by the rest of the country. During the protest, an audit into the finances of Spence’s northern Ontario community, Attawapiskat, showed a lack of paper trail for millions of dollars spent from 2005 to 2011. The timing of the audit’s release was suspect, but Spence’s reputation took a hit. Questions about her management of Attawapiskat dogged her as she emerged from Victoria Island.

Then, of course, the rest of Canada forgot about Attawapiskat. Now, Spence has reportedly won re-election as the band’s chief. Not everyone is overjoyed. The election was held on the reserve, and ballots were cast only in person. Off-reserve band members, who comprise almost half of eligible voters, complained that they couldn’t afford to get to Attawapiskat—and wouldn’t be able to vote. They urged the band council to delay the election. Even the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, led by national chief Betty Ann Lavallee, stepped in. But to no avail.

Voting went ahead, and Spence reportedly won another three-year term. She certainly knows how to draw a headline.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to recall Parliament for a debate on potential military intervention in Syria. The National Post fronts the increased odds of a U.S.-led intervention in Syria. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with concerns about new rules that will give more Ontario police access to tasers. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Harper’s call for a “firm response” to the alleged Syrian chemical attack. iPolitics fronts the back-and-forth in Quebec over forthcoming legislation that would ban religious symbols in public workplaces. CBC.ca leads with al-Qaeda’s condemnation of the current Syrian regime. CTV News leads with the UN envoy to Syria’s suggestion that a UN resolution is necessary to use force in the country. National Newswatch showcases Tim Harper’s column in the Toronto Star that tests the plausibility of Harper’s claim that his former chief of staff acted alone when he bailed out Senator Mike Duffy.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Cigarettes. A briefing document claims that about 50 illegal cigarette manufacturers operate on reserves in Ontario and Quebec, and they benefit from jurisdictional challenges. 2. Strike. Workers at Vancouver’s airport may go on strike over Labour Day weekend, a response to what the union call unfair demands for concessions as capital spending continues.
3. Credit unions. The federal government will fix an error in budget legislation passed earlier this year that accidentally more than doubled the tax rate paid by Canadian credit unions. 4. Canada Post. The country’s national mail carrier has warned that unless the federal government lends a hand, it could run out of money next summer as it pays for its bulky pension plan.
5. Racism. Craig Cobb, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen wanted for hate crimes north of the border, is buying land in Leith, N.D., in hopes of setting up an enclave for white supremacists. 6. Germany. Christian Wulff, who was president of Germany from 2010 to 2012, heads to trial for illegally accepting favours during his time as governor of Lower Saxony.

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