OPINION: Canada needs quality First Nation leaders in Parliament
By: Mischa Popoff, Policy Advisor for The Heartland Institute, Research Associate for The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Getting kicked off a flight for being inebriated must’ve been troubling for New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash. But it was even more troubling for me.
Put aside for the moment the fact that Saganash is a tax-and-spender I’d never vote for. As a member of the House of Commons he represents all Canadians. He also represents all First Nations people across this great land. So it was with great skepticism that I listened to his rationalization that he was “greatly affected” by the death of NDP leader Jack Layton, and worn down by his campaign to succeed Layton. In the end, Saganash only revealed how completely unfit he is for any such leadership position.
It’s time to stand up and be a man! Everyone, and I mean everyone, is looking at you Saganash. And we’re willing to forgive you – even those of us who’d never vote for you – as long as you come clean.
It should not escape Saganash that there is a conspicuous lack of First Nations people like him involved in Canadian politics. Why? Simple. Because smart natives are busy running their band offices collecting six-digit salaries as chiefs, executive assistants to chiefs, and whole bevy of other positions that don’t exist in the real world.
With few exceptions, Canada’s reserves waste human talent and generate countless drug-and-alcohol addicted and perpetually unemployed First-Nations people who find themselves trapped on the wrong end of a nepotistic system that denies them the right to even own property.
By giving First Nations people what we euphemistically refer to as “self government,” we have given rise to an inherently damaged system and, most ironically, have guaranteed there will never be a First Nations prime minister in this country, never mind a cabinet minister worthy of note.
Where, pray tell, is the First Nations’ equivalent to Barack Obama coming up the ranks? Or Alan West for that matter? Is he sitting in Parliament? Perhaps working at the provincial level? If he is, or if she is, it would come as news to me because I have not heard of such an individual since Elijah Harper, the Cree member of Manitoba’s Legislative Assembly who voted against the Meech Lake Accord back in 1990!
People like Saganash are the exception to the quintessentially Canadian patriarchal rule that First Nations people belong on reserves. He has every reason to be proud of his achievements OUTSIDE of the totalitarian, supremacist control of Canada’s racist Indian Act. And even though he lost his leadership bid, he nonetheless has every reason to be proud of having mounted a campaign that everyone − again, even people like me who’d never vote for him or his party – followed with interest.
However, having spoken with more than a few successful chiefs, the sad fact of the matter is that none of them, and none of their top people, have plans to ever seek higher office. Why bother? They already hold the highest offices in the land, with a potent combination of political and free-enterprise authority that you literally cannot find anywhere, unless you go to the Third World or Middle East.
Not since medieval times, during the age of feudalism, has such hereditary, undemocratic power even existed in Western society.
And so, the good chiefs like Robert Louis of the Westbank First Nations and Clarence Louis of the Osoyoos Indian Band, remain forever ensconced in their fiefdoms, never to grace the rest of Canada with their wisdom, foresight and enthusiasm. Never.
Instead, were stuck with the likes of Saganash who, in addition to being a tax-and-spend socialist, would have us believe Jack Layton’s death over a year ago was worth getting drunk over. Pathetic.
Canada’s First Nations deserve better. So does the rest of Canada.