Idle No More needs to stop idling

The Weal ― OpinionsIdle No More hasn’t exactly been a successful movement so far. They’re struggling to get their message out – no, the movement isn’t just about keeping your car running while you’re parked – and many of those that understand the cause think it’s a desperate and undeserving bid for attention.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty noble cause that’s being handled badly. The website’s mission statement reads, “Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water.” Idle No More is in response to bill C-45 – a bill that weakens environmental protection laws in Canada, something that affects everyone, not just the native people that for the most part make up the Idle No More protests.

Protesters have been mostly blockading roads by setting up camp with their signs and shouting slogans such as “They took our land” and “F*** Harper.” According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll, only 69 per cent of people agree with the method of protest. The same poll suggested that 60 per cent of people think that the protesters have caused their own problems, and that 71 per cent of people disapprove of leader Theresa Spence. It’s easy to see why – Spence seems to irrationally change her demands daily, and is asking for financial support with a damning audit showing millions of dollars missing from the Attawapiskat reserve where she is chief. The reserve has frequently been in a state of emergency, with some of the worst housing conditions in Canada. It’s an area that definitely can’t survive if money goes missing from the budget.

As for protests in Calgary, they’re just as messy. A recent blockade of 14th St. leading into Kensington angered hundreds of people who were affected. The protesters were waiting to get an audience with Mayor Nenshi – who was not only out of the city, but would be entirely unable to help them with their issues with a federal bill. Nenshi politely responded upon his return that their local MPs would be happy to meet with them.

If reserve conditions improve, and the environment gains more legal protection, everyone will benefit. It would be in the country’s best interest if Idle No More stopped making it so easy to dismiss their protests. Get a new leader, and distill your message until it’s crystal clear. Please, force us to take you seriously.

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