OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis says media reports that provincial and Sarnia police blew off judge's orders to immediately end the native Idle No More railway blockade are fiction.
"Some media outlets, and some of the more ravenous reporters, are saying we thumbed our noses at the courts. That is not true.
"In fact it’s ridiculous," Lewis said Thursday morning. "We are part of and totally respect Ontario's judicial system. "
Which is why your officers ignored court orders, not just in Sarnia but in Caledonia as well. In this video the OPP commissioner praises his officers for their restraint in policing these "protests." The general theme coming from the video is that the OPP wants to avoid violence. Yet the so called protesters have already committed an act of violence by blocking a transportation link. They have trespassed onto private property, as in the case of railway blockages in Sarnia, or obstructed public thoroughfares.
The most revealing part of Commissioner Lewis' statement is the admission that aboriginal "protesters" have the ability to paralyze the national economy. He spends three minutes talking about restraint and non-violence and then lets slip his real fear: Aboriginal terrorism. The Commissioner of the second largest police force in Canada is being intimidated by a relatively small group of thugs.
To most Canadians the aboriginal is a figure of half-ignored pity. They are mostly out of sight and out of mind. When some appalling examples of corruption or administrative incompetence manifest themselves to the MSM, our collective conscience is assuaged by a few millions more spent to "solve" the problem. Actually arresting and prosecuting the guilty is not considered. Calling for sweeping reforms of the reserve system to accord aboriginals the same rights and responsibilities as other Canadians is considered heretical or outright racist.
We do not act because of a mixture of indifference and guilt.
So the problems breed for generation after generation. What has emerged in response on many aboriginal reserves is a type of ethnic nationalism. This has been one of the most dangerous phenomenons of modern history. The ethnic nationalist places his group above others and demands, and if necessary extorts, special privileges from the wider population. In its mildest form it has produced the Quebec nationalist movement of the last fifty years. More militant strains have caused untold havoc well within living memory.
Ethnic nationalism provides hope to the hopeless. Lacking opportunity and feeling marginalized, many aboriginals have turned to ethnic nationalism. In its intellectual folds it contains the seeming answer to all the problems that confront the aboriginal peoples. It gives pride to those who have lost the pride that comes from self-sufficiency. It gives strength to those who feel powerless. I am weak but my people together are strong. It provides an overarching narrative to organize the world, fulfilling in some ways the function of religion.
Key to that narrative is the idea of a Golden Age which existed before the European settlement. This is a frequent staple of ethnic nationalists through out the world: Once we lived in arcadian splendours which a villainous Other took away from us. The guilty party in the narrative of aboriginal nationalism is always the white man. If you could only get the white man out of the way all would be well. The problem is always someone else.
The threat of aboriginal terrorism is serious but not quite as grave as Commissioner Lewis fears. The scenario laid out in Douglas Bland's 2009 book Uprising is an extreme possibility. Most aboriginals living on reserves are too dependent on federal largess. Few would be interested in biting the hand that feeds them. There will always, of course, be a group of fanatics who will not care about the economic consequences of their actions. The True Believer is indifferent to the price of their beliefs.
Ironically the greatest protection Canadians have from violent aboriginal nationalism is not the police, who have now admitted their cowardice publicly, but from the aboriginal nationalists themselves. The concept of "aboriginal" is an imposition of European settlers. The Cree, the Algonquin and Iroquois did not think of themselves as aboriginals before Columbus. This was a European label that made it easier for colonial governments to control the pre-settlement populations. While aboriginal nationalists are united in their fight, both violent and non-violent, against the white man, there are still scores of ethnic grievances between them.
Pre-Columbian North America, while technological and socio-economically quite primitive, was very diverse in cultural and linguistic terms. The aboriginals of modern day British Columbia often had far different practices than aboriginals living in the Maritimes or the Prairies. These differences in culture, as well as differences in their response to European contact and settlement, have been temporarily submerged. Once momentum is lost in the political struggle against the Harper government those differences are likely to re-emerge.
What we have is a small militant faction, aided and abetted by the institutional Left in Canada, which is trying to hold the Canadian economy hostage. Their power rests not so much in overwhelming popular support. It should be recalled that a relatively moderate figure such as Shawn Atleo won a decisive election victory over more extremist elements in the Assembly of First Nations this summer. The fanatics, however, are very good at playing to the fears of the Canadian mainstream society. Their guilt over the injustices of the past and their fear of terrorism today.
The cowardice of Commissioner Lewis and other peace officers across this country are making the situation worse. They are empowering the militants and making the moderates look weak. Shawn Atleo was able to, after much effort, get a meeting with the Prime Minister. The fanatics are able to shut down railways with impunity. Heck in Sarnia a police officer actually joined in a drumming circle.
If you're a young aboriginal, taught the grievance mongering ideas of aboriginal nationalism, and frustrated by the lack of opportunity for yourself and your people, what do you find more attractive? Atleo's negotiations that seems to lead nowhere? Or the Idle No More's direct action?
In nationalist movements the fanatics always try to take over. The question is whether the rest of Canadian society will let them.