Well look who's being bland and sensible:
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is calling on Chief Theresa Spence to end her hunger strike, saying progress has been made towards respecting First Nations treaty rights and the focus should now be on pressuring the government to act.
“I would sincerely call upon Chief Spence to realize that there has been a step in the right direction, to try and see now if we can keep putting pressure on the government to follow through,” Mulcair said during an interview with CTV’s Question Period.
Not so sure about that Tommy. I think the Chief could probably lose a few pounds. Besides that the stockade she's got setup is going to be a pain to take down. Wait until the spring. It'll be easier then and the MSM's ADD will have kicked in long before the tulips get planted on Parliament Hill. In Canada most problems get solved if you ignore them long enough. Don't believe me? When was the last time you heard any politician waste more than a few words on the environment?
Many of you might be wondering why Tommy is being all sensible and conciliatory. Shouldn't the leader of the NDP be manning the barricades with the workers? Or at the very least the professional activists? Actually no. Tommy is certainly a Dipper but, unlike all previous Dipper Chieftains, he's got a chance in hell of becoming Prime Minister. It's OK to play the radical when power is very far away. When it's a Harperesque slip of the tongue away the sensible thing is to play it safe. That's why Tommy, unlike the callow and foolish Justin Trudeau, has avoided meeting with Chief Spence.
Charlie Angus, the Dipper MP representing the riding that includes Chief Spence's little slice of the Third World, has allowed little daylight between himself and the Chief. Thing is that Charlie is a bit of a loudmouth wingnut. Tommy, aware that hunger strikes are crude publicity stunts and that Attawapiskat has seen almost as many auditors as roofing contractors since Spence became Chief, has prudently stayed away. This is going to blow up in the new few weeks. When it blows up he does not want to have photos of himself sitting next to a women being chased by a Crown prosecutor. There is also a chance that should Theresa and her live-in boyfriend get hauled into court it might be sometime in the Spring of 2015.
Well Tommy Mulcair might not be able to tell the difference between the Dutch Disease and Dutch Elm Disease, but he can spot a political train wreck in the making. It's why he likely engineered his departure from Jean Charest's cabinet. He understood only too well that Brillo Head was for the chop. Sensing danger is a key aspect of political leadership. Another key aspect is projecting the appropriate image.
Tommy wants very badly to become Prime Minister. Unlike the other 300 or so MPs who also want to live in 24 Sussex Drive he has a reasonable chance. As leader of the NDP he has an image problem, or more precisely the NDP has an image problem. While often styled as the conscience of the nation, most middle class people view the Dippers as a weird combination of unionized workers, tenured radicals and granola munching hippies. With the exception of Pierre Trudeau Canadians always vote for the guy who looks and sounds most like a competent bank manager. In the case of Jean Chretien he was more like a somewhat unscrupulous used car salesman. Thankfully for Papa Jean his rival and sometime Finance Minister Paul Martin gave off a strong bank manager vibe.
Bank managers don't do hunger strikes. They prefer a hefty physique personally. They also shy away from bad investments. The one undeniable image that comes out of Attawapiskat is incompetence. Lots of money is being spent but very little of it is being accounted for. Even if the Spences are able to come up with a perfectly logical explanation of why there are so few receipts, or perhaps even if they are able to locate the receipts, the impression here is not a good one. Tommy wants to project a relatively conservative image but with a heart. Sharing some fish broth with an inarticulate women holding court in a public park is not a good way to project such an image.
Walking down Bloor Street in Toronto on a typical day you meet quite a few people who look and sound like Theresa Spence. They weren't smart enough to get elected Chief so they're stuck pushing a shopping cart. While no one would dare say this publicly, and certainly not Tommy Mulcair, that is the emotion that Chief Spence invokes in many: Pity mixing uneasily with guilt.
Tommy has past an important test for a major party leader. He has avoided running after the shinny news item of the day. This means he can think long-term and think strategically. While many on the Left are today fawning over Justin Trudeau as their great hope, it probably won't last. Justin never met a soft photo-op he didn't like. In time that will cost him dearly. Either because of Theresa Spence or a similar figure down the road. The Tory war room will be sure to set their PVR on record.