Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Has Opposition politics sunk to a new low in Canada?

What motivated Interim Federal Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae, his shadow Aboriginal Affairs critic Carolyn Bennett to become what now seems co-conspirators with Chief Spence. The Federal NDP representative Charlie Angus has his guitar strapped on his back singing the woes of Attawapiskat, as if he was a minstrel of days gone past, for some time. For some degree on the surface it was understandable as Attawapiskat is within the boundaries of Charlie Angus's riding and he is part of the official opposition party. But what can explain the apparent intentional deceit that the opposition became a part of.

Chief Theresa Spence had not only deceived all of Canada but the whole world with her act. Her deception was clear and intentional, her motivation still under question. Undeniable evidence had been examined and published in two articles on Mayorgate which proves massive premeditated misappropriation of public money at the Attawapiskat Reserve. Chief Spence and her supporters had labelled the Deloitte audit conducted on behalf of the federal government as a smear campaign to discredit Chief Spence. The fact is that Chief Theresa Spence had no credibility whatsoever, not as a chief nor as a pretending activist who claimed she was willing to die for her people. Chief Spence is a fraud who has many questions to answer and who has run from those questions constantly. It is on the evidence provided that such a comment is made.

There is much conjecture on what motivated Chief Theresa Spence to play out her spectacle of a so-called hunger strike for the world to gaze upon. A greater question now rests why some of the elected representatives of our government became willing accomplices to the fraud. Chief Spence could not of found such public attention without the manipulation of media. Still it was not enough, not without the very public rantings of opposition politicians in front of reporters and even through social media.

Opposition politics within a democratic government presents a balance to the government with debate and even objection to actions planned for implementation. After all when an election is held and there is more than one party listed on the ballot sheet there must be a runner-up in the end. When on the other hand the government controls both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament the opposition can do very little but make noise. Nothing is really off limits; scandal, accusation even personal attacks are merely a politician's weapons. Still as elected Members of Parliament a certain code of ethics must be demanded. It would be impossible to claim that Charlie Angus, Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett are stupid or completely ignorant. Equally to believe that either one of these experienced politicians is naive or physically impaired of vision is difficult to accept. So what can explain their motivation for what now clearly appears to be intentional deceit of the Canadian people?

Chief Theresa Spence was facing a more than embarrassing situation regarding the finances of the Attawapiskat First Nations Reserve. Tens of millions of dollars are missing with no real explanation or documentation. In addition to her concerns about the audit Chief Theresa Spence was fully aware of tens of millions of dollars that were claimed in annual financial statements by the Attawapiskat Band were nothing more than fraud, theft of public money. The Attawapiskat Reserve is governed by a small select few who control the money, its intentional misappropriation and the greater majority suffer. Spence and her handlers decided to present Canada a horror scenario to weaken the hearts of the masses.

Canada became the victim of a planned manipulation with images of derelict houses and innocent people living in horrific conditions. Media was happy to play along with such images and stories on the evening news. Chief Spence a softly spoken woman would be a less likely target for the sensitive Canadian media as the CTV interview was to prove later.

Amnesty International issued their public statement on Aboriginal Communities December 8th 2011, Chief Spence did her round of public appearances for the media and the state of emergency was declared by Spence October 28th 2011. On December 17th 2011 Bob Rae with Carolyn Bennett in tow arrived at Attawapiskat for his personal tour. This visit was filmed for the record and upon his departure Bob Rae said that what he saw was Canada's third world. Bob Rae said “these are our fellow citizens...” was Rae and Bennett wilfully and intentionally blind to the truth, or did the truth simply not matter?

Bob Rae although only an interim leader still a leader of a massive and powerful political machine. This machine has the experienced manpower to research, examine and even to question documentation. Can Rae claim ignorance to the Financial Statements filed by the Attawapiskat First Nation and many of which carry the signature of Theresa Spence? Even though Amnesty International issued the self righteous statement and Chief Spence passed around the photographs demanding more and more surely the facts did not change. Attawapiskat has a population of less than 2000 and its own declared financial statements simply did not add up. Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett and Charlie Angus did not seem to care for the facts.

In his filmed interview Bob Rae spoke of the horrendous conditions he witnessed at Attawapiskat. Now the question remains what did he really see? Did Bob Rae or Carolyn Bennett visit the homes of Chief Theresa Spence or any of the homes of the 'privileged' families of Attawapiskat? An email recently received from Keven Libin of the National Post stated that reporter Jonathon Day debunked the idea that the “greater majority live in horrendous conditions,” and Kevin Libin went on to say “In fact he (Johnathon Kay) found that contrary to some earlier reports manipulated, I suspect by the administration by Spence herself – most people on the reserve live in fairly decent existences, with only a minority (he estimated 5%) living in those widely publicized hovels (not surprisingly, the band authority would not allow him to take any photographs, perhaps worried it would compromise their media campaign).”

If only an estimated 5% of the population in Attawapiskat live in the highly publicized hovels as stated by the National Post then this raises serious questions regarding Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett and their claims. Bob Rae's highly publicized visit was December 17th 2011. What did Bob Rae really see? Why would he misrepresent the truth to the people of Canada? Why had Bob Rae continued to represent Chief Theresa Spence as a hero of the First Nations people when he had access to the financial statements and evidence of apparent fraud in Attawapiskat of public money on such a huge scale?

Charlie Angus presented his statement in the House of Commons on November 20th 2012 on First Nations Financial Transparency Act. His words were full of emotion and passion laying the blame on the federal government. Angus said, “The Conservatives talk about bands posting numbers. We are talking about budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars that have no accountability mechanisms to the people who should be receiving that accountability: the communities.” How did Charlie Angus hold a straight sanctimonious face making this presentation. Does being in opposition permit deceit?

Charlie Angus has seen the real truth in Attawapiskat just as Bob Rae. Angus has seen the financial statements posted on behalf of the Attawapiskat First Nations and he has sung the public song of Chief Theresa Spence. “Talk about posting numbers,” numbers were posted by the Attawapiskat band and those numbers were a fraud. Does Charlie Angus have an explanation for the band's numbers for 2010, where wages and employee benefits expenditure was posted as $9,810,586 with only 39 employees listed whose salaries totalled a mere $980,391 leaving an unexplained $8,830,195 missing? In 2008 there is a missing $9,273,629 and no documentation is posted for 2011 or 2009 relating to the listed recipients of wages and benefits.

In February 2012 Charlie Angus was in Attawapiskat as the first of 22 new modular homes purchased by the federal government arrived. Angus was making loud noises about the cost of site preparation, he told Postmedia News: “A lot of work has to be done on the ground level, but the band has to front all the money, and all their money is sitting in a desk in Winnipeg.” (Natalie Stechyson Postmedia News Feb.14.2012, Modular homes arrive in Attawapiskat, but remain empty due to delays). Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said that the government had the necessary funds made available for the site preparation work. Still this was not enough Angus was quoted “Make sure everything is done then tally up the numbers at the end of it. It's not rocket science.” (Postmedia News).

There was a great deal of truth in those words that Angus threw around, it truly is not rocket science. Attawapiskat had at their disposal over ten million dollars sitting in a trust account and not “in a desk in Winnipeg.” That seemed not to matter to MP Charlie Angus. As far as the notion to “tally up the numbers at the end of it,” that was done annually in the Attawapiskat Consolidated Financial Statements and those numbers do not make sense. Not exactly rocket science just apparent fraud. None of this seemed to matter to MP Charlie Angus.

What is enough for Attawapiskat? The millions of dollars that DeBeers Victor Mine has paid does not seem to be. Reports of a blockade of a road leading into the mine February 5th 2013 by residents of Attawapiskat demanding more, proves that. Cry loud enough about housing, have the media carry your song and the federal government buys new homes and even foots the bill for their set-up. Still that is not enough in Attawapiskat. More than $50 million is unaccounted for in two listed expenditures over four years from 2008 to 2011 alone! Millions of dollars have gone up in a puff of smoke with no police investigation and no questions asked. This apparently is not a problem to Bob Rae or Charlie Angus after all it's opposition politics.

Bob Rae decided to take the deceit and farce of Chief Spence together with the IDLE NO MORE movement to a new level with the unveiling of the Declaration of Commitment. Rae's political experience is extensive there is no denying that fact so asking the question as to the real value of that document one does so only with a grin.

The Declaration of Commitment has thirteen points listed but it is number eight which provides some shock to its absurdity. It states: “Ensure that all federal legislation has the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations where inherent and Treaty rights are affected or impacted.”

In essence this point in the declaration demands that the Government of Canada surrender its law making authority to a third party. What government anywhere in the world would surrender its authority or sovereignty? Can the architect of this declaration, Bob Rae explain the motivation behind such a demand. Would Rae if ever there was a possibility to be the Prime Minister agree to this? Don't the people of Canada have any voice in this very serious demand?

It is difficult to understand the purpose of the Declaration of Commitment as a document. The issues surrounding the First Nations are sensitive and complex requiring consultation, cooperation and action. This cooperation must be equal between the First Nations and Canada's Federal Government, in the end it has to benefit the whole country or it will not work. Demands for Crown involvement are simply without sense and only convolute the situation, as the Crown has no legal authority in any legislative discussions. Still point one of the Declaration continues to demand the Crown's involvement.

The final point, number thirteen demands full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – UNDRIP. Amnesty International proved how valuable an outside international body really can be. Together with the Canadian Friends Service Committee – rooted in the Quaker faith and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives – which unites eleven churches and religious organizations, Amnesty issued their statement December 8th 2011, regarding Attawapiskat. Amnesty's statement said “According to media reports..,” what did Amnesty see for themselves or did they simply use newspaper clippings? If any of these self-righteous groups actually visited Attawapiskat the question remains, what did Chief Theresa Spence let them see?

Still that was not enough for KAIROS and its group of religious followers. On January 10th 2013 a statement issued in support of Chief Spence stated, “While the audit does show that some paperwork is lacking, this does not prove fraud or waste.” Leaving the much criticized Deloitte audit aside and reexamining Attawapiskat's own financial statements fraud is the only answer. Bob Rae knew that, as did Charlie Angus yet they preferred to look the other way, why? The real question to be asked now.

Opposition politics in Canada had taken a dangerous slide down the slope away from any semblance of ethics. Bob Rae knew the truth behind Attawapiskat yet he was willing to fling about terms like “third world” for the media. Those in Attawapiskat who had suffered had done so at the hands of Chief Theresa Spence, the Band's Council and Band Manager. Is it possible for Bob Rae to claim he knew nothing of the facts surrounding the issues of fraud and misappropriation of funds. How can Charlie Angus explain to the people of Canada that Chief Theresa Spence had at her disposal a trust account valued at over ten million dollars yet all she did was blame the federal government for the woes of a few of her own. In fact Chief Theresa Spence had possibly committed the biggest fraud against Canada in our history, with the full support of opposition politics.

During the 'hunger' strike, while visiting hotels Chief Theresa Spence had a bank account opened in her name administered by her common-law partner Clayton Kennedy. Did Bob Rae or the Liberal Party, or Charlie Angus and the NDP provide any donations to Chief Spence's private account? It is time to demand full disclosure of the bank account and bank records of transactions.

Fear of offending First Nations people by demanding the truth is only a tool perpetuated to shelter Chief Theresa Spence from facing the consequences of her actions. Bob Rae and Charlie Angus had taken opposition politics in Canada down to a new level of disgust and each has serious questions to answer. In the end it is our nation that pays the price and it is we the people of Canada who have the right to demand the truth.

Interim Federal Liberal Party leader Bob Rae was contacted by email, providing an opportunity for Mr. Rae to present his comments. There has been no response to date. 

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