Idle No More, Theresa Spence Lack Support, Poll Shows

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As Idle No More revs up across Canada, a new poll reveals Canadians' aren't exactly behind the demonstrations. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) | AP

As Idle No More revs up across Canada, a new poll reveals Canadians aren't exactly behind the demonstrations. And money management on First Nations reserves seems to be at the heart of the discontent.

Eighty-one per cent of Canadians believe reserves shouldn't receive more taxpayer money before external auditors are assigned, and 64 per cent think they got too much support from taxpayers, a number unchanged since July 2012, according to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for National Post/Postmedia News and Global Television.

While the majority of those polled want to settle claims over land to allow First Nations to become self-sufficient and want the government to improve aboriginal people’s quality of life, 60 per cent of Canadians said most First Nations problems are “brought on by themselves,” an increase from 35 per cent in 1989.

The online survey of 1,023 Canadians was conducted between Jan. 11 and Jan. 14, as the First Nations Idle No More movement gained steam. The movement began as a protest against the Conservative government's omnibus budget Bill C-45, which makes controversial changes to the Indian Act and environmental legislation. Protests have taken place across the country in support of the movement.

Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians expressed approval for Idle No More, according to the survey, and just 29 per cent approved of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who some consider the face of Idle No More.

Spence has been on a hunger protest since mid-December, despite numerous calls for her to end the strike.

Attawapiskat's leaders came under fire recently when an audit revealed the reserve lacked appropriate documentation for 400 out of 504 transactions. Chief Spence dismissed the audit as incorrect.

When asked whether it's the government or First Nations that are “being reasonable,” 56 per cent said neither, 27 per cent said Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 17 per cent said First Nations. However, First Nations leaders received more approval (51 per cent) than Harper (46 per cent).

Harper met with First Nations chiefs last Friday, but Spence refused to attend after it was announced Governor General David Johnston wouldn't be there.

Aboriginal protests continued across the country Wednesday, blocking roads and rail lines, The Globe and Mail reported.

Forty-one per cent of those surveyed wanted police to arrest protesters, while the majority of Canadians wanted police to apply "cool down" tactics.

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