POLITICS

RCMP Apologizes For Comparing Idle No More To 'Bacteria'

05/11/2015 05:10 EDT | Updated 05/11/2015 11:59 EDT
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The RCMP apologized on Monday for the comparing Idle No More to “bacteria” in an internal report obtained by APTN News.

“It is unfortunate that one of our employees has referred in an internal e-mail to the Idle No More movement in such a manner,” said Staff-Sgt. Julie Gagnon in a statement. She explained the words used were “not reflective of the views and opinion” of Mounties.

“The RCMP apologizes to anyone who may have been offended by this unfortunate choice of words to describe the Idle no More movement,” she said.

On Dec. 24, 2012, Cpl. Wayne Russet wrote, “This Idle No More Movement is like bacteria, it has grown a life of its own across this nation,” in a site report collected during Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s liquid-only fast.

APTN received the classified document two years after filing an Access to Information request in April 2013. The broadcaster cites details about Spence's health and warnings about flash mobs, blockades, and the possibility of an “escalation of violence” in the report.

NDP MP Niki Ashton told The Huffington Post Canada the choice of language to describe Idle No More momentum “reflects an unacceptable attitude” and is “discriminatory.” She called the RCMP apology an “important step.”

“They must go further in ensuring that this kind of discriminatory language does not shape their overall approach in working with First Nations who are standing up to defend their rights,” she said.

“This is particularly critical given the anticipated implementation of C-51 that stands to target First Nations.”

On Friday, the Churchill MP brought up the report in question period and demanded an apology for the “bacteria” comparison made to the ongoing First Nations civic movement.

“The internal report calls the Idle No More movement ‘bacteria that could spread across the country,’” she said. “We are talking about events that included ceremony, drum circles, and round dances.”

Idle No More officials posted the video to their Facebook page, criticizing Conservative MP Roxanne James’s failure to acknowledge the report at all in her response to Ashton’s pressing for an apology.

“Dismiss, deny and defend tactic,” wrote a page administrator. “Welcome to our world, this is what First Nations deal with on a daily basis.”

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