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Media Bites: Is Chief Spence Just Hungry for Attention?

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With her hunger strike a mere four days away from passing the one-month mark (a perseverance even Gandhi couldn't muster), Chief Theresa Spence has now undeniably earned her right to sit alongside Bridgette DePape and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois in the pantheon of truly great Canadian attention whores.

Certainly the Prime Minister appears to have been broken by her persistence; on Friday he announced that his regularly-scheduled aboriginal summit would be pushed forward a whole two weeks. Not a complete blink, mind you, but his eyes are still looking more half-closed than usual.

And kudos to him for doing "the right thing," congratulates the Winnipeg Free Press editorial board, one of many media outlets relieved to see this whole six-seasons-too-long reality show come to some kinda close. Now if only those Idle No More people could "also call a halt" so the nation can pursue "real and fundamental change for aboriginals" without being constantly upstaged by "protests or threats of death by starvation." (Sounds like the first time I tried turnips.)

The Toronto Star agrees. While it's "a shame Harper didn't meet personally with Spence," they say, this "belated concession" still represents the removal of a significant "barrier" to progress. But let's not forget the barriers that still remain! Like the Indian Act and (since this is the Toronto Star) stubborn ol' Harper himself. No word about the barriers' barriers though.

Woah, let's not go nuts, interjects L. Ian MacDonald at the Ottawa Citizen; while I think we can all agree that Harper's offered a "face-saving solution for all sides," Spence, hasn't, uh, actually agreed to it. Which should worry the PM, as the Chief's ability to rally supporters as she continues to ruin her physical health could prove pretty "dangerous to his political health," too.

Bah, that presumes the woman's even suffering in the first place, scoffs Barbara Kay in the National Post. Babs is pretty outraged that Dances with Press Conferences has been guzzling "highly nutritious" fish broth this whole time, which, in her mind, makes her deadly fast "more like a detox diet." (I can see it now, Theresa Spence: weight loss guru. Her first book practically writes itself: The 720 Hour Body.)

Not even much of a diet, for that matter, adds Ezra Levant at Sun News. He thinks Theresa's still looking "Rubenesque" as ever. Y'know, "walking around, doing interviews, all with her trademark double chin." (Walking Around Doing Interviews With a Trademark Double Chin would also be a great title for a future Ezra memoir, now that I think of it).

'Course, whether Theresa actually attends Harper's expedited summit or not, most of our pundit pals remain pretty skeptical as to whether this latest round of talks will yield anything productive and substantive, or just the usual vapid posturing, meaningless commitments and, thin, well, gruel.

So maybe the Chief's a fitting symbol after all.

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Speaking of Indians, how about that country where they actually live?

India, as we all know, is one of the leading powerhouses of the 21st century, an increasingly prosperous, educated, sophisticated nation of inspiring economic growth, free-market innovation, and technological advancement.

It's also a place where a significant chunk of the population doesn't consider raping women a bad thing.

The gruesome gang rape-induced death of 23-year-old New Delhi native Jyoti Singh Pandey captured the attention of numerous Canadian editorial pages over the weekend, demonstrating, not for the first time, that Canadian outrage knows no borders.

Yet another grim reminder that "Indian women have long suffered from political insensitivity to their safety," scolds the Toronto Star editorial board. This is a country, they note, that "winks at 'Eve-teasing' sexual molestation, allows accused rapists to run for elected office, and routinely discounts victims' testimony or blames them for provoking their assailants." And you can't just hang yourself out of this one, India; until your "politicians, police and courts rise to the challenge of ensuring women's rights and security," the angry lists are gonna keep a-coming.

Not that we Canucks should be so quick to get on our high elephant, cautious Janet Bagnall in the Montreal Gazette. Sure, India might have been rated "worst country in the world to be female," but that's no reason to think "we have nothing to learn from how India is dealing with violence against women." It wasn't too long ago that the slaughter and sexual abuse of young Indian women dominated our own headlines, after all.

Puh-lease, responds Doug Saunders in the Globe, "it's not all the same. Not even close." Comparing Canadian sex crimes Indian ones is like "using the Rwandan genocide to make points about gang crime in Scarborough" -- and not because it's insulting to both.

Despite what Big Feminism would have you believe, says Douggie, India's vicious streak of misogynistic cruelty is not the product of some kinda "universal rape culture," but rather a "specific cultural development" of the country itself. (I'm glad ours was just Timbits.)

In any case, Canada's punditsphere is solidily against India's rapeocracy, which is kinda cool if you think about it. I mean, Toronto papers are denouncing crimes in New Delhi. In this increasingly globalized world of ours, mere "domestic" outrages barely exist anymore. If your country has a problem that's bad enough, you can guarantee the rest of the world is gonna hear about it -- and respond.

In other words, let's hope the Indians never hear about our Indians.

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