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Media Bites: #IdleNoMore Is Low on Specifics

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Well, another Boxing Day has come and gone, which means we can all rest peacefully knowing the nation's streets are finally clear of vicious, marauding, riotous hoards.

Almost.

You see, while the shoppers may have subsided, the Idle No More folks -- excuse me, the #idlenomore folks --are still going strong.

You've been following them, right? Basically, they're another one of those virulent First Nations protest movements that tend to pop up in this country whenever aboriginal-Canadians have reason to be outraged with their lot in life (i.e. constantly). But this one has a hashtag!

Call it Canada's Native Winter. Or Canada's Indian Summer. Or Canada's Frigid First Nations Fiesta of Frustration. Basically just call it something I said. Coining one of these obnoxious media catch phrases would be a real shot in the arm of my burgeoning career as a hack journalist.

But in any case, is #idlenomore a genuine social justice movement inspired by legitimate protest? Or are the uppity Natives just whining about a whole lotta nothin'?

Man, it's hard to even answer such an appallingly ignorant question without "visualising punching you in the throat" says noted Metis activist (and beloved HuffPo blogger!) Chelsea Vowel writing in the National Post. Here's a newsflash, whities: things "are not getting better" over here in Native World, in fact, "many of us feel that things are getting worse."

Chelsea doesn't waste a lot of time documenting specifically how things are getting worse, mind you (just read the damn Idle manifesto, she says). Also, why should the Natives owe anyone a pile of particulars in the first place when "we are literally fighting for our lives"?

You got that right, says loveable lefty diva Naomi Klein in Monday's Globe and Mail (Christmas is a popular time for guest columnists, you may have noticed). Naomi sees #idlenomore as "something truly magical" in its potential for power and influence, particularly the plucky hunger strike of Idle darling, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, and her gutsy message "that the time for bitching and moaning is over" (though the time for soup and lemonade evidently is not).

Good environmentalist that she is, Naomi knows that when aboriginals protest, it's her side that wins, since if progressives ever "have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper's planet-trashing plans" it'll be because the Natives' "mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way." I suppose you could argue that this is just one more example of a privileged white person learning to co-opt aboriginal interests for their own use, but let's not think about that right now.

Even good ol' Sun News is onside with the Natives' plight... kinda.

We totally agree that native reserves make "gulags look hospitable" says the Sun board, so why don't we just, y'know, get rid of them and move all the Indians to like, Willowdale or whatever? That would solve the problem, right? I mean, it's either that or just sit around watching "billions of taxpayer dollars intended for reserves somehow disappear into the bureaucratic ether and fail to raise the living standards" of anyone unfortunate enough to live in dumps like the one Chief Spence runs. And if she's so hungry, by the way, why doesn't she just eat a sandwich or something? I mean, this is just common sense people!

Many of our pals in the punditsphere have already predicted that this current clamour for aboriginal justice will be one of the hot buttons of early 2013, and one imagines we've hardly heard the last of angry Natives like Chelsea or their progressive allies like Klein. But we probably haven't heard the last of the equally irritated right-wing rebuttals from non-Native Canada, either.

In other words, Aboriginals might not be the only ones tired of sitting idly by.

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***

Well, another week in late December means another step closer to the grave for that comical scythe-wielding old man that represents a concluding year in our culture for some reason. It also means another week of 2012 retrospective editorials, which I notice the Canadian opinion pages quite rudely insist on continuing to produce despite my previously stated objections.

Ol' Timmy Harper at the Toronto Star has a real doozy of a lookback, containing no less than five distinct "stories of the year" starring a veritble who's-who of this country's most irritating residents, including Tom Mulcair, Bob Rae, and that slimy guy Justin Trudeau beat up, while Star-buddy Rosemary Speirs concludes that 2012 was almost the year of the Canadian woman, what with all the lady premiers and all. Pity that "equality still eludes the female half of Canadians who mostly remain segregated in the lowest paying jobs and carry the burden of child-rearing," but hey, there's always 2013.

And speaking of self-important political prognosticators, let's not forget you. According to a recent Postmedia poll,  you (or at least 21 per cent of you) considered the Tories' omnibus budget bill of  last spring to be Canada's top political story of 2012, significantly beating out perennial press favourites F-35gate and Robocall-a-go-go.

Remarkable, eh? Such a marked disparity in interest almost seems to suggest that the public may actually possess a better sense of which headlines actually matter (and which are just a big heap of over-heated sensationalism) than the self-important people who actually write them!

But then again the public also made 50 Shades of Grey 2012's best seller, so what do they know.