THE BLOG

How Do You Solve a Problem Like First Nations?

01/22/2013 11:16 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Many Canadians have long lamented the plight of our First Nations population, but a clear solution has never been proffered. According to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll, a "majority says most of the problems of native peoples are brought on by themselves." The Harper government, however, is perceived as doing a good job in this regard. I believe this stems from the public opinion regarding having too much financial support being offered and the lack of accountability for the money being spent . And yet, the case is far from closed. Many Canadians also agree that the grievances of the First Nations people are not addressed properly.

There has been a long history of neglect from a series of governments, who typically mask the problem by offering money and looking the other way in regards to accountability. There has been no update in the treaties -- the fundamental documents governing the status of First Nations reserves -- given that the role of the Queen has been scaled down in the last few decades. This chronic government neglect has brought us to today's situation where everyone is right and at the same time there's a lot of blame to go around.

Interesting to see the reaction from the parties involved: the First Nations people have chosen this moment to strike using the guise of a popular protest against Bill C-45, while the Harper government is more preoccupied with its own image rather than solving the problem.

In my opinion, all parties involved should stop playing political games. Instead they should meet behind closed doors to discuss and address the fundamental issues. A path forward must include a new treaty excluding the Queen, financial support to address the social issues along with rigorous accountability processes, and a long term plan to integrate the First Nations into Canadian society while preserving their heritage and ethnic identity.

Time and again, the Harper Conservatives are more preoccupied with playing political games, pitching various groups against each other that would traditionally support their opponents. "Divide et Impera" seems to be their motto, and so far they're winning.