Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Time To Chuck Strahl?

In the flurry of cabinet shuffles, the really intriguing one was Chuck Strahl's move to Indian Affairs. It would appear Strahl's past, and his despot-like approach to the Canadian Wheat Board, have hardly made for a good start in his new portfolio:
Chuck Strahl faced tough questions from aboriginal leaders yesterday over his earlier remarks on treaty rights and his aggressive approach to reforming the Canadian Wheat Board.

Ovide Mercredi, the Chief of Grand Rapids First Nation and a former national grand chief, asked the minister to clarify a statement he made in the House of Commons in 1999, when he said "the Nisga'a treaty creates a separate race-based nation in the heart of British Columbia."

Mr. Strahl also told the Windsor Star in 1999, on the subject of aboriginal fishing rights, that the government has an obligation to all its citizens, not just select groups and "cannot allow the courts to draw racial boundaries through Canada's national resources."

Mr. Mercredi said he was concerned by Mr. Strahl's heavy-handed dealings with the Canadian Wheat Board, and was surprised that he ignored several of the most important issues facing natives in Canada

The negative reception brought this laughable quote from Strahl:
"There was a good exchange of ideas and we'll be back again soon," Mr. Strahl said. "Obviously, a good list of questions, but by working together, sitting down together, that's how you solve them. I was here today to start that and we'll continue as we go ahead."

Clearly, Strahl demonstrated this pragmatic, working together approach, as it related to the CWB. Cough. Given Strahl's past positions, which demonstrate some hostility to native rights, coupled with his authoritarian rule as Minister of Agriculture, this move by Harper shows every indication of blowing up in the government's face. It is a very sensitive time, and the above suggests native groups are reacting with suspicion to the new minister, which is objectively troubling. Strahl has all the attributes and pedigree to translate into a nightmare.

12 comments:

Scotian said...

Steve V:

You raise a very good point. When the incoming minister is already evoking concerns and suspicions in the aboriginal community as soon as they get the job then that is a worrisome sign indeed. Strahl also has to live with the reality that he spearheaded the attempt to reform the Wheat board illegitimately and without following the proper laws as well as by rigging votes against the clear majority wishes of the farmers involved in the WB and how that will make aboriginals wonder whether that is his mission for Harper and the CPC. Especially when they remember that Harper's inner circle includes on Tom Flanagan who has been anything but a friend to aboriginals in their eyes, and that Strahl's prior statements tend to indicate he is closer to the Flanagan way of perceiving the aboriginal files than not. It will be interesting to see what happens next, interesting in the same way watching a slow motion car crash is...

*sigh* Just what this country needs, another minister that will inflame the aboriginal issues/files instead of actually trying to work with them and resolve them. Granted, I may be doing Strahl a disservice, but after his heavy handed and clumsy performance regarding the WB it is far harder for me to give him the benefit of the doubt here, especially when farmers make up a larger voter constituency within the CPC than do aboriginals and this is a party and government that responds first to its own constituencies and as much as possible takes the devil take the hindmost approach to everyone else, especially those they see as opposed to them as clearly is the case for many CPCers and the aboriginal community in this country.

Anonymous said...

C'mon - it's all about Quebec. This is proof that Harper doesn't give a damn about our native issues. He's trying to pump up the war in Afghanistan.

Confusing isn't it? He's telling Bush we're out in 2009 and then going around pumping up them mission - something does't ring right here.

Bernier was chosen for Foreign Affairs (only less than 2 years experience in government and absolutely no background in international affairs) - but hey, he's a Quebec boy.

MacKay is also going around pumping up the mission - huh? Why bother if we're leaving in 2009.

It's all about Quebec and about the oil sands and the rest of us can go to hell.

burlivespipe said...

Agree with unanimous. Changing the channel on the Afghan story -- controlling the message better, telling the soldiers (voters) little except that 'it'll be over soon!' all the while spending huge amounts of cash and resources and personal equity on a longer, deeper battle -- is what Harpor has done.
He wanted someone who can read a teleprompter nearly as good as he can, so that the messenger stays on point. O'Connor still had too much general in him to get the job done. Thank goodness he's only in charge of part of our economic system (and what school did Harpor get his degree at? Baja State?)... Come that Harpor majority, the deceivin will be revealed in all its painful patterns, massive public layoffs, deregulation en masse, border opened to takeovers and Fox Canada etc. The end is nie!

Gayle said...

I am confused. Last week, while I was visiting the magnificent west coast, I read in the Vancouver Sun that Aboriginal groups were praising this appointment.

The Vancouver Sun could not be misleading us, could it???

Steve V said...

gayle

I would love a link on that one :)

scotian

I believe this is a critical time in this portfolio, what is required is someone who can navigate potential mine fields with tact and grace. Strahl tends to act like a pit bull, that lacks diplomatic skill, exactly the opposite of what is required.

Gayle said...

steve - I would like to help you out, but I had a hard copy of the paper. I will see if I can find it on line.

While I am at it, there was also a column by a reporter who had been given access to a website that is apparently only available to senior and trusted conservatives. She reported that some of these conservatives were expressing their frustration with Harper on this website, though they agreed to keep that dissatisfaction private for the time being. Obviously some senior conservatives are not so willing to keep these discussions secret if they are giving access to a reporter. Hopefully I can find a link to that one too.

Gayle said...

Here is a link to the Strahl story:

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=fff8f0db-02d2-451c-a188-240ebc1b5bb8&k=51613

Gayle said...

Here is a link to Barbara Yaffe's column:

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=b6889057-ba14-4cbb-a084-ef8b617f338d

Gayle said...

I may have overstated with: "senior and trusted conservatives", but the point remains the same.

I am going to stop running up my post count here now :).

Steve V said...

gayle

Those comments about Strahl are interesting, if not surprising. Time will tell I suppose.

"Senior Conservative" could apply to anyone who has been with the party for a long time, just like all those "senior Liberals". Nice to see some dissent come to light, despite the control.

Thanks for the links :)

Miles Lunn said...

I certainly agree that his past positions on Native rights should be very worrying.

While I don't like the way he handled the Canadian Wheat Board, I suspect Harper would have sacked him as agriculture minister had he not done that. The reality is Harper hates the Wheat Board and since he calls all the shots, whoever he choose as minister would go after it in a heavy handed way if they wanted to keep their job.

Steve V said...

miles

You are probably right about the CWB, Strahl is just carrying Harper's water. Having said that, there is an abrasive quality to Strahl.