**Disclaimer** This post deals with an incredibly sensitive issue and, as is often the case, there is the potential for misunderstanding or, more often, blind misinterpretation. My intention here is not necessarily to take sides but to understand each of the sides in turn. There is more involved than simply the personalities of leaders. Rather there are fundamental differences between two conceptions of the Canadian state and the relationship between governments. This post merely attempts to elucidate these historic positions as a way to explain the reluctance of the Prime Minister to meet with Chief Theresa Spence and of the Chief to meet with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.These are differences which are fundamental yet, I think, entirely overlooked by both sides and the media.
There is much hyperbole explaining the reasons why Prime Minister Stephen Harper has – continuously – refused to meet with Chief Theresa Spence. The facile response has been to hurl invective or to make broad accusations of racism. This is entirely unhelpful. Certainly the Prime Minister operates within a political system resting on a foundation of colonialism and racism. These structures cannot simply be torn down. Moreover, there are more fundamental and practical reasons. Not everything can be reduced to racism. Indeed, it is not a sufficient factor. There is more going on here.