Monday, June 19, 2006

Losing the World Cup

With Monday, the first day of the last week begins before the House of Commons recesses for the summer. And on Monday, MPs are set to debate a motion from Winnipeg South Centre's Anita Neville asking the Conservatives to commit to the $5.1 billion Kelowna Agreement.

During the federal election, the Conservatives were of two minds on the Accord.

On Saskatchewan radio, Conservative MP (now immigration minister) Monte Solberg said: “(The) Kelowna (First Ministers Meeting) Agreement is something that they crafted at the last moment on the back of a napkin on the eve of an election. We're not going to honour that. We will have our own plan that will help natives a lot more than the Liberals.”

The very next day, his colleague MP Jim Prentice stated on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that: “…I am the party spokesman on the Kelowna accord and let’s be perfectly clear for the viewers of your network. We are supportive of Kelowna. We are supportive of the targets and objectives that were set at Kelowna.”

Under demands that Harper clarify the issue, on January 11 the Tory campaign said: "The Conservative Party supports all of the objectives, targets, and principles as laid out in the agreement. A Conservative government will work closely with the provinces and Aboriginal peoples to develop a responsible fiscal plan to meet these objectives."

Since then, there has been no indication Harper wants to go anywhere near the Kelowna Accord, or meeting its "objectives, targets, and principles".

Unlike Solberg's claims of being written on the back of a napkin, the deal took 18 months to negotiate and includes a 19-page plan of targets and reporting requirements for a 10-year period. It would go a long way to improving the lives of Aboriginal Canadians.

But it pretty much goes without saying that even if the opposition majority wins the day, the Harper government will not implement the agreement reached last fall with First Nation leaders and the premiers.

And doing so will be a day of tremendous setback for Canada -- a black day. Missing the chance to really take a big step forward in redressing a profusion of wrongs will surely be seen by history as Canada having lost in the World Cup of doing the right thing.


Sporting analogies aside ... go Oilers.