Elizabeth May's Response to my letter to Prime Minister Harper

Thank you for sending me a copy of your letter to Prime Minister Harper regarding the Idle No More grassroots movement and the hunger strike of Attawapiskat First Nations Chief Theresa Spence.


The Green Party of Canada has fully supported Chief Theresa Spence’s and the Idle No More movement from its onset:




Stephen Harper’s record on Aboriginal Affairs is shameful and contravenes the direction set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.  Canada has been directed to uphold the honour of the Crown by meeting its legal treaty obligations. Governments have been warned by the courts to avoid sharp dealing with Aboriginal people.  Bill C-45 is a glaring affront to Indigenous rights as it was passed without consultation with Indigenous peoples and without regard for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 


The #idlenomore campaign protests the attacks on First Nations’ rights by the passage in the House of Bill C-45, the fall omnibus bill pushed through by the Harper Conservatives. I did my utmost to protect these rights, with amendments that dealt with a proper definition of “aboriginal fisheries” respectful of treaty and inherent rights as well as protecting the navigable waters of Canada. I submitted more than sixty amendments to Parliament for the government’s consideration. This Bill continues on the course chosen by the Harper Conservatives, further eliminating protections for First Nations people and the environment.


Furthermore, our amendments on the Navigable Waters Protection Act would have ensured the on-going protection of rights to navigation for Aboriginal people, and all Canadians, on all water bodies in Canada, and not just 62 rivers and 97 lakes. The government defeated all the amendments we put forward.


I support Chief Spence’s efforts to establish a nation-to-nation meeting, with either Prime Minister Harper or the Governor General, to begin rectifying these wrongs. I empathize with the physical challenges she is facing during her protest, having personally completed a 17-day hunger strike to demand Cape Breton families be moved away from the Cape Breton tar sands in 2001.


I intend to visit with Chief Spence as soon possible and have called the Prime Minister’s Office to request that he do the same. This should not be an issue of politics, but rather an opportunity for compassion. Ending Chief Spence’s hunger strike is only the first step. Once that is done, we need a meaningful engagement on the wide range of critical issues being raised from coast to coast to coast. To visit my blog on the subject, please visit:




Most Canadians want improved standards of life for First Nations, not marginalization at the hand of corporations. When injustice becomes entrenched in law, resistance becomes our duty.  We cannot stand idly by and watch the erosion of constitutionally protected rights.


Despite the passing of C-45 by the House and the Senate, I remain committed to protecting Indigenous rights. Thank you again for your message. Please continue to encourage Canadians across the country to rally together with Chief Spence and #idlenomore.






Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.

Member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands

Leader of the Green Party of Canada

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