To the Expositor:
Last year the Idle No More Movement was successful in bringing legitimate aboriginal concerns to the attention of the public and our governments. Still, the federal government response has been by and large mute likely due to their knowledge that native concerns do not politically register with the Canadian electorate.
Aboriginal discontent is the result of a history of government mistreatment, broken treaties and racism. This is evidenced today by deplorable conditions on many reservations and disproportionately numbers of native people occupying the prisons. Our present system is producing more prison inmates than university graduates. The treatment of our aboriginal peoples has not gone unnoticed within the councils of the UN. This is a huge embarrassment to Canada, especially so given our propensity to lecture others on human rights.
Understandably many, if not a majority of aboriginal people, feel alienated and not part of the Canadian fabric. This attitude results in generally lower native voter turnout on and off reserves. Their votes would make a difference in electoral outcomes.
Native people not voting is well understood by politicians and results in government indifference and inaction. If Native peoples voted in the numbers that seniors do their voice would be loudly heard at the negotiating table. Governments listen to people with money and people who vote.
To see positive change, aboriginal chiefs from across the land should couple with the capable people behind the Idle No More movement and mount an educational campaign to get their people voting. Change often requires change.
Voting is not a docile act. Not voting is to be idle when it really counts.Ron Brydges St. Catharines and Stanley Park