As difficult as it may be to believe, Stephen Harper has indeed left behind a bright and shiny legacy thanks to the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences‘.
For as long as many can remember, Canada’s Indigenous Peoples kept a distance between themselves and the Canadian political landscape at large on principle. Not the least of the principles in play was the desire to support and maintain First Nations identity and sanctity. Many indigenous people felt that to participate in, and support, Canada’s parliament fundamentally failed to honour a proud people’s identity.
In many ways, holding the people apart from the general political landscape was both laudable and right, but has also historically proven to further diminish the rights and freedoms of Canada’s first peoples. It was Stephen Harper destiny — by pushing too hard, too far, too dismissively, and too dishonourably — to become the catalyst for a fundamental shift in an entire people’s approach to their role as Canadians.
Six years into the Harper Canada tenure, the ‘Idle No More’ movement arrived on the national landscape. Demonstrating a startling lack of common sense — possibly even the odd type of colorblindness that trips up all bigots — Stephen Harper failed to comprehend the challenge laid down and fell into a trap that may have ultimately saved all Canadians. He allowed the word ‘idle’ in ‘Idle No More’ to reinforce the stereotype of ‘idle’ as ‘lazy’, and acted accordingly. Foolishly and insultingly, he failed to understand the true motives and meaning. Stephen Harper underestimated the the power of the values and ethics that motivate our peoples — indigenous and first, second, or third generation immigrant alike. By virtue of his inimitable incrementalist style, Harper authored his own party’s demise one tiny step at at time.
Harper should have understood that ‘Idle No More’ really meant ‘Patient No More’
In truth, the best that can be said of successive Canadian governments has been that their approach to all matters pertaining to indigenous peoples and our environment has been an idle one. The approach of First Nations was largely a patient one.