Matt Gurney: A native uprising isn’t likely, but it’s possible
WarriorPublications Note: a good example of the type of propaganda pumped out by the corporate media essentially calling for greater surveillance and potential military intervention against Native peoples in Canada.
Matt Gurney, National Post, Jan 24, 2012
Led by a charismatic young leader, small groups of natives strike a series of Canadian military bases and launch terrorist attacks in major Canadian cities. While the numerically tiny and underequipped Canadian Army scrambles to respond, a second wave of attacks by native insurgents bring Canada’s petroleum industry and electrical generation capability to a halt, causing economic disruption and blackouts in the United States. Eventually, the U.S. mounts a major military incursion into Canadian territory to restore order and stabilize their own economy.
That is all confined to fiction — namely, Canadian military expert Douglas Bland’s 2010 novel Uprising. But while the prospect of a native insurgency in Canada admittedly seems a remote threat, it is a real one, and something that Canadian strategic planners, who plan for pretty much every scenario, must consider.
You can be certain that such planners were quick to hone in on comments made Monday by Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. As has now been widely reported, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and select native chiefs, Chief Phillip put out a press statement warning that unless Ottawa “does better,” a “native uprising is inevitable.”
Phillip quickly clarified that he meant a peaceful uprising — something akin to the U.S. Civil Rights movement (which, as we all know, was an entirely cheerful affair, and never saw anything like political assassinations or major urban areas going up in flames). Others have said that it would be something driven by social media, comparable to the Arab Spring, which isn’t all that much more reassuring. Which Arab Spring? The lots-of-people-camping-out-in-Tahrir-Square kind, or the NATO-bombing-Libya-flat kind?
While many native communities are thriving (as stressed by aboriginal affairs experts Ken Coates and Greg Poelzer in Tuesday’s National Post), many more are essentially far-flung bastions of corruption and despair, isolated far from Canada’s major cities. While that’s traditionally been an advantage for governments eager to sweep the waste and squalor to be found on native reserves under the carpet, it has also resulted in the unfortunate situation Canada now finds itself in — many of the most valuable resources our export-driven economy depends on are in remote areas home to organized, discontented groups of citizens with a gripe (legitimate or otherwise) against Ottawa.
None of this is to say that a native uprising is imminent, or even likely. But it is possible, and wouldn’t be particularly hard to pull off. Canada’s military is a high-tech outfit, and has come a long way over the past decade, but it’s still a very small force in a very big country. The Armed Forces would have a hell of a time responding to any crisis in remote areas of the country. They just aren’t mobile enough. And it doesn’t take more than a handful of insurgents to wreak havoc on pipelines or electrical transmission lines.
And there’s precedent to consider. The effective use of Army troops to contain the 1990 Oka crisis has been supplanted by the shameful inaction of Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, which essentially ceded the small town of Caledonia to native lawlessness rather than risk a politically incorrect confrontation between primarily white Ontario Provincial Police officers and natives protesting a real estate development on disputed land. As recounted by Postmedia columnist Christie Blatchford in her book Helpless, non-native citizens of Caledonia found themselves without police protection, even when threatened with direct physical violence.
Perhaps Mr. McGuinty would be more inclined to send the OPP into action if it was downtown Toronto that was occupied, or a vital highway or rail link. Then again, maybe not.
Comments warning of, or even hinting at, political violence are never helpful ways to advance dialogue. But Chief Phillip may still have done the government a favour. A native uprising, even a small one, may not have been on their radar before. It ought to be now.