, 06.30.2021 12:33 PM

My latest: how will Indigenous voters vote?

Is there an Indigenous vote, and will they vote for Justin Trudeau?

It’s not an unimportant question.

With Justin Trudeau leading only a minority government — and with two dozen Liberal MPs having won in 2019 with only a few hundred votes — small constituencies can determine many political fates.

Except the Indigenous population, and the Indigenous vote, aren’t all that small.

Five per cent of Canada’s population identify as Indigenous — close to two million people. First Nation, Inuit and Metis voters, age 18 and up, make up potentially a million voters.

That’s a lot of votes.

In the right places, that many votes can determine the outcome of the next election, expected later this year.

Not as many Indigenous people vote — certainly not as many as are entitled to.

As an Elections Canada study put it: “A significant number of Aboriginal [sic] people, as individuals and communities, still regard participation in non-Aboriginal elections or plebiscites as a threat to their unique rights, their autonomy and their goals of self-governance. Such persons hold a philosophical belief about the legitimacy of Aboriginal self-governance that differs fundamentally from that of the Canadian government.”

That’s one reason they don’t vote as much as they could, or should. Another reason: broken promises.

Justin Trudeau has broken many of the solemn promises he’s made to Indigenous people.

In his 2015 election platform, he promised to get clean water to Indigenous communities, and end the so-called boil water advisories.

He hasn’t done that. At all.

He promised to make their lives safer and better.

But, at places like Grassy Narrows, mercury still poisons the environment and the people who live there.

And when a diminutive woman protested that fact at an exclusive Liberal Party fundraiser, Trudeau had her ejected — and sneered: “Thanks for your donation.”

He promised to reconcile — in effect, build a more respectful relationship — with First Nations.

But he’s spent millions on lawyers to overturn a human rights award won by Indigenous children.

Seriously, he’s doing that.

So, considering Justin Trudeau’s abject failure to reconcile with Indigenous people, and improve their lives, are they going to vote for him again?

They did in 2015: 40% voted Liberal then. However, after Trudeau politically mauled Jody Wilson Raybould in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and exiled her from his party, that number plummeted to just 21 per cent in 2019.

So the Indigenous vote is not a monolith. They are not partisan sheep.

While they tend to vote Liberal more, there are plenty of Conservative and New Democrat indigenous voters.

Every party has had Members of Parliament drawn from indigenous communities, too.

Full disclosure: my firm has represented First Nation, Metis and Inuit groups for years, from coast to coast. I have learned, along the way, they are like any other constituency: they vote in their self-interest, as determined by economic, social and cultural realities.

So is voting for Justin Trudeau in their self interest? Indigenous people are best qualified to answer that important political question, and they will.

This writer suspects that the recent discovery of hundreds of bodies of Indigenous children and babies looms large in their thinking, just as it does for the rest of us.

Indigenous people know that the inaptly-named “residential schools” operated for decades mostly under Liberal governments.

They also know that, while the Liberal Party of Canada may talk a good game, the fundamentals haven’t really changed.

On the very day the more than 700 tiny Indigenous bodies were discovered in unmarked graves in Saskatchewan, Justin Trudeau shrugged.

He dismissed calls to fire his incompetent and tin-eared cabinet colleague, Carolyn Bennett, who had smeared Wilson Raybould, suggesting that the respected Indigenous leader was more concerned about money than her own people.

The Indigenous vote matters. It votes. Will it go with Justin Trudeau a third time?

Well, if results matter — and they do — they shouldn’t.

— Warren Kinsella was Jean Chretien’s special assistant


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Glen says:

    If the media doffed the kids gloves and had treated Trudeau like they did Harper, we would have seen a lot more of Trudeau’s sneering condescending insults to the indigenous protestors at his elite fundraising event. Including the crystal clear audio where he doesn’t even try to stifle a laugh when saying “thank you for your donation to the liberal party of Canada” as his goons were manhandling the lady out the door, which was left out of any footage I saw of it.

    Bev Oda’s $16 orange juice got more coverage as well as she suffered more consequences, as it was a much more egregious offense than Trudeau’s light hearted jest..

    With the media carrying water the way they do for Trudeau, and the general apathy the clueless general public has, I think Trudeau could get a majority, and I honestly fear for the future of the nation when this happens.

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    Gilbert says:

    If I were indigenous, I doubt I’d vote for Justin Trudeau.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    This Prime Minister is a patronizing, phoney, pathetic, disingenuous, hypocritical fucker. To quote LaMarsh: sink “that bastard” in the next election. Harness all of your inherent power and make history: kick that asshole to the curb and then don’t let up on the pressure until you FINALLY have a framework for self-government. It’s more than your right and long overdue. Hold the other parties’ feet to the fire and make it happen. You are the fourth order of government — so do something about it.

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    Steve Teller says:

    Sorry to pick nits, but I’ve not seen any evidence that the bodies located via ground-penetrating radar are (1) all children; (2) all Indigenous; and most importantly (3) victims of any criminal actions.

    The narrative of this whole thing has run far in front of any factual evidence. It’s not clear to me why there is a need to play fast and loose with the facts to “prove” how bad residential schools were.

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      irreversible road map to freedom says:

      I am a white person who attended a pretty typical school in an urban center. I wasn’t abducted from my family. There were no improvised graves close by… much less hundreds of unmarked graves.

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      Glen says:

      What a ridiculous take.

      How many non-residential schools have graveyards on their premises with hundreds of unmarked graves in them?

      None, that’s how many.

      Your 3 points are pointless.

      It doesn’t matter how they died, they died at school while in the care of the church/government, and in many cases parents weren’t even notified.

      If they didn’t die from abuse they died from disease and inadequate and/or poor treatment. They’re still dead.

      Since white kids weren’t removed from their families & forced to go to these schools we can rest assured they are indigenous

      I highly doubt any adult staff died in the schools & were tossed in unmarked graves on school premises.

      I am so sick of hearing these “points” people are making.

      I have an Aunt I never got to know who died at one of these, and a Grandmother, Aunts & Uncles who survived them, so I know a little about what I speak.

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        Doug Brown says:

        All fair comments, but largely irrelevant. Justice is not a popularity contest. These sites need to be properly investigated, events reconstructed and the accused brought to trial. The focus should be on providing all the resources necessary for as thorough an investigation as possible. Jumping to conclusions would only serve as social media fodder.

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          irreversible road map to freedom says:

          DB – with the greatest respect, I believe your comment illustrates part of the problem with how white Canada is reacting to this. We love to imagine that the “justice” system will somehow resolve these problems.

          Indigenous issues / colonization are simply so far out of the norm that they cant be addressed with Western concepts of justice. Our system depends on the bluff that events can be unwound and harm can be compensated for. More importantly it depends on the bluff that all citizens start from a relatively equal position. Not in these cases. Not a million miles of sophistry can make it so.

          The bodies are in the ground. It is plainly obvious the deaths were hidden. It is impossible not to draw inference from that. The perpetrators are either elderly or deceased, so no meaningful punishment will ever be achieved. There is no process to address this.

          I don’t know what the solution is, but it sure as hell doesn’t involve arguments over evidence and clever legal distinctions.

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            Doug says:

            So what is the alternative? Mobs setting fire to churches and vandalizing public property because they “know” who is at fault? Government doling out money to people sharing certain genotypes regardless of whether they actually suffered due to the residential school system? Only the justice system can get to the bottom of this.

            You are correct that most of the perpetrators are dead. It should still be possible to identify the remains, notify their families and arrange proper burials. That would be a huge step towards reconciliation.

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      Phil in London says:

      I will give this callous take the compliment it deserves- Thank you Steve Teller for your donation to the Liberal Party of Canada! I am not saying you are a member of said party, that you have parted with your dollars but when you can attempt to smooth this over as you do, it is an endorsement of that cult.

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    Peter Williams says:

    But Justin has a new look (the beard is gone).


    Expect lots of photo-ops showing Justin with rolled up sleeves ‘working’ for First Nations and Canadians.

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      irreversible road map to freedom says:

      …all intended to impress wealthy white people.

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        Douglas W says:

        Conservative attack ad: who really is Justin Trudeau?

        The guy on the left (photo with beard)?
        Or, the guy on the right (photo, no beard).

        Canadians don’t know.
        Maybe, he doesn’t know.
        Because he says so many different things.

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          Ronald O'Dowd says:


          I prefer something like this: dark mournful score with pictures of COVID-19 at work, then a cemetery shot, then a First Nations’ cemetery shot, then a polluted well, then photos of the effects of mercury poisoning, then of dilapidated housing. Then voiceover: HE HAD SINCE 2015 TO MAKE IT RIGHT. HE DIDN’T. Then a black and white photo of himself broadly smiling as it slowly fades away.

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            david says:

            So you would rather the cons handling Indian Affairs?
            Elect the cons and guess what.
            The old boss will be the new boss and the new boss will be the same as the old boss.
            How quickly you forget the Harper G20 1.2 Billion dollar invasion of Toronto or Officer Bubbles and the outright racist contempt Valcourt had for Indigenous peoples.
            Of course the Liberals are jackasses but if you think I want to see Skippy Poilievre our Stephen Miller clone running around owning the Libs for five years or worse clawing back all the CERB money for reasons you’re crazy.

            “Never replace what you’ve got until what you’ve got has been replaced and an O’toole aint the replacement.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Nope. This isn’t the United States where the Trump Republicans continue to control the party due to the imbecilic nature of most of his supporters — not bright enough to see that in 2022 will come the second electoral repudiation of Trump. Fools that they are, they actually think they would lose momentum by kicking Trump to the curb, which he richly deserves. In fact, it will be the exact opposite. Republicans have a decent chance under a moderate standard bearer but absolutely no chance if Trump is once again the nominee.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Now returning to Canada, there is no way that Harper will be calling the tune in the party or in office if O’Toole wins. O’Toole, like MacKay, the two leading contenders are a direct break with the Harper doctrine. Remember that the CPC lost in 2015 precisely BECAUSE of Harper and his incredibly foolish decision to go GONZO RIGHT in that campaign. Canadians repudiated that and will do so again if O’Toole goes there. O’Toole is no fool and what you see as opposition leader is exactly what you’d get as prime minister: a conservative thinker economically but a moderate on social issues. As for indigenous issues, Erin will follow his heart and it’s filled with good intentions and a personal commitment to achieving meaningful and life-changing results for First Nations and other aboriginals. Trudeau talked the talk. O’Toole will talk the talk and do the walk. What Erin says, he means and what he means, he says. To loosely quote the late P-E-T: Just Watch Him. And then judge him by the concrete results achieved under his leadership.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            As for CERB repayment, from The National Post:

            But the desire to quickly rollout these programs, which have doled out over a combined $125 billion in aid since last spring, was done at the expense of the usual safeguards (also known as pre-payment controls) used to vet applicants’ eligibility and prevent fraud. And now the government is facing the daunting task of finding and recouping all overpayments.

            “Some of the audits will be very complex, particularly some (involving) the more sophisticated fraud, which we don’t even know yet what that may have looked like,” said Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough during a Thursday press conference.

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    Sean Elliott says:

    Okay, there isn’t immediate evidence to prove that the thousand odd bodies found at former residential schools are composed solely of a) children b) solely indigenous children c) children that died from murder, abuse, neglect etc.

    Does it make it any less horrific? The fact that the graves are unmarked, there are no public records documenting the names and cause of death of these people, and the sheer volume of bodies should be enough to cause anyone with half a heart to pause and say “what the hell happened?!”. I am not in any way indigenous or even a Liberal voter, but my heart goes out to these people, and there are still enough first hand accounts of the abuse suffered at residential schools that we as a nation should have sought prosecutorial action. Decades ago.

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      Glen says:

      I am indigenous and as far away from a Liberal voter as one can get. I view Justin Trudeau as an empty vessel whose concern for aboriginal people ends where he can use their issues to get votes, and it stops there.

      This country, if it survives as one, will take decades to recover from the damage & division he is inflicting on it.

      His brand of “progressive” liberalism needs racism to in order to flourish, in fact they foment racism with their very policies, and the media assists with ridiculous articles & op-eds about how all today’s problems can be traced back to white settlers etc. ad nauseum. This is not moving forward

      Does anyone seriously think that telling a section of society, and even their children, that their skin colour is to blame for all the woes of today and they need to immediately practice self-flagellation & feel shame so racism can go away?

      As Morgan Freeman said in his oft quoted interview with Mike Wallace: ““Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man”

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    ReadMyLips says:

    Politics comes after the reality that has happened. By the time it gets to the political level, we are 19 minutes into the overtime period. Politicans are more concerned with appearances than substances. So they will be long on promises and short on action. Doesn’t matter what party. Doesn’t matter who.

    Perhaps Canadians should start taking action on these issues and f*** the governments. They are useless anyway.

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    Shawn says:

    Why should the liberals under Justin Trudeau care about indigenous people or the folks like you posting here. He and the liberal party are well on their way with replacing you and the indigenous folks for a new voting block.

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    Phil in London says:

    Even if every fatality in the death camps were incidents of disease it should still not lead to unmarked and in some cases de-marked graves nor to secrecy of records.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Well, words fail me. I’ll leave it at that.

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