Recently I have been watching news reports on how the left more socialist parties in our country and other parts of the world are being taken over by more conservative, right wing factions and some of this I suspect is also happening in Indigenous political organizations. When I look at political trends and decisions being made by governments, I follow the old saying that states “always follow the money”.
In the United Kingdom, I’ve watched media coverage pointing to their left leaning Labour party moving to the right, especially after their once star leader Jeremy Corbyn was wrongly accused of being anti-semetic solely because he was advocating for a sane solution to the crisis with the Israelis and Palestinians. He was almost elected at one point to become the Prime Minister but as a traditional left wing, socialist politician he was removed from the party instead. In the United States with the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders who was hoping to become president also went through a similar situation and as a left wing socialist in his party he received a lot of push back by his fellow democrats. He is still part of the party and speaking out but his voice has been diminished.
Here in Canada we see the rise of the right with the populist Conservative Party gaining ground and getting set up for the next election. We also see the Liberal Party which is in power with Justin Trudeau moving to the right as they follow the United States in almost every move and every request they demand of Canada. Even the traditional left wing New Democratic Party (NDP) seems to be moving more to the right and supporting wars as well stepping back in really promoting socialist ideals.
The big danger for Indigenous people is that we may find ourselves being governed by a more right wing, less inclusive government that would turn back the clock on many of the successes we have seen over the past few decades. The Trudeau government although not perfect has been supporting Indigenous political and community organizations very well while in power. Yes we can always hope for more in settling our treaties and making life better for our Elders and children but the truth is that the Trudeau government has done more for Indigenous people in Canada than any other government in the past. Still, the hateful push by right wing organizers has caused many Indigenous people to dislike Trudeau. Do we really think right wing parties are going to be better for Indigenous people? Not at all that is for sure.
Right now I think that most of us probably agree that the balance of power with the minority Liberals, together with the NDP ensures that polices and legislation benefits the most needy Canadians. An example of that balance of power can be seen with the Dental Care Plan that was recently passed.
Indigenous political organizations and councils are also susceptible to being captured by leaders that are more interested in supporting the wealthy decision makers in the country and accepting more right wing ideals. Anyone and any community can be bought off and we have to remain vigilant in making sure that is not happening in our Indigenous political and community organizations.
We have a lot of great leaders who step up for election in government but we also have many that are just interested in the money and power that comes with some of these positions. More than ever we need a strong, honest, open and fair media to help keep everyone informed. These days many politicians and governments are lobbied by wealthy interests to get their way and sadly this is a reality that has ended up with a move away from democracy.
The word democracy is from the old Greek words ‘demos’ for ‘people’ and ‘kratos’ for ‘rule’ – it simply implies that political power comes from the people. Another old word that describes another system is Plutocracy from the ancient Greek words ‘plutos’ for ‘wealth’ and ‘kratos’ for ‘rule’ – a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. I often wonder if we do live in a democracy or we are ruled by a plutocracy.
Let’s face it nobody could ever get elected in any government these days without having the money to run for office. That alone is undemocratic. We see less and less activists, labour organizers and wise Elders running for office and more and more business people and lawyers. This system is simply not working very well anymore and many of us are feeling helpless. We need to wake up.