Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike continues amid growing list of critics

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is based in Ottawa for her protest.

For her sake, I hope Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence isn't reading the newspapers while in her tepee on Victoria Island on the Ottawa River.

While her hunger strike — and the corresponding Idle No More movement — has garnered international media attention and sympathy, it appears that some Canadian media-types aren't as understanding.

Over the past week, some 'mainstream media' editorial boards, columnists and analysts in this country have become a lot more critical of the chief and her hunger strike.

[ Related: First Nations leaders want Jan. 24 meeting with Harper ]

In a column published on Wednesday, the Calgary Herald editorial board accused Spence of "blackmailing" Stephen Harper:

"The threat of suicide is always ill advised or rooted in selfishness. In the regrettable case of Theresa Spence, it appears to be a case of both.

"Apart from Spence’s inexcusable blackmailing of the prime minister, it’s evident she’s unreasonable. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has expressed a willingness to meet with Spence, but he’s been rebuffed."

Last week, the National Post's Christie Blatchford caused an online stir for using the word "terrorism" when writing about Spence's hunger strike:

"Chief Spence has parked herself on an island in the Ottawa River, is on Day 17 of a hunger strike, and all around her, the inevitable cycle of hideous puffery and horse manure that usually accompanies native protests swirls.

It is tempting to see the action as one of intimidation, if not terrorism: She is, after all, holding the state hostage to vaguely articulated demands."

And then there's Sun News Network's Ezra Levant.

While he is often controversial, you've got to give him credit here for doing his homework:

"I started looking into Attawapiskat's situation. Attawapiskat is a small town in Northern Ontario. About 1500 people living 300 homes. But they have 3 chiefs on the payroll, 18 councillors on the payroll — that's 21 full-time politicians.

"Did you know that in the middle of the so-called housing crisis where they need more money that Chief Theresa and the band has $9 million stock portfolio...Attiwapiskat has $9 million [in stocks] - like in Apple, in China Mobile, in Banks. Maybe if you have a housing crisis you sell a few stocks."

A 'blackmailer,' a 'terrorist' and essentially a selfish chief?

[ Related: Hunger-striking chief urges unity with Idle No More ]

While Spence continues to be portrayed as a hero by First Nations communities, that's definitely not the way she's now being characterized by some in the MSM.