Political Traction: First Nations gain major traction

Jaime Watt takes a weekly look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians on CBC's Power & Politics. This week: First Nations issues dominate the conversation.

Political Traction

9 years ago
Jaime Watt tracks the political stories Canadians are talking about, including Idle No More, the Ontario teachers' protests and the government's review of aid for Haiti 7:27

Jaime Watt joins Power & Politics host Evan Solomon each week to look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians.

Political Traction with Navigator's Jamie Watt appears weekly on Power & Politics. (CBC)

Monitoring the House of Commons' question period, mainstream media and the conversation on social media, Watt and his team at Navigator Ltd. determine which issues gained the most attention in official Ottawa, and then measure how much traction those issues managed to find with Canadians outside the nation's capital.

First Nations issues, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper's meeting with chiefs and Idle No More protests, dominated the national conversation last week.

But Watt points out that confusion is driving this topic to the top spot.

"This issue is a mess and nobody is doing well," said Watt.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence continues her self-described hunger strike after boycotting last week's meeting between the prime minister and First Nations chiefs. She says she won't end her liquid-only diet until both Harper and the Governor General meet with chiefs at the same time.

Watt thinks Spence's decision not to attend the meeting with Harper, while continuing to fast, makes her motives unclear to Canadians.

But according to Watt, one thing is for certain — Harper and Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Shawn Atleo realized they need each other.

"They both needed to put a fence around this issue. Harper to put some kind of content and context, and of course Atleo to regain control of that agenda."

The Ontario teachers' dispute and the government's review of Canada's aid to Haiti rounded off the Traction radar for the week.

With the Ontario Labour Relations Board deeming teacher strikes as illegal, Watt doesn't expect the issue to gain any more traction — but he sees Canada's aid relationship with Haiti as an ongoing story.

Watt is keeping his eye on the First Nations' day of protest on Wednesday, which he expects will appear on the Traction radar next week.