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Goodbye, Tom Flanagan: What took so long?

Every field has its embarrassing cousin who lives in the proverbial attic. In virology there are scientists who deny the existence of AIDS. There are biologists who deny evolution. There are architects who say 9/11 was a controlled demolition. There are climate scientists who deny climate change. And yes, in the field of political science, there are those who deny Indigenous rights. Most of these "experts" have books and many of them have received a great deal of air time to voice their otherwise marginal perspectives.

 When it comes to political science approaches to Indigenous rights, Tom Flanagan and Barry Cooper qualify as perhaps our biggest embarrassments.

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Idle No More is an opportunity to realize the promise of democracy in Canada

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It is sometimes quipped that democracy is like two wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. This Darwinian image of vulnerable minorities falling prey to a "tyranny of the majority" is why few believe that democracy can be reduced to participation in elections. If democracy has value it is because it allows people to have a meaningful say in the rules that govern them. Anything that precludes or impairs this "voice" is anti-democratic by extension.

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Forget the polls: Idle No More can take heart from history of the civil rights movement

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 The Idle No More Indigenous rights movement is promising more direct action in 2013. However, a spectre is haunting the movement -- the spectre of fading public sympathy. The majority of Canadians (as well as some in the movement) believe that gaining recognition for Indigenous rights depends on effectively bolstering and sustaining public support.

Does it?

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Great White Father knows best: On privilege, power and Chief Spence's hunger strike

Photo: Regina Southwind

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Imagine, if you will, that there was a white man born of wealth and privilege sitting beside Rosa Parks on the bus that momentous first day of December in 1955. Let us suppose for a moment that like many others he was disgusted by the treatment of blacks in Montgomery, Alabama, and that he wanted nothing more than to witness the end of racial segregation.

Imagine that he nevertheless counselled Rosa Parks in that moment to give up the righteous position she had taken up -- to relinquish her seat and conclude her protest. Maybe it was so that Parks would have the energy to fight another day, or fight in more effective ways.

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Then and now: Journalists on the wrong side of history

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One of the great hazards of journalism is that a writer may come down commandingly on the wrong side of history. The Idle No More movement provides just such an opportunity, for the risk is most pronounced when a marginalized group undertakes to struggle against some social or political orthodoxy. Thankfully, some writers possess a special kind of superhuman resolve which enables them to resist the temptations of prudence and generosity in the face of social change. At least for a while.

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I am Canadian! (because of treaties with Indigenous nations)

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As Chief Theresa Spence continues her hunger strike, her request that Prime Minister Stephen Harper meet with Chiefs to discuss treaties has many Canadians wondering what relevance treaties could possibly hold today.

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