The restaurant called Beckta is one of Ottawa’s higher-end restaurants. With a $68 three-course meal offering and a wallet-slaying wine list, I have no doubt that Beckta offers a dinner to remember. Or at least they do until Canadian food prices leave them offering Goat a’la Parking Lot, but that’s beside the point. Why am I talking about the kind of restaurant I clearly don’t get invited to?
It’s because of an event on Tuesday night. It was an emergency discussion about youth suicides on reserves. The issue is a particularly nasty one in a distant community called Attawapiskat, where police had to break up a suicide pact that included a 9-year old. Shootings are becoming a growing concern on reserves and 1/20th of Attawapiskat has opted to try to kill itself in less than a year. It was Attawapiskat, which falls into the riding of a rare MP with a soul that forced the government to hold an emergency debate on the issue.
And an emergency it is. Nine-year olds should be worried about things like whether or not the other gender gave them cooties, getting one of the good computers in the tech lab, the shifting alliances of childhood friendship, and what’s in their lunch pail. They should not have a suicide pact hanging over their heads. Angus was right to pull the alarm. The Liberals, knowing that refusing would be politically suicidal got a whole third of their party’s MPs to deign to pay attention for the debate.
Some of Canada’s most significant figures on an intergovernmental Indigenous health crisis involving youth were there. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, the Health Minister Jane Philpott, and the Youth and Intergovernmental Affairs Mi…wait. Where did that one go? That’s funny – you’d think a Youth Minister would want to get involved on this one. He must have had something very important to do to-
Oh, there he is. He was at a function with Bill Graham, a Chretianite fossil (incidentally, Jean Cretin also got himself in hot water over this issue) who is launching a book. The book, which is no doubt substantially less relevant to Indigenous suicide than the debate on Parliament Hill, was obviously more important. Our Prime Minister/Youth Minister, acting like neither/nor while hiding in opulent splendor, decided that hobnobbing with Gerald Butts, the guy who thinks being a secretary means farting 140 characters into digital air when someone rightly calls him and his policies out for being stupid was clearly the better use of time.
For a Prime Minister to not attend a debate is one thing. If Justin were in Washington negotiating something or otherwise away, I wouldn’t be writing this. But #RealChange was actually less than 1km away and he also styles himself the Minister for Youth and Intergovernmental Affairs, both of which happen to be fairly important points for a conversation about youth suicide in a distinct jurisdiction. And he claims that Indigenous affairs are a crucial part of his platform and “ideology” (I won’t disgrace the word by stacking it next to #RealChange).
But not as important as high-flying Party functions and fancy dinners that could well cost less than what’s on offer in the North of the country. Interestingly enough, kids that eat shit food are more wan to commit suicide. But governing is hard and Canada is amazing so ahh it’s okay the party for the Party a click down the road is more important.
Beckta luck next time, poor hungry Indigenous kids. One day maybe you too can be noticed and cuddled by the Prime Minister like the Syrian kids were during those insufferable photo shoots. I suggest working on your selfie poses, because clearly that’s the only way to reach this rockheaded tool of a Prime Memeister.