In the say-that-again category, let's review Chuck Strahl's recent comments on Attawapiskat. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development met with children from the James Bay community last week and listened to first-hand reports of problems at their elementary "school." One uses the term judiciously because it evokes images of noisy children running into real buildings, books stuffed into backpacks. It doesn't quite suit 8 portables for 400 children, with doors and windows that don't seal, a single bathroom inside a classroom and kids getting sick because they've got to dash from portable to portable in the snow.
"We keep getting sick," Shannen Koostachin, 13 and in Grade 8, said in an interview.
"(The portables) are not a health and safety issue," the Conservative minister later insisted to reporters. As he told the children in his office, he's seen worse.
Strahl said he has 40-plus First Nations in his own Fraser Valley riding in B.C., and "just because they're in my riding, I can't make them a priority."
He concluded: "The facilities in Attawapiskat (are) not as high up as some unfortunate schools that are in worse shape."
Oh, okay. Sounds like a reason to me.
But here's a crazy thought. The preliminary federal surplus projected for 2008-2009 is $10.2 billion. It's wild, but any chance some of that money could fix First Nations schools for children whose futures are held so publicly dear by politicians?