On the campaign trail

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It was a long debate in Chisasibi that ended at 5 am. It was a good test both of endurance and the willingness of the Cree population to really get to know the candidates.

It also points out a problem in the Cree world concerning the electoral process. It is simply too short to really get to know a candidate otherwise. It, as in years past, is simply a popularity contest. You can have the greatest platform with promises a plenty and no plan of action to see your campaign platform put into effect. You don’t have to keep the promises, you merely have to make them sound good

The very shortness of it is frustrating to voters and this journalist alike. Words spoken in one community may not be the same as spoken in another, but the research necessary to prove this takes time and we are not allowed that. Candidates can deny their own words and yet don’t have to deal with the issue of honesty and truthfulness. Some are serious and some are undoubtedly honest mistakes made when you are very tired, such as the one candidate who promised to promote violence against women and children if elected.

Thus far the campaign trail has pretty much happened the way most people predicted: a final battle between the two Matthews. Both are strong candidates who can lead the Cree Nation well.

Both candidates have been chiefs of their respective communities.

Both have been Grand Chiefs of the Cree Nation.

Both were heavily involved in fighting Hydro-Québec’s planned Great Whale hydroelectric project. Coon Come as the Grand Chief. Mukash as Whapmagoostui’s representative.

Both are married, have children and have immediate family involved in running their campaigns for Grand Chief 2009.

Mukash brought the largest payment from the government ($1.1 billion) ever received by any First Nations in Canada ever. Coon Come was the Chair of the Cree Trust set up to manage the money.

Both were born in the bush and have practiced traditional bush lifestyles.

Both are respected by the Elders.

Both are courting the youth vote as they showed up at the Youth Council Annual General Assembly.

Both were the target of award-winning Neil Diamond’s last editorial.

Both want as many voters as possible to go to the polls and vote for them.

Both born in the 1950s, Mukash in ’51 and Coon Come in ’56.

Both have studied political science in university.

Though most people talk about the differences I thought I would show these two candidates like many Crees have walked along the same paths. They both have the experience and the ability to do great things. No matter who attains the position of Grand Chief I hope they will support each other and utilize the amazing energy they both have.

In the end though the final decision of who runs the Cree Nation comes down to you and only you. Remember this as you vote and hope the next election will see a change in electoral reform.

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