Views / Opinion

Jasmine Kabatay: Don't @ me Philpott, there's work to do for Indigenous services

The minister of Indigenous services used Twitter to weigh in on media reporting of the issues under her purview. Kabatay sees the move as deflecting from the real work.

Jane Philpott’s Twitter corrections and clarifications read like she’s trying to find someone else to blame for how her file has been traditionally mishandled, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

Jane Philpott’s Twitter corrections and clarifications read like she’s trying to find someone else to blame for how her file has been traditionally mishandled, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

New year, new Jane Philpott?

The minister of Indigenous services has had a lot to say about the reporting on the department she heads — specifically news stories that rely on, as she says, “sloppy” reporting.

On Twitter, she has recently taken on news outlets, including the CBC and Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix, for reporting on drinking-water advisories and Jordan’s Principle, a federal policy that guarantees Indigenous children receive the same health care available to non-Indigenous children.

To me, Philpott’s Twitter corrections and clarifications read like she’s trying to find someone else to blame for how her file has been traditionally mishandled.

Though in a year-end interview with CBC she insisted her point was the media does play a vital role, it just doesn’t always get things right, hence the “sloppy” accusation.

“I think that's part of what the [fourth] estate is supposed to do ... [but] to criticize the government incorrectly doesn't help anyone and I believe that people need to get the message straight," she said.

According to the government’s numbers, as Philpott will tell you on Twitter, over 24,000 requests have been granted under Jordan’s Principle and the policy is being “fully implemented.”

But that comes 10 years after Parliament first adopted the policy. Almost two years after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminated against children on reserves. And just weeks after the Liberals withdrew a judicial review of the tribunal’s ruling (a case which had faced legal challenges from this government and its predecessor in the years since the original complaint was filed in 2007.)

All that to say: Neither a tweet nor a politician can fully convey the long history of discrimination Indigenous Peoples have faced in this country. The issues are too complex and nuanced.

That is why I turn to people like Cindy Blackstock for insights. She has been at the front and centre of First Nations child welfare issues for years, now as the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, one of the organizations that filed the human rights complaint in 2007.

Grassroots leaders like Blackstock know what needs to be done for communities and they’re trusted — so when they announce something is being done to their satisfaction, I’ll believe them.

Philpott has big plans: ending long-term drinking water advisories by 2021, closing the gap on child-welfare spending, and reducing the number of Indigenous children in foster care.

We’ll see how serious she is about her list this time next year, at the dawn of an election year. Until then, if she wants to chime in on how her department is faring, do so by delivering on promises.

More on Metronews.ca