Tag Archives: Holodomor

Refuting Parliament’s Goofy Guiltmongering Resolution Calling the Residential Schools a “Genocide”

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RUBENSTEIN: Is Canada really a genocidal country?

Leah Gazan
Leah Gazan, NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg-Centre. 

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With no prior notice or debate, members of Parliament gave unanimous consent October 27, to a motion calling on the federal government to recognize Canada’s residential schools as genocide.

Leah Gazan, the NDP member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre whose father is a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, introduced the motion following Question Period. Gazan brought forward a similar motion in June last year which failed to receive unanimous consent.

Gazan’s motion reads as follows: “That, in the opinion of the House that the government must recognize what happened in Canada’s Indian residential schools as genocide, as acknowledged by Pope Francis and in accordance with article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Pope Francis

“It was historic,” said Gazan: “We moved the pendulum in quite an extreme way.”

Much of the moral authority for the motion’s unanimous consent seems to have come from the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who described the schools as genocidal following a trip to Canada this summer, though he didn’t use the word during the visit.

“Yes, it’s a technical word, genocide. I didn’t use it because it didn’t come to mind. But yes, I described it. Yes, it’s a genocide,” Francis said in July on his trip home in describing what he earlier condemned as the forced assimilation of indigenous children.

Neither unanimous decisions nor moral authority prove genocide has occurred. Only the existence of certain facts can do so. Is Gazan’s accusation demonstrably true or has the pendulum moved so far “in quite an extreme way” that the definition of genocide has been rendered meaningless?

Is there any relationship, for example, between the government-funded and supported Indian Residential School attendance of some 150,000 students over the 113-year period — most of it voluntary as shown here and here — and generally acknowledged genocides?

As of June 2021, the government of Canada officially recognized eight genocides: the Holocaust (Second World War), the Armenian genocide (1915–1917), the Holodomor (1932–1933), the Rwandan genocide (1994), the Srebrenica massacre (1995), the genocide of Yazidis by ISIL (2014), the Uyghur genocide (2014–present), and the Rohingya genocide (2016–present).

Article II of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as an intention to destroy “In whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by “Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;” “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

No mass-murder of indigenous children or adults has ever taken place in Canada; not a single authenticated murder of a child by staff members has occurred at any Indian Residential School; though discipline and punishment were as harsh as at any other school, whether residential or not, any serious bodily or mental harm was haphazard at most and no different from its occurrence in the general population; most indigenous leaders and parents wanted their children to receive a Western-style education; there has never been an effort to physically eliminate the aboriginal population of Canada — in fact, saving indigenous lives has always been the norm; sterilization and forced adoption were standard practices for various ethnic and religious groups for identical reasons in earlier times; girls who became pregnant were expelled from their school; and forced attendance at a residential school, when it occurred, was mainly for social welfare reasons and not a permanent transfer of children from one group to another.

Conversely, no objective application of the UN criteria could deny what occurred in Rwanda in 1994 was genocide. Goaded by months of propaganda that denounced their enemies as cockroaches, the country’s Hutu army units, militias and packs of machete-armed civilians hunted, herded and swept through their country’s Tutsi minority. In less than four months, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, including about 70 percent of the Tutsi population, and 250,000 to 500,000 women were raped.

Fast forward to Canada in 2015 when the Final Summary Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said the schools constituted “cultural genocide,” a phenomenon deliberately excluded from Article II of the genocide convention. A politically loaded term, cultural genocide can easily describe the ordinary enculturation of millions of Canadian residents, both aboriginal and immigrant, whose Western education resulted in the internalization of British — and French — based lifeways and beliefs, resulting in the loss of pre-existing ethnic languages and traditions over the generations.

But since 2015, many indigenous leaders and experts said “cultural genocide” was not a sufficient label rather than an erroneous one. Instead, they insisted boarding school attendance should just be called unqualified genocide, an assertion also supported by the Trudeau government, most clearly shown by its immediate acceptance of the conclusion of the 2019 inquiry into missing and murdered and Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) the residential school system and its ongoing legacy constitute genocide.

“I have acknowledged that I accept the findings of the report, and the issue that we have is that people are getting wrapped up in debates over a very important and powerful term. As I’ve said, we accept the finding that this was genocide.”

But is there any legal, moral, or factual basis for this assertion?

No there is not. None of the UN Convention’s features seem to readily apply to the IRS legacy of the disappearance or murder of 1,200 or so indigenous women and girls since 1980. The independent murders of indigenous females by numerous unconnected and mainly indigenous men, acting on their own, were certainly not “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part” a particular racial or ethnic group through the coordinated efforts of some other racial or ethnic group. Nor do the organization, causes, and consequences of these murders have anything in common with the genocides officially recognized by the civilized world.

The MMIWG Report rightly stressed not all genocides are the same. This is correct but for the wrong reasons.

The Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, for example, could hardly be more different in key respects. The latter took place in numerous Nazi-occupied European countries as well as in Germany. It stretched over at least four long years from 1941 to 1945. It was held in secret to avoid outraging the rest of the world and perhaps, to limit opposition within Germany. It was minutely organized by the Nazi government, the SS, Gestapo, and other Nazi units. It employed multiple killing methods, ranging from mass shootings to medical experiments to the use of gas chambers. It murdered far more victims, including more than six million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other “undesirables.” And it was part of a larger extermination project that would take 14 million lives.

Despite the many differences and the varying definitions of genocide, there is one necessary and sufficient feature that distinguishes a genuine genocide: the murder of members of another group be deliberate, systematic and organized, as opposed to coincidental, unconnected and uncoordinated. This is why the United Nations General Assembly resolved in 1946 that, “Genocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings.” Translation: A lot of random murders, however heart-breaking and outrageous they may be, do not add up to a genocide.

Irwin Cotler, head of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, a former attorney-general of Canada and arguably the country’s most prominent international human rights lawyer said it best when he argued: “Perhaps they had to use a term like genocide in order to sound the alarm and people will take notice and finally action will result… But I think we have to guard against using that term in too many ways because then it will cease to have the singular importance and horror that it warrants. If we say everything is a genocide, then nothing is a genocide.”

Like all other nations, Canada has never been a perfect country. But it has never been a genocidal one. By almost any measure, no country has done more for its indigenous people.

Yet if this genocide is still ongoing, as the MMIWG report strongly asserts when it uses this word no fewer than 72 times in its first volume alone, and given the prime minister’s acceptance of this assertion, should not he and his government be charged minimally with a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court in the Hague?

Hymie Rubenstein is a retired professor of anthropology, The University of Manitoba, and editor of The REAL Indigenous Issues Newsletter.

One Victory Against the Encroaching Totalitarianism

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The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

One Victory Against the Encroaching Totalitarianism

If anyone was under the impression that my harsh, negative, assessment of our civil leadership’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in my last essay was overblown, they need only look at the dirty trick the Liberals tried to pull this week. Parliament, which adjourned on March 13th until Hitler’s birthday – draw your own conclusions, was temporarily called back on Tuesday to vote on an emergency spending bill. The problem was not the $82 billion that the government was seeking permission to spend. The problem was that the bill, as originally drafted, included several provisions that would give them the power to increase spending and taxation without submitting the increases to Parliament for a vote.

Perhaps they thought that the panic that the media – which in Canada is almost monolithically the mouthpiece of the Liberal Party – has generated would be sufficient for them to get away with this. Or possibly they thought that all of their efforts over decades to get Canadians to devalue the traditions and institutions we inherited from Britain and to forget the history and significance of those traditions and institutions had finally paid off, and that we would be willing to let them overturn the Magna Carta and the very foundation of Parliamentary government and our Common Law liberties.

Mercifully, it appears they were wrong. Tuesday morning it was reported that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition were doing their job and firmly standing up for our traditional, constitutional, limits on government powers and that in the face of this staunch defence, the Liberals had backed down from their proposed power grab. Which is grounds for hope in this troubling times. The spirit of liberty has not yet been entirely crushed within us.

Later in the day, it was clarified that the tax powers were all that the Liberals had removed from the bill and that they were still pushing for the spending and borrowing powers. The Tories dug in in their opposition to these as well. The parties entered into negotiations but the day ended without the House being called upon to vote. This Wednesday morning – the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – it was announced that the Liberals had dropped all the provisions for extended powers from the bill, which as an emergency spending bill has just passed the House, and will undoubtedly clear the Senate and receive Royal assent within a day or two.

I have been very critical of Andrew Scheer’s past performance as Opposition Leader and his bumbling in the last election but now, when it counts the most, it looks like he has come through for Canadians. Andrew Cohen, writing for the Ottawa Citizen, has praised the Prime Minister’s performance in this crisis saying “This has been his finest hour.” I beg to disagree. This – not the Kokanee Grope, not the costume party in India, not the Blackface/Brownface Scandal, not the SNC Lavalin Affair – has been Justin Trudeau, revealed at his worst – an opportunistic, tyrant, who has tried to take advantage of a global health crisis to attack the foundations of our constitution and expand his own powers. This is Andrew Scheer’s finest hour, not Justin Trudeau’s.

I am under no illusions that the majority of my countrymen see it my way rather than Cohen’s. Canadians have been far too apathetic for far too long towards the riches of our inheritance in the Common Law and the Westminster System of Parliament. It is almost one hundred years since the famous incident when Lord Byng, Governor General of Canada, exercised the reserve powers of the Crown and refused Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s request for a dissolution of Parliament. King, who had been allowed to form a government despite not having won the plurality in the House, wanted the dissolution to save his own bacon because he faced an imminent censure in Parliament over a corruption scandal. Lord Byng’s refusal was an entirely appropriate use of the Crown’s powers to protect Parliament’s right to hold the government accountable, as such champions of our constitution as John Farthing and Eugene Forsey demonstrated in their books on the subject. In the next Dominion election, however, the Canadian electorate bought King’s execrable lies about the matter hook, line, and sinker and awarded him a majority government.

That the government’s first thoughts with regards to dealing with this crisis were that they need to expand their powers beyond what the constitution allows them is itself sufficient evidence that they do not deserve to be trusted with such powers.

The approach they have been taking to the COVID-19 pandemic is further grounds not to trust them. Remember that this is a virus which in over eighty percent of the cases we know about has produced no symptoms to moderate symptoms. The actual percentage of those who have contracted the virus of whom this is true is probably closer to 99.99%. Most people who are asymptomatic would not have been tested unless they were in a situation where they were known to have been exposed to the virus. Thus, an approach to containing the disease which focuses on protecting those most vulnerable to experience it at its worst rather than protecting us all by shutting everything down and forcing us all into isolation makes the most sense. Countries that have aggressively pursued such an approach have succeeded in containing the spread of the disease without going into extreme shut down mode. Ironically, the countries which Mr. Cohen lists in the second paragraph of his column have all followed this approach, unlike Italy and the United States whose mishandling of the crisis he decries, despite the fact that they are following the same kind of approach, albeit with varying degrees of severity, as our own government.

The model which Mr. Trudeau is following is that of advising – and probably eventually compelling – all Canadians to stay at home, away from the threat of contagion, and also from the sun and fresh air which are man’s most important natural allies in the fight against disease. This involves shutting down all “non-essential” businesses and promising that the government will take care of the huge segment of the workforce which now founds itself unemployed. Since government is not a wealth generating institution – despite sometimes having delusions to the contrary – this means that the burden it is taking upon itself must fall upon the only part of the private economy that remains open – the “essential” businesses that provide food and other necessities, putting a strain on these which will, if this lasts for any lengthy period of time, cause them to fail. This would result in far more deaths than the collapse of the medical system that Mr. Trudeau is trying to avoid by the long-term strategy of slowing the spread of the virus and pushing its peak into the future ever would. The modern economy is the way in which we have avoided the Malthusian consequences of our population size. Anybody who is not an idiot knows this. “Lives are more important than the economy” is a lie concealed behind a moral truism. Destroy the economy, and you destroy the lives that it sustains. The Holodomor of almost ninety years ago is an historical example of how a regime used that principle to destroy lives deliberately with malice aforethought. If the Trudeau Liberals accomplish the same it will be primarily through stupidity.

Nor is shrinking the economy to the point where it cannot possibly feed our population and so causing the deaths of masses by starvation the only way in which the model the Trudeau government is pursuing could produce disastrous results. As unemployment skyrockets, suicide rates are likely to rise as well. Furthermore, if “extreme social distancing” is kept in place for as long as the Liberals are saying is necessary – months rather than weeks – there will be a general breakdown in psychological and emotional health. Human beings are social creatures. They are not meant to live apart from each other. Force them to live contrary to their nature for a lengthy period of time and they will start to go bonkers. This too would contribute to a rise in suicide rates as well as other dangerous and destructive behaviour.

Furthermore, just as an extended shut down will rapidly burn up accumulated material capital, so an extensive period of “extreme social distancing” will burn up social capital – the trust between members of a community and society that enables them to function in a civilized way and cooperate for their own common good. The only kind of government that would want to destroy that is a totalitarian government that hates and persecutes all social interaction that is not under its direct planning and control, which demands the total undivided allegiance of its citizens, and which fears any and all rivals for its peoples’ loyalty, trust, and affection.

Those who would rather not live under that kind of a government, who still value our constitution in which Queen-in-Parliament and not Prime Minister-in-Council is sovereign, and our Common Law rights and freedoms won a victory today. Let us practice eternal vigilance and pray that it is not short-lived.