harper’s revision quest

First, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets all squishy – almost channelling Sally Field’s Oscar speech –  in a speech before the G20 about how everybody loves Canada. They love us, they really REALLY love us. (sigh)

The press just ate that stuff up. OMG, they creamed their jeans, Harper really does have more than just ice water coursing thru his veins They was so up his butt they ignored a bit of selective amnesia and allowed a huge bit of revisionism on his part, when Stephen Harper said the following:

“We’re so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see,” he said, speaking with a rare passion.

“We are one of the most stable regimes in history. . . . We are unique in that regard,” he added, noting Canada had enjoyed more than 150 years of untroubled Parliamentary democracy.

Just in case that was not enough to persuade doubters, Harper threw in some more facts about the geographically second-largest nation in the world.

“We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them,” he said.

Except it wasn’t a fact at all. Bloggers jumped all over this little bit of um… mis-truth… Pinochionism… un-fact. That is until a writer in a Vancouver newspaper captured the anger spreading and growing throughout online networks – the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Perhaps Harper and I are not on the same page – is colonialism not defined as the practice and processes of domination, control, and forced subjugation of one people to another? As most bluntly stated by Duncan Campbell Scott, Head of the Department of Indian Affairs in the 1920’s: “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question.”

I expect Harper has read the federal government’s own report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which explicitly lays out Canada’s imposition of a colonial relationship (indeed, that is the heading of one of the chapters) on Indigenous people. Measures employed include the Indian Act, residential schools, forcible relocation including to reservations, the imposed Band Council system, institution of a pass system (which was subsequently borrowed by apartheid South Africa), germ warfare, outlawing of ceremonies such as the potlatch and traditional activities such as fishing, failed treaty processes, and other forced assimilation polices including the Act for the Gradual Assimilation of Indian Peoples.

Of course she’s probably wrong about one thing. I doubt Harper has even looked at the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. But let’s got back to this lovely person’s writing again.

Considering that his government has so ardently voted against it, it would be safe to presume that Harper is aware of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. If Canada has no history of colonialism, then what else could possibly explain that Canada – along with other settler states such as Australia – have yet to sign on to the Declaration? Other than the glaringly obvious and painful reality of colonization, what would make the Declaration “unworkable for Canada”, as stated by the Harper government?

Remember that national apology? Well, what was I just saying the other day? But let’s take a look at what people wrote in “comments” section in response to this item in the Vancouver Sun.

Kevin Barlow

IF Canada has no history (maybe he meant memory) of colonialism, why did he make an apology to the House of Commons, as the Residential School system can be called the flagship of colonialism.

Angel Bigstone

Exactly – where IS the outrage from the public? Public endorsements through apathy by voters/taxpayers only work to reinforce Harper’s views to the detriment of my people. Apathy is still colonialism. Thank you for writing this, Author. Much appreciated!

tobias c. van Veen

Here, here. Great to see Harper finally spouting the whitewash ideology which he put a lid on to win the last election. Keep it up Harper, I say. Such inaccurate and offensive statements only serve to reveal the actual “reasons” for all kinds of questionable right-wing policies, from turning away refugee claimants to paying lip-service to the First Nations. These reasons be nothing less than prejudice. Canada’s legacy of colonial racism continues.

Of course, Harper and the rest of his government couldn’t get away with it if the Canadian news media weren’t so willing to ignore such comments. Or maybe he’s saying what they can’t – at least not in public or polite company?

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Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, human rights, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, journalism

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