Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An apology is due, minister

Bill Curry reports in the Globe today that the Conservative government will not issue an apology as part of a forthcoming settlement package for survivors of Indian residential schools.

First Nations groups are upset because this contradicts written agreement reached between the previous Liberal government and the Assembly of First Nations. They feel that promise for an apology should be honoured.

While I agree that it's not always appropriate to hold current governments to agreements reached by past governments, we're talking here about an agreement between First Nations peoples and the Government of Canada, not any political party. Some things should supersede politics.

The AFN is also wondering why Harper is nixing their promised apology when Harper has recently apologized on behalf of the government to Maher Arar and for the Chinese head tax.

I don’t want to play politics here, or attempt to ascribe motive to the Conservative decision. Instead I'd just like to know, as Indian Affairs minister Jim Prentice doesn't offer much of an explanation in the Globe piece, why no apology Minister? You say this is different from the Arar or the head tax cases. How?

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11 comments:

Tania said...

Why? You ask. Just read the comments that go with the article. Because apologizing doesn't pander to the type of person the conservatives are courting.

It is amazing that the Globe allows such vitriol and blatant racist and misinformed comments to linger on their site. I subscribe to the Globe and whenever it's a First Nations article, half the comments are about myths on who First Nations peoples are and how much they already get as an advantage and nothing to do with the article.

ktr said...

Why? Because apologizing to First Nations peoples will cost him votes in redneck Alberta. Yes, that's right, I just implied and now stated that Albertans and many other Canadians hold prejudices to First Nations peoples.

Robert said...

If First Nations peoples represented significant voting blocks in Toronto and Vancouver, Harper would have already apologized.

Tough break, eh?

Gayle said...

"Why? Because apologizing to First Nations peoples will cost him votes in redneck Alberta. Yes, that's right, I just implied and now stated that Albertans and many other Canadians hold prejudices to First Nations peoples."

I will not disagree Albertans are racist towards First Nations peoples, but I am not sure it is fair to single us out.

In any event, Harper could be a baby killer and not lose support here. An apology will not stop him from winning this province.

I think it has nothing to do with the voters' racism - I think it is about his own racism.

paulsstuff said...

Well, i guess it's only fair that the LIberal's refused to apologize for the Chinese head tax.

I guess it has more to do with their own racism, right Gayle?

Gayle said...

Not sure that is true paul, though I stand to be corrected. I understood that negotiations had not been completed at the time the Martin government fell in November of 2005.

In any event, at no point have I suggested a failure to apologize to the Chinese community would not be racist.

What I am suggesting is that the willingness to apologize to a community for an unfair tax and racist immigration policy should lead one to conclude there would also be a willingness to apologize to a community for an unfair policy of segregation leading to sexual abuse. But to Harper the first is OK, and the second is not.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Well, i guess it's only fair that the LIberal's refused to apologize for the Chinese head tax.

Fair to whom Paul? Certainly not to First Nations peoples, and that's whom we're talking about here. I don't follow you.

Crabgrass said...

BCer, I agree with you, but you know that if Harper ever does in fact decided to apologize, it will start with caveat making clear that Canada's New Government was not responsible for any of the wrongdoings under consideration. Myself, I'd rather not hear it.

paulsstuff said...

"Fair to whom Paul? Certainly not to First Nations peoples, and that's whom we're talking about here. I don't follow you"


The people posting on here seem to want to infer Harper is racist towards First Nations because of not apologizing. It seems that it is only fair that the Liberal's, who refused to apologize to the Chinese must be racist towards them, no?

That's the logic on here.

On both examples its wrong. In both cases it most likely comes down to legal advice from government lawyers.

paulsstuff said...

http://www.ccnc.ca/sectionEntry.php?entryID=46&type=News

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_8639.aspx

Gayle said...

"On both examples its wrong. In both cases it most likely comes down to legal advice from government lawyers."

Acvtually, no (from the G&M):

"Mr. Prentice insisted legal concerns are not behind his comments and said the issue is completely different from the cases of Mr. Arar or the Chinese head tax."

He said it is different, because forcibly removing young Aboriginal children from their homes and families, sending them far away to be "educated" was part of the government's "duties" to young, Aboriginal children. The fact that as a result of this policy, many of those children suffered horrendous sexual abuse is, apparently, beside the point.

The Residential School matter was resolved and there was a formal agreement before the liberals lost the election. The Head Tax matter was not, and therefore the comment about legal advice probably applies.