Thursday, June 30, 2016

Prolonging the error

A Canadian Press report in the June 29, 2016 issue of the Toronto Star claims that the First Nations residential schools were designed to "take the Indian out of the child." Neither CP nor the Star checked their facts. It's irresponsible to place non-attributable words in quotation marks.

No authoritative Canadian ever uttered that statement. Leading the charge was former prime minister Stephen Harper who voiced it in the House of Commons, and the agony of error more recently prolonged by Ontario Premier Elizabeth Wynne.

What to do when the tide of media and political error runs high? Let's try the whole truth.

From"The legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott" by Mark Abley: "The quotation can be traced back to a somewhat different statement uttered by a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army, Richard Henry Pratt, the nineteenth-century superintendent of a residential school in Pennsylvania: All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."

Not a Canadian in sight, but why spoil a good story?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Erstwhile bigotry

Letter to the Toronto Star, June 26, 2016. Unpublished.

The reaction to "This is where I'm from" by Shree Paradkar (June 20), might leave the impression that the disparaging of others is something new in our city. 

When I was growing up in downtown Toronto, there was no Islamophobia; there were no Muslims. There was no racism; there were no people of colour. Yet there was animosity. 

During the war, our neighbours screamed at us across George Street, "Go back to Germany," and after the war,"dirty Catholics." At that time, Catholics were excluded from employment with the city, and likely other places. One had to state one's religion on an application form.

It was our perceived "otherness" that caused the reaction. It never occurred to us to plead injustice or bigotry. In time, understanding and friendship prevailed, 

However, to believe there will one day be an end to fear of "the other,"  let's coin atlerphobia, is to deny human nature. 

Society must always be an educational work in progress.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Business must clean-up its own mess

About four years ago, there began the reclamation of tar ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The cost of this process fell solely on the taxpayer, the company no where in sight.

A similar situation exists in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, in the former Giant Mine. Reports make no mention who will bear the cost of the clean-up. We may presume it will be the taxpayer.

Any business that harms the environment must post a bond sufficient to pay for all damage occurred during the operation and for its clean-up should operations cease. 

That is not the case with the Alberta oil industry where the bonds posted are grossly inadequate. One day, the Alberta taxpayer, and by extension the rest of us, will pay to repair the enormous damage being currently inflicted.


Between 1962 and 1970, subsidiary companies of Reed International dumped 9000 kilograms of mercury into the Wabagoon-English River system to the severe detriment of the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation. In 1985, the company along with the federal and provincial governments made a one-time compensation payment of $16.67 million.

The problem persists in that fish from these waters are still contaminated with mercury. The people are ill with mercury poisoning. Again the perpetrator is no longer on the scene and all costs now borne by the taxpayer.

Again we ask -- Why was the company not forced to remain on the scene until the problem was totally resolved, the waters totally cleared of their pollution? Why were any governments involved at all in the compensation and subsequent costs persisting to this day? It was a private problem again turned into a public burden.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Repeated nonsense

Untruths repeated often enough become truths in some minds.   I can be persuaded the Toronto Star has a Board of Censors who delete any suggestion we did not get the whole truth concerning the residential school question. An unpublished letter: 

It is to be hoped Premier Kathleen Wynne did not use words attributed to her (An emotional apology, May 31).  

The phrase "take the Indian out of the child" has gained such notoriety many believe it to be incorporated in Canadian legislation. 

It is a corruption of a nineteenth-century statement of a residential school official in Pennsylvania. 

No knowledgeable Canadian has ever uttered it.