We need to measure political actions against political promises

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by Nadia Gray

This past week, hate boiled over in the mind of a 20 year old man. He did not know the family he murdered! He literally mowed them down and they were dead! Five people out for an evening walk! Four killed and the youngest critically injured and orphaned. They were Muslim. The hate this time was aimed at this talented loving family. In what other corner, in what other mind, does hate lurk, hidden and waiting to explode? Why?

People all over Canada were in shock and grief. This was done June 6. But this tragedy was a few days after a heart-breaking announcement of the discovery on May 28 of a mass grave for 215 Indigenous Children. Children buried without ceremony or individual identity. A shocking abuse of trust and responsibility by government and church authorities. How did this happen in Canada, the land who prided itself on building a multicultural society? A sad indictment of all the responsible entities of governments, welfare agencies, church administrations, individual and collective! Why? is the question that rings out…why?

Hate defines “others” who are different from the hater in a progression to the definitions stronger than ‘hate’: loath, detest, disgust, abhor, abominate, despise, execrable, repulsive, nauseous, sickening, despicable, revulsion, odious, obnoxious, detestable, obscene, hideous. These words are highly charged. At what point on the hate scale do the emotions associated with these words spill over into violence by using a truck to kill, murder, a family in cold blood as a random act based in racism?

But the individual hate scale also has cousins at the official level. The impetus of church institutions and government to make those who are deemed different assimilate.

Why did the recommendation of the Bagot Commission and report delivered on March 20, 1845, become the ever expanding blueprint of successive Colonial and Canadian Governments in: “separating Indigenous children from their parents is the best way to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture?” The Indian Act, in its various iterations, is a complex overlay to the governance of Indigenous Affairs. It dysfunctional aspects are not a new discovery. In the intervening 176 years, what is the situation?

The confluence of the revelation of tragedy upon tragedy was a shock! Available news clips from over the years have been found and shown as background to the news of the tragedy of Residential Institutions. Also, statistics are cited about incidents of racism over the years. Racism against Muslims, Jews, “Others”. Tragically, great numbers of abuse, death, discrimination and neglect of the children and women of Indigenous Peoples! Not New. Where do we go from here?

It may be both an inadequate and inappropriate response by the PM to say all will be done to root out Extremist Right Groups! Why not before? My question is to all of us, but particularly to the Politicians elected to various levels of government? Why the tragedies of racism and neglect of children over these many years and decades? Perhaps it is closer to home than right wing groups?

However, this tragic issue is the responsibility of each of us. We determine the “character of our country and the management of our democracy. We need to demand a better governance. They are our representatives, so they need to stop being professional politicians always looking to be re-elected and how to phrase pleasing partisan words into promises to their base. What do we want “ Public Service” to mean? Today we are listening to how the Child Welfare System has failed Indigenous Families and Children. We are told sweeping changes will ensure better outcomes. How? When?

Our politics are scored like sports events by reporters even in a pandemic. But it should be much more than a statistical exercise. It should be much more than a pie in the sky “promising” bee. What is the program? What was accomplished to achieve the last program? What is left outstanding and why? What mistakes need addressing? What is the way forward being proposed on what “facts”?

An interesting word fact! The Prime Minister answered a definitive “no” when asked if Quebec’s Bill 21 was discriminatory! Robyn Urback, on June 10 in the Globe and Mail, wrote:

“Surely it was not lost on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the same symbols that ostensibly made the Afzaal family a target for the man now charged with their murders and attempted murder in London, Ont., would have also made them ineligible for certain jobs in Quebec.”

Ms. Urback also shows Mr. O’Toole, as leader of the Opposition, has not spoken out either. Perhaps if the people of Quebec, our fellow Canadians, were approached with an aspirational alternative by the federal political leaders vying for their vote. But no one is brave enough to find out if they may choose inclusivity instead of Bill 21? Are we, in the rest of Canada, brave enough to insist on the laying aside of Bill 21?!

What is “true” and supportable by our minds analyzing the facts presented. But we must also listen with our hearts! I submit our hearts are the key to audit the intentions of the legislators, judges, and bureaucracy.

More of the same does not bring confidence. Right now our Governance has “No Clothes”. One of the most intelligent “Tales” authored over the centuries is by Hans Christian Anderson. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, popularly known as “The Emperor Has No Clothes”. Perhaps, Canadians should insist that individual, court or political promises vs actions should be reported and judged according to the accuracy of whether the Promise vs Performance has “clothes” or “ no clothes”. What do we expect of our Democracy?

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