About Erasing Canada's First Nations
Canadian media leaves out most well documented, historical facts about the Liberal Party when they're attempting to imply that Conservatives are racist. It's almost always Canadian First Nations that are used as cheap ammo against the Conservative Party, even though residential schools and many regressive reforms have been introduced and encouraged by Liberals as well as Conservatives. In 2015, it's almost sacrilegious to suggest reforming Canada's Indian Act, let alone abolishing Canadian Aboriginal status all together. In 1960, it was Conservative John Diefenbaker who gave all Canadian Aboriginals the right to vote without losing their status. In 1969, nine years after Diefenbaker's progressive reform, Pierre Trudeau's Liberals proposed abolishing Aboriginal status, terminating treaties, privatizing reserve land, completely stripping Aboriginals of their identity and integrating them into Canadian society.
Abolishing Aboriginal status and assimilating Aboriginals is exactly what the residential school system aimed to do. We assume that the Trudeau government's intentions were good because they were based on an idea of equality. However, burning up legal treaties and stripping legal statuses shouldn't have been expected to end well during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The new proposals introduced by Indian Affairs Minister, Jean Chretien, were rejected by most First Nations leaders and called a thinly veiled attempt to exterminate Aboriginal culture through assimilation. By 1970, Aboriginal groups across Canada were opposed to Chretien's proposals.
It's difficult for most left-leaning voters to imagine a Conservative Party in 1960 that was more in-touch and ahead of its own time than the Liberal Party. But, that was the case.
In the 1960s, while Diefenbaker was giving Aboriginals the right to vote in Canada without assimilating them, a younger Pierre Trudeau was working at his political journal, Cité Libre. Cité Libre was a socialist, anti-conservative journal founded by Pierre Trudeau in 1951 that included contributions from several pro-Marxists like Pierre Gelinas and Raymond Boyer, who was convicted of spying for the Soviets. Unsurprisingly, the Soviets tried assimilation tactics in their own country that involved erasing social identities and cultural boundaries to create a more united, less diverse Russia. This assimilation was known as Russification.
The Marxist version of equality is nothing like the version of equality that we've come to know in Canada. Marxism aims to eliminate class, culture and religion to achieve a society in which everyone is made and forced to be equal. Anyone who knows Marxism knows what equality means to a Marxist. It doesn't mean keeping your religion, culture or wealth and being treated as an equal under the law. The equality embedded in Marxist ideology is nothing like the equality that Canada and the United States were founded on.
Knowing what we know now, it shouldn't be surprising that Pierre Trudeau's government tried to legally erase the cultural and social status of Canadian Aboriginals. Abolishing treaties and erasing a relationship that took over a Century to build would have done just that. Had the proposals not fallen apart under opposition, all First Nations would have been dissolved and Aboriginal heritage would have been absorbed over time.
Jean Chretien didn't hesitate to use fuzzy, classically political and slightly patronizing prose when presenting his government's new policies, which were contained in what is known today as the 1969 White Paper.
“Not always, but too often, to be an Indian is to be without. Without a job, a good house, or without running water; without knowledge, training or technical skill and, above all, without those feelings of dignity and self confidence that a man must have if he is to walk with his head held high.” – Jean Chretien, to the 28th Parliament Of Canada, 1969
Imagine those words coming from the mouth of an old, white francophone. Clueless, out of touch, arrogant, patronizing...the list of words and phrases to describe the 1969 version of Jean Chretien could go on. There's nothing quite like an old, white bureaucrat trying to sell a policy of assimilation to Canada's First Nations. It's no wonder he failed. If it wasn't bad enough that Canada still hadn't corrected an erroneous label that arose from pioneers confusing First Nations with Indians from India, Chiefs and community leaders had to listen to Chretien explain what it meant to be an Indian in Canada. Not only were the Trudeau government's policies a Marxist's wet dream, their presentation was a complete disaster.
There hasn't been much clear policy from Pierre Trudeau's son on Aboriginal Affairs, except that he thinks First Nations should be treated “more fairly”. Since he took the helm of a broken Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau hasn't shied away from comparing himself to his father and praising much of his father's work as Prime Minister. The White Paper doesn't come up in discussions or in newscasts covering Justin Trudeau's campaign, so it's difficult to know or speculate about how much distance Justin would put between himself and his father's First Nations policies. Media silence on the White Paper could be attributed to a simple lack of knowledge among journalists, or it could be attributed to an intentional blind eye. Regardless of the reason, if more Canadians learn about it and begin asking questions, Trudeau's White Paper could help uncover Justin Trudeau's policies regarding Canada's First Nations. Knowing more about what Justin Trudeau would do with Aboriginal policy can only improve the quality of the decision voters will make in October. So, it's time to start talking about it.