in World News

Trudeau is out of touch

by Toronto star

Re Genocide, June 1 I see that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to increase foreign aid for women’s health issues to $1.4 billion. Two Questions. One: Where is he finding this money? Two: Why is this money not being spent in Canada? With the release of the MMIWG report on Monday, his announcement seems ultra out of touch with domestic needs. Robert Drummond, Exeter, Ont. The National Inquiry into MMIWG is yet another waste of time and money by our federal government.

The commissioners apparently concluded that genocide underlies the murder and disappearances of native women in Canada. I’ve always understood genocide as a systematic effort, by a government or a body with comparable power, calculated to eradicate a people. Since 1980, about 40 Indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared yearly. That constitutes genocide?

The commissioners have apparently determined that “‘Colonial structures’ have ‘enabled’ the murders and disappearances.” Sure, let’s look at colonial practices to determine why a serial killer like Robert Pickton happened to murder an Indigenous woman among the nearly 50 he claims to have killed.

And the commissioners further complicate matters by rolling the attacks on native women into issues affecting the 2SLGBTQQIA community. How fashionable but irrelevant to the plight of Indigenous women. Perhaps the $92 million wasted on the commission could have been spent to engage experienced police detectives to determine how and why Indigenous women were being attacked. Mirek A. Waraksa, Toronto The thing about genocide, it is something that cannot only be defined, it can also be measured. Wikipedia has a page titled “List of genocides by death toll.” Now that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has tabled its report and identified an apparent “Canadian genocide,” where will Wikipedia put it on its list?

How many people were killed? We have no idea. Have Indigenous peoples of Canada been eliminated?

No, they currently represent around 5 per cent of the population and they have the highest birth rate in the land.

Colonization? Sure. Discrimination? Hard to argue. Genocide? To quote Jody Wilson-Raybould, that might be “inappropriate.” Reconciliation is a two-way street and having one side accuse the other of something that is far beyond what the evidence will support can only lead to further resentment and division. Trevor Amon, Victoria, B.C. Genocide: “The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” I may be politically incorrect, but I believe that the death of Indigenous woman and girls, most of whom were killed by Indigenous men, does not constitute a “genocide,” as it was neither deliberate nor systematic. David Shanoff, Toronto My patience wears thin when I hear genocide used to describe current Indigenous women’s demise. According to Hamilton’s Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society, in 1648 the Iroquois obliterated the Hurons, leaving huge tracts of lands empty across Ontario, including the Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay, save for wild life. No, I don’t take lightly the murder of women, but I believe context regarding Indigenous genocide also matters. Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton The much-anticipated official report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was presented to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. Upon receiving it at the Canadian Museum Of History in Gatineau, Que., he was heckled by some in the large audience for refusing to utter the contentious word “genocide” that was proclaimed so many times in the report. The very next day, he was in Vancouver to address a women’s conference and now saying that genocide was the correct term to use referring to the MMIWG, adding that Canadians should not focus on the word, but rather ensure that the 231 recommendations in the report were taken care of.

Who knows how a politician’s brain functions, or malfunctions, as the case may be, or who advised him overnight, but the prime minister was dramatically changing tack from not daring to dip his toe into the raging sea of genocidal controversy, to diving in head first. Before entering politics, he was a high school drama teacher and a snowboard coach and definitely hasn’t lost his flair for the dramatic and taking risks. However, many Canadians will figure that, once again, he’s out of his depth in a puddle.

There is not a shadow of doubt that the MMIWG have been subjected to unforgivable treatment for many decades by authorities.

There will be many opinions on this Canadian tragedy and much soulsearching will take place, but it is worth noting that the word “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin from Greek “genos,” meaning race or people, and Latin “cide,” meaning to kill. The MMIWG inquiry was a noble undertaking and there are important recommendations, but to label it “genocide” in an election year in Canada is asking for even more divisive and heated rhetoric, in my humble opinion. Bernie Smith, Parksville, B.C. The use of the word “genocide” should not distract us from the issues investigated by MMIWG. Most Canadians think of Rwanda, the Balkans, or the Rohingyas when they hear that word. The thought of anything remotely like those things in Canada is abhorrent to most people.

However, we only need to look back a few hundred years to discover official bounties being placed on Indigenous scalps or capture. While that is history and most Canadians now find such things repugnant, unfortunately, the values behind such actions persist in some minds and Indigenous people are viewed as less than equals and therefore can be treated differently. “Reconciliation” is the easy part of Truth and Reconciliation as people connect to move forward.

However, it is based on Truth, and that is the hard part.

Until we admit the truth — and that includes historical wrongs, not just current beliefs and actions — reconciliation might be impossible. Historians tell us we need to remember our history or we will repeat it. The rise of racism in the world is scary. Robert Smith, Peterborough

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