Since last blog, four recent events have occurred and below are my thoughts on those. They are discovery of an unmarked mass graves of 215 at a Kamloops residential schools, racist attack in London, Ontario that killed four Muslims, C-10, and C-233 which is bill on banning sex-selective abortion.
Last week, a mass grave of 215 from a residential school was found. This is both shocking but also underlines that our worst fears about residential schools are true. What we did to First Nations was beyond pale and no doubt is a very dark part of our history that we must remember and learn from. This strengthens the importance of acting on Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. I am not an expert on what is the best way forward; I don’t think anyone does. But what is clear is status quo is not working and there must both be acknowledgement of the awful atrocity and then efforts going forward to improve things for First Nations. Most importantly, we need to listen more than dictating what we think are solutions. Hopefully governments will pay more attention to this file and focus on real lasting results, not quick photo ops or virtue signaling but actual meaningful changes that can help First Nations. We cannot erase the past, but we can learn from it and find a way to improve things going forward.
Also this past week, a 20 year old deliberately ran over a Muslim family in London, Ontario killing the Grandmother, both parents, and daughter while only the 9 year old boy survived. I feel awful for the 9 year old boy who will grow up without his parents and sister. This was a hate crime and as I have emphasized before, we must take action to stop the spread of Islamophobia and hate. With more and more going to echo chambers, I fear that people who are hateful are increasingly being radicalized. Much like with Islamic terrorists, we need to have a de-radicalization program for people who join hate groups which are a far bigger threat in Canada. We need to understand what motivates people towards hate and find ways to steer people away. Also each of us has our role to do. Many of us including myself are sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye when a family or friend says something intolerant as we assume they don’t mean it since we like them as people. That needs to change. We all need to call out bigotry when we see it, even if family or friends. And likewise we need to have zero tolerance for politicians who pander to bigots even though dog whistles. This is the tragic consequences and when politicians pander to this group, it legitimizes this. Instead all parties must unite against hate and all parties must have zero tolerance for bigotry. Any member of party or MP who engages in bigotry even if just dog whistles, needs to be booted out of party immediately.
C-10 is in its final stages and is seen as a bill to regulate internet by supporters while an example of censorship by detractors. I believe the bill needs to go back to drawing board and be re-written. I agree web giants should pay taxes like all other companies doing business in Canada, but this goes far beyond that. As for preserving Canadian content; that may work on television and radio where you have fixed number of channels, but becomes much more problematic on the internet where number of outlets is infinite. I worry this could make it more difficult for Canadians to access things that are not Canadian. More importantly it is very vague on role of CRTC and its possible it may be nothing, but also risk of abuse. Its not just a bunch of right wing paranoid types complaining about this restricting free speech; you have internet expert from University of Ottawa Michael Geist against this and a number of former CRTC commissioners. So when you have people like that against it, that suggests there are problems and its not just your usual right wing types pushing fear of free speech being threatened. I know this is popular in Quebec where protecting culture is a sensitive issue, but I think best to withdraw bill and start over. Tax revenue from web giants can be used to help cultural sector. Likewise freedom of expression has limits, but we already have hate speech laws, laws against child pornography and other types of harmful expressions so enforcing existing laws deals with that; no need for new ones. I realize all rights have limits and none are absolute, but at same time far too often governments have abused them so better to err on side of caution, but not to point libertarians want.
Finally there was C-233 which was a private member’s bill that banned sex selective abortions. I believe this was a PR nightmare for Tories and they just handed the Liberals a gift. Yes O’Toole voted against it, but 2/3 of his caucus voted for it meaning Liberals can argue a Tory government is a risk to a woman’s right to choose. Like most, I do not agree with sex selective abortions, but morally opposing is quite different from criminalizing. For starters male to female ratios are in line with global average so it doesn’t happen a lot and more importantly impossible to enforce. More likely many women fearful of this even if not reason for abortion just won’t get one. And reality is this is an attempt to limit a woman’s right to choose and sex selective abortions are just chosen to make it look more innocuous. Already medical practioners code of ethics bans performing such type if they know it is reason so our current abortion laws work fine as is and need to be left alone. Tories need to stop beating this dead horse. Yes I get O’Toole is pro-choice and I also get free votes on issues of conscience is something Tories believe strongly in, but at same time things like this just ensure they are unelectable. Pro-life groups like Right Now are actively trying to hijack party much like gun lobby is and doing nothing and letting them in tent for fear of split will just ensure party goes way of GOP and unlike US it means permanent opposition. Never mind I strongly disagree with both groups so could never vote for a party that pandered too heavily to them. Best solution is while they shouldn’t end free votes like Liberals have, O’Toole if he was in control would be able to convince members this is doing more harm than good and that it is a lost cause and not worth losing election over. And not withstanding false polls gun lobby and pro-life groups put out, party should listen to what campaign veterans say not slanted polls by these groups which suggest their ideas are popular as they are not and simply saying they are to convince some who are naïve to go along with it. Like with climate change, I think O’Toole understands party needs to moderate to win, but unfortunately for him, much of the party isn’t interested in going along and until he can bring party along it will be hard to win. More worrisome is when he loses, I fear next leader will be further right thus ensuring another loss. I have stated elsewhere, I believe odds of Tories winning an election in next decade are not good yet I feel much of membership either doesn’t see this or doesn’t care. I actually think O’Toole needs to start booting out the more right wing types and if it risks a split, so be it. Short term harm of a split will be offset by being able to win when people tire of Liberals. Former Progressive Conservatives may have had a weaker base than Reform side did, but they had a much higher ceiling. And most further to right at end of day want Liberals gone and when push comes to shove will vote for a Red Tory leader over Liberals so best to call their bluff and ignore them.