Juliet O’Neill, with files from Tim Shufelt, The Ottawa Citizen
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the defensive yesterday over the remarks of a Conservative MP who undermined his historic apology to aboriginal peoples by questioning “the value for all this money” survivors of residential schools are eligible to receive under a compensation settlement.
Pierre Poilievre, the Nepean-Carleton MP who serves as parliamentary secretary, expressed regret for his “hurtful and wrong” comments in the House of Commons just moments before question period. But his brief apology had little impact on Liberal MPs, who branded his remarks disgraceful and racist and demanded he step down as parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine said in an interview the remarks were “just really unfortunate” distractions from Mr. Harper’s apology, which was, in part, “about casting aside old attitudes and old stereotypes” like the ones Mr. Poilievre expressed. Chief Fontaine, who praised the apology during an appearance in the Senate with other aboriginal leaders, said the government apology remains “the important moment,” despite the MP’s remarks.
Mr. Poilievre also suggested aboriginals need to work harder rather than receive more money. He appeared unaware the $1.9-billion compensation settlement is the result of years of negotiations by government, churches and aboriginal representatives. The talks are aimed at reducing and containing a growing number of lawsuits over the mistreatment, including widespread physical and sexual assaults, of several generations of aboriginal children.
Posted in Canada, election, Memorial, Ontario, politics, Quebec, racism
Tagged Aboriginal, abuse, apology, canada, Catholic, christian, Christian schools, Christianity, church, Cree, english, french, healing, ignorant, Indian, Indian Residential School, Indian Residential School Apology, Mr. Poilievre, native reserves, native schools, pm, priest, Prime Minister, racist, reconciliation, reserves, residential, school, Stephen Harper, system, truth, truth and reconciliation
The faith based funding issue should have been about simple human rights. The U.N has already indicated that the practice of funding only Catholic schools in Ontario is unjust. John Tory hoped to address this issue by fixing the problem and allowing fairness. Fund all or fund none, and he opted to fund all. Unfortunately, reality occurred and we found out that Ontarians are actually a lot more racist, ignorant and bigoted then they like to believe. Not all Ontarians are like this, but based on call-in shows and the general mood of people, many are. In reality the question should have been “would you like Islamic schools to get public funding”. Many Ontarians have extreme stereotypes about Islam, to some no fault of their own. The images they see, and are bombarded with, tend to be on the extreme. On the radio comments, in regards to faith-based education, revolved around fundamentalist Islam elements and “terrorists”. I have even heard a voter say that they do not what terrorist schools to get funding. Now a lot of this is based on fear, since 9/11, but in essence we still extremely fearful and ignorant in Ontario. Now the question is, does that fear show how successful the media has been in planting the wrong image about Islam in the minds of Canadians? Because it’s absolutely amazing how clueless people are about various religions in Ontario. Rather than be properly educated about any group of people, we like to remain in our sheltered domain; ignorant to the facts around us.
What was really sad, and not becoming of an elected leader, is how Premier Dalton McGuinty used this situation to the advantage of the Liberal Party of Ontario. Dalton McGuinty, at one point, called the funding of religious schools “segregation”, along with others in the Liberal Party who called it divisive. This was one of the most irresponsible things for Dalton McGuinty and the party to do. Dalton McGuinty ignored that fact that he was educated in a Catholic school. His wife is a teacher in a Catholic school and his children attend one. Does Dalton McGuinty, and the Liberal Party, believe that Catholics and Catholicism are better then all other groups? Are other groups like Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims somehow not pure Canadians, or dare I say white or Anglo-Saxon Canadians? Are they not as enlightened somehow? What is amazing when asked by reporters Dalton “never” responds to the question with a “straight” answer. I assume that proper “political spin”, and his handlers, are making sure that he does not. Now another question to be asked is are the Liberals themselves only using this situation to play on the fears of Ontario voters? Regardless of how you feel in this election, this was an issue of fairness. The status quo was not good enough. Also, those who like to state that it only an issue of the constitution, hide in it. Tell me just because something was done years ago, does not make it right. With that fuzzy logic should a lot of old racists and ignorant laws should remain on the books; keeping the minority at bay.
To address the fears of Ontarians we must think deeply about the idea of funding faith-based schools. No fundamentalist Islamic or Christian school would accept funding or want to be under the umbrella of public education. It would require them to teach the curriculum, which may come in conflict with some of their essential beliefs. But for those who fear “terrorist schools”, they are probably already here. Even one Global TV reporter asked John Tory what he would do if Islamic schools wanted to “separate the boys from the girls”. This was an ignorant and, quite honestly, a stupid question. I have to believe that Global TV was obviously trying stir up trouble and play to the ignorance and fear of Ontarians also, seeing that Catholics already have some of their schools divided between boys and girls. I do not want to forget the element that legitimately, without the racist or ignorant feelings, have wanted to remove faith-based funding for years from Catholics. In the end this may be the only solution to the problem; however those who want this option, and can properly argue this point, are not the majority of enlighten and learned individuals. We must accept that there is still a lot of fear, ignorance and racists in the generally public. Let me be clear, not all are racist; but the element of it exists, however suttle. No sense trying to hop on the high ground on this issue. There is nothing wrong with those who fear, however they must face those fears and learn from them. Ignorance is unacceptable and racism should just not be tolerated. In the end, however ironic, it seems that the Liberals have used that fear and ignorance to their own advantage. For a party that claims to be for all, including the immigrants of Ontario it makes me wonder. What does Dalton McGuinty really believe? Is his only aim to get into power at whatever the cost? Playing to the fear of Ontarians is a low-ball strategy that will fail in the end. Do you want to live in a province based on fear, intolerance and ignorance? Liberals around Ontario should ask themselves if they truly want to continue down the Dalton McGuinty path. However I sense that they will wake up the next morning and wonder, what in the world did we just do?
By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Posted in GTA Issues, GTA Politics, GTA Religion
Tagged Canwest, Catholic, Christian schools, Dalton McGuinty, democracy, education, election, faith-based education, fears, fundamentalist, Global TV, hindu, Human Rights, ignorance, islam, Islamic, Islamic schools, jewish, John Tory, Liberal, Liberals, Ontarians, Ontario, Ontario election, Ontario Liberals, racism, terrorist, Vote