HOW WILL WE VOTE, IF WE REMEMBER?
I wonder how people will vote if they remember the past. A short term memory is my problem: I reached the bottom of the stairs, I can’t remember why I came to the basement. But I remember what happened 30 years ago very well. The fact is: people forget and politicians benefit. First Nations and Jewish people keep reminding us of humanity’s capability to commit acts of unspeakable cruelty. Memory should be a lesson not an excuse for vengeance. Here are a few things I remember:
– When the Parliament invoked the War Measures Act in 1941 and voted to exclude Japanese Canadians from the coast as “Enemy Aliens,” only the CCF, which is now the NDP, voted against it. The action was just but a political suicide for an MP like Angus MacInnis.
– When Canada accepted an unprecedented large number of Vietnamese boat people in 1980, all parties in the Parliament were in favour of it. Only an organization called “National Citizens Coalition” was against it. It ran a full page advertisement in major newspapers opposing the acceptance of refugees. Argument was Asians were family oriented people hence Canada would be flooded by their relations once you let a few of them in. Mr. Stephen Harper headed that organization before he re-entered the politics.
– Conservatives and Liberals did not stop civil servants who prevented other boat peoples to come into Canada different times in the 20th Century. They were boatful of Sikh, Japanese, and Jewish people who were turned back to the sea. Many of those Jews perished in death camps.
– In 1984, we were invited to meet with an all party coalition of some Parliamentarians headed by Conservative Heath MacQuarrie and Robert Stanfield. They encouraged the churches to be involved in helping Palestinians refugees. Marcel Prud’ homme, Liberal, and Derek Blackburn, NDP were there also. Canadian churches had just joined in the program to help Palestinians.
– Opposing the white South African racial policy, Conservatives were more active than Liberals. John Diefenbaker and Brian Mulroney were very supportive of anti-Apartheid movement.
We all make mistakes; the question is if we admit it as the mistake and change or overlook it as just politics.
George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”