For anyone who remembers Thomas Mulcair as a serious person and a honourable Member of Parliament, that memory was just cashed in for pennies on the dollar. In a commentary written for CTV News, Mulcair applauded “two women of character (who) have put their indelible marks on longstanding issues involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights. “ What Mulcair did was cheer on two people trying to erase Canada.
Mulcair’s first idol is Jully Black whom, at a recent NBA game, altered the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem by singing “our home on native land.” Mulcair is positively ecstatic at Black’s performance: “Bam! No more arguments about details of land recognition statements: this one will have all the bases covered right from the start at thousands of major events.” Yes, it’s about time we cut to the chase and gave our landlords their full due. Lest any of us feel too much pride in owning our own home, let us be forever reminded that we are not native to this land and therefore it really isn’t our land.
By far, Mulcair is far more effusive in his praise of the other indelible marker, Leah Gazan, MP for Winnipeg-Center (where I live, ostensibly on native land). Mulcair is lauding Gazan for her recent proposal to extend the “Criminal Code provisions on hate speech to include denialism of the genocide committed in residential schools.” Gazan, for those who were asleep during their funeral, was responsible for the motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons on Oct.27th to declare that Canada’s Indian Residential Schools were a genocide as it is commonly defined by the UN Convention. What you are about to read, then, may well result in my arrest some day but some things are worth risking my neck. And yours.
The passing of the genocide motion was an abuse of Parliament. Genocide is a crime and properly remains the business of a court to determine guilt so long as the suspected perpetrators are alive. The House of Commons pronounced a verdict of guilt, effectively against itself, without any due process whatsoever. If not some semblance of noble Opposition, doesn’t Canada at least deserve the presumption of innocence? Even Eichmann had his day in court.
Insofar as international jurisprudence goes, Canada bowdlerized the criminal prosecution of genocide. The passing of Gazan’s genocide motion demonstrated how the crime of genocide can be politically adjudicated and that follows the many occasions when Canada was summarily convicted of genocide in the court of public opinion where those moved to defend Canada have long since been vilified as ‘denialists’. Gazan now simply seeks to have the long arm of the law reach those whom she already condemns.
“Denying Canada’s genocide, perpetrated by our own governments in the residential school system,” writes Mulcair, “Should also be proscribed as hate speech in a provision with similar wording (to Criminal Code provisions regarding Holocaust denial).”
When was the case of a Canadian genocide proven, even in just the court of public opinion? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission could only bring itself to conclude that the residential schools were a ‘cultural genocide.’ The qualification necessarily invites equivocation because it plainly means that the TRC decided the schools weren’t a genocide by conventional definition. Would outlawing ‘residential school denialism’ inevitably lead to charges of hate speech against the TRC for downplaying the genocide as only cultural?
How dangerous could be outlawing debate on the residential schools as genocide? Consider these statements from Mulcair: “Let’s face the ugly historical fact: Indigenous kids were killed in large numbers in institutions created to destroy their language, culture and identity. That’s why it was a genocide.” The TRC found no evidence of any student being murdered by any staff at any of the residential schools throughout their entire history of operation. With the devious alacrity of 1984’s Ingsoc the TRC has already been relegated to wrongthink. ‘Indigenous kids were killed’ and it may soon be considered hate speech to express any doubt about that statement. The accusation is the verdict and there is no appeal because the appeal would be a crime of hate speech.
“We, as Canadians, have a specific obligation to do everything that we can to acknowledge and atone for what Canada itself has done,” inveighs Mulcair. “Part of that atonement includes putting into Canadian law a prohibition against denial of the residential schools genocide.”
Control what can be said and you will control what can be thought. I think this scale of historical revision and moral inversion can only be understood in the context of fetishized deconstruction – a cynical lust to break everything down with special fondness for that adolescent intellectual stage of finding hypocrisy in the adult world. To that end, Justin Trudeau was an avatar of bourgeois pseudo-epiphany. When Trudeau quipped that Canada was a ‘post-national country’, he was stumbling over an existential truth. A ‘post-national country’ is a glyph of the Canadian malaise: hollowness.
A post-national Canada means Canada as not Canadian; it is the vacuum of a country in ontological crisis and what greater ontological crisis can there be for a nation than being reduced to genocidal dispossessors of the rightful owners of this land? A lack of national identity means a lack of common identity and a lack of common identity means a lack of common purpose. So it is that a lot of Canadians compensate for the lack of common purpose with a facile moralism that incessantly resorts to performative indignation for self-validation. Needing to show you are good belies an inner doubt.
I swear there was a time when Mulcair could be relied upon to notice the injustices of conviction without trial or the presumption and assignment of collective guilt. Now he seems to be beside himself with the peculiar passion of moral denunciation that signifies practical Wokeism: every apostle can have their own franchise of a moral absolutism that can be leveraged against the liberalism that used to preserve us. A Wokeist has only to project the worst to plot the worst as we see in the hubris of Mulcair’s idols remonstrating against the Establishment, lately refashioned as congenital white supremacy in order to scale the field up to their ambitions.
Consider the way Frances Widdowson has been recently vilified en masse: the need to display their moral judgment requires a foil and the greater the foil’s public recognition, the greater the display. Think of it as guttersnipes hunting for trophy heads. The lie of a Canadian genocide has been made precious, and more precious than free speech and freedom of conscience. We must believe Canada committed genocide, or else.
Soon, will anyone dare ask if the Canadian experiment, as muted and mannered as it was, has truly ended in history’s longest running genocide and worse – if anyone can imagine anything worse than pitching newborn children into incinerators – is presently committing genocide against aboriginal women as I write? Nous sommes des genocidaires extraordinaire.
A ‘post-national country’ is a rubric upon which our deconstruction can be plotted until Canada is either fully obliterated or fatally perforated by hundreds of aboriginal sovereign autonomies. The false accusation of genocide (conceit, really) almost deprives us of any moral justification for Canada to exist at all. Mulcair is willing to let us remain as supplicants before the rightful landlords in order to fulfill our obligations of atonement for the genocide of education.
In his effusive praise of Gazan (I wonder if she is Mulcair’s early pick to replace Jagmeet Singh as NDP party leader), Mulcair mentions that Gazan’s father was a Dutch Jew who was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Canadian soldiers liberated Holland from Nazi occupation and the Dutch have since been keen to express their gratitude. How much longer will we be kindly remembered if the truth becomes that our soldiers were only fighting their erstwhile doppelgangers?
Michael Melanson is a Winnipeg writer