Saturday, October 06, 2012

On contrasting treatment

BigCityLib comments on the Cons' hasty backtracking over Helen MacMurchy. But I find it particularly interesting to note the contrast between their treatment of MacMurchy and their handling of John A. MacDonald.

Remember that MacDonald's fervent commitment to an "Aryan Canada" and racial purity was publicly noted just as the Cons named a freeway after him. But in his case, the Cons conceded nothing at all.

So does that suggest that the Cons see the line for acceptable views on race somehow falling somewhere between MacDonald's views...
In 1885, John A. Macdonald told the House of Commons that, if the Chinese were not excluded from Canada, “the Aryan character of the future of British America should be destroyed …” This was the precise moment in the histories of Canada and the British Dominions when Macdonald personally introduced race as a defining legal principle of the state.

He did this not just in any piece of legislation, but in the Electoral Franchise Act, an act that defined the federal polity of adult male property holders and that he called “my greatest achievement.”

Macdonald’s comments came as he justified an amendment taking the vote away from anyone “of Mongolian or Chinese race.” He warned that, if the Chinese (who had been in British Columbia as long as Europeans) were allowed to vote, “they might control the vote of that whole Province” and their “Chinese representatives” would foist “Asiatic principles,” “immoralities,” and “eccentricities” on the House “which are abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan principles.” He further claimed that “the Aryan races will not wholesomely amalgamate with the Africans or the Asiatics” and that “the cross of those races, like the cross of the dog and the fox, is not successful; it cannot be, and never will be.” For Macdonald, Canada was to be the country that restored a pure Aryan race to its past glory, and the Chinese threatened this purity. 
...and MacMurchy's?
MacMurchy, a medical doctor who was the first head of the federal Department of Health’s child welfare division, was the most prominent promoter of eugenics in Canada in the early part of the 20th Century.

The doctrine of eugenics invoked science to claim that parents deemed unfit — in Canada, typically immigrants, unwed mothers, the disabled, the poor and First Nations people — passed on their inferior traits to their offspring, diluting and weakening the gene pool.
In an interview, Smith said that had she known of MacMurchy’s involvement in eugenics, she would have “run from the ceremony. I don’t care what she’s done. Anybody who has a philosophy like that, it’s appalling.”
Or is this once again a matter of gender and perceived dispensability serving as the Cons' dividing lines as to what they're prepared to defend - with a few crocodile tears about past abuses thrown in for good measure only when discussing the people they choose to toss overboard?

1 comment:

  1. Well, let's face it--no political party in this country is gonna publicly throw Sir John, Eh? under the bus. Libs or NDP woulda done the same.