April 23, 2002
The Toronto Star
One Yonge Street
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is appalled by the ongoing trend of insensitive and misplaced comments by members of our legislatures, of which Prince Edward Island MLA Wilbur MacDonald and the Canadian Alliance critic for Aboriginal issues, Brian Pallister, are the latest two examples.
Mr. MacDonald's offensive remarks of fears for the "white human race because of non-white immigration" have no place in any legislature. We appreciate Premier Pat Binns' quick condemnation of his words and his demand for an apology. Apologies are acceptable when they are sincere and lead to a change in behaviour. In this case, Mr. MacDonald's comments that verge on white supremacy are so far beyond what could possibly be considered acceptable that a mere apology is simply not enough. The number of MPs and MLAs who have apologized for racist comments has reached alarming levels in 2002, yet the trend continues.
As for Mr. Pallister, we dare say that his comment to the effect that Aboriginal peoples should work for welfare suggests a quick-fix solution to a complex problem.
Ironically, this Manitoba MP's comment was made on the same day as a study revealing that Aboriginals of Manitoba have a life expectancy that is eight years shorter than the general population, and they are generally less healthy. In light of this kind of a report, Mr Pallister may be well-advised to give careful examination to facts before advancing conclusions that may be misleading.
Recent racist references by politicians contribute nothing to political discourse and result in a simplistic scapegoating that has very little to do with reality. We expect our politicians to act rationally and for the common good of all Canadians. When they display their racism so blatantly and so ignorantly, a simple slap on the wrist amounts to a show of indifference when they should be severely sanctioned for these comments.
Karen Mock, Ph. D., C. Psych.