There have been far too many efforts at genocide in the last century. Some, like that of the Armenians by the Turks, are still denied by its perpetrators, and some, like that of the Sudanese Arabs against blacks, is ongoing. There are some that today openly aspire to commit genocide but lack the means, as the one Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas would like to inflict on Jews.
But those aren't the genocides that former bigshots, ex-Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine and the defunct Canadian Jewish Congress' old boss Bernie Farber have chosen to decry. Instead they are trying to sell the notion of a fake "genocide" against Canada's Native population in Canada's "national newspaper" and their motives may not be entirely altruistic.
There are nuances that even a generally true statement, such as that Canada's First Nations have received very poor treatment in the past, need to take into account. For one thing, Canada's First Nations are just that, nations, a plural. While Canada's Indian Act applies to them all, in reality, different aboriginal tribes have negotiated and received different treatment from the government. But in absolutely no case, from the foundation of Canada in 1867, could that treatment, in any instance, be described as genocide, which is a deliberate policy of killing an entire racial or ethnic group.
It should also be noted that many of Canada's aboriginal nations waged war on each other, committing mass-murders and driving one another off land in what in contemporary terms would be described at a minimum as "ethnic cleansing."
Canada's historical policies towards First Nations may have been unfair, patronizing and colonial, but to call them genocidal is quite simply a lie.
To really understand Canada's historical policies toward First Nations, we need to look at them in the context of their time and not, as Farber and Fontaine do, through a distorted, telescopic rear-view mirror imposing the values of 2013 on the Nineteenth Century.
Canada compared to the United States, or for that matter compared to government treatment of aboriginals in any part of the New World or under any ex-colonial power, was extremely benevolent. Without question, our 18th Century policies considered Native culture to be lesser to that of the Europeans. But to put the times in context, slavery had only been abolished in the United States four years before Canadian Confederation and there was no country in the world then in which women were entitled to vote.
For Native Americans at that time, Canada was not a genocidal slaughterhouse, but a refuge. After the massacre of Custer's troops at Little Big Horn, it was to Canada that Sitting Bull and a band of his followers came to find sanctuary. Today, in the Royal Ontario Museum, rests a headdress that Sitting Bull gave to Canada's Northwest Mounted Police as a gesture of gratitude for the safety for his people that this nation provided.
For anyone examining all the actual genocides in history, it is clear that the method and purpose was to first segregate, then to annihilate the intended target. Racist laws in countries that had genocidal policies, such as Nazi Germany's Nuremberg Laws, were enacted to prevent, not promote integration. There is no instance, ever, that the purpose of a genocide was to integrate one group with another. Yet, while it may offend contemporary cultural sensitivities, integration was the clearly stated intention of Canada's policies towards First Nations which Farber and Fontaine preposterously characterize as a "genocide."
Yes, there were abuses committed in Residential Schools many decades ago, for which Prime Minister Harper has apologized. But the worst of the abuses were perpetrated by corrupt individuals and were not part of any government policy.
The authors The Globe chose to promote, Farber and Fontaine, make a curious pair of "genocide" hucksters who may have driving motives other than their own particular concept of "social justice." Fontaine is a former National Chief who obviously craves the limelight, as does Farber. Beyond that, Farber now makes his living working for a company that needs to convince First Nations groups to let them build energy facilities on their land. Whether or not he believes that Canada committed a genocide, being seen as an extremist in their corner can't be bad for business.
However, that extremism comes at the cost of credibility. They are completely wrong in their inflammatory accusations and preposterous, ahistorical inventions such as that Sir John A. McDonald's policies towards aboriginals were genocidal attempts at mass murder.
And this says nothing of the facts about the current situation of First Nations in Canada. It would be a very curious form of genocide indeed that has resulted in First Nations being the fastest growing population in Canada. Last time I checked, that would make it the exact opposite of a genocide. Of course, this would not be the first time a group claimed a fake genocide, as their numbers are vastly increasing, solely for political aims.
But while what Fontaine and Farber have written in The Globe is a load of ridiculous, politicized nonsense, I don't want to give the impression that I don't think they aren't also sincere in their beliefs. After all, to borrow from and paraphrase H.L. Mencken, no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of Bernie Farber.