• By: Dan Donovan

We Can’t Live in Glass Houses

It has been nearly two years since the election of the Trudeau government and his legislative accomplishments are few and far between. Other than pushing the reset button to change the tone from the previous Harper government, nothing of real significance has been achieved.

My 18-year-daughter recently observed that “Justin” reminded her of the university student who loved the campus life, the social aspects and marched in all the parades protesting whatever cause happened to be popular . . . but never seemed to accomplish much in class. We have a feminist prime minister who marches in gay pride parades with great aplomb and continually projects a narrative about diversity, fairness and Canada’s “values.” Ironically, he sees no contradiction between attending a gay pride parade and then concluding an agreement to sell 15 billion dollars in armaments to Saudi Arabia, one of the most brutal, sexist and homophobic regimes in the world.

The PM appears in his element when he can prognosticate about themes like diversity and fairness and justice. Apparently, Canada is the land of gender parity, diversity, fairness, kindness, human rights and maple syrup and these “Canadian values” should be exported the world over in multi and bi-lateral trade agreements and other treaties. The idea being that if you are going to do business with Canada, then by golly, you better have your human rights practices and diversity policies in order. This begs the question: when did Trudeau and Canada become the harbinger of acceptable human rights behaviour for nations? I suggest a little more humility is due. We should first clean up our act at home. Canada has a continuing public record of human rights failures. Canada continues to act in violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture (The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).

The UNCT is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, which aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world. Canada is in breach of this treaty hundreds of times over for its policy of allowing prisoners — most of them Aboriginal — at Canadian penitentiaries to be locked away in solitary confinement for months, and sometimes, years at a time. Adam Capray recently spent four years in solitary in Thunder Bay. Canada’s prison population is 29 per cent Aboriginal when Indigenous people make up only 2 per cent of the overall population. Apparently racism has nothing to do with that statistic. Then there is the debacle that is the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It’s a complete disaster, beyond farcical.

The saddest part is the further pain it has caused families of the victims, instead of the opposite intention.  I believe our PM is sincere when he says that "the measure of a society, a just society, is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it's easy or popular to do so, it’s whether we recognize rights when it’s difficult, when it’s unpopular.” Apparently this is why he paid Omar Khadr $10.5 million for his unfair treatment. I just can’t reconcile why Canada hasn't given $10.5 million to Adam Capray who was tortured here in our own country. His Charter Rights were breached too. But, he is Aboriginal. I think the prime minister does believe in human rights and advancing the prosperity of Canada’s First Nations. But, after a while, talk is cheap and the preachy tone is beginning to grate. Trudeau would be wise to look across the aisle to the example of NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus — a dedicated, serious and passionate advocate for fairness and better government.

I have no doubt if Mr. Angus was in the prime minister’s position now, we would be much further ahead in addressing Indigenous rights and fairness issues. Angus walks his talk. We all know the saying, “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Our prime minister would do well to reflect on our human rights abuses against our own people, before waxing eloquent about how wonderful we are to others.