China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Harder should know better than to apply such relativism. Bob Rae provides the example: China ‘attempting to defend the indefensible’ in Xinjiang: Bob …YouTube · CBC NewsMar. 30, 2021:

The Trudeau government’s former representative in the Senate says a proposed motion in the Red Chamber to condemn China’s treatment of ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide smacks of “moral superiority and self-righteousness,” given Canada’s past conduct toward Indigenous people including in residential schools.

Senator Peter Harder, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs who later headed the Canada-China Business Council, recently spoke in the Senate to oppose a motion that would say the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fits the United Nations’ definition of genocide. A similar motion has already passed the Commons, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from voting.

Activists and UN experts have said a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been subject to mass detention in Xinjiang. China denies abuses and says the centres provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism in the remote western region. Reports have emerged about Beijing’s success in slashing the birth rate of Uyghurs and other minorities through mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control.

Senate motion No. 79, which has not yet been put to a vote, notes that two successive U.S. administrations have labelled China’s behaviour as genocide. It also proposes calling upon the International Olympic Committee to deny Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympics by relocating the Games to another country “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

The Dutch, British and Lithuanian parliaments have in recent months adopted similar motions recognizing the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

Mr. Harder, however, urged fellow senators to consider Canada’s conduct toward Indigenous people before they vote.

He noted that the debate is occurring after “the tragic discovery” of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 children and “adds to the indictment of our centuries-long practice of residential schools, forced sterilization and what the former chief justice of Canada described as cultural genocide of our Indigenous peoples,” the senator said.

“This horrifying reality of our history stands in rather cynical contrast to the tone of moral superiority and self-righteousness contained in the motion before us tonight.”

The former Trump administration declared the repression of the Uyghurs to be genocide and U.S. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said he concurs with that assessment. In addition, a March, 2021 State Department report on human rights issued under the Biden administration declares that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during [2020] against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Harder, speaking to the Senate motion late last week, said this is not the way to engage with China.

“We should get off our high horse and seek to engage more appropriately, not bellicosely and belligerently, with countries – not just China, but countries that we need to engage.”

Ottawa has already joined with the U.S., Britain and the European Union in imposing sanctions on several Chinese government officials for “gross and systematic human-rights violations” against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslims groups.

Senator Leo Housakos, the sponsor of motion No. 79, said that unlike China, Canada has acknowledged its atrocities. “China still doesn’t acknowledge what they are doing is ethnic cleansing.”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Beijing’s use of technology to monitor, coerce and control a whole people is providing a how-to manual for other authoritarian powers to follow. “It’s writing the book on genocides of the future,” Mr. Mulroney said.

He said Canada’s shameful treatment of Indigenous people shouldn’t preclude Canadians from identifying and calling out misconduct elsewhere. “We call out the Uyghur genocide and question Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics not as a political statement but as a moral statement,” Mr. Mulroney said.

“Surely if we have learned anything as a country it is that you need to act swiftly against genocide anywhere.”

Mr. Harder also said he worried that the motion declaring China’s conduct to be genocide could jeopardize the treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians locked up by Beijing after Ottawa arrested a Huawei executive on a U.S. extradition request.

In addition, he cited concerns that it could also inflame anti-Asian violence in Canada and hurt Ottawa’s ability to find common cause with China in fighting climate change and building stronger global trading rules.

Asked for further comment, Mr. Harder said Monday that Canada should be humble. “It’s not that we lack moral authority as much as we should speak with humility and acknowledge our own historic (and recent) failings,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Regardless of the motivation of our governmental and church leaders at the time, history has shown that we were wrong.”

The Globe and Mail asked Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, for comment on whether he feels Canada’s conduct toward indigenous people – in particular, its record of residential schools – precludes Canadians from criticizing China. Chief Bellegarde’s office said that he was not able to respond Monday afternoon.

Source: China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Two decades on, too much is the same: Ontario’s anti-racism office is government on syndication

A lesson from the past, and how little would appear to have changed (I am less pessimistic, there has been progress, imperfect as it is, and the issues are more widely discussed than before).

But having a ‘race or ethnic origin lens’ (along with gender, sexual orientation etc) should improve policy making and outcomes.

However, there is a real challenge to ensuring that both a ‘race lens’ and a separate office become not merely a paper exercise but rather one that leads to concrete and tangible results:

Spurred on by protests over police violence against minorities, frustrated with an education system ostensibly public but systemically biased against darker skin, faced with a children’s aid society anything but colourblind, an Ontario premier vows to act.

A top academic drafts a report that claims “the soothing balm of ‘multiculturalism’ cannot mask racism.” He finds “a great deal of anger, anxiety, frustration and impatience amongst those with whom I talked in the visible minority communities.” They were filled with a “bitter sense” the exercise was “yet another reporting charade.”

“It was truly depressing.”

And it was 23 years ago.

The premier wasn’t Kathleen Wynne, but Bob Rae. The party loyalist tapped for expertise was former provincial NDP leader Stephen Lewis and his report on racism in Ontario was not written in bureaucratese, but as a poignant, personal letter to Rae. It was sparked by what came to be known as the Yonge Street Riots — protests over police violence against young, black men.

It was a call to action. It touted the newly created Anti-Racism Secretariat as one way to start stitching together gaping wounds between communities.

And for three years it sought to do that, sought to analyze government policies through a “race lens,” pushed for greater equity in legislation.

Then Rae lost power and Mike Harris turned the province Tory blue. Shutting down the secretariat was a key campaign pledge.

Two decades later, and everything that’s old is new again. Wynne announced Tuesday she’s going to create an anti-racism directorate, admitting she didn’t now how that differs from a secretariat. Minister Michael Coteau will tack the responsibility onto his existing files and report back soon with what exactly the office will do and what kind of budget it will require.

Her reasons why are, upon reading Lewis’s decades-old letter, like government on syndication.

“The Black Lives Matter movement, the issue of carding, the debate surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis – these events and many others illuminate and illustrate a systemic racism that runs the length of our shared history right up to this very moment,” Wynne said. She promised a “a wide anti-racist lens” will be used to shape government policy.

Change the date line and one could easily believe Lewis penned his letter this decade. He wrote “there must surely be a way to combine constructive policing with public confidence that to serve and protect is not a threat to visible minority communities.”

He notes all minority communities face discrimination, but anti-Black (his capital B) is the most pervasive: “It is Blacks who are being shot, it is Black youth that is unemployed in excessive numbers, it is Black students who are being inappropriately streamed in schools, it is Black kids who are disproportionately dropping-out.”

‘We haven’t dealt with the problems… and it’s not for lack of good intentions’

The Liberals are acting now, but they also bear responsibility for a decade of inaction, having 10 years ago passed a bill that allowed them to create essentially the same office. But they didn’t.

Those who remember the 90s, the Yonge Street Riots and Rae’s best intentions have what can best be described as a cynical optimism about this latest attempt.

“Every effort should be made but made understanding there are greater chances for failure and disillusionment than there are for real success and improvement,” said Lennox Farrell, a retired teacher who co-chaired one of Rae’s anti-racism secretariat advisory committees. That process also began with the highest of hopes, but he soon found the meetings exhausting, circular, counterproductive. He worries the new directorate will just be “more paper.”

Source: Two decades on, too much is the same: Ontario’s anti-racism office is government on syndication | National Post