Members of the Commons environment committee say they must economize on travel to reduce their carbon footprint. One MP said the committee would not follow the lead of Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, his staff and officials who ran up more than $700,000 in travel expenses in the past year: “I am very concerned with the environmental footprint.”
CMHC in eight years confirmed construction of 12 new homes under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to convert surplus Crown property into affordable housing, records show. The Department of Fisheries built one: “We are focused on building more houses.”
Most Canadians say they pay too much for what they get from governments and consider tax cheating commonplace. In-house research by the Canada Revenue Agency also found few think cheaters will ever get caught: “Rich people have an easier time tax cheating than middle class Canadians.”
Cabinet in a report to Parliament acknowledged it has not expropriated a penny in Russian assets in Canada despite 20 months of sanctions. The only property in Canadian custody, a Russian cargo plane, is still being ‘evaluated.’
Only one vessel in the navy’s costly submarine fleet has been to sea in years, records show. Maintenance and refit costs for submarines are more than $3 billion: “The government budgets approximately $325 million per year to conduct regular and cyclical maintenance.”
I open the cupboard,
reach for a mug.
My mind –
ahead of me –
sees coffee in it.
In a moment of clarity
I return it to the shelf,
revoke its destiny,
Because I can.
By Shai Ben-Shalom
Once upon a time officialdom discovered a new branch of science nobody had ever heard of. Fresh and exciting, it was quickly embraced by the smartest professors, the most progressive thinkers, the wisest judges. It swept the nation. You can’t argue with science.
Only later did Canadians learn it wasn’t science at all but a hodgepodge of supposition and anecdotes perpetuated by hidden agendas. Of course by then much harm was done. There were lawsuits and unsatisfying half-apologies but the people who foisted this fraud on the people were not known for their humility.
It was eugenics, the scientific claim that if dull people were prevented from having children by force if necessary, society as a whole would become sharper. Psychiatry And The Legacies Of Eugenics unravels this dark and startling story, the “devastating social movement of the first half of the twentieth century.”
The monstrosity of eugenics is well known. It formed a basis of Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws. Here authors go further in documenting the leading role played by Canadian scientists in claiming justification for coercive mutilation of humans.
Editor Dr. Erna Kurbegovic notes in Manitoba it was “pressure from the medical community” that prompted the legislature to introduce a 1933 Mental Deficiency Act. Only an outcry from Roman Catholics led MLAs to defeat the sterilization clause by a single vote, 21-20. “Eugenics was a powerful movement in the early twentieth century that captivated many medical professionals, social reformers and interest groups,” writes Kurbegovic.
Advocates included Emily Murphy, a suffragette whose statue today stands in front of the Senate, and Tommy Douglas, the New Democrat founder who wrote a 1933 Master’s thesis The Problems Of The Subnormal Family. Douglas lamented the burden to society of mental defectives, people with “moral standards below normal,” unwed mothers, alcoholics, prostitutes and those “so improvident as to be a public charge.”
Putting aside all sense of revulsion to the degree that’s possible, Professor Douglas Wahlsten of the University of Alberta in a devastating chapter points out the scientific claims of eugenics were gibberish. Intelligence is difficult to measure, and brains are not hereditary.
Wahlsten calculates even if Alberta fully enforced its 1928 Sexual Sterilization Act like a Nuremberg Law on all children who scored poorly on IQ tests, “every child below IQ 70 including those dearly loved, nurtured and sheltered by their parents,” the result would have been a temporary overall improvement of “about one third of an IQ point” in the entire province.
“An intelligence test is not a measure of some innate or biologically fixed entity,” writes Professor Wahlsten.
Professor Henderikus Stam of the University of Calgary, and psychologist Dr. Ashley Barlow of Edmonton, profile the most notorious Man Of Science in the eugenics crusade. He was John MacEachran, founder of the University of Alberta’s Department of Psychology.
MacEachran studied at the finest German universities. Wise and rational, he was chair of the Alberta Eugenics Board until his retirement at 88. “Like MacEachran himself, the Board was a model of bureaucratic efficiency,” write the authors. “With remarkably little oversight, and with the overt assistance of the medical profession, the Board operated out of the public eye.”
“We should endeavour to get away from a very costly form of sentiment and give more attention to raising and safeguarding the purity of the race,” MacEachran said in a 1932 speech. “We allow men and women of defective intelligence or those of these criminal tendencies to have children.”
Authors document a poignant letter to MacEachran from one woman sterilized by his order. She wanted children, she pleaded. Couldn’t the Doctor do something? “It was done for your own good,” replied MacEachran. “You would not want children who might have to come here and spend many years or perhaps their whole life in an institution.”
Psychiatry And The Legacies Of Eugenics is a shocking story, unbelievable if it were not true.
By Holly Doan
Psychiatry and the Legacies of Eugenics, edited by Frank W. Stahnisch and Erna Kurbegovic; Athabasca University Press; 412 pages; ISBN 9781-7719-92657; $37.99
The Commons public accounts committee yesterday by a unanimous 10-0 vote ordered the Auditor General to investigate the original taxpayers’ endowment used to bankroll the Trudeau Foundation. Parliament awarded the Foundation $125 million subsequently used in part to buy stocks in China: “We are asking for an investigation.”
One of the nation’s leading computer scientists says he refused a six-figure payoff from Chinese agents in what was an obvious “recruitment strategy” targeting Canadian academics. Professor Benjamin Fung of McGill University detailed the scheme in testimony at the Commons science committee: “I asked them, ‘What do you want me to do?”
Canadians consider federal anti-trust enforcement “lacklustre” and “ineffective,” says a Department of Industry report. The anti-trust Competition Bureau has acknowledged failures in permitting consolidation in key sectors like grocery retailing: “Large corporations are gaining too much control.”
Critics yesterday ridiculed a federal sales tax holiday on new rental construction as a “limousine Liberal measure.” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a GST holiday bill that dropped cabinet’s 2015 promise to link the tax break to construction of “affordable rental housing.”
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress yesterday petitioned MPs for a 25 percent windfall tax on corporate profits. Proceeds should go to low income families to buy food, Bea Bruske testified at the Commons finance committee: “Use the revenue to fund an extension of the existing grocery rebate program.”
Bank of Canada management including Governor Tiff Macklem would face tighter public scrutiny under a private bill yesterday introduced in the Senate. Critics have demanded Macklem be fired over erratic forecasts: “The Bank is not above Parliament.”
The Canada Revenue Agency claims a typical taxpayer waited only nine minutes on the phone to speak with an agent this past tax season. The Agency earlier admitted to faking customer service data: “Monkeying around with these departmental results reports to play with the numbers to make it look good will come out. We will find you.”
Federal airport rents will top a half billion next year, by Department of Transport estimate. Airport operators have called rents a straight charge on passengers: “The more expensive we are for aviation in Canada, the more expensive it is for Canadians.”