Compulsory sterilization in Canada


Compulsory sterilization in Canada

Compulsory sterilization in Canada has a documented history in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Canadian compulsory sterilization operated via the same overall mechanisms of institutionalization, judgement, and surgery as the American system. One notable difference is in the treatment of non-insane criminals; Canadian legislation never allowed for punitive sterilization of inmates

History of Eugenics in Canada

Eugenics movements bounced up in many European and American jurisdictions in response to historical, social, scientific, economic, and political processes occurring at the time.[1] Francis Galton invented the term « eugenics » in 1883, building it from its Latin roots meaning « good in birth » or « noble in heredity.[2] “The science of eugenics was concerned with the improvement of the human standard and focused on the influence that would give « the more suitable races or strain of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable « ‘ [3] Eugenicists were concerned with managing the direction human evolution would take: natural selection, about which Galton’s cousin Charles Darwin wrote, was insufficient to deal with the needs of modern society.[4] If left solely to nature, eugenicists argued, the dangerous classes who were thought to have a high-volume reproductive rate would take over; ideas, promoted abroad, were quick to gain popularity in Canada in the early 1900s.[5] Nova Scotia, in 1908, was home of the first « eugenics movement » in the country when the League for the Care and Protection of Feebleminded Persons was established in the province.[6] In Quebec, Ontario, and elsewhere, academics and physicians worked to enlist hereditarians to their ranks and publicly supported eugenics.[6]

Eugenicists sought to actively support the reproduction of some women while at the same time seeking to ensure their cooperation in efforts to curb the reproduction of others through their support for measures like marriage regulation, institutionalization and sterilization.[7] Many eugenicists were prepared to support certain rights for some women to the extent that these would help support the political and economic enterprise of nation building based on an inherently racist notion of who belonged.[8]

Ideology worked to conceal the historical and material relations that gave rise to many of the social problems of Canadian society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by locating the causes of poverty, crime and illness within individuals.Adoption of proposed interventions like sterilization served as a cost-effective public health solution allowing systemic explanations to be avoided, private interests to benefit and exploitative relations to continue. In their efforts, eugenicists also encouraged the reproduction of the « fit, » namely women of Anglo- Saxon, middle and upper class origins.[9] Fearing a decrease in the birth rate due to their increased access to education, the achievement of work outside the home and rising infant mortality rates, eugenicists sought to bring these women « back home » by enticing them to become crusaders to the eugenic cause.[9][10]


The most damaging sterilization program in Canadian history was afforded via the passing of the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act of 1928. From the years 1928 to 1972, sterilizations, both compulsory and optional, were performed on nearly 3000 « unfit » individuals of varying ages and ethnicities. In total, over 2800 procedures were performed. Initially, the act only provisioned sterilizations where consent was given by the subject or legal guardian of the subject, depending on the competency of the individual scheduled to undergo the operation. The 1937 amendment to the act allowed for sterilizations to be carried out without consent in the case of those deemed mentally defective. Sterilization of individuals deemed mentally ill still required consent. At the end of World War II, while other eugenic sterilization programs were being phased out, Alberta continued on, even increasing the scope of eligibility for sterilizations[citation needed]. They continued until 1972, when approximately 50 people were operated upon.

Targeted sterilization

Youths, minorities, and women were sterilized in disproportionately high numbers. Minors, because of their legal dependency on adults, were almost always assigned as « mental defectives », thus bypassing the parental consent requirement.[citation needed] Albertan Aboriginal people and Métis, regardless of age, were also targeted. Aboriginal people represented only 2.3% of the general population in Alberta, but made up 6% of the institutionalized population.[citation needed] Towards the end of Alberta’s sterilization program, Aboriginal people and Métis made up 25% of the sterilizations performed.[citation needed] Furthermore, those of Aboriginal ancestry were disproportionately assigned the « mentally deficient » rating, which denied them their legal rights and made them eligible for sterilization without consent.[why?] Women, particularly women who were young, poor, and unmarried, were also disproportionately represented; they were thought to be at high risk for prostitution or at the very least promiscuity, activities suspected of breeding further immorality. While it was conceded that sterilization would not change the behavior of these women, sterilization was intended to prevent them from bearing similarly defective progeny.[citation needed]


Despite the inaccuracy of IQ testing[citation needed] and tremendous grey area in classifying the mentally defective, nearly 3000 people were rendered sterile by the Sexual Sterilization Act. The true nature of the act was revealed when Leilani Muir, a former inmate of the Michener Centre (also known as the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives, PTS), discovered in 1971 that she had been sterilized. After being admitted to the PTS at age 10 as an unwanted and abused child, Leilani was given a substandard education. She was inaccurately designated a mentally defective moron (an individual with an IQ between 51 and 70), effectively nullifying herhuman rights. She was administered powerful antipsychotic agents without any due cause, as she had not manifested any symptoms of psychosis during her residency at the PTS. Eventually she was given an impromptu IQ test, on which she scored a 64. Shortly thereafter, she was taken before the Eugenics Board, and sterilization was authorized pending her mother’s consent (which was readily given).

In 1995, Leilani was awarded $750,000CAD and $230,000CAD in damages for her wrongful and humiliating labeling as a moron and her subsequent sterilization. Since the victory, another 1300 cases have been opened, several of them concerning individuals who may have actual mental disabilities. It is unlikely they will be awarded any settlements based on stigmatization, but they may win suits based on involuntary sterilization, which is now considered battery under Canadian law.

British Columbia

In 1933 British Columbia became one of two provinces to implement a clear eugenic sexualsterilization law. The province’s Sexual Sterilization Act, legislated in 1933 and repealed in 1973, closely resembled Alberta’s 1928 legislation, although the practices differed.[8] The Act created a Board of Eugenics, consisting of a judge, psychiatrist, and social worker.[8][11] The Board was granted the authority to order the sterilization, with consent, of any inmate recommended to them by a superintendent, who “if discharged…without being subjected to an operation for sexual sterilization would be likely to produce or bear children who by reason of inheritance would have a tendency to serious mental disease or mental deficiency.”[12] Many of the individuals presented for sterilization under the province’s eugenics program came through Riverview Hospital(Essondale).[11] In comparison to the “2834 individuals sterilized under Alberta’s eugenic policy, historian Angus McLaren has estimated that in British Columbia no more than a few hundred individuals were sterilized ».[2][8] The disparity between the numbers sterilized in the two provinces can be attributed in part to the tighter provisions of British Columbia’s Sexual Sterilization Act.[8]Whereas the Alberta legislation was amended twice to increase the program’s scope and efficiency, British Columbia’s sterilization program remained unchanged.[3][6] Although this appears to have settled the issue, in the early 1970s the public would learn that coercive sterilizations were in fact taking place in the North in spite of the lack of legislation.[10]

Targeted Peoples

Concepts of race have long been connected to dealings with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.[7]Eugenic ideology served as a convenient justification for the terrible circumstances created bycolonization and was instrumental in determining how to interfere in the lives of Aboriginal peoples.[9] Interventions were often guided by the view that the less progressed were a hazard to society and this justified drastic invasions in their lives. Initial measures advocated in the spirit ofnegative eugenics including marriage regulation, segregation and sterilization were all imposed on Aboriginal peoples.[6]


[13] The Canadian sterilization laws created a Eugenics Board that could impose sterilizations on people without their consent. This developed into a familiar practice, especially in relation to indigenous men, women and children.[9]

In 1926 Dr. Adolf Lorenz of Vancouver stated, « our sense of humanity is destroying humanity.[3]We are allowing more and more of the poorer human stock to survive and reproduce.  » Sterilization was the best method to decrease the number of feeble-minded being produced.[3]Once the feeble-minded were sterilized and the « problem cured. »[3]

In order to conclude who was a potential candidate for sterilization or institutionalization,intelligence tests were being overseen in schools, hospitals, and boys and girls schools. Intelligence tests were initiated in California, which also had the most active eugenic policy in the United States.[13] Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, such as the « Honourable William Sloan », stated California was the leader in developing and carrying out a eugenics act.[13]

In accordance with the Act, only people who were a « patient or in custody » of an institution as defined by the « Mental Hospitals Act » or the « Industrial Home for Girls  » or the « industrial School Act » would be affected by the Act.[14]  »These individuals, termed by the Act as « inmates, » would be involved or living in Essondale (now known as Riverview Psychiatric Institution), or the Boys’ or Girls’ Industrial Schools (for children deemed delinquent).[14]

Decisions as to which inmates would be sterilized were to be made by the Board of Eugenics.[11]The Board of Eugenics consisted of a judge, a psychiatrist, and a social worker who were appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Board of Eugenics would receive recommendations from one of the above institutions if the superintendent of the institution believed that the release of an inmate would result « by reason of inheritance » in having children who would have « serious mental disease or mental deficiency. »[15] The recommendations were to be in writing and were to include a history of the inmate to support the institution’s recommendation for sexual sterilization.[14] The inmate may, there after, be examined or seen by the Board of Eugenics.[14]

If after the examination of the inmate the Board of Eugenics unanimously agreed that this person would be likely to produce children who would have a serious mental disease or mental deficiency due to inheritance, the Board of Eugenics could order, in writing, that the sterilization take place.[14] The Board of Eugenics would or could appoint the doctor who would perform the procedure.[14]

If the Board of Eugenics believed that the inmate was not capable of consent, a spouse, guardian, or family member would be requested give their for consent. If the inmate had no family, the Provincial Secretary, the predecessor of the Superintendent of the Ministry of Social Services, was to consent on the inmate’s behalf.[14]

United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of GenocideEdit

Article II of the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such:[16]

a) Killing members of the group;

b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d) Imposing measures to prevent births within the group;

e) Forcibly transferring children from one group to another.[16]

An international conference of The United Nations Human Rights Commission, held in Montreal, stated in March, 1999 that Canada « is in violation of international law in its treatment of itsaboriginal people » and that the condition of natives in Canada is « the most pressing human rights issue facing Canadians. » (The Vancouver Sun, April 10, 1999).[17]


Eugenics Timeline in British Columbia

1867- Canadian Constitution Act gives federal parliament legislative authority over « Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians[18]

1870- Canadian Residential Schools in operation[19]

1872- Victoria Lunatic Asylum, British Columbia’s first asylum for the insane opens.[20]

1873- British Columbia passes the « Insane Asylums Act. »[21]

1876- Canada passes the « Indian Act »[22]

1878- British Columbia’s Victoria Asylum closed, and the Provincial Asylum for the Insane is opened in New Westminster.[23]

IRISH: The forgotten white slaves (article)


Monday, March 16, 2015

They came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But are we talking about African slavery? King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James VI sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

Continued on Canada Libre page …

The Scottish Genocide

The same in Canada, my friend. Three centuries of continuous ethnic cleansing against whoever was here before the anglos ; the Natives (all still in concentration camps today), the Métis, the Acadiens and the Canadiens (the real ones, French speaking).
– CL

Scottish Genocide
MAY 27, 2016 / ÙR-FHÀSAIDH
Follow @Butterfly_Reb

Suggest that our Scotland, the place we share as our common home, is a colony and its people colonised and all holy hell breaks out. On Twitter your compatriots will decry you as a tinfoil hat wearing bampot, and every word you utter as silly. We’re not colonised they’ll say, and they’ll laugh you off with comparisons of Africa and India. “We’ve nothing in common with Africa or Indian.” That’s a sore pity, I sometimes think, we could do with the weather.

They’re right. The colonisation of Scotland and the ethnic cleansing and genocide that it produced was nothing like that perpetrated against the peoples of Africa and India. It was also completely unlike the colonisation and brutalisation of Ireland, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and many other places around the world. What England’s power did to Scotland was unique to its relationship with Scotland, much the same as what happened elsewhere was unique in each context.

Right now I can see many reading this getting uncomfortable, some even angry. That’s not the purpose of this article. We weren’t taught this in school. It runs against the grain of the story we were fed of poppies and heroes, and an empire of pith helmets and dapper redcoats over which the sun never set. That version of events is sacred to a great many people, and – oddly for me – I’m not taking any great pleasure in the thought of stripping this particular altar bare. Know the truth, someone said, and the truth will set you free. So let’s not rage about the past. Let’s not wallow in shame either. We are the inheritors of this awful story and the products of it, but we don’t bear its guilt.

In India alone it is estimated that the British Empire was responsible for the deaths of 29 million human beings, and between 1783 and 1997 Britain’s global imperial adventures had cost the lives of over 150 million people. That’s some body count. At school, for many reading this, genocide – while ignoring Armenia for political reasons and Rwanda as it was unfolding – was all about Hitler’s Germany and the extermination of the Jews of Europe. It was never about the rape, torture, and murder of Kenyans by British soldiers during the Mau Mau Uprising of the 1950s, the wholesale slaughter of peaceful protesters by British colonial troops at Amritsar in 1919, the death of 28,000 Boer women and children in British concentration camps, or indeed the enforced export of grain from Ireland while upward of a million people starved to death during the Great Famine.

All of this was papered over with tales of juniper and gin in Bombay, and the great sacrifices of British manhood on the Somme, at Ypres, and at Passchendaele, and nothing – not a whisper – was told to us of the systematic and programmatic clearing and murder of inferior Gaels during the colonisation of Scotland. Nothing was said “because we weren’t colonised.”

It is interesting that those who at least accept the historical factuality of “Africa and India” concede, at least in their words, the guilt of empire and colonisation. It did happen, and it is interesting too that they make no attempt to deny it. Some, though they are rare, will yet point to the glories of what we achieved together as an argument for the British union. Nowhere, however, is there a denial or an attempt to bury the evidence.

This is the conspirator’s wink, the attempt to implicate us all into a bond of shared criminality. We have to stick together because we did this together. We all have blood on our hands. Such a position is taken up by many more who argue that Scotland and the people of Scotland were not colonised, but equal partners with England in the atrocities of our imperialism. On the face of it this is a wonderfully convincing argument, it’s true; there were – and still are – bagpipes and kilts in the Khyber Pass. Scotland profited from the theft, and Scots found themselves highly favoured in every sphere of industry, commerce, and government built atop the bones.

We couldn’t be colonised, not only because we were different from Africans and Indians (we were “great white men”), but because we were in on it – up to our necks in it. This is a convincing argument, but it is false. Bribed and blackmailed, the Lords of Scotland treatied with a foreign nation with which our law in the Declaration of Arbroath already foreswore any union or submission. This law was guaranteed in 1320 by the only sovereign of Scotland – the people, the Scots themselves.

In 1707 the Act of Union was without the consent of the Scots, enacted by Lords who had neither claim nor right to the sovereignty of our nation. It was illegal, wholly without legal reality – as it remains still. Efforts in King Edward’s Palace (Westminster itself) could never revoke the union for lack of meaningful Scots representation, and legitimate rebellion was crushed with the same barbaric cruelty England’s empire meted out against other inferior folk.

No sooner than rebellion and sedition were silenced, and rightful monarchs sent packing, than the genocide and ethnic cleansing began. We were not as white as the Anglo-Saxons, alas, and The Scotsman – long the Uncle Tom of Scotland’s conquered opinions – wrote of the Highland Gael’s expulsion: “Collective emigration is, therefore, the removal of a diseased and damaged part of our population. It is a relief to the rest of the population to be rid of this part (The Scotsman, 26 July 1851).” Diseased and damaged were the less than “British” Scots, and fodder for distant plantations and hunger.

Lord Trevelyan himself, the Somerset Baronet who starved the Gaelic Irish, was happy to add, “A national effort would now be necessary in order to rid the land of the surviving Irish and Scotch Celts. The exodus would then allow for the settlement of a racially superior people of Teutonic stock.” It begins to sound a lot more like Africa and India now, even like the language of certain Teutonic stock in the Germany of the 1930s. The Clearances were not just about economic progress; they were about British racial progress.

So the claim, “we’re not a colony,” sounds more pallid now. And yet we have not touched upon the economy – the resource and industrial purpose – of colonisation. Our Gàidhlig tongue torn out, and our rebels and patriots, our daughters and sons, abroad or frozen or starved to death, the Wade roads were laid for our gold and silver then to move south, and now our brightest and best, our gas and our oil, and everything of value we make and ever have made. A colony we were, a colony we are, and the screams of denial are the shrill rale of the thoroughly colonised mind.

The Butterfly Rebellion
Jason Michael
Ayrshire, Scotland

Source : The Scottish Genocide

To Justin Trudeau : It is not the Pope who has massacred the Natives

Trudeu to ask Pope Francis to aplogizeB

It is not the Pope who has deported the Acadians killing two thirds of them in the process.

It is not the Pope who has massacred, starved and infected the Natives and the Metis people.

It is not the Pope who has kept Natives in concentration camps for over two centuries now and who has kidnapped several generations of their children to confine them into forced assimilation institutions where they were abused and beatten into abandoning their culture to speak English.

It is not the Pope who has enforced anti-Canadiens apartheid for more than a century in all provinces and territories outside Québec to eradicate French speaking populations that often were majorities before that.

It is not the Pope who has used radical political and economic segregation to downgrade our ancestors to the status of white-slaves, making socioeconomic indicators of the real Canadiens (francophones) – infant mortality, education level, average income, life expectancy, etc. – the worst in Canada after those of the Natives, worst than those of any immigrant community and worst in comparison with anglos than those of black Americans compared to whites.

It is not the Pope who has forced two thirds of the (French speaking) Canadiens into permanent exile.


If Justin Trudeau really wanted an apology for the genocide against the Natives, he would give it himself because he is now the head of the imperialistic and ethnocentric Dominion that has brought three centuries of ethnic cleansing against whoever was in Canada before the anglos.

Justin Trudeau is just like his masters.

What anglos have brought to Acadiens, Métis, Canadiens and the Natives

What anglos have brought to Acadiens, Métis, Canadiens and Natives :

– Deportation of the Acadiens, killing two thirds of them in the process.

– Massacres of the Natives and Métis, parking of the survivors in concentration camps (reserves) for more than two centuries, until today and forever ongoing.

– Internment of several generations of Natives children in forced assimilation institutions were they were beaten and abused into speaking English and were as much as 50% of them died or « disappeared ».

– Each and every peace treaty between the Natives and anglos broken.

– Natives starved to death for « medical experimentations » : Genocide.

– Imposed federation of all territories and provinces under one centralized power.

– Anti-French apartheid all over non-Québec Canada to eradicate French speaking majority populations (the real Canadiens)

– Real Canadians (the French speaking ones) forced into the status of « white ne88ers » – their main living condition indicators under anglo-imperialist domination equal or worse than those of the blacks in USA -.

– Two thirds of the real Canadiens forced into permanent exile in order to survive while the federal government was heavily sponsoring replacement immigration from Western Europe.  There are two times more descendants of New-France era Canada population in the USA than there are in Canada now.

– Imposed charter of rights and constitutions designed  to make it impossible for the real Canadiens to legally protect their language and their culture.

– State terrorism to fake separatist violence (FLQ) ; federal police putting bombs in Montréal, false communiqués, War measure act, anglo-army occupation, hundreds of people jailed without charge against them, etc. All that to fight the peaceful and democratic Québec independence movement.

– Criminal activities against Québec regulations to win the referendum votes on Québec sovereignty.

– Instrumentalization of the ethnics, obligation for immigrants to move to Québec to get citizenship, threat of losing it if they voted YES to Québec sovereignty (Parizeau was right !)

– Corruption, bribery, acquaintance with organized crime.

– Permanent anti-Québec, anti-Québécois and anti-French propaganda in most all anglo medias all across the country.

– Etc.

In short : Three centuries of continuous ethnic cleansing against whoever was in Canada before the anglos.

Odd findings in the 1991 canadian census

Michel Patrice

Odd findings in the 1991 canadian census

Populations Québec Ontario lieu de naissance

In 1991, in Québec, 146,315 persons living in Québec were born in Ontario and 591,210 were born in a foreign country.

In 1991, in Ontario,  348,855 persons living in Ontario were born in Québec and 2,369,175 were born in a foreign country.

Looking at the graph above, can we conclude that Toronto outgrew Montréal because of the exodus of Montréalers fleeing the political situation? Or should we conclude that the population of Ontario (and Toronto’s along with it) outgrew the population of Québec (and Montréal’s along with it) because of international immigration?

Which raises the question : Why did so many immigrants choose Toronto over Montréal?

Source : Statistics Canada, 1991 census,


Michel Patrice

Populations Québec Ontario lieu de naissance

In 1991, in Québec, 146,315 persons living in Québec were born in Ontario and 591,210 were born in a foreign country.

In 1991, in Ontario,  348,855 persons living in Ontario were born in Québec and 2,369,175 were born in a foreign country.

Looking at the graph above, can we conclude that Toronto outgrew Montréal because of the exodus of Montréalers fleeing the political situation? Or should we conclude that the population of Ontario (and Toronto’s along with it) outgrew the population of Québec (and Montréal’s along with it) because of international immigration?

Which raises the question : why did so many immigrants choose Toronto over Montréal?

Source : Statistics Canada, 1991 Census,

Voir l’article original

Honoring Mordecai Richler is an apology to hatred and racism

Why Québec needs independanceSo that shameless Uncle Tom, Denis Coderre, named a francophone library after that racist bigot, Mordecai Richler! And I thought the run-down Gazebo was too good for him…

Ray Conlogue, the author of this article, is probably the only English Canadian journalist who even noticed, let alone was bothered by, the slander and racism of Mordecai Richler towards Quebecers. Of course, Richler’s racism was an acceptable form of racism in Canada and Cologue was often criticized for not jumping on the bandwagon.

After independence, we should rename that library La Bibliothèque Ray Conlogue.


Facing up to both sides of Mordecai

During Quebec’s 1837 uprising, a spy told the British army that Louis-Joseph Papineau’s rebels intended to kill all Jews and confiscate their property.

The British dismissed the charge out of hand, since the rebels were allies of Quebec’s Jewish community and had won the vote for them long before it was accorded elsewhere in the British empire. A few years ago, Jewish historian David Rome looked into the affair and concluded it was a « figment of fantasy. »

None of this prevented Mordecai Richler from resurrecting the slur and presenting it as fact in his 1992 polemic Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! It joined a long list of Richlerian attacks on the supposed anti-Semitism of French Quebeckers. Without apparent compunction, he dismissed their religion (in Saturday Night magazine) as « a spiritual sewer, » and described their best-loved leader, René Lévesque, to the British Broadcasting Corporation in these terms:

« If he had decided to hang me, he’d have been complaining about the humiliation of having to use a gallows even as he tightened the cord around my neck. Afterwards, as my body swung in the wind, he’d have blamed me for making him assassinate me, a sweet, modest and oppressed francophone like himself. »

His most infamous accusation — demonstrably false — was that the Parti Québécois’s theme song was inspired by the melody of a Nazi anthem.

Richler’s polemical writing is littered with this kind of thing. Many French Quebeckers, not unreasonably, decided long ago that he was a bigot.

With his death earlier this month, the Canadian media were presented with an awkward challenge that every country has to face sooner or later. When mourning a great artist, how does one deal with his dark side?

By and large, eulogies and reminiscences written in English overlooked the matter. Where mentioned, it was pooh-poohed as part of Richler’s well-known tendency to exaggerate for effect, a lovable curmudgeon shooting from the hip against the French, the English, or his own Jewish community.

Things were, as you might imagine, more complex in Quebec. Writer Jean-François Lisée pointed out that, during the 15 years after separatists won Quebec’s 1976 elections, Richler dominated discussion of Quebec in the U.S. media.

He wrote an astonishing seven out of eight major articles in magazines such as The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. In all of them, he defamed Quebec with considerable venom.

Given this damage, and the inability of francophones to defend themselves in the English-language media, you might expect his death to have caused a good deal of bitter commentary in the French press this month.

Certainly, there was some of that. La Presse noted that a number of prominent francophones refused to comment on Richler’s death. Separatist Raymond Villeneuve said he had « dragged the people of Quebec through the mud. » The newspaper Le Devoir opined in an editorial that Richler had written « wounding and insulting, even defamatory » words about Quebec nationalism, « enormities which he never took back. »

But a surprising amount of commentary was sympathetic. Columnist Nathalie Petrowski, who has little use for English Canada at the best of times, spoke of his « sweetness and timidity » on the occasions they met. « In spite of all the insanities Mordecai wrote, I’ve never been able to hate him, » she wrote.

She argued that as a Depression-era child, he had to deal with the true anti-Semitism of Adrian Arcand’s short-lived fascist movement.

« The wounded and excluded child, » she speculates, became « the resentful and bitter adult » whose tirades concealed a « wounded love for Quebec. »

Michel Vastel of the newspaper Le Soleil said Richler had been friendly to him, and recalled the author’s childhood « in a 1930s-era Quebec that was pretty anti-Semitic. »

Even La Presse’s Gérald Leblanc, who has long chronicled the mistakes and stereotypes about Quebec that appear in the English-language media, argued that Richler’s anger came from an understandable « nostalgia at seeing the ancient places of the Jewish anglophone community pass into the hands of francophones. » If Richler sought « vengeance on those who had modified the landscape of his childhood, » this was only human on his part.

Several commentators regretted the late translation of Richler’s novels into French, and the relatively few Québécois who have read them.

At the same time, La Presse printed an excerpt from Barney’s Version that showed why: A heart-attack victim phones a French-language hospital and listens to a message stating that, « you must dial 17 to receive information in the accursed English language, » while the ambulance attendants play strip poker.

Francophones rarely appear in Richler’s fiction, and when they do, they are usually go-go dancers grinding their crotches on a dirty stage, or imbecilic junkyard workers. English-speaking reviewers of his novels have rarely, if ever, expressed indignation about this. Only George Woodcock, a transplanted Englishman, noticed that the sole sympathetic French character in Richler’s fiction (Duddy Kravitz’s girlfriend Yvette), is « unconvincing. There is a strange kind of indifference in her portrayal. »

Richler was also unconvincing in his non-fictional observation of the French, several Quebec commentators noted last week. Said Yves Boisvert in La Presse, « The French in his vision were reduced to a sort of joyful ‘tribe.’ He praised our ‘vitality’ while describing us drinking on the terraces of the rue St-Denis. To be more clichéd than that, you’d have to have us living in a maple-sugar cabin. »

Some commentators have implied that the French have been bad sports in their reaction to Richler’s death. You may judge for yourself from the above examples. What strikes me is that the French are attempting to incorporate Richler into their community, much as Quebec’s Jews have done. But the task is harder for them: While Richler knew the Jewish community intimately (and in the words of Canadian Jewish Congress director Max Bernard, portrayed it well), he never knew, and refused to know, the French.

When Jews Fleeing Holocaust and Nazis Shared Same Canadian Prison Camps

When Jews Fleeing Holocaust and Nazis Shared Same Canadian Prison Camps

Refugees and German Prisoners Were Housed Together


Published April 01, 2013.

When Austrian and German Jews escaped Nazism by fleeing to Britain during the 1930s, the last thing they expected was to find themselves prisoners in Canada, interred in camps with some of the same Nazis they had tried to escape back home.

Raw Deal: Worried about immigration, Canadian authorities did not want Jewish refugees from the Nazis to be free. So they housed them in camps, some of which held German prisoners.
ERIC KOCH/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVE CANADA Raw Deal: Worried about immigration, Canadian authorities did not want Jewish refugees from the Nazis to be free. So they housed them in camps, some of which held German prisoners.

But that’s what happened to some 7,000 European Jews and “Category A” prisoners – the most dangerous prisoners of war – who arrived on Canadian shores in 1940. Fearing a German invasion, Britain had asked its colonies to take some German prisoners and enemy spies. But the boats included many refugees, including religious Jews and university students.

Though Britain alerted Canada to the mistake, it would take three years for all the refugees to be freed.

“It was a period where everybody was closing their doors,” said Paula Draper, a historian who worked on an exhibit about the refugees currently on display at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. “But Canada closed its doors more tightly than almost anybody else.”

While greatly overshadowed at the time by the enormity of the Holocaust, the refugee episode illustrates two characteristics of Canadian government policy that are difficult to imagine today: rampant anti-Semitism and restrictive immigration. The country is one of Israel’s staunchest allies and has a relatively liberal immigration policy. In 2001, more than 18 percent of Canada’s population was immigrant; in 2010, Canada admitted more legal immigrants than it had in 50 years.

This wasn’t the case during World War II, when Frederick Charles Blair directed Canada’s immigration branch. Blair believed an international Jewish conspiracy was trying to skirt Canadian immigration policies by sneaking the refugees into the country. Moreover, anti-Semitic attitudes among Canada’s Protestant elite had hardened in the run-up to World War II, according to University of British Columbia historian Richard Menkis.

The Protestants believed ethnic minorities lacked Canadian values, a view similar to that of Quebecois nationalists, who believed the province should remain both French and Catholic. Jews faced quotas in universities, were blocked from various professional fields and barred from certain neighborhoods.

“There were certain observers who thought that places like Toronto and the establishment there was as anti-Semitic as anything in North America,” Menkis said.

After tiring of Canadian intransigence on the refugee issue, the British sent a high-ranking diplomat, Alexander Paterson, to assure the Canadians that the Jewish refugees posed no security threat. Paterson ended up spending more than eight months in the country and cleared many of the prisoners individually.

By 1943, the last of the refugees had been released. Many went on to make important contributions to Canadian society, including two Nobel Prize winners. But as late as 1948, even after the horrors of the Holocaust had been revealed, a public opinion poll had Jews ranking near the top of a list of groups that Canadians least wanted in their country.

“This is how blind Canada was, blinded by racism, to the potential of all the people they might have been able to rescue from the Holocaust,” Draper said.

Draper, who has taught in the Canadian Studies program at the University of Toronto’s University College, began researching the internment of Jewish refugees in the 1970s. At the time, the Jewish community was reluctant to complain about this history given the fate of the Jews of Europe. Even among the survivors themselves, who lamented their lost years of freedom, many were thankful just to have escaped the destiny of their European brethren.

“To be overly critical of a government’s policy at the time, about this specific group, in light of the Holocaust,” was hard to justify, Draper said.

But if criticizing the Canadian government in the aftermath of the Holocaust was somewhat taboo, today the internment camps have been largely forgotten. Moreover, given how far Canada has come, it can be easy to overlook the anti-Semitism that led to them.

Beginning in the 1960s, much began to change in Canada. Hoping to placate French Canadians who felt shut out of society at large, the government launched a dialogue on biculturalism.

“A number of groups – with the Ukrainians in the lead – said, ‘Well, biculturalism isn’t enough,’ ” Menkis said. “That opened a whole discussion at the federal level about multiculturalism.”

The Jewish refugees were held in eight camps across Canada, at least two of which also housed Nazi prisoners. Because they were not prisoners of war, the Jewish refugees fell outside of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. As a result, they were sometimes treated worse than the Germans. In some camps, the Nazis had access to Christian clergy and enjoyed Christmas trees and decorations, while the Jews struggled to find menorahs or candles, and rabbis were hard to come by.

Jewish prisoners organized classes, taught each other English and Torah, published newspapers and made art, pieces of which are on display at the Vancouver center’s exhibit. The exhibit also features video testimony from survivors and artifacts from the camps ranging from homemade board games to personal diaries to luggage brought from Britain.

Over time, the treatment of Jews in the camps improved; eventually they were reclassified from enemy prisoners to refugees. Upon their release, many returned to Britain to support the war effort.

“They were the first witnesses to the horrors of Nazism,” Draper said. “They’re the ones who knew more than anyone else what was happening to the people who didn’t get out.”

Some anglos argue that Bill 101 is invalid because of Napoleons Bonaparte.


The New Province of Montreal/La Nouvelle Province de Montréal argues that our rights and our resistance to assimilation could only be justified by the many crimes against humanity and the ethnic cleansing committed by the English and anglos against those who were in Canada before them.  He pretends that this justification is invalid because of crimes committed elsewhere and at other times by the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte.

This is not standing because The New Province of Montreal/La Nouvelle Province de Montréal argumentation is based on an invalid form of argumentation commonly called the Straw Man Fallacy.

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of « reasoning » has the following pattern:

– Person A has position X
– Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X)
– Person B attacks position Y
– Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of « reasoning » is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.


The evidence is that Napoleon has absolutely nothing to do with the local context.  He was not even born when all ties between Canada and France were cut by the English invaders.

The position that The New Province  « simply ignores » with his fallacy are the fundamental French language rights in Quebec as listed in chapters I and  II of the Charter of the French language :


1. French is the official language of Québec.


2. Every person has a right to have the civil administration, the health services and social services, the public utility enterprises, the professional orders, the associations of employees and all enterprises doing business in Québec communicate with him in French.

3. In deliberative assembly, every person has a right to speak in French.

4. Workers have a right to carry on their activities in French.

5. Consumers of goods and services have a right to be informed and served in French.

6. Every person eligible for instruction in Québec has a right to receive that instruction in French.