Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada's Nasty Little Secret featured in Prairie Books Now!

Paula Kirman interviewed me recently for her article: "A not so proud history." The interview appears in the Fall Winter 2010 issue of Prairie Books Now! As I told Paula, "History isn't about the past at all. It's about charting a future in which our children are not unwitting victims of our mistakes.``

The Province of Alberta`s Eugenics Board existed in the context of a populist political culture that viewed political dissent as something nearing treachery (eg: William Aberhart`s Accurate News and Information Act and the Manning government`s lawsuit against the IODE over its publication of criticisms of Alberta Social Services). That culture helped political `leaders` to create a dual sense of self-righteousness and victimization among the electorate.

As I tell Prairie Books Now!:

``The political culture Aberhart created, and Ernest Manning perfected, is one of extreme passivity and a pack mentality. It is still largely with us....It`s a culture that lets politicians get away from the hard questions by invoking `Western Alienation` or Aberhart`s dream of oil riches and wealth on earth for the righteous. Of course we are not the only province in Canada where this happens, but the historical context is unique here. It`s based on the warping of that progressive vision that birthed the province.``

Unfortunately, the latest issue of Prairie Books Now! is not on-line. (You can pick up a copies at bookstores throughout western Canada.

A few more quotes from Paula`s article:

"The topic of eugenics in Alberta proved to be very sobering for Harris-Zsovan, who describes her main emotion while working on the book as dismay."

"Harris-Zsovan finds that there are connections between past policies and the current Alberta political landscape."

"While Eugenics and the Firewall is often shocking in what it reveals, there is also an underlying feeling of hope that we can learn from history"

"History is not just shabby stories. Scandals are not best left buried. If we don't come to terms with our ancestors' mistakes, we will make the same ones," Harris-Zsovan says.

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