Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eugenics and the Firewall: What's the book about? (The back page)

Eugenics and the Firewall: What's the book about?
It’s a dirty little secret the heirs to Alberta’s populist legacy don’t want Canadians to talk about.

In 1928 the non-partisan United Farmers of Alberta passed the first Sexual Sterilization Act. The UFA’s successor, the Social Credit party, led by a radio-evangelist William Aberhart, and later by his protégé Ernest Manning, removed the need to obtain consent to sterilize “mental defectives” or Huntington’s Chorea patients with dementia.

Between 1928 and 1972 nearly three thousand citizens were sterilized, lied to, experimented on, and subjected to daily abuse at the hands of provincial staff in Alberta. Most Albertans have forgotten the victims whose names made headlines in the 1990s, and politicians and pundits have shown little empathy for the victims.

The Eugenics Board horror story has largely been buried in Canada’s mainstream national media. Conservative bloggers and columnists in Canada continue to blame the Liberals and CCF for Canada’s barbaric eugenics program. The tar sands, oil royalties, health care budgets, environmental policies, and making sure the province’s interests remain high on the federal agenda top the provincial headlines.

But the questions must be answered: How did a province that claims “strong and free” as its motto deny basic freedoms to so many of its own citizens? Why does the extent of Alberta’s eugenics past and its link to the UFA/Social Credit legacy remain the unacknowledged moral blind spots in Canadian politics?

It’s time to set the record straight.

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