Tory MP denounces Louis Riel

20 02 2010

A Conservative MP had denounced Louis Riel, the leader of the 1885 rising in western Canada, as a villain. I don’t that this MP will sway how any serious historian regards Riel, but it’s kinda interesting that the Reformers Conservatives no longer regard Riel as the first of a long series of western protest leaders. Preston Manning once tried to depict Riel as sort of an ancestor of the Reform party and all the other Prairie populist movements upset with Ottawa. I guess that since the conservatives are now in power in Ottawa, they no longer identify with the opposition and regional discontent. I guess they identify more with Macdonald.

Peter Goldring MP compares the efforts of rehabilitate Riel to the right-wing nationalists in Japan who have succesful lobbied to remove/tone down all references to Japan’s Second World War atrocities from that country’s school textbooks. This is a bizarre comparison: one of the things that separates Western countries from Japan is a willingness to acknowledge historical injustices perpetrated by the national government. Nowadays, American schoolkids hear a lot about slavery, Australians hear about the stolen generation, and German kids hear about the Holocaust. Canadian students ought to learn about the suffering of First Nations people.

You can read Mr Goldring’s anti-Riel diatribe here.