There is no doubt about it Canada is not without it's Skeletons. The "head tax" on Chinese immigrants, the oppression of Japanese Canadians during the war, the injustices to our aboriginal groups... the list is a long one. The difficulty of course is when the lawyers stick their mitts into the mix and decide that nothing but a financial settlement will right the wrongs.
The issue of financial compensation is a tricky one. If the government and people of today must bear the burden of the sins of the past, where does this precedent take us as a country? If every injustice of the 138 years has a financial price tag attached to it the federal coffers are due to be drained. The fact is that financial compensation can only be recognized in this short snapshot in our history. The descendants of the oppressed group receive their small amount of financial reward, the lawyers gain the larger portion and the whole package is borne on the backs of the present population of Canadian taxpayers. There can be no allowance to the victims of the past, and future generations. The only people who receive compensation are the people of the present, the big winners as usual will be the law firms.
So how do we deal with the atrocious decisions of governments past. I really don't know. I think a formal apology is a place to start, but of course that has its inherent problems. Have you noticed that apologies are hard to come by? Perhaps it is because a formal apology comes with a declared recognition of the injustice. A formal declaration is a license to print money as far as lawyers go. A documented "sorry" will inevitably precede a court case for financial compensation.
And what of the sins of the present? If the government is busy righting the wrongs of Governments past, who then will speak for the wrongs of today? Our children will not have the freedom to jig a cod for supper as we did. They will continue to bear the weight of the Churchill Falls Agreement and it will grow heavier with each passing year and demand for energy. They will not be able to ride the train. They are having declining opportunities to enter the workforce as a federal employee. Where and when do we receive the apology and compensation for the Sponsorship Kickbacks? Is the Gomery inquiry a document for future generations to have their day in court?
Time for the Feds to stop wagging their finger at the shames of the past and start being more introspective. It is easy to throw stones backwards through time. With an election looming the big question is: Who next do we give the keys to the glass house.