Government Apologizes for Historical Wrongs

A Step In The Right Direction?
Concerned about the potential liability issues that might follow more formal political apologies, Canada's Conservative Harper government recently announced the allocation of several major grants to support various programs, initiatives and events related to historical injustices committed by the Canadian government.

Examples include the catastrophic decision in 1939 to refuse entry of 900 passengers on the steamship St. Louis in 1939, leading to the deaths of a third of those on board. Similar grants are being offered to commemorate the internment of Ukrainians during the First World War, and the Chinese head tax in World War Two.

Critics will no doubt slam the government for political expediency and claim this is nothing more than a transparent effort to deal with several major mistakes through a few widely publicized announcements.

Although critics may be right, it would probably be wise (and fair) for skeptics to ask members of the affected communities whether the government's gestures should be ignored.

As perfect apologies go, this approach may not satisfy all the ingredients but they certainly accomplish a great deal more than previous governments and the status quo.

It may not be enough, but it's considerably closer to the mark.