Eugenics and the Firewall
Why AlbertaOs UFA/Social Credit Legacy Matters to 21st Century Canadians
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J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
ItÕs a dirty little secret the heirs to AlbertaÕs populist legacy donÕt want Canadians to talk about.
In 1928 the non-partisan United Farmers of Alberta passed the first Sexual Sterilization Act. The UFAÕs successor, the Social Credit part, led by a radio-evangelist William Aberhart, and later by his protZgZ Ernest Manning, removed the need to obtain consent to sterilize Òmental defectivesÓ or HuntingtonÕs 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 CanadaÕs mainstream national media. Conservative bloggers and columnists in Canada continue to blame the Liberals and CCF for CanadaÕs barbaric eugenics program. The tar sands, oil royalties, health care budgets, environmental policies, and making sure the provinceÕs interests remain high on the federal agenda top the provincial headlines.
But the questions must be answered: How did a province that claims that Òstrong and freeÓ as its motto deny basic freedoms to so many of its own citizens? Why does the extent of AlbertaÕs eugenics past and its link to the UFA/Social Credit legacy remain the unacknowledged moral blind spots in Canadian politics?
ItÕs time to set the record straight.