Q: Your late father Izzy Asper was the driving force behind the Human Rights Museum. What was his initial vision?
A: His vision stemmed from his own background, as the child of immigrants who came to this country seeking freedom. From the idea that this is a great country, but one, he was concerned, that is pretty complacent. Canadians are indifferent to how their rights have evolved. People like me, who didn’t understand that women weren’t always persons, or that Aboriginals couldn’t vote until the 1960s. He wanted people to understand how this country came to be the tolerant country that it is now, and more importantly, to understand that if you are not vigilant with human rights, they can be lost.
Q: Since you took over the project after his passing in 2003, has that vision changed?The joint is going to have a "Mass Atrocity zone" but it isn't "a museum of genocide"? If you say so, Gail.
A: No, not at all. The vision that was first presented to the world back in 2000 is the same vision that was adopted by three different prime ministers, two premiers, two mayors and 6,000 donors. The whole goal was, and is, to inspire visitors to take personal responsibility for the advancement of human rights here in Canada and around the world.
Q: There has been controversy about some of the plans for the museum. Ukrainian and German-Canadian groups have complained that the sufferings of indigenous peoples and Jews during the Second World War are getting a “disproportionate share” of exhibit space. Has the backlash surprised you?
A: Nothing that is being said now is any different from the concerns and hopes that were being expressed even before the museum existed. We have worked with all sorts of groups. The idea wasn’t that we were going to impose a human rights museum on Canada. The idea was that we were going to listen to what Canadians wanted and work with them to deliver something that everyone could embrace. The inclusion of an exhibit on the Holodomor [the Stalin-induced famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s] was always part of the plan. That is still the plan. But there is a tiny minority that have taken a more acrimonious position on this. And that’s been disappointing.
Q: The Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Association has charged that one horror—the Holocaust—is being “elevated” above all others at the museum. What’s your response?
A: This is not a museum of genocide. The purpose is to explain what human rights are and how they can be lost. There is no better example of this than the Holocaust. A country like Germany, that was so cultured and educated, and had a democratic government—don’t forget, Hitler was elected—was still able to descend into genocide because people were not vigilant. All the experts agree that no human rights museum could ever be established without a full examination of the Holocaust. It was fundamental to our notion of human rights today, the catalyst for the world coming together to say “never again,” precipitating the anti-genocide conventions and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Holocaust really shows how good people can be convinced to do bad things...
Reality check: Canada has "evolved" into an Orwellian Trudeaupia of political correctness where bureaucratic hacks have been elevated to the status of "human rights" commissars and where free speech is going the way of the Dodo and dinosaur.
As for "human rights today"--that has become the catalyst for the Israel's destruction, the Jew-haters' best shot at finishing the job Hitler started.
Any plans to include an exhibit on that, Gail?