Con leader Erin O'Toole had to backtrack by using some of corporate lawyerese after it was revealed that he had told the Conservative students club in November that the purpose of residential schools was to provide education to indigenous people. Of course the backtracking occurred only after Press Progress and Global News made his comments public. He was commenting on what he called the 'woke' campaign to rename Ryerson because of his role in creating the residential school system. The fact that it was still listed on the student Conservative website as "most popular" tells what his audience thought of his comments. Beyond the smiling face, we once again see the real O'Toole, the same guy who proclaimed his intention to go after the union vote - - to a group of businessmen, not a group of workers.
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is walking back comments he made to Ryerson University students claiming the residential school system was designed to "provide education" to Indigenous children before it went off the rails and became a "horrible program."
"The very existence of residential schools is a terrible stain on Canada's history that has had sweeping impacts on generations of Indigenous Canadians," O'Toole said in a statement released today. "I speak about the harm caused by residential schools regularly. In my comments to Ryerson students, I said that the residential school system was intended to try and 'provide education.' It was not. The system was intended to remove children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures."
O'Toole has been under pressure to retract his statement about residential schools ever since Press Progress — a publication of the Broadbent Institute — and Global News first reported the contents of a zoom call O'Toole held with Ryerson University's Campus Conservative club earlier this month. In that call, O'Toole addressed what he described as the "woke" campaign to rename Ryerson University because of the role the school's namesake played in creating the residential school system. ...
O'Toole claimed former prime minister Pierre Trudeau opened more residential schools than Egerton Ryerson did and said no one is trying to take Trudeau's name off Montreal's airport.
"When Egerton Ryerson was called in by Hector Langevin and people, it was meant to try and provide education," he told the Ryerson students in the call. ...
Press Progress reported that the video was first posted to the Ryerson Conservative Facebook page on Nov. 5. The video was still being hosted on the page as of this morning under the title "most popular." ...
Earlier today, NDP MP Charlie Angus accused O'Toole of engaging in "disgraceful revisionist race-baiting to win Conservative votes. We know that there is a pattern among deniers to re-write the facts that were found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," Angus said. "These institutions were not set up to provide education. They were set up to destroy the Indian family. That meets one of the tests of genocide."
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde took to Twitter to call O'Toole's comments "reprehensible." "It is disappointing that Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole sought to use the residential school tragedy, which has devastated generations of First Nations families, to score meaningless political points," he wrote. "No political party can claim the high road on that tragic piece of Canadian history."
Bellegarde said that he was looking forward to sitting down with O'Toole next year to help him better understand how tragic the residential schools system was, and how it was made worse by "decades of political mismanagement and indifference."