Harper’s Apology: Politics and the Ethical Imperative: Canada’s Aboriginal Residential School Survivors’ Closure and Healing
June 13, 2008
From a political philosophy viewpoint, an apology is an ethical act by which the perpetrator admits responsibility for a heinous act, transfers shame from the victim to the perpetrator, restores the victim’s dignity, demonstrates the perpetrator’s commitment to a renewed ethical relationship of respect between the self and other which restores social harmony and reflects social justice. An apology from a psychological point of view, one that will provide the victim with closure and restored dignity, is timely, sincere and appropriate. In the adversarial legal system, an apology is an admission of guilt. This pits the moral imperative of the victims’ right to closure and healing against the legal imperative, the perpetrator’s right to self-defense. See Alter (1999:22).
In spite of the dramatic findings of the RCAP (1995), the federal government citing the legal imperative, hesitated to apologize for wrongdoings to protect the accused offenders’ rights to be presumed innocent.
There was great disappointment in January 1998 when the Minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs not the Prime Minister of Canada, delivered the Statement of Reconciliation on behalf of the Government of Canada to Aboriginal survivors of Residential Schools.
“Jean Chrétien …was not present when his government issued a formal apology to Canada’s aboriginal peoples last week. Chrétien’s absence was not lost on some chiefs, who grumbled that the apology lacked prime ministerial weight, was weakly worded and was not broad enough.” (Wallace 1998:111:3).
In June 2008 Prime Minister Harper delivered a formal apology that seemed to set aside concern for the legal imperative of guilty parties involved in the abusive residential schools and to focus on the moral imperative of survivors to closure and healing.
Selected webliography and bibliography
Alter, Susan. 1999. Apologising for Serious Wrongdoing: Social, Psychological and Legal Considerations. Law Commission of Canada.
2008-06-11. “We’re sorry,’ Harper says.” The Star. Toronto, ON.
Howard-Hassman, Rhoda E. 2002. “Moral Integrity and Reparations to Africa“. Untitled. G. Ulrich, L. Lindholt and L. Krabbe, Kluwer Law Publications: 39.
Wallace, B. 1998. “The Politics of Apology.” Maclean‘s 111:3. January 19.
Filed in Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, democracy, Ethnography, forgetting, governance, heimlich, hospitality, Human Geography, justice, memory, Memory Work, Political Philosophy, Public Policy, risk management, Risk Society, social cohesion, Social History Timeline, Social Justice
Tags: adversarial legal system, apology, legal imperative, moral imperative, Political Philosophy, politics of apology, RCAP, social cohesion, Social Justice
January 9, 2007
The Canadian business community has taken the most active interest in politics at the CEO level than any other business community in in the world (d’Acquino cited in Brownlee 2005: 9 Newman 1998:159-160). And this interest and influence has been on the rise in the last decades. Canada’s business community has had more influence on Canadian public policy in the years 1995-2005 then in any other period since 1900.
Look at what we stand for and look at what all the governments, all the major parties . . . have done, and what they want to do. They have adopted the agendas we’ve been fighting for the in the past few decades (cited in Brownlee 2005: 12 Newman 1998:151).
Tom D’Acquino should know as he is the CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
While the average North American is becoming increasingly concerned by climate change, a recent report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has found that fewer than a fifth – 18 per cent – of North American chief executives are concerned about climate change putting them increasingly out of step with their colleagues in Europe and Asia Pacific.
This a current list of the Chief Executive Officers of the Officers of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives:
- Dominic D’Alessandro, Vice Chair Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO Manulife Financial
- Thomas d’Aquino, Chief Executive Officer and President of Canadian Council of Chief Executives
- Paul Desmarais. Jr. Vice Chair President of Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Chairman and C0-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation of Canada
- Richard L. George, Honorary Chair Canadian Council of Chief Executives and President and CEO of Suncor Energy Inc.
- Jacques Lamarre, Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO SNC-Lavalin Group, Inc.
- Gordon M. Nixon, Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO of Royal Bank of Canada
- Hartley T. Richardson Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO of James Richardson and Sons, Ltd.
- Annette Verschuren Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President of The Home Depot Canada
- Brownlee, Jamie. 2005. Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
- Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006.Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Events
- Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2005. Interview with Jamie Brownlee in response to Globe and Mail article “Canada’s top 10% pay 52% of total tax bill.”
- Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “King of Canada: Tom d’Acquino CEO of CEO’s” Google Docs and Spreadsheet. mirror
- “The Globe and Mail Weekly Appointment Review.” Globe and Mail. January 22, 2007. p. B6
- Hackett, Robert A. and Gruneau, Richard. 2000. The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots in Canada. Ottawa: Centre for Policy Alternatives/Garamond Press Inc.
- Hackett, Robert A. and Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity. Toronto: Garamond Press Inc.
- N/A. 2007. “U.S bosses out of step on climate change.” Management-Issues
- Newman, Peter. 1975. The Canadian Establishment. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
- Newman, Peter. 1975. The Canadian Establishment. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
- Newman, Peter. 1981. The Acquisitors.. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
- Newman, Peter. 1998. Titans: How the New Establishment Seized Power. Toronto: Penguin Books.
- Olsen, Gregg. 1991. “Labour Mobilization and the Strength of Capital: The Rise and Stall of Economic Democracy in Sweden.” Studies in Political Economy. 34.
- Olsen, Gregg. 2002. The Politics of the Welfare State: Canada, Sweden and the United States.. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Brownlee’s (2005) publication stems from his MA thesis supervised by University of Manitoba Sociology Professor Greg Olsen. It builds on the work of William Carroll, Wallace Clement and Murray Dobbin. I highly recommend this book for teaching, learning and research on how Ottawa really works. Some of the well-constructed arguments are located in sections entitled: economic cohesion and the structure of corporate capital, mergers and acquisitions, interlocking directorates, a class conscious business elite, public policy formation network, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Global policy organizations, advocacy think tanks and economic elite, corporate social responsibility and the role of states in the era of globalization. The bibliography is a book in itself. The appendices, Media-Corporate Director Board Interlocks and Think Tanks – Corporate Director Board Interlocks for 2003 provide missing pieces to a puzzle.
I first read this book while preparing to teach a Northern-centred introductory human rights course in Iqaluit, Nunavut. My students were often employees of the Nunavut Government involved in making history as they introduced their own human rights bill. I wanted the inconvenient truth claims in Hackett and Zhao to be illegitimate but their research was unfortunately very robust. I thought I lived in a country whose forms of democratic governance were maturing until I read how we were actually going backwards not forwards in terms of objectivity and mass media.
These recent shifts in media ownership and policy might be seen as the equivalent of a non-violent coup d’etat, a metaphor evoking the inherent link between media power and state power — between the colonization of the popular imagination and the allocation of social resources through public policy and market relations. Communications scholar Herbert Schiller suggests that what is at stake is “packaged consciousness”: the intensified appropriation of the national symbolic environment by a “few corporate juggernauts in the consciousness business (Hackett and Zhao 1998:5)
Filed in climate change, economic efficiency, Economy & Finance, postnational, Power and everyday life, risk management, Risk Society, Social Justice, Tag Clouds, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: benign colonialism, business & human rights, C.D. Howe, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Cannibals with Forks, circumtomato, corporate social responsibility, economic cohesion and the structure of corporate capita, economic efficiency, EndNote, EndNote 8, ethical topography of self and the Other, Ethical turn, Google scholar, Habermas, Hackett and Zhao, Hudson's Bay Company, management, mass media, mergers and acquisitions, public policy formation network, risk management, Social Justice, Tag Clouds, tokenism, Tom D'Acquino, Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, Ulrich_Beck, untabled, w3tableless, Wally Clement
Economist Milton Friedman, propagated 18th century values in the Post-WWII global economy. Like Adam Smith he preached the gospel of minimal government, laissez-faire. The triad, Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944), Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957), and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962) pit economic efficiency against social justice.
“It is standard doctrine, at least among American economists and in much of the business community, that firms should maximize the stock market value (Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2007. “What is the Role of the State?” in Escaping the Resource Curse. supra note 154, at 3, 28-29).” Under U.S. corporate law, for example, a corporation’s board of directors must make decisions that reflect the profit motivations of shareholders or risk liability for a breach of fiduciary duty.” (The Yale Journal of International Law. Vol.36:167:184).
A Circumtomato Globe: Devouring the Earth, Extremes of Wealth and Poverty
I compiled this digitized collage, inspired by Deborah Barndt’s Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail on November 16, 2006. I used a Google earth generated globe to situate as a kind of circumtomato globe. I developed the concept of John Elkington’s Cannibals with Forks for the image of a world being devoured by those who choose to make decisions based on only one bottom line.
In its Oxford style debate 2.0 on sustainability and corporate responsibility, The Economist set forth the proposition for debate, “Without outside pressure, corporations will not take meaningful action on sustainability.” The final vote count was: Pro 73% / Con 27%.
Henry C K Liu, chairman of the New York-based Liu Investment Group wrote this in his article (2003) about Hong Kong’s benign colonialism that seduced Milton Friedman.
Love is blind and infatuation disguises faults as virtues. As Rudyard Kipling fell in love with the pageantry of colonialism and saw racial exploitation as the “White Man’s Burden”, Milton Friedman, Nobel economist, fell in love with colonial Hong Kong, seduced by the wine-and-dine hospitality of its colonial masters and elite compradores. Friedman mistook Hong Kong’s colonial economic system as a free market, despite Hong Kong’s highly orchestrated colonial command economy.
The violence of extremes of wealth and poverty is the moral dilemma of the 21st century, not the acquisition of wealth by individuals, corporations and nation-states. The use of that wealth to convince civil society through mass media of a fair redistribution of wealth is unconscionable. In his book entitled The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Times, Harvard Economist, Jeffrey D. Sachs (2005) reveals the gaping chasm between the real and the perceptions of the real in terms of the ways in which the world’s wealthiest share their wealth with the world’s most vulnerable, at-risk populations. Based on OECD statistics and his own research Sachs claims that the extremes of poverty could be overcome in 25 years if wealthy nations devoted just 0.7% of their GNP (instead of the 0.33% currently provided) official development assistance (ODA) in developing countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) was 0.28% of gross national income (GNI) up from an all time low of 0.22% in 2001. In 2005 the world’s most powerful, wealth nation, the United States devoted just 0.22% of its GNP to foreign aid.
Public perceptions reflect support for higher levels of aid. When asked what percentage of the federal budget they think goes to foreign aid, Americans’ median estimate is 25% of the budget, more than 25 times the actual level. Only 2% of Americans give a correct estimate of 1% of the budget or less. When asked how much of the budget should go to foreign aid, the median response is 10%. Only 13% of Americans believe that the percentage should be 1% or less. Over 60% of Americans believe that contributing 0.7% of national income to meet the Millennium Development Goals is the right thing to do (Sachs 2005).
In an article published in The Economist in 2005 entitled “The Biggest Contract” (in reference to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of social contract), Ian Davis challenged Anglo-Saxon corporate management to revisit, redefine, re-articulate and reinforce with greater subtlety their relationship with society as an implicit social contract that acknowledges obligations, opportunities and mutual advantage for both sides.” Corporate management needs to recast this debate and recapture the intellectual and moral high ground from their critics.” Davis argued that like the political leaders in Rousseau’s 18th century, corporate management in the 21st century will lose legitimacy if they refuse to serve the public good. Davis rejects the nonproductive binary oppositional environment of public debate on economic efficiency vs social justice. The strongly held belief in Anglo-Saxon economies  that the “business of business is business” (to create shareholder value) is as outworn, ideology-based and caricature-driven as is the extreme version of Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).
Davis argued that an informed, educated and engaged  CEOs and upper-level management should map-out long term options and responses to relevant, evolving, overarching, broad, carefully researched social pressures and issues as an implicit and integral (not merely peripheral) part of corporate strategy rather than depending exclusively on lower-level public-relations tacticians operating with a knee-jerk, defensive, narrow, reactionary, rebuttal stance to individual, local and immediate (at times, ill-defined) laws, (political, ideological, etc) tensions and (environmental, sustainability, NGO) concerns. “Large companies need to build social issues into strategy in a way which reflects their actual business importance.” The CEOs should blend and harmonize their supporting efforts, such as trade regimes, with sophisticated, sensitive and successful approaches to risk management, social and economic development issues, access to social services particularly for the most vulnerable populations and resolutions of regional geopolitical conflicts. See The Economist premium content.
“Since 2006 investors have flocked to sign the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) but now find themselves in the firing line for ‘greenwashing’, as many fail to fulfill their promise to fully integrate and report progress on environmental, social and governance factors. Most Australia-based UNPRI signatory super funds contacted by Ethical Investor admit there is still much work to be done to fully integrate Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) into its investment analysis and decision-making (Wagg and Taylor 2009-05-31).”
1. The Anglo-Saxon shareholder-value model has increasingly taken on global significance.
2. Davis argued that executive managers must introduce explicit processes which include the development of resources such as broad metrics, summaries and analysis of relevant social issues in order to systematically “educate and engage their boards of directors.
For more on this topic see also papergirls.wordpress.com
Barndt, Deborah (2001) Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail, Aurora, ON, Garamond Press.
Davis, Ian. 2005. “The biggest contract: By building social issues into strategy, big business can recast the debate about its role, argues Ian Davis.” The Economist. May 28.
Elkington, John (1997) Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, New Society Publishers, Limited.
Elkington, John (2003) Chrysalis Economy: How Citizen CEOs and Corporations Can Fuse Values and Value Creation, Wiley, John and Sons, Incorporated.
Friedman, Milton. 1970. “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”, The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970. Copyright @ 1970 by The New York Times Company.
Liu, Henry C. K., 2003, “China: a Case of Self-Delusion, from colonialism to confusion,” Asia Times, May 14, 2003.
Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2005. “Facts on International Aid.” The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Times.
Sachs, Jeffrey D. “The Strategic Significance of Global Inequality.”
Filed in economic efficiency, Economy & Finance, Social Justice, Tag Clouds
Tags: Anglo-Saxon economies, benign colonialism, Cannibals with Forks, CEO, circumtomato, CSR, economic efficiency, executive management, Hayek-Rand-Friedman, Ian Davis, MDG, Milton Friedman, OECD, risk management, Rousseau, shareholder-value, social contract, social issues, Social Justice, social pressures, Tag Clouds, The Economist