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More coverage in the Media (Winnipeg Free Press)

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Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s Nasty Little Secret was reviewed in the Winnipeg Free Press 31 December 2010.

I enjoyed reading Ian Stewart’s article about my book. Eugenics and the Firewall:Canada’s Nasty Little Secret.But I should clarify a couple of things:

In 1921, the United Farmers of Alberta — a populist party that claimed to have no platform and to be non-partisan — were elected as the Government of Alberta. (They defeated the Alberta’s first political dynasty, the Liberals.) In 1928, the UFA government brought in a Sexual Sterilization Act to allow sterilization, by consent, of patients leaving mental hospitals.

The surprise election of the William Aberhart and his Socred followers, in 1935, that led to the weakening of consent provisions  in the Sexual Sterilization Act (eliminating the need for consent for several classes of Albertans) and allowed the Eugenics Board to travel the province seeking defectives in every nook and cranny. (Complaints about the eugenics board, foster care system, or social services were viewed with distain by the governing Social Credit MLAs. In fact, at one point, the Manning Government sued the IODE for publishing complaints about Alberta Social Services.)

The Social Credit led Government of Alberta allowed the Eugenics Board to break even the weak provisions and restrictions they left in their revamped Sexual Sterilization Act.

Both the Socreds and UFA governments claimed to be populist and progressive. Eugenics was considered a ‘progessive doctrine’ in the early 20th century.

2,822 Albertans were sterilized between 1928 and 1972, when the newly elected Progressive Conservatives, led by Peter Lougheed, rescinded the Sexual Sterlization Act. Another 1900 Albertans were approved for sterilization, but escaped the knife. Nobody’s quite sure where they went.

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Written by janeharris(harris-zsovan)

January 9, 2011 at 12:41 am

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