OTTAWA — The Conservative government scrambled Friday to distance itself from an early 20th Century public health pioneer it had honoured just a day earlier at a plaque-unveiling ceremony in Ottawa.
Joy Smith, the Manitoba Tory MP who unveiled the plaque at Tunney’s Pasture on behalf of Environment Minister Peter Kent, called on the government not to install it after a Citizen story outlined Dr. Helen MacMurchy’s leading role as an advocate for eugenics, a type of scientific racism that flourished between 1865 and 1945.
And Rob Taylor, Kent’s communications director, said the plaque unveiling “would never have gone forward” had the minister’s office known about MacMurchy’s advocacy of eugenics. “We would certainly not be celebrating somebody whose life work included this dark part of our public policy in the past.”
These kind of fuck-ups seem to be on the increase lately. For example, that whole thing with the Lussiers and the Canadian Immigration Report. But what is interesting is that somebody must be telling Tory MPs that the Lussier's are the kind of folk you want testifying before parliament about immigration, and that MacMurchy is the kind of gal you want to unveil a plaque for. In other words, they are running into trouble by listening to their political base.
Something that might be useful to know in the months and years to come.