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Bruce Dowbiggin

Grave Mistake: Blame The Trudeaus, Not Sir John A.


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Pop Quiz: Since the 2021 Residential schools “secret burials” hysteria allowed prime minister Justin Trudeau to declare Canada a genocidal state, how many of the graves in question have been exhumed? Examined, even, to judge the merits of the wild claims?

The answer to that would appear to be zero. Because they know what will be found. “There is no recorded case of any indigenous parent claiming that their child had disappeared after being enrolled in a residential school. Not one police report, or historical records, of any of these tales from the crypt ever occurring,” writes Brian Giesbrecht.

Which didn’t prevent Trudeau’s grotesque teddy-bear photo op in a former residential cemetery. Nor his lowering of the Canadian flag for months to draw attention to murders and abuse he has never proved—or even bothered to prove. Nor his libelling the nation he leads before the world community.  (Nor firing the first Indigenous Justice Minister, Jodie Wilson Raybould, for trying to protect justice from the political needs of the PMO.)

While the federal government, in a spasm of settler guilt, set aside $320 million to indigenous nations to find more evidence of a horrific crime, the dead remain undisturbed in their graves. If only we could say the same for the truth over allegations that went across the globe about the church-run residential schools.

These “truths” are behind the recent hounding of former Mount Royal University professor Frances Widdowson at University of Lethbridge over her claims that most, in not all, the allegations of priests murdering residential kids or being used for sado-masochistic purposes had no basis in fact. Widdowson lost her job for questioning the Trudeau catechism of white guilt on the Prairies.

Widdowson is one of the people Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller described as “ghouls” for pointing out that residential school indigenous children died of the diseases of the day— in particular tuberculosis. Even more children were dying of TB on the reserves where they came from. (As we pointed out here ) If residential schools had never existed these children would, sadly, still have died.

Widdowson is in good company. In the white-guilt frenzy unleashed by Trudeau many of the founding figures of the nation have been denounced, their statues toppled, their names removed from schools. None worse than Sir John A, Macdonald, the first prime minister of the nation. While radicals doused his image in fake blood, it is an uncomfortable truth that, had Macdonald not been a visionary about the nation and its Indian tribes, the Plains Indians would not exist today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, poses for a selfie with an elder after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alta., Friday, March 4, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In a time of economic frugality Macdonald’s government paid the entire cost of inoculating the Plains population for TB, against which they had no immunity. It is no exaggeration to say that were it not for this policy there would be few or no Indigenous Plains peoples for Trudeau to use as political props.

As Giesbrecht explains here Macdonald was instrumental on a number of fronts that saved the population.“Canada’s Indians escaped the bloody fate of the American Indians and their Trail of Tears,” writes Giesbrecht. “Macdonald was justly proud of this accomplishment.”

While the U.S. Seventh Cavalry was hunting down its native population on horseback, Macdonald was concluding treaties that ended the bloody inter-tribe wars between Plains Indians in the West. He tossed the rotgut whiskey purveyors exploiting Indians south of the border. That guaranteed the natives safety from U.S. imperialism by extending the railway from coast to coast, installing the Crown, not Washington, as their partner in treaties. He also saved them from the starvation brought on from the extinction of the buffalo herds.

Most of all, Macdonald saw education, not genocide, as the saviour of natives in Canada. When the concept of building conventional day schools for them failed he proposed the idea of boarding schools where native children could be educated and, hopefully, become Christian. As Giesbrecht notes, “providing education to Indian children was a treaty obligation demanded by the Indians chiefs, and gratefully granted by the federal government. The numbered treaties included provisions that schools would be built on reserves if requested, and all of the chiefs made that request.”

Further, attendance at the schools was voluntary until about 1920. Under Macdonald parents had to agree to send their children. The government would accept the full cost of the program and the treatments of disease that so many of the children brought with them to the schools. For this and many other policies towards Indians the population of the Plains nations has increased at least tenfold since his time.

But Macdonald’s statue at Queens Park in Toronto must be boarded up to protect it from the radicals stoked by Trudeau’s alleged infamy.

Sadly, another pioneer of education in Canada was not so fortunate. Egerton Ryerson’s name was stricken from the eponymous university when the Reign of Error thugs decided that his participation in starting free live-in education for natives was tantamount to genocide. Despite the fact this proponent of free education for all died before residential schools were in practice, his statue in Toronto was toppled. Whatever happened at the schools after his death in 1884 cannot diminish his desire to educate the native peoples of Ontario and establish universal access to education in Canada.

Guess which Canadian political leader is not having his statue toppled, his likeness removed from schools and his reputation sullied? That would be Justin’s daddy Pierre Trudeau. As PM in 1968 he proposed in a white paper to eliminate native status and turn indigenous people into ordinary Canadians, thereby abrogating all the treaties they’d signed in good faith with the Crown.

With his fellow Liberal cabinet member (and later PM) Jean Chretien, Pierre Trudeau set back native rights by advocating for assimilation when what native leaders wanted was self government under the treaties they’d signed with the Crown. When forced to finally withdraw the white paper, PET petulantly said, “We’ll keep them in the ghetto as long as they want.” In 1973, the Canadian Supreme Court validated those treaties.

Oh, from 1969 until 1978, control and maintenance of residential schools was in the hands the federal government of  Canada. The Liberal Party prime minister throughout this eleven-year period ? Pierre Trudeau. Funnily, his son has not made an issue of his father’s role in the bureaucratic mess by calling him a genocidal leader.” Wonder why?

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via


BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Succession Planning: Justin’s Excellent Chinese Adventure

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Formidable Superstar, Jim Brown Never Fit Black Or White Stereotypes

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“M***er fuckers be hanging off him. Eight of ‘em be begging Jim, ‘Please, Jim, would you fall down, please? We’re on TV, my kids are watching’.” Richard Pryor  on NFL players trying to tackle Jim Brown in the 1960s. 

The death at 87 of legendary athlete/ film star/ political activist Jim Brown comes just over three months from the death of hockey icon Bobby Hull. Both were alpha males possessed of adonis figures, the essence of vitality in their time. Brown gave up the NFL to become a film star. He went on to champion causes in the black political movement.

Hull went on to sire a HHoF player Brett Hull and work in the cattle industry. He also traded on his stardom. He is still regarded as one of the five most famous Chicago sports figures of all time, up there with Michael Jordan, Dick Butkus, Gayle Sayers and Ernie Banks.

Neither man was without controversy, however. Brown’s name was frequently associated with domestic violence. According to press reports, “On June 9, 1968, Brown, then 32, was booked on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder against his girlfriend. The arrest occurred when Brown lived in Los Angeles while working as an actor. The woman, a model, was found semiconscious and moaning on a concrete patio 20 feet below the balcony of Brown’s Hollywood apartment.”

There were other incidents with police involvement, many in fact, but you get the drift. Hull, too, had a nasty legacy of domestic assault stemming from incidents involving his first wife. Neither man spent time in jail for the episodes. Hull made some politically insensitive remarks as well.

But, funny thing. When Hull died the Canadian sports press reports dutifully dredged up all his personal business to rebalance the adulation he received in life. As we reported at the time, some people thought that part of his life defined Hull.

But you had to look very hard into the reports of U.S. sports media on Brown’s death this week to find much about his less-attractive side. The praise for his athletic prowess was effusive. Rightly so. But for the liberal sports press that came of age in the 1960s, it was too much to taint Brown’s political legacy by showing his less-flattering past. So they almost universally gave it a pass. In one interview, Bob Costas, the liberal’s liberal in the press box, skirted the issue to dwell on his boyhood memories of Brown.

Wonder why? Those news sources that dared mention it— the New York Times— were lambasted for sullying his reputation with the facts. “It’s the New York Times vs. ESPN for scumbag of the week” is a sampling of the pushback from the sports world.

While playing at Syracuse, Brown was perhaps the greatest lacrosse player in American history before going on to football fame with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. We can still remember, as Richard Pryor did, the sight of No. 32 dragging defenders along behind him as he set rushing and TD records in a 12-game season— records that are still mostly unassailable. He’s a Top Five NFL player all-time. Colts HOF tight end John Mackey summed up Brown’s style. “He told me, ‘Make sure when anyone tackles you he remembers how much it hurts’.” They did. Vividly.

We can also recall the shocking news that Brown was ditching football in 1966 after nine NFL seasons to star in a Hollywood epic, The Dirty Dozen, with Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes and Donald Sutherland. (He intended to return to the Browns but when they wouldn’t let him miss training camp he retired.)  How would he do? We rushed to see the film. Brown was just fine, dragging his fellow cast members after him like NFL players as he took on the Nazis.

He went on to star in 100 Rifles as Hollywood’s first black action star. Other movies followed. When the glamour of films lost its lustre Brown became an icon for the black political movement. He supported Muhammad Ali in his fight to avoid prison for refusing to serve in Viet Nam. He created camps and schools for black children and was a recurring figure at the seminal moments for black empowerment.

But his philosophy was not today’s Marxist #BLM brand. “We’ve got to get off the emotional stuff and do something that will bring about real change,” he said. “We’ve got to have industries and commercial enterprises and build our own sustaining economic base. Then we can face white folks man-to-man and we can deal.” He was not easily intimidated.

In 2018, Brown and Kanye West met with President Donald Trump to discuss the state of America. Criticized by the black community for the meeting, Brown said, ”we can’t ignore that seat and just call names of the person that’s sitting in it”. Brown called Trump “accessible”, and said that the president was not a racist. The Brown obits in liberal media buried those quotes deep in stories.

Still he scared some folks. Files declassified in 2003 showed that the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and several police departments had monitored Brown and the Black Economic Union, attempting to smear the group as a source of Communist and radical Muslim extremism. Hillary Clinton would have been proud.

Brown himself was into unapologetic self-improvement as he showed when he went to Pryor’s hospital room after the comedian set himself alight while freebasing. While others soft pedalled their advice Brown made it clear that Pryor had to kick drugs, and that he would help him do so. (As thanks, Pryor later screwed Brown in a film deal that would have brought him millions.)

Brown was unrepentant when confronted about his past. “I’m no angel,” he told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in 1970. Regarding the assault allegations, he said, “I’ve never been convicted. I’ve just been harassed. I’ve been hit so much I don’t sting any more… I take it and look my accuser in the eye. I don’t look at my shoes when I talk to anybody. I know what I am. I only have to live with myself.”

That he did. The biggest difference between him and Hull was that the critics of the Golden Jet wanted to get tawdry clicks from his life story. With Brown they wanted him to advertise their Woke selves. That’s a huge and crucial difference in this insane world.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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