Trending hashtag #FireMattWolf and why is the UCP so bad at this?

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, “The MacPherson Missive.” Subscribe for free at:

When UCP MLA Peter Singh recently introduced a private member’s bill to “remember, condemn and prevent genocide” in other countries, the NDP were quick to note the bill did not recognize the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The final report of the inquiry states that:

“The violence the National Inquiry heard amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

Good on the NDP for pointing out the hypocrisy of the UCP bill. It’s good to call out genocide elsewhere but let’s take responsibility for our own. We need to work towards reconciliation and it starts with recognition.

The UCP then proposed an amendment to incude a condemnation of, “the atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples by colonialism and including the ongoing murder and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls.”

That didn’t fly with the UCP MLA’s. Apparently, the UCP has a “high” standard for recognizing genocides and this one did not meet it. The amendment was voted down by UCP MLAs Michaela Glasgo, Nate Horner, Jeremy Nixon, Joseph Schow, R.J. Sigurdson and Nathan Neudorf.

So, instead of doing the right thing, these six UCP committee members decided not to support the NDP amendment. They never want to admit the NDP are right. Even when they are. Even when it comes to genocide.

Then, Matt Wolf, the government’s $200K-salaried Twitter troll took to social media to express his outrage at the Opposition, for…well…opposition-ing.

According to Wolf, there is an exclusive club of genocides that need condemning and the Canadian genocide is not up to UCP standards. He evoked Hitler and Stalin, suggesting the NDP were trying to compare Canada to them. Ridiculous, of course.

The response was immediate and huge. The #FireMattWolf hashtog took off and was still trending today.

One particularly biting tweet came from @mathayles: “Jew here. The Holocaust is not to be used by gentiles as some kind of lazy benchmark to deny other forms of oppression and genocide. Canada’s wholesale destruction of Indigenous life and culture is documented in government records. Do your own homework Matt.”

The first question is why does Wolf do the things he does? The UCP were not even remotely on the moral high ground on this amendment. Did they not spot the glaring omission of Canada’s Indigenous genocide? They set themselves up for criticism by not doing their own homework, which generally involves…well…thinking about bills they are voting on in committee.

Does he really think that drawing attention to this big fat UCP failure on social media is good issues management? His social media strategy of pointing out the government’s deliberate or even accidental ignorance, instead of apologizing for it, is only going to end badly for everyone involved.

But what about Peter Singh and the rest of his merry band of UCP MLAs who voted against recognizing the genocide, when their colleague was the one who brought it up in the first place? What is their excuse?

Beyond Wolf’s disqualifying level of incompetence, one has to question the UCP MLA’s who voted against this. Calling them out on this is in order.

Did they claim not know about the Canadian genocide? One might say, how could they not, being elected representatives. You would think they’d be paying attention as the entire nation (pre-pandemic) was engaged in a heartwrenching conversation about the treatment of Indigenous people and the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country.

On a related note: Also in the news today was a story about Representative-elect Cori Bush who showed up for orientation in the US House of Representatives wearing a “Breonna Taylor” face mask. Apparently, several Republican colleagues thought she WAS Breonna Taylor. There appears to be a low bar for elected officials these days.

It is a fact that some people disputed the MMIWG report’s finding of genocide. There was a weak flurry of denial in Canada, including here in Alberta. But genocides will never be accepted as fact by some people. There are Holocaust deniers still out there. No one wants to accept the horrific truth of what some humans are capable of but that is what we have to do. But there is nothing to be gained by these UCP MLAs, nothing, by denying the genocide of Indigenous people in Canada.

Now, before you think I’m being naive about the politics, let me just say that there is not a large voting base that is in favour of denying genocide, not even in Alberta. It may exist but it is still a small group. So the idea they are playing to a base, doesn’t hold water. I’m giving this argument only a small mention here, because it just doesn’t make coldhearted sense strategically either. And talking about “strategy” when it comes to this, frankly makes me want to vomit.

That leaves us with the uncomfortable idea that these MLAs are themselves incapable of recognizing the facts of Indigenous genocide, including the ongoing actions in Canada today. Maybe they voted against it because they are racist themselves. Let’s ask the question and if we don’t like the answer, not only #FireMattWolf but also #FiretheUCP. Fire all the racists.

Jody MacPherson is a professional communicator, commuting cyclist (currently working from home), and is definitely naive about politics.

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