Larry Miller, the gun registry and Adolf Hitler: the apology that wasn’t

I have watched in disbelief as the Member for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Conservative Larry Miller, has emerged unscathed from not once, but twice, in debate comparing the previous Liberal government and the gun registry to Adolf Hitler.  His “apology” in the House in which he referred to Hitler as “that evil guy” was so convoluted that Justin Trudeau quipped, “I think he just apologized to Hitler for using his name.” Out of the House on a local radio programme he claimed his remarks were historically valid – which they were not, but that’s another story.

One reason for my disbelief was that I was at the receiving end of a pummelling from Stephen Harper, John Baird and others for quoting George Monbiot’s comments on Canada’s reputation in the world in terms of our abdication of responsibility to act to address the climate crisis. 

It was back in 2007, and I was repeatedly attacked on the floor of the House, where I (obviously as a non-elected leader) had no opportunity to defend myself.  The remarks were entirely different.  Unlike Miller, I never mentioned Hitler, nor did I compare any Canadian political entity to Hitler or Nazis. 

I quoted Monbiot directly as saying: “In the eyes of history, John Howard (then PM of Australia), George Bush and Stephen Harper will be viewed as more culpable (for their failure to act on the climate crisis) than Neville Chamberlain.” 

For this, there was a firestorm unleashed to attack me, although the real target was Stéphane Dion who had agreed shortly before to respect the parliamentary custom of leader’s courtesy in relation to my riding.

Stephen Harper attacked Dion, demanding he condemn me, claiming I had diminished “the Holocaust and using Nazi analogies are inappropriate.”

John Baird boomed, “The invoking of the Nazi era by the Green party leader in order to score some political points is insensitive to those who lived through this dark time… These comments are deeply offensive.”

It was absurd, and spun completely out of control for weeks.

So here we are, five years later, and the name Adolf Hitler was used twice in the house in prepared speech. The fact it was in a written speech suggests to me it had advance approval from PMO.

I am not holding my breath for Harper and Baird to denounce one of their own.  Unlike my non-comparison to Hitler (it’s a stretch to say Monbiot compared the Nazi threat to the climate crisis, but there sure was no suggestion of anyone being equated with Nazis), Miller directly attacked the previous government as being the equivalent of Adolf Hitler.

And the ensuing tumult is short-lived and snuffed out by the same spin-machine that unleashed holy hell on me in 2007.