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Slavery is a stain on society, and it remains America’s worst moral error, and its costliest error too.
The U.S. Civil War cost more lives than all other U.S. wars combined. And its seeds of discontent linger on — through the era of Jim Crow and segregation. And even racially-tinged riots that we’ve seen the past weeks.
But what about here in Canada?
Well, under Queen Victoria and beyond, the United Kingdom spent a century fighting against slavery. They dispatched the Royal Navy, the greatest military force in the world at the time, to do it.
Yet during this week's riots, a statue of Queen Victoria was desecrated. Protesters spray painted "BLM" and "Murderer" on it, along with "slave owner" and "slag."
Did Queen Victoria kill blacks and enslave blacks? No, and neither did President Abraham Lincoln, who freed four million slaves after the bloodiest war in U.S. history. Neither did Winston Churchill who led the west against Nazi Germany.
Yet all their statues were targeted.
There has been slavery in every continent of the world except Antarctica, throughout all of history. There was slavery throughout Indigenous Americas — slavery was an important part of Indian warfare and Indian economy in British Columbia, for example.
But my case today is that we didn’t let it take root in Canada.
Let’s go back a bit. How does 1772 suit you? That’s before the United States had its revolution. That’s before the French Revolution.
That year, in a court ruling called "Somerset vs Stewart," British courts ruled that Somerset, who had been a slave in Virginia, could no longer be held as a slave in the British Colonies.
It's one of the most forceful denunciations of slavery that I have ever read.
It was shortly after that that William Wilberforce Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade dedicated his life to the project. Christianity was the motivating force for him, and so many of the other abolitionists, as it was mentioned in the court case.
"An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade" was passed in Parliament in 1807. It didn’t ban slavery itself in the British Empire. But it banned the slave trade. So if you were already a slave, it did not free you. But it was a direct attack on the industry of slavery, the capturing of slaves and their shipment to slave auctions. It was the starter pistol for the Royal Navy’s Great War on slave-traders.
The Royal Navy set up a special fleet just for the purpose of stopping slave ships, the West Africa Squadron. It was fully one-sixth of the entire Royal Navy.
Over the course of 50 years, the West Africa Squadron seized 1,600 different slave ships. They freed 150,000 Africans who were being shipped to slave markets. This was not in the economic interests of Britain or the colonies. This was purely done as a moral expression of Christian ideology, in the face of evil.
TONIGHT I'll tell you more about Britain's role in abolishing the slave trade.
Did you know, for example, that the British Empire literally paid to liberate every slave in their empire?
They didn’t have a civil war; they didn’t kill half a million of their own souls in a bloody battle over slavery. They emancipated all the salves, by paying out their slave owners, redeeming the slaves, as the Bible tells Christians to do.
The British Empire borrowed £20 million back in 1833, to do this. Today that would be approximately one hundred billion British pounds, or a quarter of a trillion Canadian dollars.
That special slave redemption loan was not be paid off until just five years ago, in 2015.
And Canada was part of that.
On July 9, 1793, the Parliament of Upper Canada passed "An Act Against Slavery." It banned the slave trade — no slaves could be brought to Canada, and of the slaves already here, anyone born to a slave would be automatically freed upon reaching the age of 25.
There weren’t a lot of slaves in Canada to begin with, but if there was any doubt, it was flattened.
John Simcoe, the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, was an abolitionist. I’m sure they’ll tear down his statue too, and rename anything with the word "Simcoe" in it, just like they’re defacing everything else white and male and old. But he abolished slavery more than 200 years ago.
He helped make Canada the place to which black Americans fled when they escaped slavery.
That is our history.
It's not the history the CBC will tell you, or that our children learn in schools. It's not history according to Black Lives Matter.
There is still slavery in the world. In Africa, in Arabia, in Asia. There are more than a billion people who follow a prophet who not only kept slaves himself, but instructed his followers on the power you have over a slave — to kill a man, to rape a women. (Best not to talk about that, though...)
Every country has its flaws, because every human has his flaws.
Black lives matter? Yeah, mate. We know. Because we’re Canadians. Maybe read a book.
NEXT: Speaking of books, my guest tonight is Ryan James Girdusky, co-author of the new book, They're Not Listening: How The Elites Created the National Populist Revolution
FINALLY: Your messages to me!