article was written for and first published in
Renditions of the Peaceable Kingdom at War,
from Narratives of WWI and the Red Scare to the Mass Internment of Civilians
Issue #68 of Press for Conversion (Spring 2016), pp.38-39.
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Racist Roots of Toryism and antiSemitism
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
immigrants to the US,
Canada’s Prime Minister Sir John
A.MacDonald, said in 1890: "Look at the mass of foreign ignorance and vice which
has flooded that country with communism, socialism, atheism and all other
isms."1 Besides being an avid antiCommunist and a devote Christian, Sir John was
an avid white supremacist. In 1885, he told Parliament that Blacks and Asians
were a different species from what he called "the Aryan race." Clarifying the
economic basis of his racist xenophobia, he said he did not want a "mongrel race
to disturb the labour market."2
Hatred toward nonChristians was also rampant. In 1903, Thomas Sproule, MP, told Parliament that "Canada is...the dumping ground for the refuse of every country in the world." Particularly offensive to this Tory were east Europeans, whom he listed as "Galicians" [Ukrainians], "Poles" and "Russian Jews."3
Although Sproule was no Social Gospeller, he was—like most leaders of this reform movement—a devout Methodist. Tories, like Sproule and MacDonald, also shared the Social Gospel’s faith in AngloProtestant superiority. Sproule was not only a Conservative MP (1878-1915) and Senator (1915-1917), he was also Speaker of the House (1911-1915) when the War Measures Act was passed unanimously with Liberal support in 1914.
Sproule was also Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British America (1902-1911) and became Imperial Grand President of the global Imperial Grand Orange Council in 1906.4 As such, he led an ultraright, extremist group of AngloProtestant, Catholic-hating anti- Semites, loyal to the British empire.
In 1906, while Csarist forces were crushing a revolution, Sproule ranted in the House about "Russian Jews" coming to Canada. Calling them a "very undesirable," "filthy looking class" plying their "Jew trade," he said they "are not the class of people likely to elevate...the civilization of the Canadian people." Such "riff-raff," he said, are "not likely to assimilate with our people to any advantage."5 Sproule also said eastern Europeans are
"not in any way to the manor born ...[and] are imbued with instincts and natures which have not...any tendency to elevate humanity but rather to lower it in every particular."6
He also espoused the popular view, shared by progressive Social Gospellers, that
"any nation goes up or down on the scale of civilization in proportion as that nation maintains the principles of the Christian religion....as based upon the word of God."7
1. "Never Mind Sir John," Lawrence [Kansas] Daily Journal, October 23, 1890, p.1.
2. Hansard, May 4, 1885, 1588-1589.
3. Hansard, July 14, 1903, 6591.
4. Report of proceedings, Imperial Grand Orange Council, 1906.
5. Hansard, June 20, 1906, 7298.
6. Hansard, July 14, 1903, 6591.
7. Hansard, June 20, 1906, 5643.