zimmer-residentialschools_thumb This article is more than 4 years old

Conservative MP on Canada’s Residential Schools History: ‘Who Among Us Hasn’t Made Mistakes?’

Conservative MP Bob Zimmer shares a very bad take on one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history

Conservative MP Bob Zimmer has some more dismissive insights on Canadian and Indigenous history he’d like to share with everybody.

Last week in his “Weekly Report” column that appears in local newspapers around his northern BC riding of Prince George-Peace River, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s deputy Treasury Board critic waded into the shameful history of Canada’s residential schools program.

In his column, Zimmer attempted to defend Sir John A. Macdonald’s checkered past. The City of Victoria recently voted to remove his statue in light of his role as a “key architect of the Indian Residential School system.”

“I understand that some of the decisions Sir John A. Macdonald made are controversial, especially as it relates to residential schools,” Zimmer wrote, before adding that “we have all made mistakes.”

“There is no doubt that Sir John A. Macdonald was flawed,” the Conservative MP continued, “but who among us isn’t?”

The residential schools program resulted in the deaths of over 6,000 children and is described as “cultural genocide” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Zimmer is no stranger to tone-deaf comments on Indigenous issues.

During the 2015 federal election, Zimmer was forced to apologize for claiming the real problem facing missing and murdered indigenous women is “the lack of a job.”

“When people have a job, they’re not in despair,” Zimmer said during an all-candidates meeting in Fort St. John. “They can stay on reserve, and that’s where we want them to be.”

After sparking outrage – and being called upon to withdraw his candidacy by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs – Zimmer insisted he cares “deeply” about missing and murdered Indigenous women, insisting: “I say that from the deepest part of my heart, that’s where I’m at.”

Zimmer previously made headlines after endorsing a speech by former Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson claiming a so-called “secular progressive agenda” is trying to “take God out of our lives.” In 2016, Zimmer pushed to have the AR-15, the same the same weapon used in dozens of mass-shootings across the United States,   reclassified as a hunting weapon in Canada.

Notwithstanding Zimmer’s record, testimonies from former students reveal the systematic brutality of residential schools.

Under a policy of “aggressive assimilation,” the residential school system was designed to indoctrinate Indigenous children according to Christian customs, and ultimately abolish their culture and traditions.

“The government did try to eliminate the culture and language of indigenous people for well over a hundred years,” Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Murray Sinclair said in 2015. “And they did it by forcibly removing children from their families and placing them within institutions that were cultural indoctrination centres.”

In 1883, Macdonald described the goal of residential schools as separating “savages” from their parents and placing them in “central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

The result was more than 150,000 children being torn away from their families and enduring decades of physical violence, sexual abuse and trauma.


Our journalism is powered by readers like you.

We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.

Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.


PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2023-02-05-doug-ford-health News

‘It Was Violent’: People’s Commission Report Shines Light on Violence, Harassment and Hate Crimes During ‘Freedom Convoy’

Related Stories


Ontario Will Fall $5 Billion Short of Funding Health System By 2024, Financial Accountability Office Says

View the post

Amazon Ordered to Pay $5 Million After Over a Thousand Injuries Involving Ontario Warehouse Workers

View the post

A Media Start-Up Claimed It Was the Future of Local News in Canada. Now It’s Firing Journalists.

View the post


Human rights & inclusion

Amira Elghawaby

Here’s The Problem With Hoping Corporations Will Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible On Their Own

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Newspapers always have a business section – why not a labour section? We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.
We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers