This past Thursday Laureen Harper, the wife of Canada’s prime-minister Stephen Harper, hosted “Just for Cats: Internet Cat Video Festival”. The event was, as one can surmise from the name, a viewing of internet cat videos that was held to raise money for homeless cats. The event was overshadowed by Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford hosting his official re-election campaign launch event and if it were not for the work of a single activist the cat video festival would have faded from the collective memory of Canada very quickly.
Before I continue, I have to make it clear that the issue of homeless cats is indeed important. Basically anywhere there are cats in the world there is overpopulation, which in turn leads to the suffering of the cute little furry animals and the killing of millions of birds by what is essentially an invasive species. As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts it’s important for humans to rectify problems involving animals that are our fault, and we can solve this problem by spaying and neutering our cats, as well as stop breeding and selling them for profit. Especially when there are cats euthanized every day at shelters because no one will adopt them.
Now, with the above said, Laureen Harper’s event just seems odd. It’s well known that the Harper’s love kitties. Stephen Harper, a cold robot-like man who’s public appearance is of stone and, rumor has it, in private is actually paranoid and manipulative has benefited somewhat from the various pictures of him cuddling cats. What’s odd however is that at the same time of hosting an event for homeless cats, the Harper government has outright refused to put any efforts into investigating (let alone stopping) the hundreds of missing or murdered indigenous women across Canada. There’s not much need to go into the details of how Harper’s (and basically the entirety of Canada’s right) have completely terrible positions and track records when it comes to even acknowledging the issues that Canada’s indigenous peoples have been put through. If you are reading this and for whatever reason are unaware of Canada’s track record with the indigenous peoples then just Google “Idle No More”.
To put it quite bluntly, Stephen Harper and the rest of the Canadian right (and, unfortunately, some of the middle and left) do not care about the consistent and terrible injustice all indigenous peoples are subjected to in Canada…yet they care about cats. I find it extremely odd that someone can so consistently be challenged on their ridiculous terrible position towards a group of other humans and refuse to give ground, yet will put efforts into protecting another species. The only possible logical explanation for this is an extreme form of racism. When Laureen Harper was confronted about this by an activist during her event she responded with “That’s a great cause (missing or murdered indigenous women), but that’s for another night. Tonight we’re here for homeless cats.” I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet pretty much anything that Laureen Harper will never host an event to benefit missing or murdered indigenous women.
All of this comes in the middle of two significant animal abuse stories coming out, the first being the abuse of baby chickens by Maple Leaf Foods employees including the boiling of chicks alive. The second being the deplorable conditions calves being raised for veal are put through, and the abuse they suffer. Related to this is the delays and opposition Harper’s government has taken to the proposed Bill C-232 that essentially would ensure animal abusers are sent to jail.
So for those keeping track, for the Harper’s and the rest of Canada’s right it goes: cats > indigenous peoples/all non-cat animals (it’s hard to determine if indigenous peoples are valued more than non-cat animals). While cats are certainly awesome, this hierarchy isn’t. It’s hypocritical and extremely racist and speciesist. The hierarchy isn’t arbitrary however as some would think, those who are valued are ones it’s easy to value. It’s just as convenient to ignore the abuse that happens to farmed animals while cuddling cats as it is to ignore the oppression of indigenous peoples.