EDMONTON – Alberta MLA Paul Hinman apologized Wednesday for allegedly comparing the provincial government’s land-use laws to policies that triggered Holodomor, the genocide that killed an estimated 10 million Ukrainians in the early 1930s.
“I sincerely apologize if anybody would think that I would ever trivialize any of these atrocities in history,” Hinman said. “I have absolutely no intentions of that. … I did not in any way intend to correlate the two when I was talking about property rights.”
Hinman made the controversial comments in the legislature on Tuesday during a debate on the government’s new land-use law, Bill 19.
“We just had a ceremony on Monday in commemoration of Holodomor, the starvation in Europe. That wasn’t because of bad weather or not being able to produce,” Hinman said. “That was, again, an evil, corrupt government confiscating property from the people and trying to destroy a region which the government was having trouble controlling.”
“Many of the acts that were taken in Europe during Second World War and other times very much were brutal acts that didn’t respect property rights. There are many areas in these (Alberta government) bills that have no respect for property rights. When you step down that trail, we can see the end results, and we don’t want to go there, not even one step, here in Alberta.”
Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk erupted, calling the comments “disgusting” and “a bloody shame,” adding Hinman “should be ashamed of himself.”
“It’s a very important historical event that killed thousands upon thousands, millions of people, including many relatives of Albertans,” Lukaszuk said.
“He’s comparing the policies we’re passing in the legislature right now to Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine. If this isn’t reaching a new bottom for the Wildrose, I don’t know what is.”
Finance minister Ron Liepert jumped into the fray as did Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, who said Lukaszuk had “sunk to a new low,” and was blurting out “absolute obscenities.”
Hinman was not sanctioned for the comments.
In a scrum with reporters outside the legislature, Hinman said Lukaszuk took him out of context and that he was simply trying to explain that property rights form the basis of peaceful and free societies.
“I don’t believe I made a comparison,” Hinman said. “I’m talking about Stalin. I’m talking about all those leaders back then … saying that we’re going to confiscate this property, those people who have it don’t deserve it, let’s take it from them … I mean Hitler was charismatic about that. …
“It’s always the fundamental principles that (enlightenment philosopher) John Locke talked about. Property rights are paramount to protect the people.”
“Why do we go back and why do we have Remembrance Day, why do we look at the Holocaust, why do we look at Holodomor? All of those things are cases where evil governments went after the people and tried to suppress them.
“Is there a correlation? No. The important principle is property rights.”