ERNA PARIS, C.M., is the author of seven acclaimed works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her works have been published in fourteen countries and translated into eight languages. Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada. In June 2008 Long Shadows inspired the Canadian House of Commons motion to apologize, on behalf of the government, to survivors of Canadian residential schools. In June 2002 it inspired a resolution in the United States House of Representatives to create a monument to American slaves on the Washington Mall. (For more information, please see Awards and Honours.)

 

The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice was first on The Globe and Mail's “best book of the year” list and shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

 

Her most recent book is From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain.

 

Erna is a member of the Honorary Council of the Canadian Centre for International Justice; a member of the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch; an executive member of the World Federalist Movement-Canada; a vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; and a past chair of the Writers' Union of Canada. Erna is a frequent contributor to the opinion page of the Globe and Mail. In 2012, she was awarded the World Federalist Movement – Canada World Peace Award. In 2015 she was appointed to the Order of Canada.

 


Saturday June 11, 2021, The Globe and Mail

Two Solitudes. That was the title of Hugh MacLennan’s famous 1945 book about the chasm between Quebec and the “Rest of Canada” – a fault line that has been negotiated continuously since the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. But what if there were three solitudes all along, the third being the Indigenous nations that were suffering cultural decimation far below the radar of most Canadians? I was born and raised in Ontario and never heard, or read, a word about residential schools during close to two decades of schooling. Textbooks referenced the original Indian wars, but what happened to the Indigenous populations as the entity known as Canada emerged was obscured. [more]

Monday, May 17, 2021, The Globe and Mail

There’s an elephant in the room we call Canada: our Charter’s notwithstanding clause.

Agreed to in 1981, the clause – which allows any Canadian government, federal or provincial, to override certain elements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – was a uniquely Canadian compromise. It was controversial from the start. We believe in civil and human rights for all, don’t we? On the other hand, in 1981, few of the nervous leaders who signed on thought it would be used often, if at all. They stressed the positive – in particular, the belief that it balanced the respective powers of Parliament and the judiciary. Furthermore, there were safeguards: It contained a five-year sunset clause, and a displeased electorate could throw out a government that sought to diminish basic freedoms. [more]

Monday, April 19, 2021, The Globe and Mail

In full democracies, which are characterized by independent judiciaries, the foundation of a criminal prosecution is that an individual – not the environment in which he or she lives – is on trial. Yet it has become common to suggest, as in the George Floyd case, that the United States is in the prisoner’s dock rather than Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck. “The trial of America,” it’s being called.

It’s understandable that many believe this, given the long history of racism in the United States. Anyone who has followed the recent maelstrom surrounding the killings of young Black men at the hands of police cannot help but be appalled. The reporting on the danger of “driving while Black,” for example, has shocked many. If you have visited the new Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, as I have, you may have come away disturbed and subdued by exhibits that cover subjects including enslavement, public lynchings and today’s mass incarceration of Black men. One fears what might happen if the jury finds Mr. Chauvin not guilty in the death of George Floyd; one wonders how much this knowledge weighs on that jury. [more]

Who decides what happened yesterday? Americans are in a fierce fight to control the national narrative

Friday, February 19, 2021, The Globe and Mail “He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future,” wrote George Orwell in his iconic work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Or, put differently, as I asked in my book, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History, who gets to decide what happened yesterday? […]

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The healing of America must start with holding Donald Trump accountable for his actions

Wednesday January 27, 2021, The Globe and Mail “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated.” – Robert H. Jackson, opening address at the Nuremberg trials in November 1945 Although the […]

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