By Richard Foot
The Vancouver Sun, April 21, 2010
"Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said during a state visit to Rwanda on Wednesday that Canada, along with other nations, failed to do enough to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Her remarks are being widely interpreted as an official government apology for Canada's response to the genocide. But it's unclear whether Jean's statement was formally approved in advance by the Harper government, or whether Jean was acting alone. Both the prime minister's director of communications, as well as Jean's own officials at Rideau Hall, declined to answer those questions on Wednesday. Jean's staff also said they would not be releasing a transcript of her remarks, even though the Governor General's other public statements, made during her nine-day trip to Africa, have so far been made available. 'The world's failure to respond adequately to the genocide is a failure in which Canada, as part of the international community, readily acknowledges its fair share of responsibility,' said Jean, reading from a statement as she sat beside Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a news conference in Kigali.
'I think we could have made a difference. I think we could have prevented the magnitude of the horror of the genocide here.' A spokeswoman at Foreign Affairs termed Jean's remarks not as a formal apology but an 'acknowledgment' of Canada's -- and the world's -- inadequate response. Earlier in the day, Jean laid a wreath at a memorial to the genocide in Kigali and visited a museum dedicated to the infamous 1994 slaughter of roughly 800,000 mostly Tutsi Rwandans by gangs of Hutu 'genocidaires.' The museum acknowledges the role of former Canadian army general Romeo Dallaire, who as commander of a small United Nations military mission in Rwanda tried, but ultimately failed to stop the massacres. In Ottawa, a spokesman for Dallaire said the now Liberal senator was 'very surprised' by news of Jean's remarks, saying he had not been alerted or consulted in advance about the matter. [...]"