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Alberta Education dumps document that applauded Nazis for strong economy

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EDMONTON -

Alberta's education minister ordered the removal of a government publication Friday that suggested teaching the "positive and negative behaviours and attitudes" of Nazi Germany.

"If a video details war atrocities committed by the Nazis, does it also point out that before World War II, German government's policies substantially strengthened the country's economy?" it said.

It appears the issue was first highlighted in a Thursday tweet by Calgary resident Mike Dunn. His concerns were amplified Friday morning by political commentator Kathleen Smith.

Just before noon, Adriana LaGrange claimed she had never seen the document before and said it contained "extremely concerning and completely unacceptable views."

"The wrongheaded views outlined have no place in our society and I categorically denounce what is written. There is not a 'positive' side to tell of the murderous Nazi regime, as this document wrongfully suggests," LaGrange wrote on twitter.

"To be clear, this document has nothing to do with the curriculum process and the content dates back to some years ago. Under no circumstances would my office approve horrendous content like this being taught to Alberta students."

A spokesperson for LaGrange said "supporting material" was first written in 1984, but it was republished in Alberta Education's Guidelines for Recognizing Diversity and Promoting Respect, dated 2020.

"To be very clear, the comments contained in the 1984 document were just as wrong then as they are today" Nicole Sparrow said in an email, adding her ministry would be conducting a review of other documents.

The NDP also denounced the content, with MLA Sarah Hoffman calling it "atrocious" and "garbage."

"This is so out of touch with the reality of the human experiences, the atrocities, the genocide that existed," she said.

CTV News Edmonton requested an interview with LaGrange but her spokesperson did not respond to that invitation.

'VERY ALARMING' FOR 2020 DOCUMENT

The content also caught the attention of a Jewish human rights organization based in Toronto, which called for a review of the situation.

Jaime Krizner-Roberts with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies called the revelation "very alarming," and questioned why no one in Alberta Education removed the content long before Friday.

"The Nazi regime commited a genocide which killed six million Jews and millions of others…And in the end, the Nazis destroyed their own country, so we're left wondering what positive attributes could possibly be found in any of that," she said.

Krizner-Roberts thanked Alberta Education officials for their quick removal of the document, which left just a broken link on the government's website.

"We have questions about how this could have possibly happened in the first place…I think the public is owed a very clear answer about how that happened," she added.

Sparrow said a number of documents were edited in 2019 after the UCP passed their Education Act, but the material deleted on Friday was not part of that review.

'I COMPLETELY DISAVOW IT': KENNEY

Alberta's premier was asked about the document Friday afternoon.

“The first that anybody in our elected government saw or heard of this was earlier today when it came to the attention of Minister LaGrange. Neither she nor her staff were aware of this nearly 40- year-old content," Jason Kenney said.

He didn't explain why Alberta Education failed to notice and dump the content before, but he said the previous NDP government didn't edit it out when they were in charge either.

 "(LaGrange) immediately directed her department to remove this language. It is ridiculous, it is offensive. It has no place in any aspect of education material. I completely disavow it," he said.

Kenney repeated that the content was written in 1984, when he was just 16 -years -old.

The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) released a statement Friday afternoon, accusing the government of failing to "meaningfully engage" in a curriculum rewrite and modernizing other resources.

"Teachers know what will work and won't work in an age and grade appropriate manner. This document is a clear indication of what won't work, which is why the ATA has been calling for a moratorium on this curriculum. We must get this right for our students and their futures," ATA president Jason Schilling wrote.