Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated. – George Bernard Shaw
Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. – Harry Emerson Fosdick
Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about Canadian values. We have heard it from the Liberals, Trudeau oozing, simply oozing sincerity as he puts to words, hand over heart, what we all want to believe of ourselves: welcoming, generous, tolerant, open, free, gracious, kind, polite, humble, not only the best country in the world but also recognized by Canadians at least if seldom declared above a whisper — superior to Americans – though this is something that Trudeau, so eager to win friends and please, would never, never, allow such thoughts let alone they be known. It’s a cozy Canadian picture if a bit overblown and slightly tainted by the aura of modest smugness.
But, while most of us have our own ideas of shared Canadian values, they have been dragged to the fore by Kellie Leitch and fellow conservatives contending for leadership of the party and recently by Tory MPs in the House who oppose M-103, the anti-Islamophobia motion by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, with fanciful and untrue claims that it will lead to changes in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gives Islam preferential consideration over other, i.e. “Christian”, religions. From that one small step, they argue, will follow more steps including the imposition of Sharia law and the denial of the right to free speech. Such assertions, especially from the Conservative members, are patently absurd and might easily be dismissed as laughably hypocritical were the matter not so serious. Leitch and most of those vying for top spot were members during the Conservative reign of Error under Stephen Harper which, as many may recall, was a government that routinely shunned the “lickspittle” media, that labelled critics, particularly environmentalists, as “radicals” and “stooges” in the service of foreign interests, that broaden the powers of security agencies to spy on Canadians, that made possible charges of economic terrorism against peaceful protestors, that muzzled government scientists, that denied the most fundamental of right of free expression, the vote, to Canadians living abroad more than five years, that, through the CRA, targeted charities perceived as “left-wing”, and that tarred all critics of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Jewish going so far, in one instance, as to rescind the thirty year charitable status and government funding of KAIROS, a multi-faith aid agency. On that occasion (2011), the agency had received approval for funding until then cabinet minister Bev Oda forged the government document with the insertion of the word “not” thus denying the charity’s funding and status. The Conservatives, with Jason Kenney leading the charge with claims that the Harper regime was cracking down on anti-Semitic groups, made the false claims that KAIROS had been spearheading the charge of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against the Israeli government. The truth is, KAIROS, while critical of Israel’s policies regarding Palestine, did not support BDS. But Jason Kenney, prone to partisanship, to using government letterheads for party fundraising, to smearing opponents with innuendo and falsehoods, to tweeting bogus images of a child bride with her “husband” and of chained women re-enacting an historical event as if they were “real”, has had a long history of demonstrating that, when it comes to truth, he is a happy stranger as are almost all those conservatives, especially those of the Harper era. As with KAIROS, they lie when they suggest M-103, a non-binding motion to study systemic racism, is a threat to “free speech”. While M-103 could have been worded with greater clarity to leave absolutely no room for the mischief-makers, liars and weasels, there is no secret agenda to undermine “Christian” faiths or to impose Sharia law. The threat comes not from the motion but from those political opportunists who are eager to exploit the ignorant and lazy who prefer to believe the lies that offer them comfort and the illusion of safety and security. Yes, there is danger in the world but, thus far, in Canada and in the US, since the twin towers, the terrorists have been lone wolves Canadian and American born.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT
What Kellie Leitch and those of her ilk offer has less to do with Canadian interests than self-interest and self-aggrandizement by any means. It is about achieving power and influence by fair or foul means though, it is true, for some, the foul means seem bred to the bone, easier and more natural. In that respect, Leitch has much in common with Donald Trump with whom she wishes to identify and emulate: neither have much interest in truth or facts nor of the harm they are doing with their inflammatory messages of blame and hate. For that, they have much to answer. Little wonder those spewing vile messages on the social network, encouraging vandalism, offering threats and engaging in violence directed against Muslims, Jews and other marginalized members of our society feel emboldened: they have received the seal of approval from those who seek their votes and tell them exactly what they want to hear: it’s not your fault, we will fix things, we will heal you. As for how, save that for later.
So when Trump talks about security and seeks to ban immigrants from countries with large Muslim populations or when Leitch, particularly following the aftermath of her role in the odious Conservative snitch line debacle, talks about screening refugees for “Canadian values”, there is little reason to doubt that a racist and religious bigot and/or mean-spirited opportunist is at work pandering to the worst in us. Couched in any way she may wish, the message and intent cannot be mistaken. Leitch is referencing Syrians and Muslims in particular. This is not new to her or to the Conservative party but, until the last election campaign, was a relatively tepid political gambit fuelled by world headlines and several Canadian born lone wolf acts of terrorism.
About a month before the October 19, 2015 election, supposedly the last first-past-the-post Trudeau promised (that’s another topic for another time) Leitch and Chris Alexander, another leadership candidate for the Conservatives, stood before the media to announce the creation of a snitch line so that Canadians could report the Barbaric Cultural Practices of those niqab-, hijab-, burka-wearing you-know-who. Months later, the election over and the Conservatives out of power, Kellie Leitch appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics expressing regret with fake tears for her role in the snitch line debacle. Then, just months later, entering the leadership race, she reverted to the persona of the sewer from which she had briefly emerged. Following the murders of six Muslims in a Montreal mosque January 29, 2017, Leitch fell silent for a few days but not, it appears, to reflect on her leadership strategy for soon she was back at it spreading the message of her kind of Canadian values working up the elements of fear among those with the same values and questionable IQs against those, you-know-who, flooding our borders, even though the murderer, a young French-Canadian with an unhealthy interest in white supremacy (likely a characteristic common to her supporters) made a lie of her message. It didn’t and doesn’t matter. For the bigots, hysterics and those poisonous vipers fuelling the fires of racial and religious intolerance, it makes no difference that Canadians have far less to fear from the Muslim and Jewish communities than those communities have to fear from Canadians. Live a lie long enough one begins to believe it; it’s easier to accept you’re not to blame; you’re the victim and others are out for your job, your family, your faith – your life! It’s certainly easier than having to actually think and perhaps risk the niggling worm of doubt forcing you to question those feeding you this line: is there an agenda here?
The manipulators, the fear mongers, the exploiters and users, the power hungry and the power mad (autocrats, despots, and tyrants at heart), know this and they love it. It is not enough to have power but to wield it and wield it ruthlessly. That requires a compliant, ignorant and fearful populace, which seems to have grown in numbers in spite of the opportunities and advances offered by education and science. The dumber we are, the safer and the happier they are. Conservatives and their supporters will tell you that the non-binding motion, M-103, is dangerous but it is unlikely they would encourage you o actually read it for yourself (and it’s very unlikely their supporters in the rank and file have). M-103 clearly states, “the government should: (a) recognise the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination…” “Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” Only an illiterate or someone with an agenda would see an agenda not there.
Contrary to the naysayers opposed to the motion, nowhere does Islam get preferential treatment. What this motion does is highlight what should be self-evident to anyone who possesses a modicum of integrity and common sense and is able to follow the news: Muslims and Jews are being targeted and the fear mongers, the racists and the lowlife panderers like Leitch and the Conservatives opposing the motion are exploiting this issue less because they believe in Canadian values, which they may well do whatever they are, but because they are more interested in seeking power and influence but suffer from a lack of will and desire to compromise and to be truly original and constructive in ways that will make for a better Canada.
Last year, the Conservative hypocrites suffered no qualms regarding threats to free speech when one of their members made a motion, supported by the Trudeau Liberals, condemning the BDS movement which stated: “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the BDS movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” The motion, as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair noted, was a direct attack against the right of free speech and assembly. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals gave a damn. Evidently it’s some kind of crime to be critical of Israel or to suggest that Palestinians have been victims of unfair treatment.
BE AFRAID, YOU ARE THREATENED
So what Canadian values are Leitch, and those of her ilk or even Justin Trudeau’s cash-for-access, ethically challenged and bald-faced lying hypocritical Liberals talking about? While Trudeau and the Liberals have demonstrated many shared, unpleasant, questionable and deceitful traits with the Conservatives (placing trade before Human Rights, reneging on open nominations, and turning away from openness and transparency and from electoral reform, for examples), they, thus far, have demonstrated none of the openly vile tendencies of racial and religious intolerance espoused by Leitch and cohorts; Trudeau is about sunny, sunny, sunny ways, more interested in getting on everyone’s good books promoting trade and himself as a proud feminist but too timid to chid, even mildly, the vile comments of a misogynistic Trump when offered the opportunity to publicly prove himself.
On February 24, 2017, during the penultimate leadership debate at the Manning Centre in Ottawa, Leitch spoke of some of her “values”: generosity, freedom, tolerance. Those are the same values Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair and many Canadians would share yet, uttered by Leitch, seem to hold a different meaning. There is about her demeanour and pinch-faced expression and the way she utters the words a miserliness and mean-spiritedness that saps the words of any value. There are strings attached to her type of generosity, freedom, and tolerance, conditions that require a signature and a surrendering to another what it means to be of an independent mind with values of one’s own. Throughout her campaign, she has been shamelessly vocal in condemning the “elites” by that, I guess, she means the media and those who disagree with her, while, as during the debate and at every occasion, not shy of throwing out her credentials and appealing to prestige by reminding all that she has been published. Well she is a doctor which means she is highly educated but when one sees her eight plus minute campaign video and the message she offers, you may be left asking: what good did it do her?
Clearly, there are some politicians who believe it really doesn’t take all that much to get voters on their side. Trump appears proof of that. For some, all you have to do is make a lot of grand promises without even a pretence of keeping them; you’ll worry about the fallout later and, if you are Trudeau, with a pretty face, nice hair, if you are named the best-dressed leader in the world and if you declare yourself a feminist and interfere in nominations to ensure that your preference, a woman, is selected, if you ooze, simply ooze sincerity, well, it doesn’t matter, the public will forgive all because you are golden. Or you can be famous, famous for being loud, brash, egotistical, and rich, rich, rich. That might be enough. No need to be a full-time Canadian; ideas are needed here either, just a promise to save the country and bluff, loud talk and self-congratulatory bluster.
For some, all it takes is the right message to win the vote. Pander to the fears, greed, and stupidity of the hateful and brutish. Everyone’s out for the main chance so promise anything, you don’t have to deliver. Next time do it all again. Fear, hate and greed are all you need to worry about. If you’re a politician, that will make you a winner, if not today, next time.
As for now, go about your business of getting elected, brag about your wealth or your credentials and hammer home the message that the world is a dangerous, dangerous place, that the voter is the victim and the barbarians with frothing mouths are pounding at the door wanting you and yours. Ignore the hateful, violent messages scrolled on school blackboards threatening harm to our Muslim and Jewish neighbours, ignore the firebombed mosque, the swastikas painted on synagogue walls, and the Muslim and Jewish tombstones overturned by the vandals, ignore the victims harassed and threatened and beaten on the streets. Ignore all this and say: I didn’t do this. I didn’t contribute. I’m not responsible.
Well, Leitch, if not you and those like you, who is?
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.
They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin