Don’t give in to Trump-style fear
This editorial appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press:
The foreword to Amnesty International’s annual report was sobering, outlining Secretary General Salil Shetty’s concerns that 2016 was a year of misery and fear. Mr. Shetty points, in part, to the rise of hate speech in large parts of Europe and the United States making the world “a darker and more unstable place.”
Should we be concerned Canada is about to erupt in Donald Trump-like rhetoric? Right now, at the federal level, the Liberals seem intent on ensuring this country is regarded as a safe place for refugee claimants. Most recently, a Liberal MP, in an apparent bid to take a stand against Islamophobia, put forward a non-binding motion asking the government to study “systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
There’s a backlash brewing as the number of refugee claimants walking into Canada at both Emerson and the New York-Quebec border climbs.
A recent poll from Angus Reid Institute suggests that a sizable minority feel the federal government is letting in too many refugee claimants.
The poll released earlier this week shows 47 per cent of respondents feel Canada is taking in the right amount, but 41 per cent feel the number is already too high. Among Conservative voters that number jumps to 62 per cent who think Canada’s doors are too open. As well, 25 per cent of those polled said Canada should have adopted a travel ban similar to the one temporarily imposed by Mr. Trump closing down the borders to immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
This is potentially a wedge issue that could be exploited for partisan reasons, particularly as the Conservative leadership race heats up.
Here are some facts to compare with the rhetoric. So far, involvement in Islamic State terrorism in Canada has come from individuals who were born here and became involved online. So far, the only mass murder based on religion has been the six men killed while worshipping in a mosque in Quebec City. The man charged with the crime — a white Canadian — was known to be a Trump supporter. So far in Canada, our jobless rate is falling and our economy is expected to grow.
So far in Canada, we have not suffered after doing the right thing and offering a safe landing for those fleeing war and chaos.
Let’s hope a Trump-style backlash is something cooler heads within the Conservative party and in Canada in general reject, and this time next year, Amnesty International does not point to this country for playing a role in the rise of hate speech.