Don’t give in to Trump-style fear

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

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.

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