Leaders must take a tougher stand on racism
Leadership is more than pandering to everyone you hoped might be part of your base … or arguably worse, not taking on those who spew radical notions and sometimes downright racist views.This was a big problem for the conservative right long before the yellow-vest movement, although an unwillingness to speak out against radical fringe elements seems to be a struggle for all parties right now.Consider the federal NDP’S inability to distance itself from some on its environmental left who oppose pipelines and want to keep the oil in the ground and follow the Leap Manifesto. Although not federal or provincial party policy, it has wreaked havoc with NDP electability — especially in Alberta, where Premier Rachel Notley has taken pragmatic stances.One might assume the ever-too-flexible federal Liberal leadership would not have this problem, given that the party often stands for little in its pursuit of power. Yet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said virtually nothing when Quebec Premier Francois Legault declared last December that oil was socially unacceptable in that province.Legault is not a Liberal premier and likely wasn’t even accurately speaking for Quebecers, given they are subscribing to bigger homes and more fossil-fuel-burning SUVS. However, Trudeau’s unwillingness to take a strong stance likely had something to do with those in his own Quebec base who clearly do not support Western oil. Is it any wonder he faces such hostility in the West, as was evident at last week’s town hall meeting in Regina?Some argue Trudeau deserves sympathy for facing the radical, unhinged and sometimes racist views at last week’s event. Really, he needed to show more leadership by being far more blunt to them. The guy spewing nonsense about Muslims and Christians being unable to coexist didn’t deserve Trudeau’s polite everyone-has-a-right-to-speak-it’s-a-multicultural-nation response. He deserved to be more than booed. He needed to be called out for his intolerance and prejudice.What’s needed is a strong, unified voice from all political leaders calling out racism in Canada. That includes Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Where is Scheer? There can be no false equivalency here. This is a problem of the conservative right. Conservative leaders need to speak up.One problem for Scheer is that some in today’s Conservative party simply have been unwilling to detach the party from the fringe. Some argue they have clung to it.Consider Conservative leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier’s views on “extreme multiculturalism.”Consider a tweet from Regina Senator Denise Batters (who once proudly posted on Twitter a picture of herself hobnobbing with former Rebel Media correspondent and racist movement sympathizer Faith Goldy) that a federal Liberal minister needs to be questioned about how “his birthplace being Saudi Arabia impacts this file for him.”Consider the party’s selection of the image of a black man crossing the border under the Twitter headline “migrant crisis.” There are umpteen other flare-ups from individual MPS from a party that now has a former Rebel Media executive as a political adviser.One gets why so many would be rightly frustrated by any number of Liberal government policies, or simply its self-righteous conduct that appears to be about political gain. A perfect example was Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland parading teenage Saudi refugee Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun this past weekend for reasons that did not go beyond a photo op.But far more pressing in this country right now is how mainstream politics is either toying with or feeding into the darker narratives we heard at Trudeau’s town hall. Politicians — especially conservative politicians — need to take a stance.Others are drawing lines. At last week’s Canada Action pro-pipeline rally, organizers asked those in the so-called yellow-vest movement to keep at home both their attire and alternate views on issues like vaccination, immigration and other radical right-wing notions. It was simple and it worked.We need to hear the same thing from our politicians. They have a duty to draw a line.
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