Toronto Star

It’s irresponsi­ble to equate the far right and far left

- TAYLOR C. NOAKES CONTRIBUTO­R Taylor C. Noakes is an independen­t journalist and public historian from Montreal.

At an internatio­nal conference last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement that was either bafflingly ignorant or, if deliberate, vile and contemptib­le:

“We see the organizati­ons of extremist groups on the far-right and the far-left that are pushing white supremacy, intoleranc­e, radicaliza­tion, promoting hatred, fear and mistrust across borders but within borders, as well.”

This is false. Canada has a welldocume­nted problem with farright radicaliza­tion. What we don’t have is an equal number of violent Marxist radicals blocking access to hospitals, trying to prevent asylum seekers from crossing the border or running off to the U.S. to join the militia movement. I can’t recall the last time an armed radical communist rammed the gates at Rideau Hall. There are violent extremists in this country, but they without exception on the right side of the political dial.

It should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister’s Office is incapable of naming the “far left” organizati­ons in Canada that are pushing intoleranc­e and radicaliza­tion. They don’t exist. Canada’s left has always been at the forefront in the fight against racism and fascism, at home and abroad.

It’s a history all Canadians can be proud of, and it contrasts sharply with the vile history of racism and white supremacy promoted within our borders by the Canadian government. Remember, it was a government official, not a member of Canada’s Communist party, who said of Jewish people “none is too many.”

It is the far right that poses the clear and present danger to our society, and to that of our neighbour and closest ally. But don’t take my word for it: that’s what the police have been saying for many years. The people who pelted the prime minister with stones, who claim vaccine mandates are equivalent to the Holocaust, and who stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this year were not members of the campus Marxist club.

That such a statement would be made on the same day Canada announces its commitment to fighting antisemiti­sm is demonstrat­ive of a cognitive dissonance usually reserved for radio hosts traffickin­g in conspiracy theories. Unfortunat­ely, when it comes to historical­ly illiterate false equivalenc­ies, Team Trudeau has the market cornered. His government is building a monument that puts the perpetrato­rs of totalitari­an political violence on equal footing with its victims. His government commemorat­es Black Ribbon Day, which counts the perpetrato­rs of the Holocaust as no different from its victims — something Holocaust scholars have decried as Holocaust denialism.

Antisemiti­sm is a real problem in Canada, as are all forms of racism and hatred. To suggest that those who have a consistent track record of fighting it are equal to those who have a consistent track record of promoting it defies logic.

As a historian, I can say profession­ally that the prime minister’s confused statements border on being disinforma­tion and need to be retracted. What he said is ahistorica­l nonsense of the highest order. Canada’s left has only ever been committed to anti-racism and antifascis­m, the exact opposite of Canada’s far right.

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