Last week, I took part in a discussion on Twitter regarding the best way for Canadians to respond to Kellie Leitch’s celebration of Donald Trump’s victory. While I initially argued (social) media’s focus on her divisive tactics merely fed her free airtime and eyeballs, a very astute and prolific tweeter reminded me ignoring these tactics in the U.S. propelled Trump’s momentum.
And the absolute need to call it what it is.
After all, Donald Trump’s simply put “build the wall and make the Mexicans pay for it” served as THE momentum builder through the Republican primaries, on the way to “lock her up” and the presidency.
Racism by another name
Last weekend, on CBC’s The Sunday Edition, I listened to Kellie Leitch try to normalize a call for screening future visitors, immigrants and refugees for
” a set of Canadian values: quality of opportunity, hard work, generosity, freedom and tolerance”
These set of values would forge “a unique Canadian identity”. An identity. One. For a whole nation of people.
Notice tolerance is one of those values she believes define Canadians. But, by its very definition, tolerance means accepting and honouring any differences amongst people, visitors, immigrants and refugees. The same differences that built this nation into what others admire about Canada.
Tolerance and screening seem to be at opposite ends of a spectrum.
That is Ms. Leitch proposing we tolerate? What crosses the line form intolerant to tolerant? Whose definition of tolerance are we subscribing to?
Ms. Leitch went on to claim that we could not achieve integration into Canada without common values. Without that unique Canadian identity.
Did Ms. Leitch forget integration was code, historically, for Canadian political leaders taking the Indian out of our aboriginal peoples by placing them in residential schools? Did she forget we have only just now begun to realize the impact of those egregious acts? Did she forget the Conservatives’ very own Truth and Reconciliation Commission set out remedies to reconcile our role in destroying many Aboriginal lives and generations
Doubtful. Integration is a dog whistle for the very base of voters who approved of the the barbaric hotline. So much for those tears shed apologizing for the part she played in that insidious fiasco.
Ms. Leitch dismisses any talk about how screening for unique Canadian identity would take place. Clever. Ambiguity prohibits any possible analysis of her position.
Perhaps, she forgets residential schools were part of the process of earlier integration. That detail and others are the essence of any position a politician must answer to in the age of Donald Trump.
Ms. Leitch, using a favourite Conservative tactic of a counter argument to overtake the main argument, asked “What is the cost of not interviewing visitors, immigrants face-to-face?”.
Fear-mongering. Dog whistle number two.
Guess what Ms. Leitch? This listener’s focus didn’t drift from the main issue of screening.
Why do you feel Canadians need protection?
What incidences or values are you trying to protect Canadians from?
What do you propose to do about those Canadians living here who share those values you are trying to keep away from the shores of this land?
Who is going to pay for all these interviews? Destination Canada counted over sixteen million overnight international visitors to Canada in 2012. Sixteen. Million. Interviews?
The U.S. and Canada have been working towards expediting traffic, human and otherwise, through our borders. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when Ms. Leitch negotiates this demand with Mr. Trump?
Never mind her assertion that thirty-four million Canadian human beings share a single, unique identity. I don’t share a unique identity with all the members of my family, let alone with 33.99 million other Canadians.
I won’t make the same mistake as U.S. media and Democratic politicians in belittling the angry, conservative voices. But, if Ms. Leitch wants to draw moderate voters to the Conservative base, she should be prepared to fill in the details through the course of this conversation she claims she wants to have with all of us.
Because to this listener, her conversation sounds an awful lot like a call to whitewashing. We’ve seen this act before.
Maybe Stephen Harper can fill his former colleague in on how many signed up for that barbaric hotline. I’m fairly certain it was less than thirty-four million.