Just when you thought the Tory scumbags couldn’t reach any lower, you witness four so-called “leadership” candidates denouncing Islam at the February 15 “emergency rally” called by extreme right-wingers. The event was a cesspool of racism, Islamophobia and hatred of immigrants who aren’t white. Two of the candidates in attendance, Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, were the main promoters of Harper’s “Zero tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices” proposed legislation, now in the trash where it belongs.
On the same day, we saw Tory MPs scrambling to oppose Liberal MP Iqra Khalid’s motion to denounce racism and Islamophobia, insisting that the word Islamophobia be removed from the motion.
At least leeches once served a medicinal purpose. Now MP Leitch personifies animosity towards all things Islamic, including her Trumpish proposal to screen immigrants for “Canadian values.” Thanks to the renewed spirit of resistance triggered by the election of Donald Trump, her constituency office was draped with a banner containing the names of all six Muslims murdered in the Quebec mosque on January 29.
While O’Leary avoids some of the caustic racism of Leitch and Alexander, he prides himself on the same supposed “anti-politics” and love of laissez-faire capitalism that Trump espouses. And let’s face it, this form of capitalism has never really existed. It’s always been capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich, which means subsidies for corporations and austerity for the rest of us.
The race to the bottom affects other candidates too, including those not previously known for being more bigoted than your average Tory. Candidate Maxime Bernier has denounced a transgender rights bill he previously supported, saying it poses a threat to free speech in Canada; i.e. Bill C-16, which amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" and is supported by human rights groups as a means of protecting transgender people.
Those in the Conservative party left over from the early days of the Reform Party now have the confidence to come out of their caves of bigotry. But we have also seen immediate acts solidarity for Muslims and refugees on a pan-Canadian basis—whether in response to the murders at the Quebec City mosque, white supremacist and anti-Islam flyers in New Westminster and Toronto, and the February 17 solidarity rally in front of the Masjid Toronto.
These acts of support are essential and will need to be timely and large if we are to beat back the hatred unleashed by Trump and encouraged by Tory leadership candidates.
And we cannot let the Liberals off the hook either. While their rhetoric in support of refugees and Indigenous peoples sounds positive, their support for military actions in the Middle East, their refusal to respect Indigenous sovereignty, and their continued disregard for civil liberties (via backing Bill C51) shows their true blue colours.
You can show solidarity with those oppressed through government action and right-wing bigotry by joining the many acts of support coming up in the next few months. March 11 will see International Women’s Day marches, March 21 will see anti-racism events and on April 29 the streets will be filled with those wanting an end to the climate war.