Most assuredly, Stephen Harper has been listening to Lynton Crosby -- who has a long record of calling forth bigots. Jeff Sallot writes:
A Federal Court of Appeal ruling Monday cleared the way for Ishaq to obtain her citizenship papers in time to vote on Oct. 19.
You wouldn’t blame her if she doesn’t vote Conservative. Harper isn’t worried about losing votes in the Muslim community, of course. Instead, he’s appealing to the prejudices of a small slice of the Canadian population who can be riled up by irrational fear.
Harper made a cynical political calculation to elevate the niqab to the level of a national political issue. He had polls (paid for by us, of course) that showed that a niqab ban would be popular. He doubled down when his government lost the first judicial go-round and went ahead last week with an appeal of the Ishaq case.
So that’s where we are in late 2015 — submitting the legal rights of Canadian citizens to public opinion polls. But why stop at trashing the rights of Muslim women? Why not take polls on other civil rights — say, French language rights? There was a time in Canada when language rights might not have survived the test of popular opinion.
Conservatives once used to be guided by their better angels:
That was also a time when Canadian political leaders, including Conservatives, weren’t afraid to actually lead. Bob Stanfield, to his great credit, sacked a Tory candidate in New Brunswick in the 1974 election for refusing to support bilingualism. Stanfield didn’t need to find his political courage in a printout of polling data.
That was a time when women wore religious garments without controversy. Like Sallot, I was taught by nuns:
The most exotic people in my neighbourhood were the Catholic Ursuline nuns who taught me in elementary school. They wore long black gowns and headwear from the Middle Ages. It fully covered their hair. But you could see their faces. And you knew if you were in trouble before they spoke a word.
Harper is calculating that bigots will keep him in office. And so he is calling them out from under every rock and away from every hill and mole hill.