Bob Hepburn warns that those of us who think that Kellie Leitch is on the political fringe, whipping up wing nuts, should think again. Xenophobia is gaining political traction all around the world. After his recent visit to Britain, Hepburn reports that:
In Oxford and Portsmouth, well-educated middle-income people, the type of voters I thought would see the advantages of being closely linked with other European nations, talked to me about why they voted to leave the EU.
Their main reason? Too many immigrants in recent years from the continent, many of whom they felt didn’t want to “be British,” who didn’t respect “British culture” and “British traditions” and who could be potential terrorists.They also wanted to “send a message” to the political elite in London, who they felt ignored their concerns about immigrants working in jobs that once were filled by old-stock Brits.
The same thing is happening throughout Europe and the United States:
Similar anti-immigrant sentiments are rampant across Europe and are altering the political landscape from Greece to Germany, France and on to the United Kingdom.The same xenophobia is a driving force behind Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency, with his rallies fuelled by crowds roaring their approval whenever he vows to build a towering wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigrants.In Europe, countries such as Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are fed up with other nations demanding they take in more refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. Greeks are trying to prevent migrant children from attending schools with their sons and daughters and talk about “a different look” now in Greek schools.
And, in Canada, the same sentiments are just under the surface:
The lone public poll on Leitch’s proposal found 67 per cent of Canadians, including 87 per cent of Tory voters, like the idea of screening newcomers for “anti-Canadian values.” The Forum Research poll for the Toronto Star also found 57 per cent of Liberals and 59 per cent of New Democrats like it.
It doesn't matter that potential immigrants are already heavily screened. What matters is that xenophobia is the handmaiden of political ambition.