Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beware Northern Populism

According to a new Pew Research poll, Canadians are not impressed with Donald Trump. Only 22% of us have confidence in the Trump presidency. But Tim Harper reminds us that, before we get too smug, we should take a good, hard look at ourselves:

We can dismiss the Mississauga racist rant in the health clinic, or the Alberta burning of a pride flag, or tiny anti-Muslim protests as isolated events that do not tell us who we are, but if you want to dismiss them, ignore them at your peril.
We should be looking at Indigenous complaints against the police in Thunder Bay or the disproportionate police interaction with Blacks and Indigenous youth in our cities.

We should study Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s words when he said, in the wake of the stabbing of a Michigan police officer by a Montreal man, “you cannot disconnect this type of event, terrorism, from Islam in general.’’

And we should give further thought to a Statistics Canada report on hate crimes released earlier this month which showed a 60 per cent jump in police-reported hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. Hate crimes are underreported and those numbers are two years old and no one thinks it has gotten better since 2015.

Kellie Leitch's campaign for the Conservative leadership touched an uncomfortable nerve:

Yes, Kellie Leitch fell flat with her “values test” platform in the recent Conservative leadership race, but polling data showed support for her position after she announced it and Graves suggests her poor showing was more a product of a poor campaign. He reminds that Stephen Harper’s support actually grew for a period after he took a harder line on refugees following powerful photos of young Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach. 

Angus Reid Associates also released numbers this week that, at first glance, appeared to show this country embracing diversity. Respondents were asked whether they would vote for a party led by a woman, a gay man, a lesbian, a transgendered person, a Jew, a Black, an Indigenous Canadian and so on.
Only 58 per cent of Canadians would back a party led by a Muslim, only 45 per cent in Quebec.
A man wearing a religious head covering would be rejected by 42 per cent of Canadians.
A woman wearing a religious head covering would be rejected by 47 per cent of Canadians. In Quebec, the rejection rate jumps to 64 and 66 per cent respectively.

So let's be honest with ourselves: Northern populism is afoot in the Great White North. We must confront it -- and not deny its existence. 



The Mound of Sound said...

Is this a manifestation of late-stage neoliberalism? To what extent does it emerge from a perceived disconnect between the public and their elected leadership when the political caste is no longer able to serve the public interest over private interests?

It's important to remember that populism, like nationalism, comes in two flavours - positive and negative. Positive populism was behind the rise of the progressive movement. Its primary focus is on advancement of the public interest through restraint of both government and the private sector. Negative populism, however, is the milieu of scoundrels such as Trump, Orban, Erdogan and their ilk and it is fueled by anger, fear and resentment. Positive nationalism is the stuff of FDR and PET and does not hinge on adversaries and rivals, real or imagined. My greatest disappointment in Trudeau is that he lapsed into becoming just another technocrat when the country is in such dire need of vision. Trudeau falls well short of that mark.

Owen Gray said...

For those of us who remember PET, Mound, Justin is just Jr.

Anonymous said...

Has there ever been a time when Canada has been free of negative populism? Consider the numerous religious, national, linguistic, cultural, social, and racial groups which have been targets of it. Can you name a single decade when even one of these groups has been spared some form of persecution?

Owen Gray said...

Starting with Canada's First Peoples and working its way through English and French tensions and then on to protests against various immigrant groups, we have always had our share of suspicious minds, CD.

Lulymay said...

Re: Anonymous said @1.40pm insinuating that a number of groups have been targets of persecution. I have a problem with that accusation. I am from the west coast and we went to school with kids from Chinese, Japanese, and who those days we referred to as "Indians". There were also kids from various European countries whose parents most likely did not speak English, or perhaps a 'basic' English needed to be able to shop locally. We all got along, in fact my best friend from first grade until well into our late high school years, was Chinese. I visited her home, stayed overnight, and did notice that the cooking smells were different than my own, and that the language spoken when I stayed there was Chinese, but it never made any difference to me or to our friendship. Honestly, Owen, I think people are far too sensitive these days because somehow they feel they should (and perhaps must) be able to carry on with the norms of the country they left behind as well as be able to have every service offered in Canada, be offered in the language of the country they emigrated from. What does it mean to be Canadian? The answer is as broad as it is wide. However, at the end of the day, I object to people coming to Canad because we are accepting and welcome those from many countries, I truly do object to some who demand that our norms must accommodate their norms, be them racial or religious. P.S. I have absolutely no admiration of the Kellie Leach types in our country, and I don't see a terrorist behind every tree! Come as you are and I will welcome you, just don't bring the problems of the country you escaped from with you! Does that make me a terrible Canadian?

Owen Gray said...

My Irish forbears understood, Lulymay, that they couldn't bring their troubles with them to these shores. The template was set early in this country's history. John A. Macdonald was an Orangeman and Thomas Darcy McGee was an Irish Catholic.They managed to get along quite well. On the other hand, Macdonald was less tolerant of Canada's First Nations and of Louis Riel.

It's true that we are a nation of immigrants. The problem is that, occasionally, those of us who got here first, forget the harrowing journey that lots of immigrants have gone through to get here.