A possible contender for the federal NDP leadership has issued a call to action for Canadians worried about division at home in the era of Donald Trump.
Charlie Angus rose in the House of Commons Tuesday to say Trump’s election win earlier this month — after a campaign built around hate, xenophobia, misogyny and blame — cast a “dark shadow” for many in North America.
NDP MP Charlie Angus speaks in the House of Commons on Oct. 13, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
But there’s cause for optimism, the veteran MP offered, because difficult times let you see the stuff of which people are made.
“Canadians will rise above the politics of fear, and division and paranoia, just as I know many of our American cousins will rise to the better angels of our nature,” he said.
Angus called on Canadians to get active in their communities, to make it clear to neighbours that they have support.
"The politics of community will beat the politics of fear, any day."
“Because the politics of community will beat the politics of fear, any day,” he said.
Trump has been a frequent topic in the House since his shocking win, but those conversations have mostly centered on his pledge to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, his support for the Keystone XL pipeline and his desire to pull the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord.
Tory backbencher Ted Falk offered congratulations to the incoming president in a member’s statement two weeks ago, saying: “May God continue to bless America. God bless Donald Trump.”
But Angus has evidently been thinking a lot about what Trump. In a video released to Facebook last week, he offered a “Donald Trump hangover cure” for those unable to shake that uneasy feeling in their stomachs.
In the wake of Trump we need to get progressive politics re-engaged with those who feel they have been left off the political map. Progressive change is about being rooted in communities. It is about knowing who we are fighting for. This means listening to ordinary folks to hear their hopes, their concerns, their desire for change. It's about saying to your neighbour we might not agree on everything but I've got your back. We can do this together and we can come out the other end a lot stronger.
Posted by Charlie J. Angus on Tuesday, 22 November 2016
In the three-minute clip, Angus called Trump’s win a “defeat for the progressive political class” that stopped reaching those who felt written off “the political map of the nation.”
Angus added Trump’s rise was a repudiation of the pollsters and gurus who dismissed rising discontent in Rust Belt states such as Ohio and Michigan as “white noise, white anger, and white trash.” He suggested the approach ignored economic anxieties about precarious work, student debt and lack of pensions.
“As we learned from Donald Trump, being disconnected leads to discontent,” he said, adding he wasn’t prepared to let a “political arsonist” or his “Mini Me, wannabe Canadian imitators” pretend to speak for the disenfranchised.
Defends 'blue collar folk'
Angus, who has represented the northern Ontario riding of Timmins—James Bay since 2004, also took to Facebook shortly after the election results to push back against the narrative that the “white working class” was to blame for president-elect Trump.
The “boys at the garage” in his mining town of Cobalt think Trump is a pig, Angus wrote, and local families there are stepping up for Syrian refugees.
“Yes blue collar folk have been shafted time and time again but I still set my political watch by their decency, sense of community and willingness to go to the wall to help others,” he wrote.
Angus added that Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, who sparked headlines lauding the message Trump sent to so-called “elites,” wouldn’t “deign to learn wisdom from folks like this in a million years.”
Angus stepped down as the NDP caucus chair and indigenous affairs critic last week to continue exploring a leadership run.