The leader of France's far-right Nationalist Front party, Marine Le Pen, better known for spewing racist, xenophobic vitriol against France's Muslim population and being the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, is apparently visiting Canada this week -- yes, the "Devil's Daughter" herself. It might be worth getting a good ol' fashioned exorcism by the time the week is over to rid ourselves of the memory this visit ever took place.
Before our collective Canadian souls sound anguish at this frightening development, it must be clarified that Madam Marine is gracing us with her charming presence under the auspices of a European Parliament trade delegation of which she unfortunately happens to be a member.
Visiting Canada on a European Parliament membership technicality with no federal or provincial parties willing to engage given her bigoted views (and possible stench of sulphur) has not prevented her from criticizing Canada's policies on immigration and multiculturalism. The terror attacks in Brussels have only added more ammunition to a sharp tongue already loaded with nationalist, nativist and jingoistic diatribe.
This is all part of a calculated political game.
Yet the irony is not lost on anybody. How can somebody who's carved out a political career by exploiting fear of minorities have the gall to lecture Canada on its multicultural fabric? Then again, Le Pen is an anomaly crusading for a bygone pre-World War brand of European nationalism that has largely evolved beyond its most reactionary core.
Yet, history repeats, and the combination of ongoing terrorist attacks, large influx of Syrian migrants and a declining economy is proving to be a fatal mix of which demagogue politicians like Le Pen will be the ultimate benefactors. The party won 27 per cent of the share of the vote in the last regional election and only failed to win a regional council due to collusion between opposing parties.
This is all part of a calculated political game. In our world of 10 second sound-bites, five-second attention spans, media impressions, aggregated news feeds, Facebook likes and YouTube views, the more provocative the story, the greater the coverage. Keep your face on the camera and good things are likely to result. Like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Le Pen knows this well and exploits it to full effect.
However, Madam Marine's tricks of the trade did not pan out in Canada as she would have likely hoped, but this is her own doing. She was not paying attention when Canadian voters resoundingly rejected Stephen Harper's vision that sought to turn Canada into a warped Republican utopia of hatred, division. She never heard Justin Trudeau emphatically proclaim how "a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian" regardless of ethnic background. More importantly, she has never lived to see how Canada's brand of multiculturalism and culture of mutual respect and tolerance contradict her claim of a multicultural society rooted "in conflict."
Her extremist views have fallen on deaf ears because she is the very antithesis of what this country stands for. We as Canadians are all the better for it.
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