Since NAFTA was implemented, we have realized that free trade was not just about the elimination of commercial boundaries and protectionist trade policies, but also about allowing delocalization to take place. And just as Sanders is considering to reintroduce the Glass Steagal act, the NDP should also propose to reintroduce firewalls between financial institutions.
Recently, a bloodthirsty mob torched an Ahmadi owned factory in the Pakistani city of Jhelum. In contrast to Canada, where communities galvanize against hate, there were no rallies in defence of Ahmadi neighbours, and social media was ablaze with their "heresies" instead of condemnation of persecution.
There needs to be a concerted effort to confront the rise of prejudice that was encouraged by the Conservatives in their bid for re-election. Although Steven Harper has been defeated, the lingering "permission" given to bigotry needs to be challenged in every workplace and community across Canada. Canadians have never been immune to the corrosive influences of racism and anti-Semitism. At this point in history we are called upon to specifically challenge Islamophobia. The fact is that our Muslim brothers and sisters have been made to feel defensive about their faith and unsure of how their neighbours accept them.
While some political parties are more responsible for instances of blatant racism than others, no political party has committed to action on combating racism in Canada. Aboriginal and racialized realities of being heavily surveilled, unfairly carded in the streets, and higher rates of violence remain fringe issues.
A minority is defined as dangerous by a segment of society that clings to traditional views of acceptability. They fail to recognize prejudices inherent in their views until a hard-won fight for equal rights and shifting zeitgeist forces them to move on, foisting their fears on the next marginalized group.
We've figured out a simple truth: we're in this together. Our neighbour's strength is our strength; the success of any one of us is the success of every one of us. But this is incredibly fragile. It must be protected always from the voices of intolerance, divisiveness, small-mindedness, and hatred. It's the right thing to do.
Canadian Muslims have views about gender equity that far surpass the niqab. Canada ranks far lower in gender equity in comparison to some other nations from 20 years ago. The wage gap has not closed. Childcare remains costly. Canadian streets remain unsafe at night. Women's shelters have long waiting lists and some have closed. On Oct. 19, commit the most subversive act you can -- vote.
There is nothing intrinsically "Canadian," let alone "conservative," about leveraging insecurity, racism and xenophobia for votes through ethnic scapegoating. That is not a "conservative" strategy; it's a fascist strategy with a long and bloody history, and it has no place in Canada. On October 19th, we have a chance to "take our country back." We have the chance to declare once and for all that who and what we are as Canadians is no longer for sale. We have a chance to steer Canada off its collision course with history, to save it from derailing and crashing beyond our ability to recognize it, let alone repair it.
Canada must talk about the real challenges facing our country -- our response to the greatest threat humanity faces, climate change. We should be talking about trade deals, endangered species, protecting water resources, our responsibilities to the rest of the world and so much more. Instead, this election has bogged down into "dead cat" distractions like niqabs, an issue that affects almost no one!
Please don't portray the niqab issue as a Muslim issue. The vast majority of Canadian Muslims think that the traditional veil is clearly a mark of separation, and consider it an element of the fanatical side of Islam. A tiny percentage of stubborn members of Muslim community is causing unnecessary tension between the government and Muslim community on one hand, and between the Muslim community and society at large on the other.
We live in a culture that sees female modesty as oppressive, 'medieval' at worst, while sexualized ways of dressing are easily accepted, celebrated, even mandated. Look to the restaurant industry for illustrations of women forced to dress in provocative, often uncomfortable clothing as a job requirement.
Aside from the ludicrous notion that anyone other than Canada's Native population is truly "old-stock Canadians," there is a certain divisive, chamber-pot snobbery to the term. It's not a celebration of "lineage," it's a wedge. It has no use other than to separate the speaker from others. Without even having to wonder why it was never used in our house, I know that my parents would have considered it vulgar. We are all "old-stock" Canadians, no matter where we're from, or how recently we've arrived.
When I first started wearing a hijab about four years ago, I remember people asking me, "Aren't you afraid?" But I told them I wasn't going to be intimidated. While I don't wear the niqab, I feel as a hijabi that every word Stephen Harper utters against it is targeted to me personally. Telling women what to wear is a slippery slope, it has always been. I know it's only a matter of time until Harper declares wearing a hijab a "barbaric cultural practice." As Harper uses the niqab debate as a political weapon, and as we say the practice makes us uncomfortable and call it strange, let's not forget Harper's words and our own are hurting real women.