The Trudeau government has been calling CETA the "most progressive" free trade deal ever. But the deal does not require the payment of living wages; it does not mandate a crackdown on tax evasion; and it certainly does not try to guarantee the "peace of mind ... that come[s] with stable, full-time contracts."
I was standing at an intersection. I glanced over at the post on the corner to be greeted by a flyer entitled "Hey White People." It was an invitation to join the "alt-right" white supremacist movement for those "sick of being blamed for all the world's problems caused by minority groups and immigrants." What had changed?
The world is changing rapidly. We have witnessed the success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, and the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. Amid the social and political turmoil, some political groups and social movements are emerging to exploit this climate of tension and fear and make political and financial gains out of it. Canada has not been immune of this.
Unchecked hatred that appears in blogs and other online venues has the potential to lead to ugly incidents. We cannot allow such darkness to destroy the social fabric of Canada. Indeed, it was this unchecked hate speech that has indoctrinated many in Pakistan to turn a blind eye to the oppression of Ahmadi Muslims and other religious minorities.
Somewhere deep inside I knew he would achieve this goal, but I didn't expect it to completely uncover the true face of America that many have long ignored and continue to ignore. Trump not only won over the hearts of many Americans, but he pulled all the champions of hate and division out of their holes.... I fear that this Trump "movement" will slip its way into Canada and fuel the fire in those who have long remained quiet or polite about their shared vision for a divided community of people where only some lives matter and deserve basic human rights.
When civilized society feels OK about demonizing others in the name of tolerance, you have a problem that doesn't necessarily require Donald Trump to become president to alienate much of the population. When the politics of resentment comes from the Left, the Right, and even the Centre, the road to democratic decline appears like an open freeway.
Anti-immigrant xenophobia is usually tied to nationalism, and nationalism tends to spike during independence celebrations. So here's something to think about this Canada Day: everyone in this colonized land that is not First Nations or Inuit is an immigrant. I'm fourth generation myself. Three of my four grandparents were born here. My wife's relatives immigrated to North America from Denmark and Scotland. Every single other citizen that is not indigenous immigrated here, too, be it from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, South America or wherever else.
Numbered at 1.8 billion, the world is now home to the largest generation of young people aged 10 to 24 in its history. Having grown up in a digital era and more connected than ever before, younger generations are able to see the world's boundaries as more fluid, recognizing their shared interests and values with people around the globe.
To those politicians today with the power to compel people to your will with fear and anti-immigration sentiment -- stop blaming immigrants for neoliberal policies that relentlessly concentrate wealth at the top while leaving the majority with weakened social programs, poverty, uncertainty and fear.
As Canadians look down upon the severe tone of the Republican primary season, they might console themselves by saying: "We would never resort to that kind of hateful dialogue, and it would never work here -- in the multicultural haven that is Canada." Prime Minister Robert Borden might prove them wrong.
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.
Building progress and trust, as the U.S. did, takes a long time to accomplish far more than constructing a building. But Trump will help destroy such progress if he is elected as the president of the United States. All the respect and admiration the world used to have towards this great country will vanish into thin air.
The power of small acts of kindnesses should not be underestimated, for they are more powerful than military expeditions. Indeed, it is not the youth who are loved that are prone to radical indoctrination but those who are forsaken at the margins. It is also important to understand that strength lies in diversity, for if we unconditionally reach out to others, they will likely reach out to us in our time of need.
A vicious cycle of hate seems to have been engendered where hatred of the West feeds the hatred of Islam. The way out of this hate is by looking within instead of pointing fingers at others. Some people do not care for such a nuanced understanding. They look for simplistic answers to complex problems.
While we may find that there are some dangerous strangers, to decide that we should make negative assumptions about everyone we do not know is downright foolish. It is time to go back to celebrating the fact that our Canada is a welcoming and tolerant country in which we raise our children to respect and include all of us.
New journeys often create surprises. Over the last few months, as I've gotten increasingly stuck on issues of Islamophobia and the fringe, extremist xenophobia in the Muslim world, this journey has been true to form. I've been struck by both the similarities between the two hate camps and their sheer resilience.
The issue here is that such a tip line will do nothing but draw deeper lines in the ground between race, religion, and so on. We will notice that "barbaric cultural practices" is a purposefully vague descriptor that could encompass a plethora of different acts, yet Canadians are only left guessing as to what Kellie Leitch and her party would classify as such practices. This proposed tip line has already been compared by some to similar situations in place in interwar Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Harper government's attempt to frighten voters should be recognized for what it is -- baseless propaganda designed to woo votes in the midst of an election. While there will undoubtedly be some undesirables in the refugee crowd, our immigration processes are perfectly capable of flagging and filtering out those risks. Canadian lives will not be threatened if we let in Syrian refugees. The irony, however, is that the lives of Canadians and our European friends may well be threatened if we do not. The tide of undocumented refugees will continue to flow into Europe if we fail to provide an alternative exit to those refugees still struggling to survive in camps in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East.
In both the U.S. and Canada, Muslims face real scrutiny, fanned by politicians out to earn xenophobic votes and media folk out to sell copies. North American society, on both sides of the border, needs to get to grips with five key misconceptions if it wants to contribute to a clean, prejudice-free society.
I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the systems and the laws of Canada, these folks are being challenged to engage with their new communities.