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Racism Should Not Become a Conservative Value

03/18/2015 01:15 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT
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Racism, bigotry and ignorance should have no place in our Canadian society let alone at our highest political institutions. Yet, that is what is happening within the Conservative Party of Canada and the leader of the party should put an end to it. The Prime Minister should speak up sooner rather than later.

When Conservative MP John Williamson cites how "whities" are staying home and being replaced by "brown people" as temporary foreign workers, we should all be alarmed and dismayed. His racist words are comparable to what one-time Reform MP Bob Ringma, who once told a reporter "he would fire or 'move to the back of the shop' a homosexual or member of an ethnic minority whose presence turned off bigoted customers."

Remember what these kinds of statements did to the old Reform party of Preston Manning?

Another MP, Larry Miller, who once used Hitler and the Nazis as references to oppose the gun registry, also recently made a dumb comment about how prospective Canadians should "stay the hell where you came from" if they prefer to wear a niqab during a Canadian citizenship ceremony. What was said should worry all of us no matter our perspective on the subject and force us to wonder about the extremism and stupidity that still exists in our politics. After all, it gives an impression to the world that we've become a cowboy-like country.

The Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP is after all described by National Post's John Ivison as an "important voice inside the Conservative caucus (and) one respected and listened to by everyone, up to and including the Prime Minister".

Again, another Conservative MP, Chungsen Leung, demanded to know why Iranian-Canadian citizens came to Canada in the first place when asked a tough question on international affairs. He failed to answer the question without his partisan talking points -- we should demand better from him despite our political affiliation.

I understand most of these comments came from backbenchers, who former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once called "nobodies. I understand these "nobodies" are destined to remain comfortably as backbenchers and serve the party machine well in order to win the privilege of government.

Every political party has them and the art of the game is to hide them in the closet, control them and ultimately pay them handsomely with a government pension if they do indeed serve long enough to qualify. Then again, when our leaders fail to punish them when they misbehave, it ultimately destroys the fabric of a modern, successful and multicultural Canadian society. Their presence alone is a missed-opportunity and a mockery of our sacred political institution.

Then, when Canada's Defence Minister, Jason Kenney, follows in their footsteps and acts like he is not worthy of the position he holds, we should immediately demand for his resignation.

Kenney, who is perhaps the most partisan member of the Conservative Cabinet, recently tweeted photographs of muslim girls in chains and thanked the Canadian Forces "for joining the fight against #ISIL's campaign to enslave women & girls." An Ottawa Citizen article describes how the photo did not represent extremism, but in fact, "a re-enactment that is part of the annual Ashura ceremony celebrated by Shia Muslims the world over." Then, when he was asked to correct himself and apologize, he has decided to remain silent. We should all be alarmed and expect better from him and our Prime Minister. How can we not?

We should be alarmed, dismayed and shocked by all of these. Each are a shock to the system, however, the action of the Defence Minister is especially concerning. Shouldn't one of Canada's most senior elected officials, a prospective leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and a potential future Prime Minister act and conduct himself better while remaining less partisan?

Almost always, our governments are a reflection of our values and how the world knows us to be. I hope this is not the new Canada of the future.

I understand and love Canadian history and politics. I have admired and still admire those lucky enough to serve in our politics. Most are distinguished --- Chris Alexander, Niki Ashton, Elizabeth May and Irwin Cotler -- and remind us to envision a dream for our Canadian politics as they bring passion, substance and experienced perspectives to our political discourse no matter how partisan they are.

Preston Manning once described how "What used to be considered conservative values, are increasingly becoming more mainstream values."

I hope racism, ignorance and stupidity are not becoming mainstream Canadian values, let alone values endorsed by the Conservative Party of Canada. I hope the Prime Minister understands in his awkward silence, he is giving the impression that he is actually endorsing all the ills we have seen from members of his caucus in recent months.

He should not.

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