THE BLOG

Sorry Harper, Muslims Have Become Inconveniently Sympathetic

09/15/2015 12:16 EDT | Updated 09/15/2016 05:12 EDT
Thomas Koehler via Getty Images
BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 27: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, speaks to members of the media during a press conference in the Federal Chancellery on March 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images)

The polls are saying that the Conservatives are faring worse than the other two parties. How could this happen? I think Stephen Harper put all his eggs into one right-wing basket. Well, he had two eggs, really -- oil and Muslims. He was counting on sky-high oil prices and scary, Muslim jihadi terrorists to help him win the next election. And both have failed him badly.

Under Harper, oil was supposed to be Canada's economic savior. Instead, it did things like blow up trains, raise the loonie's value, which in turn hurt the manufacturing industry not to mention the havoc it wreaked on the environment from extracting it. Living in Saskatchewan, grain was stuck in silos because the trains preferred to move lucrative oil instead. For the record, oil is not edible.

Had he read the Kyoto tea leaves, he would have learned that the reigning demi-God of all millennials is Elon Musk, who will save the world with his solar panels and oil is now as evil as, well Muslims are for Harper. In a 2011 interview, he famously told CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge that "Islamicism" was the biggest threat to Canada. I didn't take it personally. He was looking after his own interests after all.

Meanwhile, the Muslims are running around giving out baskets of muffins to their neighbours to bolster good will. This Ramadan, Canada's annual Give 30 campaign, saw Muslim communities across the nation come together to help raise over $135,000 in donations for local food banks. Thanks to Harper, Muslims have discovered the Aboriginal community for the first time otherwise known as "people who have it worse than us.: October's Islamic History Month is themed "Know Each Other -- Honouring Canada's First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples."

Aboriginals and Muslims are keenly aware of what's at stake in this election. When you're running in an election this close, it's not a good strategy to demonize and isolate the two populations who historically have not voted in large numbers but are suddenly sitting up and paying attention because they feel that Bill C-51 is more interested in criminalizing their communities then keeping Canada safe.

In the U.S., it was the Islamophia that occurred after 9/11, which bolstered the American Muslim community to get politically engaged and become active participants in civic society. Canadian Muslims were insulated from right-wing fallout for a long time. And then Harper happened. He fought Zunera Ishaq in court and lost and is trying again. All she wants to do is stand in a crowded room and sing the national anthem in her niqab. There are many Canadians who are offended by people who mistake yoga pants for formal wear and view the man bun as a Slight to Western society but no one is taking those people to the Supreme Court to get them to change their clothes. Omar Khadr was kept out of Canada for years only to finally return home and in quintessential Canadian fashion, prove that even suspected terrorists are nice guys. He became a media darling overnight and Harper's existential nightmare.

Images of Muslims as desperate refugees needing a new home have resulted in immigration specialists being dusted off and brought forth onto radio and television shows where they wring their hands about how much the immigration and refugee system has been overhauled for the worst over the last 10 years. The timing for the image of Muslims to change from fire-breathing jihadi terrorists, frothing at the mouth to actual human beings could not have been worse. This election was supposed to be about economic renewal and getting tough on crime and instead we are in a recession and the papers are full of stories about Muslims drowning in the sea.

Ironically it was the Muslims in OPEC who killed the price of oil -- the very two commodities that were supposed to save Harper. I hope he didn't take it personally. They were just looking after their own interests after all.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

In Photos: Canada Election 2015