We all know that politics is naughty by nature. So many elected officials lined up to rightfully denounce perceived unfairness in Quebec's proposed law. They are able to decipher intolerance in other jurisdictions, but do they turn a blind eye when it occurs at home?
One expects the feds' peripheral vision to include la Belle Province. Prime Minister Harper sent Minister Jason Kenney to speak on the matter. The government expert in dog-whistle policies, two-tierimmigration schemes, and embarrassing racialized outbursts is now waving the tolerance flag.
All of us are experts at practicing virtue at a distance.
~Theodore M. Hesburgh
Ontario and Alberta politicians offered their indignation towards Quebec's proposed Values Charter. The Mayors of Toronto and Ottawa also publicly expressed concern about the Charter, although they've never addressed the perpetual problem of racial profiling by police in their respective cities. You see, the unfair harassment of visible minority Canadians is only worth fighting when it is outside their own circle of influence. When an Ontario Aboriginal citizen bid to retire a racially insensitive sports team name and logo, none of the MPPs or Mayors offered full-throated support. But, last week, they rallied around a spectacularly toothless motion with the purpose for Ontario "to make it clear to the rest of the world that it's not Quebec". Ontario continues to struggle with an inexplicably high dropout rate for Aboriginals and African-Canadian students, as well as imbalanced incarceration rates, but this motion in grandstanding won't address any of it.
From three time zones and five provinces away, BC Premier Christy Clark was able to fixate on the uneven law proposal as well. She weighed into Quebec's not-yet-debated, not-yet-modified, not-yet-voted, not-yet-implemented or enforced charter. B.C. has come a long way from the 1907race riots. Many are proud of B.C.'s rich diversity, but there is still work to do. There have been sporadic deplorable acts of intolerance in B.C. during the Premier's tenure. Curiously, she wasn't compelled to comment on issues occurring in her own province: Indigenous slurs, neo-Nazi enclaves, racial profiling...
Pleas for diversity acceptance have gone unanswered. Even those in the Okanagan region where the Premier sought (re-)election.
Carol Wutzke of Vernon Immigration Services says immigrants are regularly rejected for housing because of their accent over the phone. "And if they did an interview and didn't have so much of an accent, when they came face to face they were not rented," she said.
But never mind that. The Quebec Values Charter provides a platform for another "quick win" for the Premier who is no stranger to the ethnic vote-baiting scheme. Harping on other provinces' problems is nice, but charity begins at home.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
As the sitting Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark is well-positioned to take tangible measures to address discrimination in her own province. She has, at her disposal, the levers of government to act in ways others do not. Political grandstanding on the back of Quebec is an easy tactic to pledge allegiance to the local ethnic vote and to cozy up to countless other countrymen. More than a string of empty words, it behooves elected officials to lead their constituents towards a more just society, and to do so with concrete actions.