It’s been a troublesome couple of years for many Conservatives, particularly moderates.
Besides losing government to the Liberals in 2015, there’s been a flirtation by some in the party, and among those aligned with it, with intolerance.
In the 2015 election, the party campaigned for things like preventing Muslim women from wearing full head scarves in citizenship swearing-in ceremonies, and having a snitch line Canadians could call if they spotted “barbaric cultural practices.”
This tactic obviously did not work, but MP Kellie Leitch, in her failed run for the Conservative leadership, took a different but related stance, saying she would require newcomers to Canada to be tested for what she called Canadian values.
Ms. Leitch seemed inspired by the success of Donald Trump, who won the U.S. presidency on promises such as banning Muslims from entering the country and building a wall along the American border to Mexico. That didn’t work either for Ms. Leitch.
During this time, the online media operation The Rebel—known for promoting right-wing views and founded by ex-Sun News personalities Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley—seemingly became more friendly with the alt-right movement. Contributor Gavin McInnes did a segment in March from Israel stating, for instance, that people of the Jewish nation have “a whiny, paranoid fear of Nazis.” He added that after some of the stuff he heard on the trip, “I’m becoming anti-Semitic.” Mr. Levant, who is Jewish, claimed such statements were made in humour.
A final straw for many came when The Rebel correspondent Faith Goldy, attending the recently racially charged protests in Charlottesville, Va., seemed to be sympathetic toward the side that featured many white nationalists and those wearing attire indicating they were Nazis or members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Among the things she said: “There has been a rising in, I think, white racial consciousness after decades of identity politics which underscored non-white identities. I think a lot of white men, specifically—this seems to be their struggle—are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore.”
This was said before a car drove into a crowd of anti-racism protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured many others. The accused is 20-year-old James Fields who’s been described as an admirer of Adolf Hitler.
Ms. Goldy was fired by The Rebel last week.
To his credit, co-founder Mr. Lilley quit The Rebel last week. On Facebook, he said he was not comfortable with the “harsh tone” that outlet had been taking on things like immigration and Islam. He said “as a serious journalist … I cannot be part of this.”
As well, Conservative MP and recent leadership contestant Michael Chong vowed not to do interviews anymore with The Rebel, accusing it of promoting “white supremacy” and “anti-Semitism.”
Most importantly, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also disavowed The Rebel, saying he would no longer interact with the organization under its current “editorial directions.”
Canadians of all political stripes can be proud that mainstream players in this country’s conservative movement saw the slippery slope part of it seemed to be inching toward and stepped back. Racism should not be allowed to permeate the political mainstream of a multicultural society like Canada.
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