Stephen Harper is not so crude but his message is similar. “We cannot open the floodgates and airlift tens of thousands of refugees out of a terrorist war zone without proper process. That is too great a risk for Canada.” Never mind that neither Thomas Mulcair nor Justin Trudeau ever asked him to airlift tens of thousands — let alone without security clearance.
Harper’s candidate in Don Valley North, Joe Daniel, detects an “agenda” behind the “so-called refugees” — “move as many Muslims into European countries to change these countries in a major way. That’s something that I certainly don’t want to see happening in Canada.”
Such politicians may or may not be bigots. But they are clearly catering to a constituency that fears that the Islamic State terrorists are masquerading as refugees, and that the refugee exodus is designed to flood the West with Muslims, who would then impose sharia law. As with any conspiracy theory, it’s not clear who, exactly, is orchestrating it. Daniel thinks it is Saudi Arabia (to which his boss has semi-secretly sold $15 billion worth of Canadian armoured vehicles).
Ben Carson, another Republican presidential hopeful, says a Muslim cannot be president. Harper says a Muslim wearing a niqab cannot become a Canadian citizen. Both won popular support — and cash contributions for their campaigns.
Trump wants to ship out illegal immigrants. Harper has already started the process of deporting convicted Muslim terrorists to where they, or their parents, came from. This “medieval” practice of taking away citizenship, as Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls it, was a favourite of the British, who sent convicts to America and then Australia in the 18th century, and from colonial India to Burma in the 19th.
“From antiquity to the late 20th century, denationalization was a tool used by states to rid themselves of political dissidents, convicted criminals and ethnic, religious or racial minorities. The latest target of denationalization is the convicted terrorist, or the suspected terrorist, or the potential terrorist, or maybe the associate of a terrorist. He is virtually always Muslim and male,” writes Audrey Macklin, law professor at the University of Toronto, in The Return of Banishment, a lead essay in a forum by the European Union Observatory on Citizenship.
Muslim refugees. Muslim terrorists. Muslim niqabis. They have turned the moribund Conservative campaign around, and taken the party past the Liberals and the NDP, the latter sinking in Quebec over the niqab.
Who remembers Duffygate? Secret machinations in the PMO? Pamela Wallin? Anemic economy?
All this is unfolding according to Harper’s plan — consolidate the party base at around 30 per cent, get another four or five per cent, and you are assured a minority.
He built that solid base over the years with Republican and Tea Party politics and tactics.
Distrust science and scientific data, to free you up to deny climate change and dodge demographic, economic changes that hinder your ideological prescriptions.
Go to war and glorify it. Call critics unpatriotic. Venerate soldiers but abandon returning war vets, injured and broken. Mount premature victory parades — George W. Bush with “mission accomplished” in Iraq, Harper with a flypast over Parliament Hill to mark the mission in Libya — no matter that Iraq and Libya are still smouldering.
Fan fear of terrorism. During the 2002-14 Afghan mission, the formulation was that if we were not there, the Taliban would come to a neighbourhood near you. Now it’s ISIS.
Fan fear of crime, pass tougher sentences and spend billions building jails, even when crime rates are going down. Keep up the failed war on drugs, such as marijuana. Kill the long-gun registry.
Attack the judges when they don’t go along with your agenda.
Empty the treasury with tax giveaways, starve the government of revenue, so it is able to do less and less.
The Republicans sound tough on illegal immigrants, Harper is tough on “bogus” refugees, cutting off their health benefits.
The Republicans suppress voting by blacks and all those unlikely to vote for them. Harper has made it difficult for young people, aboriginals and new immigrants to vote (the latter by delaying the citizenship, and thus voting rights, of landed immigrants by extending the waiting period to four years instead of three). The act also disenfranchised 1.4 million Canadians who have lived abroad for five years, such asWayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Celine Dion, William Shatner, Donald Sutherland, Neil Young, etc. Expats can run as candidates in the election but they can’t vote.
Whatever all this says about Harper, it also tells us about a changing Canada, at least a third of it. This is causing panic among the remaining two-thirds. They are desperate to hear from Mulcair and Trudeau how the two plan to avert a Harper victory.