WARMINGTON: Anti-racism meeting turns into The Jerry Springer show

Sharp contrast to the session organized by the Riddell Centre for Political Management about a month ago in Ottawa:

It was racism industry on full display.

In one corner you had the “anti racists” who gathered together to talk about racism in Canada and new legislation to end it. In the other you had the so-called “racists.”

Needless to say this was set up to be a powderkeg.

What was billed as an “Anti-Racism Town Hall” at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church on Gerrard St. at Woodbine Ave. on Thursday evening turned into part socialism lecture and part The Jerry Springer Show.

Actually it was so surreal it seemed more like a Simpson’s town hall meeting, complete with characters like Mayor Quimby, Sideshow Bob, Mr. Burns and Krusty the Clown.

And yes Toronto Police 55 Division was called in.

First things first. On the stage you had the author of the M-103 motion to protect criticism of Islam and other religions MP Iqra Khalid, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism MPP Michael Couteau, MPP Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts and MP Beaches-East York Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, all of whom had a similar message about the existence of racism in Canada and Ontario and the need to fix it.

There was talk about how it costs $60 million a year to “incarcerate” youth in the Jane and Finch area and how 22% of black university graduates don’t get jobs while it’s at just 10% for white “drop outs,” how “colonial Canada” supplanted the Indigenous and how government needs to make sure “every person can reach his or her full potential” by “looking for ways to eliminate systematic racism barriers.”

Well this was not sitting well with some of the proud to be rednecks in the crowd. And it boiled over when Khalid started talking about M-103 was not anti blasphemy law but more a tool to foster stronger diversity.

“You are a fraud,” yelled one guy.

“Is this going to be Sharia law,” a woman shouted.

“This is only about protecting Islam and designed to bring more Muslims over here,” said another man.

The most vocal and animated was none other than Eric Brazau who has spent nine months in jail for “promoting hatred” and at one point held up a copy of the Q’uran in protest.

The crowd grew impatient with the constant interruptions and started yelling “shut up” and “racist’s out.”

The bad behaviour was mostly from those protesting M-103 but there were some outbursts from the anti-racism crowd as well — including one man pointing out white supremacist Council of Conservative Canadians founder Paul Fromm and telling him to F… off.”

Fromm did not engage but instead quietly wrote notes in the corner of the room. However, others were fully inflamed. At one point it got so heated in the room it felt like it could explode.

“The police have been called and some people will be asked to leave,” said Erskine-Smith.

The police did come but stayed outside in their car and didn’t escort anybody out.

“It was a strange night,” said Jewish Defence League National Director Meir Weinstein, who was not impressed with the yelling at the politicians.

“I did have a question about why it is politicians accept awards from Islamic terror groups that want to kill Jews and annihilate Israel but this is not part of any conversation?” said Weinstein. “Isn’t that racism?”

It was a fair question but the grandstanding behaviour of some drowned it out. Ironically the rude shouting played right into the hands of the politicians who never lost their cool, composure or even sense of humour.

But the fact there were politicians on one side suggesting Canada is systemically racist and people on the other side acting exactly like they are indeed racist is no laughing matter.

Source: WARMINGTON: Anti-racism meeting turns into The Jerry Springer show

Radicalization, the Loss of Canadian Innocence and the Need for Perspective

With the two killings this week of Canadian soldiers, one by Martin Couture-Rouleau’s running over soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the other by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and his the attack on the War Memorial and Parliament Hill.

Surreal morning for me as I was downtown for meetings, about 8 blocks away from the Hill, learning about the shootings from TV monitors, along with others glued to TV monitors following developments. Felt very much, albeit on a much smaller scale, when I was in LA during the 911 attacks.

Some common points in recent commentary.

A note of caution on over-reacting and the need to maintain balance between freedom, access, and security. John Ivison: In response to Quebec terror attack we must remember a healthy balance between security and freedom, a point echoed by Andrew Coyne in Andrew Coyne: We can’t stop every little terror attack, so let’s brace ourselves and adapt where he recommends, not “a panicky search for false assurances, nor even defiance, but a collective insouciance.” Martin Regg Cohn praises the Ontario political leaders for keeping to the normal Parliamentary schedule in The democratic show must go on: Cohn.

While there was universal praise, and deservedly so, for Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, both for his quick and efficient handling of the attack as well as his philosophy of keeping Parliament a public space, Michael Den Tandt savages the overall handling of the attack in Michael Den Tandt: Ottawa shooting shows Canadian capital’s utter lack of readiness, and how information was not communicated. Haroon Siddiqui makes similar, but less well argued points, in Killings of two soldiers raise troubling questions: Siddiqui.

Margaret Wente takes the opposite tack, in an almost boosterish tone, contrary to much of the reporting, argues that Canadians will not change and that the attack was handled calmly and without hysteria in  Terrorists don’t have a chance in this country. Joe Warmington of The Toronto Sun takes the opposite tack in Canada will never be the same, as does Ian MacLeod in The Ottawa Citizen, in Analysis: Effects on Ottawa will be lasting and far-reaching (with video).

Also in the Post, which generally has some of the strongest reporting in this area, Tom Blackwell, their health reporter, reports on the “lone wolf” phenomenon and some of the factors that may result in some being open to radicalization in ‘Rhetoric and bluster’: Was attack on soldiers really terrorism, or just the violent act of a disturbed man? The Globe has a good profile on Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the War Memorial and Parliament Hill in Suspected killer in Ottawa shootings had a disturbing side, that reinforces some of these points.

From La Presse, a report on the local mosque in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and what appears to be a very conservative Imam in terms of social teachings but no indication that he preached violence, or whether Couture-Rouleau went to the mosque regularly (seems he was most active on social media) in Un imam controversé à Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Listening to the RCMP outline what they did and what they could do, particularly in the case of Couture-Rouleau (as of writing not as fulsome an account for Zehaf-Bibeau) hard to see that any of the Government’s recent or planned initiatives would have made a difference. The RCMP monitored him, spoke to friends and families who shared their well-founded worries, confiscated his passport but as the RCMP officer at the press conference said, “We couldn’t arrest someone for having radical thoughts, it’s not a crime in Canada.”

Couture-Rouleau, like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, were both born in Canada. Couture-Rouleau was not a dual-national and would not be subject, had he lived, for citizenship revocation. It is unclear whether Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, given his father was Libyan in origin, would be entitled to Libyan citizenship and thus theoretically subject to revocation.

And while tragedies for the families and friends of the soldiers killed, and (another) reminder that we have extremists among us, both reassuring and worrying that both of these appear to be “lone wolf” attacks rather than groups and more “sophisticated” plans and conspiracies that could result in significantly more casualities.

I tend to be between Wente and Warmington: no, not everything has changed but neither has everything remained the same. Our political leaders, of all stripes, as well as the media and others, will play a role in ensuring, or not, that we retain perspective and balance.