The election showed we don’t know how to cover the far right

Hard to handle, this coverage issue:

Unlike episodes of “Seinfeld,” elections are never about nothing. While our 44th general election might have felt like it didn’t accomplish much in light of the final seat count, it is false to suggest that this vote doesn’t hold valuable lessons for regular Canadians and politicos alike in the future.

One of the major underpinnings of this campaign is that it exemplified just how unprepared our media and political chattering classes are when it comes to dealing with the rise of the far right in this country, and acknowledging the role misinformation plays in our current discourse.

While many political journalists and commentators are quick to dismiss Maxime Bernier and his ilk as being wholly disconnected from the larger conservative media and political network, the actual evidence would suggest otherwise. Bernier’s descent from Harper-era cabinet minister to conspiracy-theory-peddling zealot shouldn’t be viewed as some sort of one-off event, but should rather be seen as emblematic of an ecosystem that allows an alarming degree of misinformation in its mainstream discourse.

It’s incredibly easy to write off those who were protesting hospitals and claiming to be fighting against permanent lockdowns as cranks that are completely detached from reality. It’s much more difficult to question what role mainstream publications and commercial AM talk radio have in shaping some of these views. From columns in print media arguing that climate change lockdowns are in our immediate future, to talk radio hosts explicitly calling the prime minister a “globalist” who will destroy our country, Canadians don’t need to go to far-right online outlets like The Post Millennial or The Rebel to be misinformed.

In a lot of ways, Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) are simply the next step in the evolution of the conservative movement in this country, as sitting Conservative MPs regularly peddle all sort of conspiracy theories. One might try to convince themselves that this is relegated to the Conservative back bench, like Cheryl Gallant echoing the climate change lockdown conspiracy or saying that Liberals want to “normalize sexual relations with children.” But in doing so, one would have to actively ignore Conservative front benchers like Pierre Poilievre, who recently tried to fear monger around the notion of a “great reset.”

The PPC was able to more than double their vote share in this election, garnering just over 800,000 votes this time around. Certainly not every single PPC voter is an avowed white supremacist, but it would be a mistake to ignore the clear ties the PPC has to far-right, extremist groups. And yet, this very salient detail often seems to be lacking in the media coverage surrounding the PPC. For example, columns and news coverage alike failed to acknowledge that the PPC riding president who was charged for throwing gravel at the prime minister had well-established, explicit ties to the white nationalist movement.

This past week Bernier published the contact information of journalists who had reached out to the PPC to ask questions, and called on his followers on Twitter to “play dirty” with the journalists Bernier had targeted. What happened next was predictable: journalists were sent racist messages along with death and rape threats by hordes of PPC supporters, Twitter reacted too slowly to take down Bernier’s tweet, and Bernier’s call very quickly ended up on a white supremacist forum.

It is irresponsible, and arguably journalistic malpractice, to cover the PPC as if it were any other mainstream political party in this country. And yet that is exactly how much of our political media is treating them.

Source: The election showed we don’t know how to cover the far right

Palmater: The PPC got more than 800,000 votes, and that should worry all of us

Not to dismiss the increase, but may be premature to make a definitive assessment given the uniqueness of the various factors involved. But we always knew that a percentage of voters had more extreme views or felt disconnected, with the PPC providing a vehicle for that discontent:

The Liberals held a snap election in the middle of a pandemic, rolling the dice to gain a majority government, and they lost. Although the votes are still being counted, 320 of the 338 seats have been confirmed, and while the Liberals held on to their minority government status, they look to only gain one additional seat. At an approximate cost of $610 million dollars—which does not include the costs borne by Canadians to travel to their voting station or arrange child care while they stood in line for hours—this election, by any measure, cost far more than it was worth. However, the results did reveal a growing threat to public safety that has been largely unaddressed—the rise of far-right groups who have used the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic to gain support.

While most political analysts were focused on whether the Liberals would hold on to their minority government, something else was happening throughout election night: the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) popular vote count continued to rise. In fact, they more than doubled the votes for the Green Party. In 2019, the PPC had almost 300,000 votes. But this election, at last count, the current total is more than 800,000—more than double that of two years ago. While none of the candidates in the PPC—not even leader Maxime Bernier—has won a seat, the party has been able rally the angry anti-maskers and those opposed to pandemic health measures under their far-right umbrella. A closer look at some of those who’ve joined the party include those who were rejected by the Conservative party or gained some degree of notoriety from racist rhetoric, or are opposed to pandemic health protections. And almost a million Canadians support them.

Although the rise of far-right populist rhetoric and groups is not unique to Canada, the federal government has been largely silent about the public safety risk it poses to Canadians—especially Black, Indigenous, and racialized people and women. Hate crimes have increased by 37 per cent in the last year and the proliferation of online hate groups in Canada is of particular concern. According to recent international studies, Canadians are among the most active in online right-wing extremism, which includes spreading racist, white supremacist and misogynistic views, and plotting acts of violence. While the United States has received the bulk of media attention for the rise in far-right ideology and violence in their country, the disturbing fact is, that Canada produces more far-right online content per web user than any other country. The violent inclinations, and ability to wield social media to recruit and radicalize younger Canadians, must be understood more broadly than the current lens of trying to address individual hate crimes: this is a group mentality

The PPC platform contained just the right combination of commitments to speak to those with far-right ideologies, anti-Indigenous views, pandemic gripes and pro-gun attitudes, including their promises to maximize freedom of expression (allow more hate speech); cut funding to universities if they silence those espousing hateful views; cut funding for CBC; cut funding for foreign aide; and lower the number of immigrants and stop the flow of refugees into Canada.

Beneath the surface of these promises are deeply embedded racist views against non-white people which would be bolstered by their plan to repeal multiculturalism laws and cut funding for multiculturalism with a view to forcing integration into Canadian society and culture. This together with the party’s promise to end the ban on military style weapons, is a recipe for disaster that appears to be gaining traction in Canada. While some may see individual incidents of Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups as one-off incidents, we know they are part of a larger phenomenon that is loosely rallying around the PPC. This Liberal minority government must look beyond the politics of the vote count and the fact that neither Bernier nor any of his candidates won any seats and consider carefully at what 800,000 votes for the PPC means in terms of far-right organizing and to public safety in the future.

Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer and the chair in Indigenous governance at Ryerson University. 

Source: The PPC got more than 800,000 votes, and that should worry all of us

Matt Gurney: We know who the PPC voters are. Here’s what they believe

Interesting polling data on PPC supporters:

Poll after poll has shown that the People’s Party of Canada, led by former Conservative Maxime Bernier, is surging in popular support. The party, which captured only 1.6 per cent of the vote in 2019, electing zero candidates, is now polling at closer to five or six per cent, or higher. These gains have not come at any obvious loss to any major party (the hapless Green party may be an exception, but there were only so many Green voters in the first place). While there is no doubt that some voters are bolting to the PPC from traditional parties, it seems certain — and polling suggests — that they are also drawing support from the nine million Canadians who were eligible to vote in 2019 but did not. 

This is, to put it very mildly, worth watching. In a recent column here, drawing on polling information provided by John Wright, the executive vice president of Maru Public Opinion, we tried to establish what we could about a PPC supporter. They are not particularly remarkable; as noted last week, a typical PPC voter is a typical Canadian. They are fairly evenly distributed across all demographic segments and found in generally similar numbers in the various provinces. The earlier numbers were based on a fairly small sample size — the PPC’s low support on a national level has limited their numbers in any typical national-level poll. Last week, I said that more polling was necessary, to firm up the profile of who a PPC voter is and where they live. Wright has been doing that polling — the sample sizes are still modest, but a representative profile is beginning to emerge …  not just of who a PPC voter is, but what they believe.

There is a degree of background context that must be established before we can move onto the numbers. When he presented me with his latest results on Tuesday, Wright noted that polling PPC voters is a particular challenge for his industry. The very concept of “the typical PPC voter” is rapidly shifting. The PPC base of even five weeks ago was a small fringe of grumpy people loosely assembled around a handful of vaguely libertarian policies, some anti-immigration blather and a disillusionment with the political status quo. (A typical PPC billboard encapsulates this unfocused dissatisfaction: “The Other Options Suck.”) Many polling companies track the attitudes of partisans of various affiliations by creating a panel of those partisans and then polling them over and over. Polling companies trying to track the PPC’s sudden rise, if they rely on such an identified panel of PPC voters that will be repeatedly surveyed, are capturing the PPC as it existed before the mid-August influx of new supporters. This is undoubtedly skewing our understanding of what the PPC voter, as they exist right now, believes. Wright has done four waves of polling in the last 10 days to update, as best as possible, our understanding of what the PPC voter believes today. He will continue to poll several times a week for the foreseeable future. 

As to that August surge, as discussed in my column here last week, the best way to explain it is to look for something that recently changed — and something has: there are millions of Canadians who are adamantly anti-vax and anti-vaccine mandate/passport. The PPC surge began at the precise moment that vaccine mandates became a major issue in the federal campaign, and provinces began discussing their plans for certificates to verify vaccination status for domestic purposes. Pollsters needed a few weeks to notice the surge and verify it was real. 

Back to the numbers.

First, let’s briefly deal with the “who” of the PPC: the latest numbers with the larger survey generally conform with what I reported last week and is being reported elsewhere. PPC support is fairly uniform across the country, in the mid-to-high single digits; the only notable outlier is Quebec, which is below the national average of six, with four per cent. PPC support is generally stable across income groups and, in one of the only notable divergences from the earlier, smaller sample, fairly uniform across the genders, as well. PPC support is roughly double among those under age 55 relative to those over 55. The party is about half as popular among those with a university degree compared to those without. This profile is generally similar to what other pollsters are seeing in their own data 

Now let’s look at what they believe.

Wright had previously run an attitudinal survey of the Canadian electorate, polling their level of agreement with a variety of statements. The PPC voters gave answers that were wildly offside with the rest of the electorate. Wright has now run that survey again with a much larger sample of PPC voters (and will run it again for a yet larger sample) and the numbers didn’t change much. Other pollsters have been able to report in general terms the kinds of things a PPC voter might believe, or at least what they believed six weeks ago, but we can now put some actual meat on the bones of what they believe now, after the surge in support. And folks, it’s pretty eye-opening stuff.

Take immigration, something the PPC openly spoken against. The typical Canadian has about an even chance of thinking Canada is letting in too many immigrants — 47 per cent of the country feels that way, and that includes three in five Conservatives, half of Bloc voters, a third of Liberal and NPD voters — but a whopping 83 per cent of PPC voters. PPC voters are way more likely than the rest to favour a very hands-off approach to gun control and regulation; the typical Conservative is a lot closer to a Liberal or NDP voter on this issue than they are a PPC voter. 

But that’s about what you’d expect for a vaguely libertarian party that has been publicly critical of immigration. It gets weirder from here.

Roughly a third of Canadians (35 per cent) agree that the government is stripping away personal liberties; with Conservative and Green voters answering in the affirmative more often than NDP and Liberals. By comparison, 89 per cent of PPC voters believe the government is stripping away their liberty. Almost 90 per cent of PPC voters further agree that their governments are creating “tyranny” over the population. To put that in context, only about 40 per cent of Conservatives feel that way, with the other major parties way behind.

Oh, and here’s a cheerful one to chew over: Wright asked Canadians if they’d agree that “we are on the verge of a revolution in our society to take our freedom back from governments who are limiting it.” That question received 32 per cent support nationally — but an incredible 84 per cent from PPC supporters.

This sounds like the kind of thing we maybe ought to be paying attention to, eh?

It’s the attitudes on vaccination and measures to promote vaccination that show the wildest disparities between PPCers and the rest, though. Wright asked if Canadians would agree that “regardless of what society says, I will not be vaccinated.” Only 16 per cent of his national respondents agreed; this number is generally similar to what other pollsters have been tracking as their “anti-vax” hard core. 

About 20 per cent of Greens are hardcore anti-vaxxers. The mainstream parties are all within the margin of error with each other, and in the very low double or high single digits. But 60 per cent of PPCers say they will not be vaccinated.

Wright also polled party supporters on this question: “I am against vaccine passports because they exclude people from participating in society.” That view was held by only 29 per cent of Canadians. But 88 per cent of PPC voters agreed. 

This is big: fully half of PPC voters fear they will lose their jobs due to opposition to vaccines. That’s significantly greater than the national average: only a fifth of Canadians claimed to have this worry. 

There are limits to the available polling. I can’t tell you what issues PPC voters agree with the majority on. There undoubtedly are some — remember, the typical PPC voter is a fairly typical Canadian. These people are your friends, co-workers and neighbours. I also can’t tell you much about their ethnic composition — there is an assumption among many pundits that they’ll be lopsidedly white, and I confess that wouldn’t shock me, but the PPC’s age profile skewing younger rather than older might complicate that. 

The PPC vote is vastly more alarmed at the prospect of tyranny and an erosion of liberty and personal freedom than most Canadians, and that PPC supporters are wildly divergent from the typical Canadian on all issues around vaccination and efforts to boost vaccination rates. Also, the stereotype of the typical PPC voter simply being a the looniest subsection of the Conservatives doesn’t really seem to hold up. For all the criticism Erin O’Toole has faced over vaccination and related issues, Conservative voters are actually quite closely aligned with the majority; indeed, the average Conservative voter is less adamantly opposed to vaccination than the average Canadian. Tyler Dawson @tylerrdawsonMaxime Bernier has arrived at Borden Park, and a spontaneous singing of O Canada has broken out. Unsurprisingly, they’ve used the old lyrics. September 11th 20214 Retweets24 Likes

If any party other than the PPC is weirdly offside the consensus on the vaccine-related questions, it’s the Greens. Anyone who’s ever met a Green voter probably isn’t shocked by that, the party was always populated by a strange mix of genuinely smart policy wonks and cranks. The cranks have another option now.

None of this is predictive. PPC support might evaporate on election day. Broader societal support doesn’t automatically confer upon it a meaningful electoral ground game and functional get-out-the-vote effort. I believe that the polls showing surging PPC support are capturing something real, but a bunch of typically non-voting citizens falling in with a proto-party with no real organizational strength will almost certainly result in said proto-party underperforming its polling at the ballot box. 

As noted in my last column, though, the PPC surge began right as talk about vaccine passports and mandates heated up. It’s heated up more since. Half of PPC voters fear their livelihoods are in danger. Ninety per cent of them believe they’re having tyranny imposed upon them. The more vaccine mandates and passports are advocated by the major political parties and loudly and aggressively championed by prominent voices in the mainstream, the more juiced up this contingent is likely to become. Remember: Wright has PPC support at six per cent nationally, but almost a fifth of Canadians fear they’ll lose their job for opposing vaccines. The gap between those numbers is Bernier’s pool of accessible new supporters. It’s a big pool.

You don’t have to agree with the PPC and its supporters. This doubly-vaxed writer certainly does not. But these polls just aren’t another dataset for the horserace number crunchers. These are warning signs of what could possibly be a very real, persistent problem to Canadian social and political stability. Anyone who thinks that alarmist should imagine how alarmist they’d sound trying to explain the last five years to their younger selves, circa 2016. 

More polls to come. Stay tuned.

Source: https://theline.substack.com/p/matt-gurney-we-know-who-the-ppc-voters?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoxMDcxOTUwNywicG9zdF9pZCI6NDEzNDIwOTcsIl8iOiJ3SVY5SCIsImlhdCI6MTYzMTcyMjc2NSwiZXhwIjoxNjMxNzI2MzY1LCJpc3MiOiJwdWItNzAwMzIiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.2uw4YxAuD5mFwQp5Nrlxy3GtZ3eMACSX91sSXFeP9yk

Ibbitson: The People’s Party is far outside the mainstream of Canadian politics, but it deserves representation and Mason: Maxime Bernier’s disgraceful election campaign

Two very different takes on Bernier and his campaign, Ibbitson arguing that PPC political representation in Parliament is preferable to no representation, as better that they feel being shut-out:

Word has it that Chelsea Hillier’s campaign is gaining traction. If the votes split the right way, the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London could win the Southwestern Ontario riding on Sept. 20. Here’s hoping she does.

To preserve a healthy democracy, Ms. Hillier – who is the daughter of rogue Ontario MPP Randy Hillier – along with party leader Maxime Bernier and a number of other PPC candidates should be elected to the House of Commons.

The People’s Party is far outside the mainstream of Canadian politics. Some of its more ardent supporters fuelled the protests that dogged Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign. (Ms. Hillier’s former riding president, Shane Marshall, was dismissed and has been charged by police after he allegedly threw gravel at Mr. Trudeau.) Mr. Bernier’s rhetoric – “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty” – can be incendiary.

It is reasonable to suspect that many, if not most, of the demonstrators harassing health care workers and patients outside hospitals will be casting a ballot for the PPC.

Nonetheless, the People’s Party of Canada is a legitimate political party that deserves representation. It reflects the views of almost two million voters. Suppressing the voices of those voters will only worsen their estrangement from the mainstream.

The PPC platform is straightforward: It would cut back on immigration by as much as 75 per cent and eliminate multiculturalism as a policy. Newcomers would be interviewed to ensure they embrace “Canadian values and societal norms,” which are “those of a contemporary Western civilization.”

Canada under a PPC government would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change while lowering the bar for oil-and-gas pipeline approvals. It would direct the Bank of Canada to lower its inflation target from 2 per cent to 0 per cent; balance the budget in its first mandate; cut back on equalization payments; let provinces run their health care systems as they see fit; lift many gun restrictions; and oppose “vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and other authoritarian measures.”

Not my cup of tea – and then some. But similar policies have been implemented at one time or another in the United States and some European countries. In other countries, populist right-wing parties are prominently represented in legislatures.

As Erin O’Toole has moved the Conservative Party toward the centre, some voters on the party’s right appear to have abandoned it for the PPC, which has the support of about 7 per cent of eligible voters, according to Tuesday’s Nanos tracking poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV News. That’s more than four times the 1.6 per cent the party polled in the last election and more support than the Bloc Québécois or Green Party command.

In a House of Commons that fairly represented the will of the electorate, there would be about two dozen PPC MPs if that level of support were translated into votes on election day. But due to the vagaries of the first-past-the-post voting system, the party could be shut out, which would further alienate right-wing voters who have already lost faith in their political institutions.

There could be plenty of reasons why so many people are drawn to the People’s Party. They have become resentful and untrusting over the loss of manufacturing jobs. They are stressed by the pandemic. Some of them resent the increasing number of non-European immigrants. This is racist, but it is how they feel. And they enjoy the self-empowerment that comes from rejecting authority.

While most of us agree that making vaccination mandatory for workplaces, public transportation and other shared spaces is essential to protect the vulnerable and defeat the pandemic, others see such restrictions as attacks on their personal freedom. And many of them distrust the scientific consensus around vaccines, just as they do when it comes to climate change.

Mr. Bernier seeks to be their voice. If their voice is silenced – if PPC members fail to break through in Parliament, just as Mr. Bernier was unfairly denied representation in the leaders’ debates last week – they will find another way to be heard.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-the-peoples-party-is-far-outside-the-mainstream-of-canadian-politics/

Gary Mason, on the other hand, focuses on just how much Bernier has changed for the worse and the reactionary politics he preaches:

Election campaigns are bruising, generally thankless affairs, in which the mood of the candidates is inextricably linked to the proximity of the finish line.

That is, unless you have nothing to lose, then you can often enjoy the experience and get more exposure than you ever imagined – or frankly, deserved.

Welcome to Mad Max Bernier’s world.

Mr. Bernier leads the People’s Party of Canada. This is his second federal campaign as front man of a political entity he founded in the wake of a failed bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2017. (He lost by a hair to Andrew Scheer.) But this time around he’s attracting far more attention than he did in the 2019 election.

The pandemic has not been good for much, except, perhaps, Mr. Bernier’s political fortunes. It’s not the kind of bump with which most people would be happy to be associated, but then, beggars can’t be choosers. Many of the deplorable anti-vaxxers who have been protesting outside hospitals and angrily confronting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail have found a home in the PPC. (A former PPC riding president was recently charged with assault with a weapon after allegedly pelting Mr. Trudeau with gravel at a campaign event.)

They have been drawn to the party’s emphasis on freedom and liberty and its “governments-have-no-right-to-tell-us-what-do” credo. A passionate, if not flakey libertarian, Maxime Bernier is capitalizing on the intersection of a pandemic and a federal election. His party has given voice to those who believe vaccine mandates and passports are an infringement of their constitutional rights.

Prior to now, Mr. Bernier and his party have mostly been an easily ignored sideshow. His questioning of human-caused climate change and his horrible mocking of climate campaigner Greta Thunberg were enough to make most normal-thinking people tune the party out long ago. The sketchy nationalists the PPC seemed to attract were a concern, but not any threat to our security. If he wanted to hold meetings and quote Ayn Rand, fine. If he wanted to be an outlet for the country’s conspiracy theorists, okay.

But what he’s been doing on the campaign trail is not kosher. Not by any measure.

Mr. Bernier recently wrapped up a three-day tour of Alberta, where, according to polls, the PPC enjoys more support than almost anywhere else in the country. He held a few well-attended events, including at a church at Spruce Grove, just outside of Edmonton. Hundreds, virtually all without masks, crammed inside the church hall to hear Mr. Bernier ramble on about how horrible it is that governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict people’s rights.

“Because we know that without freedom, there’s no human dignity, equality of rights and economic prosperity,” he told his audience. “And we know that freedom is the foundation of our Western civilization.”

He pulled out a quote he uses often: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.” It’s a line familiar to many far-right militia organizations.

Here’s the biggest problem: Mr. Bernier is giving cover to all those out there who are refusing to get vaccinated, not because of some underlying condition, but because they simply don’t want to. This phenomenon is stalling our pandemic recovery. Alberta, for instance, is in a crisis, with hospitals overrun with COVID-19.The province’s intensive care units are now treating a record number of patients sick with the virus, the vast majority of whom were not vaccinated. Imagine.

Meantime, Mr. Bernier is out there promoting the kind of nonsense that is fuelling anti-vaxxer rage and making the jobs of governments trying to tame the fourth wave that much harder. This will be the PPC leader’s greatest legacy and his greatest shame.

To this day, many of Mr. Bernier’s former colleagues in the Conservative party remain dumbfounded by what they are witnessing. They did not see this coming. Mr. Bernier was always a libertarian, but one who didn’t take himself too seriously. He had a playful sense of humour. He could be relied on to assume serious positions in government, if not always without incident.

But after he came up just short of winning the CPC leadership four years ago something changed, and not for the better. He seemed to become embittered and intent on doing as much damage to the CPC as he could.

There’s no question he’s sucking some support away from his old party in this election. It remains to be seen, however, if it will be enough to cost the CPC a shot at government.

Regardless, when the story of this election is written, Mr. Bernier will remain a historical footnote. And a disgraceful one at that.

Source: Maxime Bernier’s disgraceful election campaign

Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated

Overblown risk IMO. PPC did not even appear to influence CPC immigration-related positions. And as someone who spent some time looking at the bios, backgrounds and campaigns of PPC candidates, most of their candidates were more placeholders than active campaigners:

As Canada’s federal election fades from the headlines, temperatures drop, and the hockey season shifts into full swing, Maxime Bernier’s first campaign as head of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) might begin to fade from memory. After all, the PPC’s results were forgettable. Bernier lost in his own riding, and PPC candidates tallied only 1.6 per cent of the national vote.

Yet progressive Canadians dismiss the PPC at our peril.

In the party’s first campaign, Bernier managed to find candidates for 94 per cent of Canada’s federal ridings.

These candidates delivered the PPC message at doorsteps, schools, and town halls from coast to coast.

The party received almost 300,000 votes in its inaugural run, a foundation on which it might well build.

Its ideology of exclusionary, anti-immigrant nationalism is eerily similar to political movements across Europe. The PPC derides the United Nations as “ridiculous” and “dysfunctional,” worrying that participation may “dilute” our “national sovereignty.”

It sees no moral justification for international aid.

It contends that immigrants threaten “to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of our country” and that we should build physical barriers to stop refugees.

Bernier urges that the Multiculturalism Act be repealed to “ensure social cohesion.”

This mashup of anti-globalism, hostility to immigrants, and cultural nationalism draws from an international populist right that, in most cases, was not taken seriously at first.

Not long ago, in countries such as Hungary and Poland, anti-immigrant nationalist parties were considered alien to a liberal, post-Communist political culture. Now they have swept to power.

The Lega in Italy was once frowned upon as a fringe regionalist party. It recently morphed into a nationalist-populist voice that, according to current polls, would win a plurality of seats if Italians voted today.

These movements distort national histories to buttress their exclusive visions of national community.

In Europe, right-wing nationalists replace the painful lessons of the 20th century with glorified national histories, and assert the cultural superiority of their own national community. According to the Alternative for Germany Party, Hitler and the Nazi regime were just a “petty mistake.” In Poland, the governing Law and Justice Party has introduced a law banning anyone from blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.

The PPC likewise hearkens to an imagined past in decrying the supposed decay of the present.

In a speech at a July rally in Mississauga, Bernier claimed that immigration to Canada was once uncontroversial: “immigrants who came to Canada gradually integrated into our society . . . They became Canadian, but with a distinct flavour.”

It is only over the “past decades,” the Party’s platform explains, that immigration has become problematic — a period in which, not coincidentally, immigrants have been more globally diverse than ever before.

In reality, Canada has a difficult history of xenophobia.

In the early 1900s, when the government recruited southern and eastern Europeans to farm the prairies, alarmists decried diversity. “Assimilation,” ranted one leading parliamentarian, “means the intermarriage of your sons or daughters with those who are of an alien race.” His prejudice was written into an exclusionary new immigration law in 1910.

In the 1920s, Canada changed immigration policy to virtually ban arrivals from China.

In the 1930s, Canadians prevented the arrival of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and in the following decade officials interned 22,000 innocent Japanese Canadians.

After the Second World War, Canadians fretted over the suitability of newcomers from Communist countries and delayed signing the United Nations convention on refugees.

It is also worth remembering that Canadian history has seen cross-burning, segregated neighbourhoods, race riots, and looting. Our recent turn away from race as the basis of national identity and immigrant recruitment has been a step toward social cohesion and justice, not the opposite.

Canada has struggled to become a more just, inclusive nation. What progress has been made on that front is by no means set in stone.

Government action is warranted to address the unease exploited by populism. Canada needs to bring its immigration and multicultural policies into the 21st Century:

  • In the economic hubs where we need immigrants, we have allowed housing to become unaffordable.
  • Annually, we accept thousands of workers on pathways to citizenship, but our laws prevent their families from joining them.
  • Accessing the labour market is a major challenge for many newcomers.
  • Our education and health systems need help to support the social, linguistic, and cultural needs of global migrants.

The list could easily be continued.

The European liberal political mainstream, like that in the United States, laughed at right-wing populism before awaking to falsified histories and an unrecognizable political landscape. Canadians should not make the same mistake.

The ideology of the PPC, and not recent immigration, constitutes a threat to the social cohesion and unity of Canada. Who we think we have been in the past will shape our answers to these challenges.

Canada has always struggled to integrate immigrants with decency, pragmatism, and justice. To achieve a more just Canada and safeguard against the politics of hate, we must preserve an authentic and critical memory of our past and build boldly for our future.

Source: Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated

They’re immigrants to Canada. So why are they supporting far-right parties that want to reduce immigration?

About 15 percent of the PPC candidates were visible minority:

Kulbir Singh Chawla really doesn’t like when he’s connected with a customer service representative with a foreign accent.

This, despite having a accent himself.

“Here in Canada, I would say don’t even employ Kulbir,” Chawla said of customer service jobs.

“Because I still don’t have that Canadian way of (speaking) fully.”

The most recent federal election saw a small but distinct cadre of people of colour and immigrants such as Chawla supporting and in some cases even running for far-right populist parties such as the People’s Party of Canada, the National Citizens Alliance and the Canadian Nationalist Party.

All of these parties wanted to reduce immigration and scrap Canada’s official multiculturalism policy.

Despite being an immigrant himself, Chawla says he supports these policies.

Chawla, an industrial engineer, came to Canada from India with his wife and daughter in 1999. He currently lives in Nova Scotia and calls himself a Canadian nationalist. When he first moved here, he considered himself left-leaning, but over the past two decades, he’s experienced what he calls a political awakening.

It led to him attending yellow vest rallies at the movement’s peak, where he would wear a matching yellow turban. And people would call him racist.

“The left media would say this is a racist movement. And there I am with my turban. And it just breaks their narrative,” he said.

He was first drawn toward the Conservatives, then toward far-right, fringe parties such as the National Citizens Alliance, which in addition to advocating for lower taxes and the abolishment of the Bank of Canada Act, wants to reduce immigration levels to about 50,000 a year. Chawla previously ran for the National Advancement Party of Canada, the NCA’s predecessor, in Calgary Midnapore in a 2017 byelection.

He says some reasons his political stance shifted are political correctness and liberal “indoctrination” about issues such as white supremacy and racial profiling (the former he says doesn’t exist, the latter he believes is valid in some cases).

“It started with the yellow vest movement … It’s come up as a big, I will say wake-up movement for Canada and Canadians. It brought them together as well. So there’s a great deal of populism and nationalism going on,” Chawla said.

He compares nationalism to working for a corporation; the ultimate goal should be the betterment of the company, rather than advancing one’s own personal fortune. The same goes for living in a confederation.

It’s where his deep distaste for call centres that employ people with accents stems from. He said he believes it hurts Canada both economically and in terms of its national identity.

In particular, he is opposed to customer service being outsourced to other countries, for economic reasons — it takes jobs out of Canada and hurts the country’s GDP. It inspired him to create a Change.org petition urging the government and corporations to “Create call centres in Canada!”

But he acknowledges there’s an important cultural component as well.

“When I come here, if I found my own type of people speaking on the call … then it’s no different from being in India,” he said.

“We immigrants came to Canada for a whole different outlook on life. And we find it’s all changing, back to the same old Punjabi style.”

For parties such as the People’s Party of Canada that were accused of harbouring racist candidates and policies, there’s an obvious benefit to having candidates and supporters of colour, says Akaash Maharaj, a former senior resident at Massey College and CEO of the Mosaic Institute, an organization that helps bring together immigrants who have come to Canada from countries affected by conflict.

“There has been an effort by extreme right parties to try and play a game of blackface and brownface to inoculate themselves against accusations of racism by demonstrating that they have at least one or more members of their parties or candidates who are not white,” Maharaj said.

But the allure of anti-immigration policies for immigrants themselves is more complex.

“On the face of it, it looks absurd and I think it is absurd … I wouldn’t say it’s widespread,” Maharaj said. “But it’s more common than one might expect.”

“It’s the old pull-up-the-ladder syndrome,” he added. “Now that they have made it in, they want to protect themselves from people exactly like themselves that harbour the same ambitions. They are afraid more people benefiting from Canada means that their share of the pie will somehow diminish.”

This phenomenon is even more common among recent immigrants when compared to first-generation Canadians or the descendants of immigrants, Maharaj noted.

Peter Loewen, a populism expert at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, said when immigrants move to Canada, integrate into mainstream society and accept the status quo, there’s a quick transition to viewing themselves as Canadian — and therefore, different from the rest of the people coming here.

He points to the 2015 federal election, where the support for a niqab ban was higher among immigrants than native-born Canadians.

“That’s largely underwritten by a sense that immigration is tough and once you’ve gone through it, you expect people to go through it without any more accommodations than you’ve had,” he explained.

Populism sells well to immigrant communities because at its heart, it’s about a deep disaffection with the political class who are seen as unsympathetic or even antagonistic toward everyday people. Immigrants can often come from countries with political corruption.

But populism comes in different forms, says Drew Fagan, professor of public policy at Munk School and a former deputy minister in the Ontario government.

“The new strain of right-wing populism increasingly pits itself against subsets of the population like immigrants and minorities. Whereas left-wing populism pits itself against what is viewed as an unfair system,” he said. “It’s about structure as opposed to people.”

And what is emerging around the world, and in Canada, is far-right populism, Fagan added. Its members are largely religious, have reservations about diversity, and are disdainful of institutions or perceived elites.

From there, populism can devolve into nativism, a policy of promoting the interests of native inhabitants of a country against those of immigrants.

Source: They’re immigrants to Canada. So why are they supporting far-right parties that want to reduce immigration?

Nothing but a ‘vanity project’: People’s Party of Canada is likely dead, experts say

Hard not to agree. And it did not seem to have any effect of pulling the Conservatives further to the right:

In the lead-up to this week’s federal election, media outlets around the world wondered whether right-wing fringe candidate Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party represented an expansion of the populist, nationalist and anti-establishment sentiment sweeping the United States and Europe.

“A ‘Mad Max’ candidate offers a far-right jolt to the Canadian election,” read a headline in the New York Times. “Can populism become popular in Canada?” asked the BBC.

Judging from Monday night’s results, the answer appears to be a resounding no. The dismal outcome — the People’s Party clinched zero seats and less than 2 per cent of the popular vote — did not come as a surprise to political watchers, who said Tuesday our first-past-the-post system “inoculates” us from fringe parties. Plus, they said, Bernier’s brand of populism was just too extreme, particularly when it came to his views on immigration.

While Bernier, who lost in his own riding of Beauce, Que., insisted in a concession speech that the movement was “only getting started,” experts said the People’s Party likely would not survive.

“The PPC is rather easily seen now as a vanity project of Bernier’s, and as a very ineffectual attempt to come up with a latter-day Reform Party challenge to more moderate conservatism,” said David Laycock, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University.

Bernier, who held the Beauce riding since 2006, had served under the Conservative banner until last year when he narrowly lost the leadership contest to Andrew Scheer and then formed his own party. On Monday night, he garnered 28 per cent of the vote and placed second to Conservative Richard Lehoux.

Some of the party’s other higher-profile candidates, such as Renata Ford, widow of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, and Lee Harding, former Saskatchewan director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, barely made a dent — coming in fourth in their respective ridings of Etobicoke North and Cypress Hills-Grasslands and capturing only 2.8 per cent of the vote.

Bernier blamed “nasty and shameless attacks” from opponents for the PPC’s poor showing. (Late last week, The Globe and Mail reported that strategist Warren Kinsella and his firm Daisy Group had been hired by the Conservatives to “seek and destroy” Bernier’s party and portray its supporters as racist. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer refused to confirm or deny the allegation. Bernier filed a complaint with Elections Canada over the affair).

But experts suggested it was the party’s policies that did them in. While certain aspects of the PPC platform — support for libertarian principles, small government and a repeal of the carbon tax — dovetailed with the Conservatives, the party’s stances on immigration were controversial.

Bernier vowed to repeal the Multiculturalism Act and severely curtail immigration levels. Stealing from Donald Trump’s playbook, he even suggested building a fence along parts of the Canada-U.S. border to thwart irregular migration. Critics accused the party of providing a home to people peddling hate.

“Canadian voters don’t and won’t soon support the kind of overt racism that Bernier courted,” Laycock said. “Comparative public opinion data on immigration and multiculturalism show that while Canada isn’t the multicultural utopia that some commentators contend, Canadians don’t feel comfortable with explicit attacks on minority groups, and value ethnic diversity far more than most Europeans do.”

If Bernier had discussed multiculturalism in a more nuanced way with specific policy proposals, his messaging may have resonated more, said Tamara Small, a political science professor at the University of Guelph.

“The idea of multiculturalism is very important to people — definitely in English Canada,” she said.

Bernier had initially not been invited to take part in televised leaders’ debates, but that decision was reversed by former governor general David Johnston, head of the Leaders’ Debate Commission, who cited the party’s  “organizational capacity,” legitimate chance of electing more than one candidate and the media attention the party had received.

But Laycock and Small said the party received more news coverage than it deserved.

“I can’t think of a party in recent history that has polled at less than 3 per cent that got the amount of attention that he got, frankly,” Small said.

But if the media had ignored the PPC during the campaign, they would have been accused of not giving attention to the broad spectrum of political parties, said Bessma Momani, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo.

“Frankly, populists would have used the absence of coverage … as a way to suggest that the media is overtaken by liberal interests.”

Asked what message the defeat of the PPC now sends to the Conservative Party as it rebuilds after failing to topple the Liberals, Small said there is nothing to be gained by pushing further to the right.

“There’s no more people there. There’s none,” she said.

“If there’s going to be a leadership race, a Kellie Leitch type of candidate probably doesn’t dominate,” Small added, referring to the one-time Conservative leadership hopeful who had controversially proposed screening immigrants for “Canadian values” and setting up an RCMP tip line so people could report “barbaric cultural practices.”

However, there is a chance, Momani said, that backers of right-wing populism may still want to work with the Conservative Party, in the same way the Tea Party movement in the U.S. worked with the Republican Party to elect Donald Trump.

The People’s Party itself though is “probably” dead, Laycock said. Bernier’s poor showing in Quebec indicates there isn’t a regional base for his conservative alternative.

Furthermore, “it is very hard to attract media attention without any MPs, especially when your leader can’t win his own seat.”

Source: Nothing but a ‘vanity project’: People’s Party of Canada is likely dead, experts say

Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it

Ongoing:

Some of the posts suggest teaching sexual and gender identity in schools could cause an AIDS outbreak. Others warn Mexicans are streaming across the border to sell drugs or that hatred against Muslims is only natural. The articles are called misinformation by some and flat out hate speech by others.

They are but a sampling of the far-right rhetoric on Chinese-language websites and social media platforms like WeChat, often described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Observers warn that there’s almost nothing challenging a torrent of anti-refugee, anti-LGBT and anti “white liberal” literature spiking online.

“When this privileged group settled down in Canada, they will have an easy life without evening finding a job,” reads one article touching on Muslim refugees when discussing Chinese voters. It was written by contributor Feng Si Hai on Chinese-language news publication Lahoo.ca. in March 2019.

“What’s more, some of them could make trouble, break the law and even harm a child. It is natural that hatred toward them will arise. The religious conflicts will make the situation worse. How could our society be peaceful?!” reads the article.

Such sentiments have also popped up in Chinese political organizations and churches, according to community members. They worry that barriers to truthful information combined with conservative politics are leading to the exploitation of Chinese people by far-right elements and could hamper the ability of Chinese people in Canada to make informed decisions.

There are votes to be gained as Canadian political parties reach out to immigrants, and Chinese voters are one of the largest pools.

Chinese people represent about 20 per cent of minorities in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, with hundreds of thousands living in Vancouver and Toronto alone. In those cities, some ridings are more than 50 per cent Chinese.

They are increasingly being courted by far right content or outright misinformation created by writers who often use pen names.

For example, Feng, who has also written that a child being proud of having two mothers is a “scorn on human ethics,” is not the writer’s real name. In an interview with Star Vancouver, Lahoo editor-in-chief Lao Mai said Feng is a real person writing under a pen name for protection.

But prior to Lao’s explanation, other staff at the publication said Feng was actually a floating pen name used by a number of people. In the interview Lao insisted that isn’t the case and underlined he and his staff don’t necessarily agree with the opinions written.

“We have that freedom of speech,” Lao said through an interpreter.

In Feng’s 2019 column about voting, it’s alleged Justin Trudeau ignored the case of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, whose body was found in a park in Burnaby in July 2017. In September 2018, a Syrian refugee, Ibrahim Ali, was charged in her death.

In January 2018 an 11-year-old girl in Toronto told police she had been attacked by an Asian man with scissors who cut off her hijab. Justin Trudeau tweeted his condemnation of the attack. Police investigated the alleged incident and determined that the events did not happen. The family of the girl who made the false claims later apologized.

Feng’s column accuses Trudeau of caring more about the Muslim girl in Toronto than he did about the Shen murder because Muslims vote more than Chinese people.

Lao said the article is being misinterpreted and it’s really just meant to encourage Chinese people to vote. He said that when columns by Feng are submitted, they believe what he writes and don’t feel the need to fact check them.

Lahoo also publishes straight news pieces and Feng is just one columnist, but the internet is flooded with Chinese-language misinformation from a number of sources.

Back in May, Chauncey Jung, a contributor for website SupChina, who once interned for the Liberal Party and has written about the issue, said there has been a steady increase of false news or misinformation in Toronto since the story about the Muslim girl who claimed to be have been attacked broke in 2018.

Chinese articles on WeChat raged against the girl and against Trudeau for tweeting his response to the incident before police said they had determined that the attack did not happen. But the incident caused a spike in “pure hate speech” written in Chinese, Jung said.

The tension was made worse later in the year when Ali was arrested and charged with Shen’s murder. His court appearance in Vancouver brought anti-refugee protests by demonstrators carrying Chinese signs.

Jung said it’s not just Muslims who are targeted. He said he’s seen stories on WeChat alleging hundreds of Mexican drug dealers are flooding into Canada since Ottawa stopped requiring visas for Mexicans and others claiming that Toronto police want to get children hooked on drugs.

“It’s going to be challenging for people who don’t have the access to the actual information,” he said. “If you don’t speak English, that’s going to be a barrier, if you don’t like to read things in English, that’s another barrier there.”

Kevin Huang of Vancouver’s Hua Foundation, an organization aimed at bridging cultural gaps between Chinese and other communities, said not only is there an increasing amount of Chinese-language misinformation targeting immigrants and other minorities, but nothing is in place to counter it.

“People are usually just overwhelmed by the fact this exists and not at a stage where we’re about to design and or think about how to counter,” he says.

Much of it stems from a history of Chinese voters being “ruled by fear” Huang said, adding that politicians and the media often use scare tactics to dissuade Chinese voters from supporting their opponents rather than presenting a positive alternative.

The 2015 election was full of it, he said.

“The literature was fear mongering attacks on Trudeau, prostitution, needles,” Huang said. “Is our community in general really only about just being fearful of these things?”

Huang says one possible solution would be for governments to distribute information in more languages than just English and French. If more government materials were written in languages like Chinese, those who speak it as a first language would at least have access to basic, credible information, he said.

“No one’s engaging them except for ‘do your taxes and fill out these forms for your benefits,’ ” Huang said.

One man in Surrey, B.C., isn’t waiting for the government to pitch in.

“Fake news brings people to the wrong direction; prejudice and hate,” says Jacky Jiao after tidying up a picnic table in a Surrey park before sitting down to talk, condemning whoever left it a mess. “Few people think, they just follow others.”

When he’s not scrubbing picnic tables, the real estate agent and immigration consultant is cleaning up the internet. Jiao says he spends about 15 hours a week on WeChat motoring through Chinese language media and writing articles debunking false information.

WeChat has become the premier source of information for Chinese people around the world and Jiao says that often misinformation from other countries, like the United States and United Kingdom, is spun to fit the Canadian narrative.

Much of what appears on WeChat is published elsewhere and simply shared there, similar to Twitter. Often the articles contain false figures such as the number of refugees allowed into Canada each year, he says.

Jiao says his attempts to combat the misinformation or far-right rhetoric online have led to a lot of pushback.

“In WeChat groups, I get a lot of attacks,” he says. “A lot of people are Trump fans. They always think right is right. They can’t distinguish the right and the extreme right.”

Jiao says the courting of the far right via Chinese social media happens at a time when similar efforts are being made through churches in Canada. Chinese immigrants hold Christianity in high regard, he says, reasoning that many of the world’s developed countries have Christianity as a dominant religion.

As a result, many are curious about the religion and become involved in churches, and some of those churches have strong views against homosexuality or taxes, says Jiao.

Combined with the misinformation and right wing columns on WeChat, he said it makes some in the Chinese community ripe fruit for the far right to pluck.

But even if WeChat didn’t exist, the far-right politics are hosted by other websites and the messaging would still seep through.

In 2018, a consortium of Chinese activists in Vancouver and Toronto formed the Let’s Vote Association, a group with a website in Chinese and English encouraging people to vote for right-wing candidates in federal, provincial and municipal elections.

The organization was in the news when some municipal candidates decried the endorsements in B.C. last year. It hasn’t made any endorsements on its website this year.

One of its founding directors is Yali Trost, sister in law of Brad Trost, who ran unsuccessfully for leader of the Conservative Party in 2017 and lost a nomination challenge for the riding he held in Saskatchewan last year. He is not running this year and told Star Vancouver he has no knowledge of or participation in his sister in law’s activities. Most of the association’s directors have donated to Trost’s political campaigns in the past, according to Elections Canada information.

The association’s main page features a link to a petition opposing the Vancouver suburb of Richmond’s plan to install a rainbow crosswalk, an initiative undertaken by many cities to support the LGBTQ community. Other articles praise Donald Trump, champion religious freedom and question the legitimacy of refugees.

Their electoral recommendations in the past have included evangelical Christian radio show host and People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, as well as Heather Leung, who was dropped as a candidate by the Conservatives earlier this month when a 2011 video of her making statements against the LGBTQ community resurfaced.

In the video, Leung says homosexuals are “perverted” and trying to “recruit” children because they cannot procreate.

In early September, according to her website, Leung went door knocking in her riding with Lindsay Shepherd, a controversial figure and free speech advocate criticized in the past for arranging an appearance by Faith Goldy, the white nationalist who ran for mayor of Toronto, at Laurier University.

Leung is still running as an independent and her campaign manager is Travis Trost, Yali Trost’s husband and Brad Trost’s brother.

Leung did not respond to Star Vancouver’s attempts to contact her, including a letter outlining what the interview would be about delivered to her home, outside of the Burnaby North-Seymour riding.

Star Vancouver requested the financial details of the Let’s Vote Association in accordance with the B.C. Societies Act.

As per the official process, Star Vancouver filed a request to the B.C. corporate registry asking that they compel the Let’s Vote Association to release the information. In a letter to Star Vancouver through the registry, the society said it would not release the information because it had not yet completed its accounting.

“Many immigrants to Canada and especially Chinese Canadians are reluctant to involve themselves in the political process in Canada because of bad experiences they have had overseas,” reads the letter, which goes on to accuse Star Vancouver of making them fearful.

But last October Yali Trost, a Vancouver resident according to Let’s Vote’s society information, involved herself in the political process physically when she got into an altercation with Burnaby School Board trustee candidate Larry Hayes after an all-candidates debate in a school gymnasium. According to Vancouver radio station News1130, Trost said she was confronting Hayes for calling another candidate an “idiot.”

A video posted to Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson’s Facebook page shows Hayes trying to push past Trost as she stands in front of him while holding a baby when he tries to leave the venue before she shoves him back. The police were called. The debate itself was shut down due to yelling from attendees protesting the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in public schools.

Attempts to contact Yali Trost through the Let’s Vote Association were unsuccessful.

As Canada barrels toward its election Monday the affect the push by the far right could have on the Chinese community isn’t yet known, but observers are concerned what a sustained campaign could mean down the road.

Huang said politicians don’t make enough of an effort to conduct meaningful engagement with Canada’s Chinese communities. It seems politicians are only interested in stopping by for Lunar New Year banquets, he said, leaving a void that is filled by the far right.

The responsibility rests not just with Chinese people to speak up, Huang said, but with politicians who need to take the trend of misinformation seriously.

“Don’t treat our community as if we’re just being ruled by fear,” he said. “Lead us. Show us that we want to vote for you because you believe in the same values I do.”

Source: Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it

Bernier challenged over ‘extreme multiculturalism’ tweet during leaders’ debate

For the record:

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was directly challenged during the federal leaders’ debate over his past comments about “extreme multiculturalism” and the effects diversity has on Canada.

Debate moderator Lisa LaFlamme read several of Bernier’s past tweets about immigration and diversity aloud, challenging the leader over his use of the words “ghettos” and “tribes” in describing new immigrants to Canada.

LaFlamme also pressed Bernier over his concerns that newcomers bring with them “distrust” and “potential violence.”

“Are these the words of someone with the character and integrity to lead all Canadians and represent us on the world stage?” LaFlamme asked.

“You must tell the truth to Canadians if you want to be the leader of this country,” Bernier said.

“What I’m saying about extreme multiculturalism, it is not the way to build this country. Yes, this country is a diverse country and we must be proud of that, but we don’t need legislation like the Multiculturalism Act to tell us who we are.”

Bernier has campaigned on a promise to significantly reduce immigration levels to Canada. He says the number of people allowed to enter the country as permanent residents should be cut in half — to about 150,000 new immigrants a year.

“We must have fewer immigrants in this country to be sure for these people to participate in our society,” he said.

Other leaders respond

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was quick to attack Bernier on his past positions regarding immigration, calling his tweets “pretty horrible.”

“It should come as no surpise to you that I believe a leader is not someone who tries to divide people or to pit people against each other. A true leader is someone who tries to find bridges, bring people together,” Singh said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also criticized Bernier.

“What Mr. Bernier fails to understand is that you can absolutely be proud of Canada’s history, you can be proud of our identity, be proud of the things we’ve done and accomplished in the world, while at the same time welcoming people from all around the world,” he said.

Scheer also said Bernier had changed from someone who used to believe in an immigration system that was fair, orderly and compassionate to someone who bases his policies on the number of likes and retweets he gets on social media from the “darkest parts of Twitter.”

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also called Bernier’s past comments about immigration “completely appalling,” while Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet asked Bernier if he realized that his own family decended from immigrants.

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau said polarization and fear over immigration issues has become “easy currency for politicians who do want to strike up uncertainties in peoples hearts.”

He said Bernier is “playing a role” to make people more fearful about migration, globalization and what it means to be Canadian.

Bernier, meanwhile, defended himself against the other leaders, saying he’s not a “radical” because he believes in lower immigration levels.

Source: Bernier challenged over ‘extreme multiculturalism’ tweet during leaders’ debate

Former neo-Nazi, Pegida Canada official among People’s Party of Canada signatories

Vetting issues plus part of the pond the PPC fishes in:

The former leader of a U.S. neo-Nazi group, a former Soldiers of Odin member and a Pegida Canada official were among those whose signatures were submitted to Elections Canada last year to officially register the People’s Party of Canada, records show.

All three of their names appear on Elections Canada documents, obtained by Global News, that confirmed a minimum of 250 party members had signed membership declarations. The forms were required to obtain party status for the PPC and its leader, Maxime Bernier.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network said the revelation that the party’s founding members included associates of extreme far-right, anti-immigrant groups should be grounds for removing Bernier from the televised election debates.

“These people speak to who is really excited about the People’s Party of Canada and who got in on the ground floor,” said Evan Balgord, the anti-hate group’s executive director. “It’s become impossible to separate the PPC from this kind of white-supremacist ideology.”

To register as an official political party, the PPC had to submit the names of at least 250 members to the chief electoral officer. Each member had to then sign an Elections Canada “confirmation” form verifying they had signed a membership declaration.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said the process was meant to ensure that parties applying to register met all requirements under the Canada Elections Act.

“The Act is agnostic when it comes to ideology or platform,” Natasha Gauthier said in an email. “There is no mechanism allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to reject an application solely based on ideology.”

Under Canada Elections Act, parties do not have to disclose information about former or pending criminal backgrounds or investigations regarding those involved with the party, she said.

Released to Global News by Elections Canada, the forms list Shaun Walker among the PPC’s signatories. Walker, who now lives in St. Catharines, Ont., once led the National Alliance and was convicted in Utah over his role in a conspiracy to intimidate minorities.

U.S. prosecutors called the National Alliance a “U.S.-based white supremacist group.”

“Although it purports to be non-violent, the National Alliance is generally recognized as a group that condones and promotes the use of violence to achieve racial separatism,” prosecutors wrote.

The party cut its ties with Walker last month after his past involvement in the white nationalist movement came to light. While his position in the PPC was unclear at the time, the Elections Canada forms disclose his role in registering the party.

Walker did not respond to requests for comment. But in a message obtained by Global News last month, he said he was “innocent” of the U.S. charges and was “framed.”

The PPC submitted 489 membership declarations when it applied to register as a party. Elections Canada accepted 485 of them as “valid.” Of those, 314 members later signed confirmation forms, exceeding the 250 required for registration.

Among them was Janice Bultje, who is active in Pegida Canada and a group called Fighting Hate in Canada. Pegida, whose slogan is “Patriots of Canada against the Islamization of the West,” denies it is a white-supremacist group.

“As a founding member of both Pegida Canada and Fighting Hate in Canada, I believe in the importance of having a government that keeps the separation between church and state and fights hate regardless its origin, from the far-right to the far-left,” Bultje responded when asked why she had agreed to serve as one of the signatories during the registration of the PPC.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network describes Pegida as an anti-Muslim group and says that while it isn’t militant or physically dangerous, Pegida’s rallies often attract more violent far-right groups.

Another signatory was Justin L. Smith, who was formerly active in the Soldiers of Odin. When reached by Global News, Smith confirmed his past involvement in Soldiers of Odin but said he had not been active in the group for “quite a long time.”

The Sudbury Star reported that Smith was president of the Soldiers of Odin in Sudbury as recently as September 2017. Smith said the local group kept that name and logo after splitting away from the Finland organization because it was too costly to remake.

“We are not racists or anti-anyone,” Smith told the Star.

Smith confirmed he was one of the PPC members whose signatures were submitted to register the party and that he was the financial agent for Kevin M. Klerks, the People’s Party candidate for the Huron-Bruce riding in Ontario.

“His activities with the People’s Party of Canada, according to the document you provided dated 2018 and since, are not connected to nor affiliated with the Soldiers of Odin organization in any way,” Klerks said in an email, calling him an “honest and respectful individual.”

“We have discussed his past involvement with the [Soldiers of Odin] organization. I am sorry to disappoint you but there is no story here.”

Source:  Former neo-Nazi, Pegida Canada official among People’s Party of Canada signatories