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

Unpacking the People’s Party’s Fear of ‘Radical Multiculturalism’

Will see how this turns-out post the debates. And while I haven’t compiled candidate data (working with Samara and others to do so), anecdotally there so seem to be a fair number of visible minorities, some immigrants, some subsequent generations, among their candidates:

The People’s Party of Canada says it is “inclusive,” but how does that square with its calls to scrap the country’s Multiculturalism Act, tighten our borders, promote “Western civilization values” and cut immigration by more than half?

More diversity will “destroy what has made us a great country,” leader Maxime Bernier tweeted last year in a long, Trumpian thread.

Bernier, who narrowly lost the Conservative leadership to Andrew Scheer in 2017, founded the People’s Party in September 2018.

Since then, it has alarmed critics across the political spectrum, including some former supporters who are worried that xenophobic, and even racist, members of the radical right, as seen in the U.S. and Europe, now have a political home in Canada.

“What the PPC is doing risks normalizing far-right ideology,” said Brian Budd, a PhD student in political science at the University of Guelph who researches right-wing politics and populism in Canada.

The party uses the language of inclusion to communicate its ideas, noted Budd.

Those studying far-right parties in Western democracies have found that the most successful ones in Europe use the language of liberalism, civic values, and the national interest as a Trojan horse to normalize discrimination in the mainstream.

The strategy allows such parties to say they’re pursuing national unity when they’re actually promoting exclusion. It allows them to posit that hate speech is actually the free speech of a democratic society.

“It’s a built-in defence against accusations of racism,” said Budd.

It’s the kind of strategy that Conservative Kellie Leitch used in her bid for re-election in 2015. Leitch said she wanted to establish a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line to “defend Canadian values.”

Bernier used a similar approach in his Twitter rant against diversity, warning that “people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness.”

While populist right-wing parties, including the People’s Party, have attracted supporters who are white supremacists, Budd doesn’t view the party as all-in advocating for a “homogenous, white European society.”

The party has been quick to point out that it has candidates who are immigrants and people of colour — proof, it has said, that it is not anti-immigrant or racist.

And it is willing to accept newcomers if they “share fundamental Canadian values, learn about our history and culture and integrate in our society,” Bernier has said.

That can be understood as “conditional multiculturalism,” said political scientist Erin Tolley of the University of Toronto.

The party’s immigrant candidates have said that they don’t see a problem with limiting immigration or with Bernier’s view that immigrants must assimilate and take on the party’s definition of “Canadianness.”

Rocky Dong, the party’s candidate in Burnaby North–Seymour, used a metaphor to explain his support for the policies.

“If you have one chopstick, it breaks easily,” he said. “If you have many chopsticks, they’re hard to break.”

Integration is crucial to national unity, said Dong, 48, who arrived in Canada from China in 2001. He helps international students integrate on a daily basis at work, connecting them with housing and education.

Another party candidate, Baljit Singh Bawa of Brampton Centre, who immigrated to Canada from India in 2000, said he was able to integrate thanks to his own drive to improve his English and a three-year stint working in Dubai “to get that international exposure, to get myself out of my comfort zone.” He wants others moving to Canada to integrate in similar ways.

Budd said that immigrant candidates allow the party to showcase its idea of the model minority — “the immigrants who have come in and successfully assimilated without support from the state.”

“A lot of Canadians like to think that Bernier is simply importing something successful from elsewhere,” he said. “But what he’s really doing is trying to adapt ideas and discourses to the Canadian context.”

Having these model immigrant candidates adds a made-in-Canada flavour to the kind of populism Bernier is building; it’s more visibly colourful than whiter movements in other Western democracies.

“It’s about population management,” said Budd, “while ensuring the privilege and supremacy of European culture.”

According to the party’s platform, it seeks to manage newcomer populations by:

  • Cutting immigration to between 100,000 and 150,000 people a year (Last year about 321,000 people immigrated; in the peak year under Stephen Harper, 280,700 arrived in 2010);
  • Focusing on economic immigration to fill labour gaps, while stopping the intake of temporary workers and people entering through family reunification programs;
  • Interviewing newcomers to ensure they subscribe to “Canadian values and societal norms;”
  • Eliminating the Multiculturalism Act and spending on multiculturalism;
  • Stopping “illegal migrants” and “false migrants” entering via the U.S. border;
  • Move to a reliance on private sponsorships to pay for refugee settlement, ending government support.

Bernier describes his vision in the liberal language of “harmony and the maintenance of our Canadian national identity.”

He has also attempted to justify his plans economically for his libertarian supporters, saying the party aims to cut down on state-funded “specialist services” for “freeloaders,” said Budd.

Bernier has said that some cultures, like First Nations, Cape Breton and Quebec’s Eastern Townships “deserve to be nurtured” because they were “developed in Canada” and “don’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

Political scientist Tolley said regional cultures are true of any country. “It is interesting that they’re trying to suggest that these regional cultures can’t exist alongside immigration and multiculturalism,” she said.

The party’s desire to clamp down on immigration and promote “Western civilization values” has led critics, including some former supporters, to accuse it of attracting and harbouring racists, white supremacists, anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.

People’s Party events have been attended by such far-right individuals as Faith Goldy, an advocate of the conspiracy theory of white genocide who has verbally attacked immigrants and Islamic culture; Paul Fromm, a self-described “white nationalist” based in Hamilton who directs several far-right groups in Canada; and members of the Northern Guard, a militant anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group that is an offshoot of the Soldiers of Odin.

This has caused trouble with some party supporters.

In July, the entire board of a Winnipeg riding association resigned, saying “racists, bigots, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists” had a large presence in the public conversation around the party.

The board members also said they were “appalled” to see “disinformation and distrust… encouraged with wink and a nod now.”

Last week, People’s Party candidate Brian Misera of Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam called on Bernier to “do more to help us disassociate from far-right groups that really have no place in our society.” The party has since revoked Misera’s candidacy, saying that he broke Elections Canada rules by acting as his own financial agent.

Bernier has responded by saying he doesn’t know everyone who attends his rallies and that “people who are racist and [don’t] believe in the Canadian values aren’t welcome in our party.”

Sanjay Jeram, a senior lecturer in political science at Simon Fraser University, believes Bernier’s failure to condemn these far-right elements more strongly is linked to efforts to build the new party.

“My feeling is he’s trying to cobble together a party that’s having trouble with organization,” said Jeram. As an upstart party trying to compete with the Conservatives, Bernier “can’t afford alienating people who he might not want part of the bigger message.”

Jeram said that debate about immigration levels shouldn’t be taboo but cautions against empowering more dangerous anti-immigration constituents. “The party should be more careful to screen candidates who have views that might actually incite violence,” he said.

“In a liberal democratic society, we shouldn’t be limiting debate. But that debate can go into the realm of targeting people for their race, gender, ethnicity or religion and making them vulnerable. It’s possible for people to take those messages and turn them into the legitimization of violence or discrimination.”

Stewart Prest, who also lectures in political science at SFU, said the party’s language is worth scrutiny. For example, it often decries what it calls “radical multiculturalism.”

That “could translate into disliking a particular group, Muslims being singled out,” he said.

Bernier’s attempt to redefine immigration and multiculturalism is a “grand project,” said Prest, as Canada’s mainline parties have agreed for a generation that immigration and multiculturalism are a part of the country’s foundations.

“But these messages can get picked up a number of ways and open the door to even more radical conversations.”

Tolley said that why the potential impact of the People’s Party should not be dismissed despite the party’s low support, currently at three per cent, according to the latest CBC aggregate of available polling data.

Tolley gives the example of the Reform Party, also an opponent of multiculturalism, which in the 1990s was able to change the conversation around immigration, making it an economic issue rather than a social one.

Last week the Leaders’ Debates Commission invited Bernier to participate in leadership debates.

Many experts wonder how the People’s Party’s narratives on immigration, refugees and multiculturalism might shift how other parties and the Canadian public talk about these topics.

People’s Party candidate Rocky Dong says they are only preaching “common sense.”

“We don’t hate the people outside. We just love the people inside the fence.”  [Tyee]

Source: Unpacking the People’s Party’s Fear of ‘Radical Multiculturalism’

‘Good rednecks’: PPC candidates to decide who attends debate by holding a shootout

One way to attract media attention:

Two People’s Party of Canada candidates in Saskatchewan are solving an impasse with a shootout at a gun range.

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce has invited one candidate from each party to a pre-election debate on Sept. 10 but when it came time to decide who would represent the PPC, Guto Penteado and Mark Friesen both thought they would represent the party well.

Penteado is PPC candidate for Saskatoon-University and Friesen is the candidate for Saskatoon-Grasswood.

Friesen said he and Penteado also considered a bean bag toss or a potato sack race but they got excited about the idea of a shootout at the range because it speaks to the PPC’s pro-gun policies.

“We’re both pro-gun advocates,” Friesen said. “We believe in responsible gun ownership and rightful gun ownership and we’re both hunters and we both have our own guns and we both have our licences.”

The shootout will take place on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on Facebook.

Whoever has the better score will be declared the winner and attend the debate.

Some commenters online joked about putting the faces of rival political party leaders on the targets, but Friesen said the gun range has strict rules about such behaviour. It’s not allowed.

“We’re responsible gun owners and with that comes responsibility at the gun range,” Friesen said.

‘Guns don’t kill people’

Penteado said his views are “totally aligned” with the PPC in terms of gun control.

“We want to simplify gun policies,” he said. “We also want more safety courses available around Saskatchewan, around Canada, and more promotion about the good side of guns as a sport because all we see is very bad news about mass shootings, and this is a very bad image for gun owners and the guns themselves.”

Penteado said the PPC is “totally against” gun violence. He firmly believes mass shootings are not about the guns.

“Guns don’t kill people; what kills people is people. We need somebody to pull the trigger,” he said.

“It’s just like cars. When we have a car accident, we never blame the car, we blame the driver. Why are we blaming the gun, the object, when we have a mass shooting?”

But Charles Smith, an associate professor of political studies at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, doesn’t find that argument persuasive.

“All the evidence and research would suggest that having guns available and accessible leads to more violence,” Smith said.

‘False divide between rural and urban’

Smith said he thinks the event is insensitive, especially in light of the recent mass shooting in Texas.

“Bringing it into the political realm and suggesting this is a way to settle disputes reinforces the message that guns and violence are normal,” he said. “That’s not a message that political parties should be sending in 2019 given all the gun violence we’re witnessing in our society.”

Smith also thinks the event is gendered and racialized, and creates a false divide between rural and urban people.

“It plays to a stereotype in a very reactionary way,” Smith said. “It’s very male . It doesn’t speak for the entire rural population.”

‘We’re proud to be rednecks’

Overall, Penteado said the reaction online has been positive, though there have been some people who have been mean-spirited and called them “rednecks.”

“We are rednecks, and we’re proud to be rednecks,” he said.

Penteado was born in Brazil and came to Canada 17 years ago. In Brazil, he was raised on a farm and learned hunting and target practice from his dad.

He found a similar culture in Saskatchewan.

“We live in the countryside, we love the nature, we love the interaction with animals and everything like that,” he said. “I’m referring to the good connotations about rednecks. We’re not stupid. We’re good rednecks.”

While Penteado said both he and Friesen would represent the party well at the debate, at the gun range, Friesen has the advantage.

Penteado had surgery on his right eye last month — the eye he uses for shooting — and while he does go hunting, he generally doesn’t do target practice. But he’s still looking forward to it.

“I think we’re going to have fun, and we’re going to decide in a very healthy way.”

Source: ‘Good rednecks’: PPC candidates to decide who attends debate by holding a shootout

Colby Cosh: How a ‘leftist mob’ handed Mad Max a pre-election gift

Always a debate whether better to ignore (silence can imply consent) or contest and offer free publicity. Will see whether the PPC low polling number get a bump or not and the effect, if any, on the Conservative numbers.

Really hard, however, to understand how the billboard was paid for with no one stating they approved of the copy.

Billboards, like tweets, are not the best format to capture nuance and subtleties:

I offer sarcastic congratulations to everyone who gave Maxime Bernier the stupid controversy he wanted over the “Say NO to mass immigration” billboard, bearing his image, that briefly appeared in a few Canadian cities and was taken down in a hurry Monday morning. The billboards were purchased from Pattison Outdoor Advertising by a third-party supporter of Bernier’s People’s Party. The company’s initial response to the resulting outcry was to observe that the message of the billboard complied with advertising standards; it did not contain any hateful, disparaging, or discriminatory language.

“We take a neutral position on ads that comply with the ASC (Advertising Standards Canada) Code as we believe Canadians do not want us to be the judge or arbiter of what the public can or cannot see,” was Pattison’s original statement in the face of controversy. (Most everybody, including the company, seems to have missed the point that election advertising is explicitly “excluded from the application” of the Code on the grounds that political expression deserves the highest degree of deference; the Code does say, for what it’s worth, that “Canadians are entitled to expect” that such advertising respects the underlying principles.)

Pattison’s in-house advertising code does allow the company to engage in “post-publication review,” which must necessarily involve just dismantling ads if enough people raise hell about them, and this is what has now happened. This has not stopped people from threatening boycotts against the Pattison corporate empire for accepting the ad in the first place, or for bowing to pressure from the people who were angry about the ad. Take your pick if that’s your idea of a good time.

Let’s accept the view for the sake of argument, or just for the sake of sanity, that there is no general freedom-of-expression issue involved here. A vendor of advertising space cannot completely disavow responsibility for the ads it accepts, and any ad will be condemned if the social force aligned against it is commercially unbearable. My question is whether it was sensible for individuals (ah, remember them?) to oppose the display of this particular ad, as opposed to walking past it, perhaps frowning, and going about one’s business. Bernier has said he has no connection with the billboard, but that he agrees with its message; and now he accuses a “leftist mob” of trying “to censor any discussion of immigration”.

How can this now be answered by opponents of the billboard? They can say that they’re not a mob, I suppose; not a mob, just a large, angry group of citizens acting impulsively in concert to destroy something that offends them. But the billboard didn’t say that immigrants are horrid. It didn’t say anything for or against ethnic diversity, which Bernier has praised in the past while objecting to its elevation to cult status. It didn’t propose throwing anybody out of Canada. It is a plea against a long-standing policy of mass immigration.

My question is whether it was sensible for individuals to oppose the display of this particular ad, as opposed to walking past it, perhaps frowning, and going about one’s business

Some would have us believe that this is the point: that the million immigrants Canada is welcoming every three years, thereby outdistancing the industrialized world, do not constitute a “mass.” Crusading Edmonton lawyer Avnish Nanda took this line in an interviewwith the Calgary Herald’s Sammy Hudes: “First and foremost, (the billboard) contains a lie. There’s no mass immigration to Canada. There’s no threat of mass immigration.”

I suppose “mass immigration” really is a context-sensitive kind of thing to say. In a scenario in which Canada was airlifting large numbers of desperate people from a particular situation (he said, stealing a nauseous glance at Hong Kong), a few thousand immigrants might easily be enough to make up a “mass.” By the same token, the influx of self-selected immigrants that Canada accepts from all corners of the world might not be a “mass.”

But … it’s a fine point, and we are certainly taking in an awful lot of people in the most banal sense of “a lot.” Can the alleged inaccuracy of the billboard really have been the “first and foremost” objection to it? Mr. Nanda and those like him suggest they are angry about the billboard because it urges Canadians to say “No” to something that’s not happening and cannot happen. I would suggest that their objection to the billboard is nothing more or less than disagreement with its political premise.

The question I have for objectors and denouncers of the billboard is how they think it could have been rewritten, expressing the same underlying idea, so as to be acceptable. If the unpleasant-sounding word “mass” were replaced with “large-scale,” would there have been less of a ruction? Maybe any objection to prospective levels of immigration to Canada is to be regarded as inherently racist and hateful, even when no racist or hateful language is used.

If that is the case, it is perfectly predictable that the People’s Party will exploit this and cry “mob censorship,” and public polls on immigration suggest they will have some success, in case recent history everywhere didn’t offer enough of a hint. Moreover, we are left with an awkward question how any limit upon or criteria for immigration, any government immigration policy per se, can be justified at all. What, indeed, can be the objection to “mass immigration”? Who will have the courage to put up a “Say YES to mass immigration” billboard?

Source: Colby Cosh: How a ‘leftist mob’ handed Mad Max a pre-election gift

Bernier picks ridings where PPC has best chance to win in bid to join leaders’ debate

Looking at the choices by percentage of immigrants and visible minorities, quite a range. Appears selection criteria weighted towards candidate name recognition and profile (for full riding detail, see diversityvotes.ca):

  • Beauce: 1.4 percent immigrants, 1.1 percent visible minorities
  • Etobicoke North: 58 percent immigrants, 75.7 percent visible minorities
  • Nipissing-Timiskaming: 4.6 percent immigrants, 2.4 percent visible minorities
  • Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley: 13.1 percent immigrants, 10.2 percent visible minorities
  • Pickering-Uxbridge: 30.2 percent immigrants, 36 percent visible minorities

People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier has provided five ridings to the federal commission organizing the election leaders’ debate in a last-minute effort to enter the highly anticipated event.

In a letter sent to the Leaders’ Debate Commission, Bernier picks five ridings based on “candidates who are better known in their riding as public figures, and therefore will start this campaign with an advantage that others don’t have.”

It includes his Quebec riding of Beauce and the Toronto riding of Etobicoke North, where Renata Ford, the wife of late former mayor Rob Ford and sister-in-law of Ontario premier Doug Ford, is running.

The commission had asked Bernier to provide it with three to five ridings where he thought People’s Party candidates had the best chance of winning, after saying on Aug. 12 that Bernier did not meet the criteria needed to qualify for the leaders’ debates slated for early October.

Commissioner David Johnston had preliminarily ruled that the People’s Party, as it stood, did not have a “legitimate chance” of electing more than one candidate in the upcoming election.

That determination is based on recent political context, polling and previous general election results. A final list of invited parties will be published on Sept. 16.

The three other ridings are Nipissing-Timiskaming, where local councillor Mark King is representing the People’s Party; Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, where former Conservative cabinet minister Steven Fletcher is running; and Pickering-Uxbridge, where former Tory MP Corneliu Chisu carries the party banner.

Bernier states in the letter that his understanding of the criteria is that “it simply states that our candidates must have a legitimate chance to be elected in the general election, and not at this time in the election cycle.”

“The election campaign could have a huge impact on this legitimate chance. More so for the other reasons I explained regarding the recent political context, including the high level of volatility and disaffection of the electorate, and the fact that populist parties similar to the PPC have experienced very rapid growth in other Western countries,” Bernier wrote.

He said as the People’s Party is very young, it had little information about the regional distribution of its support across Canada and its concentration in specific ridings. Nor did the party have the money to conduct polls in 338 ridings.

Bernier also included data obtained from Meltwater, a media monitoring company, on how often his name popped up in online and print sources over the last year compared to other party leaders.

The numbers state his name popped up 23,518 times, more than Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.

As well, data included in the letter shows his name popped up on social media 1.67 million times, more than NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, May and Blanchet.

Bernier also included in his letter columns in publications such as the Toronto Star, National Post and The Post Millennial arguing in favour of his entry into the debate.

Among candidates, Renata Ford, though a political novice, carries name recognition through her politically involved family members.

Meanwhile, King is a council member in North Bay. He was supposed to run for the Tories, but the party removed him as a candidate last month for allegedly using a corporate credit card to purchase party memberships for himself and close family members. He then joined the People’s Party.

Fletcher was a Conservative MP from 2004 to 2015 and had served as ministers of state for democratic reform and transport. Chisu was a Tory MP from 2011 to 2015.

An Aug. 5 Mainstreet Research poll for iPolitics found Bernier to be running neck-and-neck with the Conservatives in his southeastern Quebec riding.

According to the commission’s letter sent to Bernier, the information he provided will now be relayed to an independent pollster before returning to the party for a final comment.

Source: Bernier picks ridings where PPC has best chance to win in bid to join leaders’ debate

Fletcher: ‘Diversity’ won’t tell you if a politician is competent

Former Harper government and current PPC candidate Fletcher has some valid points regarding life experience diversity and that standard measures of diversity (women, Indigenous, Persons with disabilities, visible minorities) are incomplete and imperfect measures.

Less convinced by his arguments that the standard measures have been at the expense of competency:

What does a picture of a group of people tell us?

Often, in the media and in the general public, a photo is used to demonstrate diversity. People may look at the colour of the skin, hair colour, eye colour, age, gender, size of the people in the picture and assume that the group is diverse and therefore qualified.

In elections, political parties use the appearance of diversity to suggest competency. This diversity “picture” seems to be strongest on the left of the political spectrum in Canada, but it certainly has infiltrated all parties. However, judging competency based on appearance is really quite ridiculous. The diversity “picture” championed by the left assumes a monolithic view of visible minorities.

The electorate should not vote based on appearance of diversity, but on the diversity of the competency of the candidate. We should look to the diversity of skill sets when voting.

Skill sets cannot be determined by gender, skin colour or any of the other stereotypical characteristics that too many people associate with diversity. The assumptions people make about other people they do not know are usually wrong. A photo tells us nothing about an individual’s ability to represent any of us.

Diversity needs to include people who have education, experience and knowledge that best allow for good public policy development and implementation. It can also include life experience.

There are not enough engineers, accountants, trades people, medical professionals and numerous other skill sets in any party. Parliament is weaker as a result. In fact, there are probably too many lawyers and liberal arts graduates taking up space.

At present, the diversity test seems to be a binary choice between male/female ratios or visible minorities. But visible minorities and gender are not homogeneous in their views. Just because someone is purple doesn’t mean they represent all the purple people.

When I first entered politics, it was assumed that I was an NDP supporter and sometimes a Liberal. This assumption arose because I happen to be a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

It is true that for a lot of good reasons many of the activists in the disabled community are left-of-centre. It was striking how common this assumption was made when I first started door-knocking for the federal election in 2004.

People also assume that because someone is in a wheelchair, it affects the hearing and cognitive functions of that individual. People sometimes raise their voice when explaining something.

Another misconception is on the cognitive side. I recall a radio interview on the main station in Winnipeg, CJOB, when the announcer asked me on live radio, “Why would anyone vote for you over the star Liberal candidate, especially given your condition?” My reply was, “I believe the constituents would rather have an MP that was paralyzed from the neck down than the neck up.” I wasn’t applying to be the quarterback of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; I was applying for a position that I was qualified to perform. Half a dozen stereotypes were blown out of the water in that radio interview.

I was recently in a “higher learning” program for executives for corporations. In the program, we were shown a photo of an example of what the program called “a model of a corporate board.” The class was asked to comment, and most of the class responded robotically and positively towards the photo. Not me.

The photo provides no information; it simply allows people to impose their own biases and stereotypes onto the images without merit.

The foremost criteria must be competency, always. Competency may include diversity, but diversity does not guarantee competency.

A recent example in Manitoba is when the largest Crown corporation in the province, Manitoba Hydro, saw an entire board resign en masse. They did this on principle, due to government interference. The replacement board of political appointees certainly appeared to be photographically politically correct. But in an unusual demonstration of self-awareness, these political appointees demanded the government add members, because the board as appointed did not have the skill sets to fulfil its responsibilities.

The government was caught out by its own appointees in its misguided attempt to be politically correct.

In 2011, a federal NDP candidate was elected and became famous because she hadn’t actually done much campaigning. She spent a part of the election in Las Vegas, worked as a waitress at a bar and was a single mother. This MP was mocked from all sides.

It was my impression, which is shared by many others, that she is one of the most effective and talented MPs for the NDP, or any party, for that matter. The diversity she brought was in her different life experience and work ethic.

Recently, a Liberal MP was whining about the MP workload. Good grief.

I worked underground in the mining industry. That was hard work: dangerous, long hours and no breaks. Perhaps, a few hard-rock miners should go to Parliament to demonstrate work ethic.

The political establishment in Canada is collectively responsible for reinforcing stereotypes for political gain – gaming Canadians to put appearance ahead of the competency of the candidates. The political party space-takers are denying many more qualified people the opportunity to run for Parliament.

The foremost criteria must be competency, always. Competency may include diversity, but diversity does not guarantee competency.

Hopefully, in this election Canadian people will vote for the person rather than the party. In exchange, whoever becomes an MP must represent the people, not the party. Can you imagine?

Source: Fletcher: ‘Diversity’ won’t tell you if a politician is competent