"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Canadians defeat white supremacy and populism Featured

 

Gurpreet Singh

The recently concluded federal election has proved to be was a mandate for an inclusive Canada.

Even though Liberals were not able win another majority, the defeat of right wing Conservatives and decimation of the far right People’s Party of Canada can be seen as a clear rejection of divisive politics by the electorate on October 21.

Out of 338 seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals have got 157 - way less than the 177 seats they held in the previous parliament - but they were able to crush the Conservatives’ hope for a majority government.

As the Conservatives lick their wounds with only 121 seats, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) lost their only riding, held by its leader Maxime Bernier, to the Conservatives. The two right wing parties were tough on immigration, with Bernier being more outspoken against multiculturalism. So much so, PPC had ties with white nationalists, in sharp contrast to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The two parties have been constantly attacking Trudeau for opening doors to Syrian refugees and foreign students. It is a separate matter that the New Democrats’ much more diverse team and platform could not make a huge impact. The party have got only 24 seats in the house, down from 39 under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh.

Singh is the first turbaned Sikh to become a leader of any national political party in Canada, and constantly faced racism from both within his own party and outside during the campaign that was partly vitiated by the anti-minority rhetoric of PPC. None of his other turbaned Sikh candidates were elected, while three of the turbaned Sikh Liberal MPs, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Randeep Singh Sarai and Navdeep Singh Bains got re-elected. Two turbaned Sikhs - Tim Uppal and Jasraj Singh Hallan - also got elected as Conservative MPs. Notably, some of these candidates also faced racist attacks during the campaign. It is pertinent to mention that such negativity wasn’t just directed at the male Sikh candidates. Female candidates such as Liberal MP Hedy Fry and others from various visible minority groups also encountered racism.

The election of Jody Wilson-Raybould as an independent MP from Vancouver Granville can also be seen as a symbolic defeat of structural racism against Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and a slap in the face of Justin Trudeau. She was the first Indigenous woman to become Justice Minister in Trudeau's government. Trudeau had kicked her out of Liberal caucus to protect the interests of a controversial company that was facing investigation. This widened a gulf between the First Nations and Trudeau, who came to power with a huge majority in 2015 on the promise of making bridges with Indigenous communities who have faced mistreatment ever since Canada was founded on their stolen lands. This was a time when minorities, including the indigenous peoples, were outraged by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government had become infamous for infringing on the rights of Muslims and other marginalized sections of the society.

Wilson-Raybould fought as an independent candidate this time, in the face of hostility and vicious propaganda. Her victory is definitely a big jolt for Trudeau whose poor showing can be attributed to his mishandling of the situation involving SNC Lavalin.

As if this was not enough, the old pictures and videos showing Trudeau having painted himself brown and black in the past dented his image internationally. However, former US President Barak Obama, the first black American President, gave Trudeau a major boost close to the final days of campaigning by endorsing him on twitter.

Another significant aspect of the election was that voters of Indian origin frustrated the attempts of the pro-India lobby to bring a Conservative government in Canada by using its influence in predominantly South Asian ridings. The right wing Hindu nationalist government, under which attacks on religious minorities have grown, was never fond of Trudeau or Singh, and always saw Conservatives as their real allies. Trudeau is often accused by the Indian government of patronising Sikh separatists who want to establish a homeland of their own to be carved out of northern India. Likewise, Singh has always been seen as a threat to India for being vocal against human rights abuse and repression of minorities in that country.

The apologists of the Indian state in some of the targeted constituencies with sizable South Asian population worked hard to ensure a Conservative victory, and the defeat of Liberal and NDP candidates. This is not to suggest that the Conservative party is completely wedded to the cause of the pro India lobby, and the Liberal Party and NDP have also been penetrated by supporters of the Indian government.

While the South Asian Conservative candidates had a cakewalk in some of the ridings, thirteen Liberal candidates of Indian origin got elected this time, which doesn’t go in the interest of those who owe loyalties to their overseas masters in New Delhi. Certainly, few of them have a rapport with India, but that does not represent the whole picture.   

The election results may not be one hundred percent according to the wishes of those who care for a just society, but they give some solace to those were anxious about Canada going back to Conservatives and join the growing list of countries being taken over by populism and alt right movements. Hopefully, Trudeau will try to learn from his mistakes and fix them to be more careful for the next time.

 

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