Conservatives ask Liberals to “apologize for decades of racism”

“Someone says ‘Muslim’ and a Conservative minister says ‘terrorist'”

by: Obert Madondo  | June 12, 2015

Canadian activists protesting against Bill C-51 on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, on May 30, 2015, said Stephen Harper's proposed secret police legislation promotes Islamophobia. Photo: Obert Madondo/The Canadian Progressive

Canadian activists protesting against Bill C-51 on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, on May 30, 2015, said Stephen Harper’s proposed secret police legislation promotes Islamophobia. Photo: Obert Madondo/The Canadian Progressive

During Question Period on Thursday, the Harper Conservatives accused the Liberals of “decades of racism” dating back to Liberal PM Mackenzie King, who served from 1921 to 1930, and 1935 to 1948.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, the Justin Trudeau Liberals must apologize for “blocking South Asians from coming to this country, blocking East Asians from coming to this country, blocking Caribbeans from coming to this country.” The minister also labelled the Liberals the “racist party.”

Alexander was responding to Liberal MP John McCallum’s allegation that the Conservatives were to blame for the recent spike of hatred against Canadian Muslims.

Statistics Canada’s latest report on police-reported hate crimes found that hate crimes targeting Muslims rose in 2013 compared with 2012. Muslims were the only religious group to experience an increase in hate crimes. The report also found that blacks are the target of 22 per cent of hate all crimes, and ethnicity or race-related hate accounted for 51 per cent of all reported incidents.

Are Canadian politicians to blame? During a recent protest against Bill C-51 here in Ottawa, some protesters carried placards stating that the Harper government’s new universally-condemned secret police state legislation promotes Islamophobia.

The Conservatives have been accused of using the threat of “Islamic extremism” to market Bill C-51 and silence critics. Some concerned Canadians have equated the responses they received from their Conservative MPs to “orgies” of Islamophobia and fear mongering. One such response, from Lois Brown (Newmarket-Aurora), was recently posted on Reddit.

Below is how the heated exchange between Alexander and McCullum unfolded:

John McCallum:

Mr. Speaker, it is the most predictable thing in Canadian politics. Someone says “Muslim” and a Conservative minister says “terrorist”. Yesterday, when asked about rising hate crimes against Muslims, the Minister of Public Safety felt obliged to talk about terrorists.

We also saw yesterday that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration assumes all Muslim women who wear the veil are terrorists, unless proven otherwise. This is simply unacceptable, so will he apologize to all Muslim Canadians?

Chris Alexander:

Mr. Speaker, of course that is not what I said, and if the hon. member wishes to repeat those remarks outside of this chamber, we will have a reckoning with him on the facts of this matter.

The real question is this. Why will the Liberal Party not tell the truth about its sorry record on immigration over decades and its inability and unwillingness to do anything to face up to the real threat of terrorism in this day and age?

Liberals have done nothing to strengthen our measures to fight terrorism, to cancel passports, to take action against ISIL.

John McCallum:

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious from the minister’s previous statement that he equates terrorism with niqabs. When only Muslims face a rise in hate crimes, it is obvious that the government’s toxic anti-Muslim rhetoric is a part of the problem. As when he talks about terrorists plots in mosques, this is the only Prime Minister in my lifetime who sinks to attack a whole community for political gain. Will he at least apologize to Muslim Canadians?

Chris Alexander:

Mr. Speaker, those are the most outrageous untruths I have yet to hear in this place. This is the only party in this Parliament that is taking action to protect Muslims and other Canadians from the threat of terrorism.

I would invite that member to apologize for decades of racism by his party under Mackenzie King, blocking South Asians from coming to this country, blocking East Asians from coming to this country, blocking Caribbeans from coming to this country.

There was also the injustice of backlogs under the Trudeau regime and the Chrétien era. It is that party that has been the racist party in this Parliament over decades.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.