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Ujjal Dosanjh

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Chris Alexander's finger moved in time with the chant: He hasn't come clean

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Chris Alexander of the Barbaric Practices snitch line infamy has just garnered another distinction that puts him squarely in the Trump like category. While speaking to an anti carbon tax rally in Edmonton he remained mute while the ralliers chanted "lock her up", referring to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to be locked up for the promise to bring in the carbon tax in Alberta.

None of this should surprise Canadians. It was the Conservative Kelley Leitch who had celebrated the election of the xenophobe, misogynist and racist Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. It was the Leitch Alexander duo that had announced the setting up of the barbaric cultural practices snitch line in the middle of the last federal election, as a last ditch effort of the Conservative Party to salvage a win from the election they were clearly losing. Alexander and Leitch had clearly shown they were not above appealing to the latent racism and the perceived anti Muslim sentiment in Canada to eke out a win for themselves and their Party.

Canada clearly has elements similar to those that make up the alt right in the USA. They appear to be coming together to wreak similar havoc on the Canadian political scene. They feel emboldened enough to engage in similar tactics in Canada to influence Canadian politics. What better vehicle could they have wished for than the Party that in the last election gave them the dog whistle politics of the Niqab and the so-called barbaric practices snitch line; and who better as their preferred candidates than Leitch and Alexander.

There were a few homophobic signs in the Edmonton crowd; and there were anti-immigration flyers titled "Unnecessary immigration is destroying Canada", distributed by an organisation called Immigration Watch Canada.  And there was the crowd chanting "lock her up". Chris Alexander made no effort to interrupt or stop the chant. In fact he is seen smiling, approvingly nodding and gesturing with the index finger of his gloved left hand in time with the chant. Alexander argues he was smiling because he was thinking how to change the chant. And he says that in his own heart he had rejected that chant the very moment it happened. I saw no such rejection in his body language, his smile and his gestures. He was clearly relishing the chant. In fact he looked the part of an on stage director--an orchestrator-- for the few seconds that the chant lasted. Now, after the fact, just merely distancing himself from what happened can't be good enough; he needs to be truthful to himself, to the Conservatives that he is seeking to lead and to Canadians at large.  He needs to acknowledge approvingly gesturing and nodding along with the chant; he needs to acknowledge not having the courage to dissociate himself from the chant in Edmonton, on the spot, right there and then.

The infamous chant happened within days of Leitch, the front runner in the Conservative race for leadership, being endorsed by the alt-right Council of European Canadians. The dog-whistle politics of fear and hate, division and discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion is upon us in Canada--some of it wafting over from the South but much of it is quite native to Canada. We can't blame all of it on the Tea Party, alt-right or Trump in the US. Professor Brian Gorman is correct: "We have a long and ignoble history of aping Americans--not always in positive ways." But aping can't last or flourish very long without some basis in the conditions extant in our own country.


There is no question that people are angry. Alberta is hurting, as Alexander says. We must listen to them. But the politicians can't just be empty vessels--mere listeners. They must examine the issues and follow their conscience. Otherwise they risk losing their souls to the whims, right or wrong, of the rallying crowds and the goal of winning elections; and we risk a Canadian Trump or Trumpette severely destroying the fabric of our society.

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