Pam Palmater: The election result is one more sign that Canada is becoming fertile ground for far-right groups.
Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw attorney and chair of indigenous governance at Ryerson University.
Liberals held snap elections amid a pandemic, rolled the dice to win a majority government, and lost. Although the votes are still being counted, 320 of the 338 seats have been confirmed, and while the Liberals maintained their minority government status, they only hope to win one additional seat. At an approximate cost of $ 610 million, which does not include the costs incurred by Canadians to travel to their polling station or arrange child care while they queue for hours, this election, by any measure, cost far more than that it was worth. . However, the results revealed a growing threat to public safety that has largely not been addressed: the rise of far-right groups that have used the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic to gain support.
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While most political analysts focused on whether the Liberals would hold on to their minority rule, something else happened on election night: The popular vote count for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) continued to rise. In fact, they more than doubled the votes of the Green Party. In 2019, the PPC had almost 300,000 votes. But this election, according to the latest count, the current total is more than 800,000, more than double what it was 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 to rally angry masked men and those who oppose pandemic health measures under its far-right umbrella. A closer look at some of those who have joined the party include those who were rejected by the conservative party or gained some degree of notoriety for racist rhetoric, or are opposed to pandemic health protections. And nearly a million Canadians support them.
While the rise in rhetoric and far-right populist groups is not unique to Canada, the federal government has been silent on the public safety risk it poses to Canadians, especially black, indigenous and racialized people and women. Hate crimes have increased by 37 percent 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 right-wing extremism online, which includes the dissemination of racist, white supremacist and misogynist views, and the conspiracy of acts of violence. While the United States has received most of the media attention for the rise of far-right ideology and violence in its country, the disturbing fact is that Canada produces more far-right online content per web user than in any other country. Violent leanings and the ability to use social media to recruit and radicalize younger Canadians must be understood more broadly than the current lens of trying to tackle individual hate crimes – this is a group mentality.
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The PPC platform contained the right combination of commitments to speak to those with far-right ideologies, anti-indigenous views, pandemic grievances, and pro-gun attitudes, including their promises to maximize freedom of expression (allow more speech by hate); cut funding for universities if they silence those who defend hateful opinions; cut funding for CBC; cut funding for foreign aid; and reducing the number of immigrants and stopping the flow of refugees into Canada.
Beneath the surface of these promises are deeply ingrained racist views against non-white people that would be reinforced by his plan to repeal multiculturalism laws and cut funding for multiculturalism with a view to forcing integration into Canadian society and culture. . This, coupled with the party’s promise to end the ban on military-style weapons, is a recipe for the disaster that appears to be gaining ground in Canada. While individual incidents by the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups may be viewed by some as unique incidents, we know they are part of a larger phenomenon that is loosely clustering around the PPC. This liberal minority government must look beyond the politics of vote counting and the fact that neither Bernier nor any of his candidates won seats and carefully consider what 800,000 votes mean for the PPC in terms of far-right organizing and security. public in the future.