Immigration is a popular election issue and easily turned menacing with proclamations of mysterious predators crossing the border. Donald Trump uses this tactic to extort money for his border wall from a reluctant Congress.
Here in Canada, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer surprised many when he took up a particular cause that emerged from the far-right fringes; denouncing the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Trump refuses to sign it; and it is a particularly thorny issue for Dan Albas and his West Kelowna supporters.
If you read this document, it is not a legal treaty, it is purely a statement of principal; to reduce overall global immigration and discourage illegal immigration. It is a global framework to guide countries in meeting the rights of children and youth around the world fleeing to escape conflict, who with or without their parents are especially vulnerable to violence, sexual exploitation, social exclusion and discrimination. It mandates keeping families together; training border police and social workers about children’s rights, ensuring children are provided with health care, nutrition, education and protection. It does not undermine national sovereignty.
Andrew Scheer claims “the Compact gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities.” He denounces the “crisis at our border” and “chaos at our border” caused by “illegal border crossing.” Suggesting chaos, danger and criminality are by-products of this document. Former Conservative immigration minister Chris Alexander declared on social media Scheer is factually wrong about his claims.
So where did this extreme and hateful theory come from? Two investigative journalists discovered, it was a product of a calculated anti-Compact social media campaign, created “by a coalition of anti-Islamic, far-right and neo-Nazi sympathizers” based in Europe and from September 2018 it had been “taken up by far-right parties in Europe and members of Trump’s circle;” and now the Conservative Party of Canada.
It is obvious that Scheer’s decision to preach this ugly hateful idea is a manoeuvre to turn immigration fears into anti-Liberal sentiment, while wilfully and callously ignoring dangerous real consequences. The shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue, or the Florida pipe-bomber or Quebec City mosque shooting that kill 19 people, each perpetrator was spurred to action after by extreme faked and misleading social media campaigns about criminal immigrants. Manufacturing crises is the far-right’s populist playbook.
We live with the cold truth: tell a lie enough times and someone will believe it. This is why hate speech is different than free speech. Given the evidence, amplifying fake hateful rhetoric by Andrew Scheer for political gain is absolutely reckless and Canadians need to tell him so.
Jon Peter Christoff West Kelowna.