Monday, September 09, 2019

On abandoned responsibilities

The prelude to Canada's federal election campaign has brought several parties' views of human rights and government responsibilities under scrutiny.

Maxime Bernier has only exacerbated Stephen Harper's past anti-minority messages, building his PPC campaign largely on criticism of immigration generally.

Andrew Scheer has apparently recognized at least a political problem with broad attacks against refugees or minority groups. And so he’s taken to searching out targets one by one for his campaign’s two minute hate sessions, then challenging Justin Trudeau to join in denouncing them and declaring that they’ll be treated as non-people by the Canadian government.

And of course the Greens have been happy to welcome people motivated by religious bias and racism, as long as it offers a political wedge to benefit Elizabeth May.

But somehow, the current government hasn't been held to account for its disturbing response to the Cons' campaign theme.

The Liberals have been quick to point out that Scheer’s message about the likes of Jack Letts and Jon Venables has been inaccurate in fact, relying on tabloid gossip and idle speculation to assert non-existent connections between the Conservatives’ objects of hate and the Canadian government.

But in limiting their response that way, they’ve only reinforced Scheer’s underlying principle.

Others have pointed out that Canada is actually subject to both international agreements and moral obligations to address the actions of people abroad. But the Libs have brushed those aside - instead washing their hands of any responsibility to or for the people involved, and sending the message that they’ll readily treat some types of people as pariahs based on political considerations.

It shouldn't be acceptable for any party to quibble over where to draw the line in abandoning anybody. And it's doubly galling to see that message from a party trying to brand itself as a champion of human rights.

Fortunately, we've also seen an example of the right way to respond to attempts to exploit bigotry and hate for political gain. And we should be looking to support a government which is willing to challenge the exploitation of hate in all forms, not merely quibble with the accuracy of any particular attempt to invoke it.

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