Sunday, September 20, 2015
Stephen Harper and the Three Words That Could Help Destroy Him
They were only three words in a heated debate, but when Stephen Harper used the words "old stock Canadians" he may have made one of the biggest mistakes of this campaign.
For while many Canadians who were born in this country may have easily shrugged them off, as just another pathetic attempt by Harper to send a dog whistle message to his Con base.
For many of the one in six Canadians who weren't born here, that won't be that easy.
Because for many of them that message sounded a lot like this...
An attempt to draw a line between us and them, or us and the Others.
Detractors talked about dog whistling. Supporters Googled past occasions when Liberals said the same thing. And people whose forebears didn’t land in Canada until the 20th century just felt awkward or annoyed.
And it shocked and angered many of them.
It certainly reminded some viewers that they were the Other. Their anger was genuine, not a pearl-clutching act. “I couldn’t even sleep last night I was so pissed [off],” one friend, a Canadian of Jamaican origin, said.
I've been seeing that anger all over Toronto, in the streets and on the airwaves, and it's really not surprising.
For while many Canadians who are born here take their relationship with this country for granted, they don't. For them it's something precious, something they value greatly. Anyone who threatens that relationship better watch out.
And that anger may come back to haunt Stephen Harper.
Then there is the other reason, at least I like to think, why Stephen Harper shouldn't have used those words.
For they might remind Canadians that Harper is an "old stock Canadian" himself.
And of the first Harper to arrive in Canada. Which as some of you might know, is a VERY scary story.
The original Canadian Harper - born in a small village in Yorkshire in 1730 - immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1774 and moved into a house near Fort Cumberland, only to have the home burned to the ground two years later by rebels.
He spent years taking revenge in the courts and slowly rising through the political system.
He had risen to the post of justice of the peace by the time a judicial inquiry found him guilty of, as one historian put it, "violent and oppressive measures" - vindictive to a point beyond all reason.
And can only remind Canadians that Stephen Harper's deranged vindictiveness didn't come from outer space, it came from Yorkshire.
That madness does run in his family....
And that he may have to be removed from office like Christopher Harper was, if he refuses to surrender to a coalition government...
So we better make sure that him and his Cons are crushed beyond recognition.
But back to those three words, which apart from being wrong because the only really old stock Canadians are the First Nations, mean more to some than they do to others. Or hurt some more than they do others.
You know when I first arrived in Montreal, I immediately came face to face with the so-called two solitudes. And breaking through that barrier was hard enough.
But since then I have discovered that there are many other solitudes in this big country, and that unless you have lived it, it's hard to understand the immigrant experience.
And hard to understand why what Stephen Harper said, has made so many feel so threatened and so angry.
But believe me that anger is real, it burns brightly.
And I wouldn't be surprised if it does help destroy him...
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