If you want to stamp out intolerance you bring people together, not wedge them
Watching rookie Liberal Member of Parliament, Chandra Arya, standing in the House of Commons and blame the Quebec Mosque attack and Islamophobia on the Conservative Party and the Parti Quebecois was an outrageous speech that deserves response because it attempts to compromise democracy.
Chandra is a first term Member of Parliament and still trying to find his footing as a Member and a politician but his comments were both disgusting and repugnant. But let’s be clear, the Liberal member’s private members business on Islamophobia, a motion introduced by Erin Mills Liberal Member of Parliament, Iqra Khalid, now being debated by Parliamentarians, is a motion endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Office as a political wedge to attack their most effective opposition. All private members business is vetted by the Department of Justice to see if it is constitutional and a memorandum to cabinet is generated with a recommendation. Cabinet then adjudicates on the matter of business to see if it fits their political narrative or to counter the opposition. Few Government members introduce bills or measures that their government does not support unless they are irretrievably silly or remarkably stubborn. Quite often government’s give members private bills and motions because they cannot generate them on their own and the government wants plausible deniability is the measure backfires.
You can quickly tell by the House Leader’s actions on the Government side, if the Government is in favor and wants it to move. Other signals of Prime Minister’s Office’s support for a private member’s business, are a reluctance by the government to accept compromise amendments for all party support, villainizing the opposition, handing out approved speeches and speaking points to its members, and the list goes on. Remember, cabinet has an approved path forward on all private members legislation and business to either accept, or reject, and when a bill or motion is to be rejected and the government has a majority, they don’t care about amendments. It’s only when cabinet has decided to support a private members bill or motion, that it gets bullish and nasty. When your Prime Minister is under an investigation for breaching his own ethics program, and it looks like he and his key supporters are on the take, a hot button issue like “Islamophobia” and painting the opposition as racists is a Godsend.
So let’s be clear, a few days ago a Minister made remarks that were geared to brand the opposition as racists and now it’s a back bencher trying to make it to the front bench in a hurry. Mr. Arya’s biggest mistake is that he was stupid enough to deliver the speech rather than have the flu that day. Arya is going to have to face the voters in two and half years, and the people of Nepean that traditionally vote Conservative, gave him a chance in the last general elections. Conservative voters either sat on their hands, or voted Liberal to elect him, right now they are probably not too happy that he called them racist and blames them for terrorism and mass murder in Quebec City. The danger in Chandra Arya’s comments and the government enflaming the Islamophobia issue in Parliament is that they are now fanning the flames of hatred across the country and are trying to smoother the debate about a Prime Minister and his ethics issues.
I know the Muslim community in Ottawa relatively well. My wife, the Member of Provincial Parliament, Lisa MacLeod, recently dealt with racist attacks on her faith community, and joined the vigil in support of the victims of the Quebec Islamic Centre, and on March 20th is hosting an event with her faith committee to support religious freedom and tolerance in our community. If you want to stamp out intolerance you bring people together, not wedge them apart to defend an ethically challenged government, and its’ Prime Minister. People are suspicious of politicians and their motives at the best of times, and hate being used in wedge politics. My experience with political wedges is that when you trot out wedges, the voters resent it and beat you with that wedge. After all, the Conservative legacy of Stephen Harper and his government is that little girls get to go to school in Afghanistan today where they could not go before. The previous Conservative government used military force to confront a monstrous evil in Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, a brutal Dictator in Libya, and the Islamic State in Iraq. Mr. Arya, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, are majority Muslim countries that the previous government invested Canadian blood and treasure to protect the rule of law and innocent civilians. The current Trudeau government has decided to lessen or abandon that use of force in Iraq, and to turn a blind eye to genocide. They cannot even utter the word genocide or terrorism or atrocity, even when clear evidence of it is presented in ironclad detail.
I wonder how Conservatives and Liberals stack up against one another morally?