Asking questions that help Canadians understand policies, behaviours and a politicians’ opinion IS NOT RACIST, and preventing this line of questioning goes against the very foundations of grassroots politics. This is a big concern for me!
Make no mistake, during my 20 years of public service, I have faced racism firsthand. During my first successful campaign, I dealt with the ugly face of racism. You can read about it in the following article, however at this moment, I want to talk about the difference between facing racism and using racism as a way to shut down an uncomfortable line of questioning – a disturbing trend that is happening in Politics today.
From M103 and its potential to shut down and label any discussion or questions of Islam as being Islmaphobic, to the newly elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh shutting down questions regarding his own stance towards a known terrorist act, by saying that the line of questioning is racist, is something I need to speak up about.
In a recent interview with the Hill Times regarding racism in politics, I went on the record to say that it is disturbing and irresponsible how some politicians, including the NDP leader, are using the label of racism as a way to stop uncomfortable questions.
When we give in and allow people to get away with this, it takes us down a slippery slope and opens the door for fear, intimidation and a prevention of the very thing that makes Canada great; the ability to have an open discussion on issues that affect Canadians – all Canadians.
In the openness of a free and democratic society, the brazen over usage of the term “racism” is alarming. Unfortunately, some politicians use racism as a card to stifle uncomfortable conversations, which is a dangerous practice. When people in positions of power start using the cloak of racism for shutting down legitimate debate and the asking of legitimate questions, freedom of speech suffers.
This being said, we must recognize that racism and discrimination very much exist and is an incredible hurdle that still faces many in the political arena. When certain politicians use it as a shield to protect them from unwanted questions, it hurts those who are legitimately facing it.
Racism and discrimination is entrenched in hate and bigotry and its overall goal is to oppress and marginalize people based on differences. It is this behaviour that is still prevalent in our world and in our political system. All we have to do is look at the Quebec Mosque shooting, the copious amounts of hate mail sent to visible minority groups, and the ignorant and threating comments spouted on social media to see that it is a major oppressive factor for those who enter public life.
We must continue to call out these behaviours, whose overall goal is to hurt, marginalize and oppress people, not prevent them from getting information.