Trudeau accuses Harper of stoking prejudice against Muslims

‘Fear is a dangerous thing,’ Trudeau says. ‘Once stoked … there is no way to predict where it will end’

(Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

(Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is accusing the Harper government of deliberately stoking fear and prejudice against Muslim Canadians — employing the same kind of rhetoric that led to some of Canada’s most shameful displays of racism in the past.

The Liberal leader drew a parallel Monday between the current government’s rhetoric about Muslims and other “dark episodes” in Canada’s history: the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and Italian Canadians during the two world wars, the turning away boatloads of Jewish and Punjabi refugees and the imposition of residential schools for aboriginal children.

Since two Canadian soldiers were murdered by men with radical Islamist sympathies last October, Trudeau said the government has been blurring the line between the genuine threat terrorism posed to national security and “simple prejudice.”

“I believe they have done it deliberately and I believe what they have done is deeply wrong,” Trudeau said in the text of a speech delivered in Toronto to the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

“We all know what is going on here,” he added.

“It is nothing less than an attempt to play on people’s fears and foster prejudice, directly toward the Muslim faith. This is not the spirit of Canadian liberty, my friends. It is the spirit of the Komagata Maru. Of the St. Louis. Of ‘none is too many.'”

The Komagata Maru was a ship carrying Muslim, Hindu and Sikh passengers, who were denied entry into Canada in 1914.

The St. Louis was a German ocean liner whose Jewish passengers were denied entry in 1939 under the “none is too many” policy of the Canadian government of the day.

“We should all shudder to hear the same rhetoric that led to a ‘none is too many’ immigration policy toward Jews in the 1930s and 40s, being used to raise fears against Muslims today,” Trudeau said.

During the past several weeks, Trudeau said the governing Conservatives’ rhetoric has escalated as they promote new anti-terrorism legislation and decry a court ruling that struck down a law that banned a Muslim woman from wearing a face-covering niqab while taking the oath of citizenship.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he finds it “offensive” for someone to cover their face during the citizenship ceremony and has vowed to appeal the ruling.

The Conservative party has used Harper’s comments in fundraising missives that trumpet the prime minister’s contention that wearing a niqab while taking the citizenship oath is “not the way we do things here.”

The party has also promoted the anti-terrorism legislation by posting online images of a menacing Islamist terrorist and quotations from a recent threat to attack the West Edmonton Mall.

The government has been criticized, meanwhile, for doing little to reassure Muslim Canadians after last fall’s violence or, more recently, after a Quebec judge refused to hear a Muslim woman because she was wearing a hijab to cover her head.

Trudeau scoffed at the Conservatives’ contention that the ban on face-coverings during citizenship ceremonies was intended to promote gender equality.

“It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear.”

And he warned that Harper and his fellow Tories are going down a dangerous path in a country that is home to over 1 million Muslims.

“Fear is a dangerous thing. Once stoked, whether by a judge from the bench or a prime minister with a dog whistle, there is no way to predict where it will end,” Trudeau said.

“Across Canada, and especially in my home province (of Quebec), Canadians are being encouraged by their government to be fearful of one another. For me, this is both unconscionable and a real threat to Canadian liberty.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office defended the government’s actions, in part by quoting weekend comments by Defence Minister Jason Kenney in which the minister said “We stand in defence of the vast majority of Muslims who reject this cult of violence. Canadians are in solidarity with them.”

Stephen Lecce also defended the government’s anti-terror legislation.

“Under Prime Minister Harper, this Government will continue to take action to protect our freedoms by denying the international jihadist movement the opportunity to inflict terror on our citizens and interests,” Lecce said in an email. “Through the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015, we are taking decisive action to thwart efforts to use Canada as a recruiting ground, prevent terrorism travel and attacks on our soil.”

Earlier Monday at an event in Ottawa, Marjory LeBreton, a senior Conservative senator, acknowledged that the government’s messaging may be making Muslims feel unwelcome. She was responding to a question from Sheema Khan, who told LeBreton that Muslim Canadians are feeling “a little bit excluded, somewhat under suspicion.”

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Trudeau accuses Harper of stoking prejudice against Muslims

  1. Agreed. Harper is doing the same thing to Muslims as we did to the Jews during WWII.

  2. Emily as usual has displayed her ignorance and her lack of knowledge of the truth of the modern day situation – which is hardly surprising given her record of posts on this site.

    Trudeau lite will continue the destruction of Canada that his father began

  3. Trudeau is a double-digit IQ with a famous last name who can barely read the cue cards his advisers put in front of him.

    It’s muslims who are “stoking prejudice against muslims”.

    • Muslims have been around for 1500 years…..did you just notice them?

      • Thankfully I was not around when Mohammed and his armies killed, conquered and enslaved people from Spain to Indonesia.

        Also it’s good to see that you dont hate all religions Emily, you may hate christianity but you have a soft spot for Islam, and it’s cute. None of that “love thy neighbor” nonsense for you, you clearly prefer the whole “stone adulterous women and homosexuals” approach to life.

        • No point talking to you if you insist on remaining ignorant.

          • Please tell me about Islam Emily, you’re clearly an expert on the topic.

            I mean you clearly know more about Islam than all these people from the Islamic State because they think they’re acting like muslims and following the koran. So you’re clearly an expert on muslim history, muslim theology, and muslim philosophy. PLEASE do not deprive an ignorant fool like me of your knowledge. PLEASE save me before I go and do some islamophobia.

        • Sorry, not interested in talking to an ape. And I never follow wingers red herrings.

          If you want to know about Islam google Wikipedia

          If you want to fight them….join the army.


    • Uh huh. So if all Muslims are evil because of the actions of ISIS or Al Queda, does that mean all Christians are evil because of the actions of the KKK?

      I have a single digit for you…

      • So if all Muslims are evil because of the actions of ISIS or Al Queda, does that mean all Christians are evil because of the actions of the KKK?

        I never said that. Learn to read chump.

  4. There is a fundamental dishonesty in his speech in that he did not mention the imposition of the War Measures Act, nor Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights.

    It was a Liberal government that discriminated against Jewish immigrants in the thirties and forties, and interned Japanese Canadians. It was Trudeau’s father who thought world travel was the best use of his time during the early nineteen forties. Nothing more important happening in the world at that time, I guess.

    • If only Harper dealt with muslims the way Trudeau Sr. dealt with Quebec separatists poor little Justin would probably faint.

  5. Ok! If ignorance is a bliss then we top the pyramid. I am a Catholic Canadian of Lebanese origin and the Niqab is a barbaric dress subjected on women in a patriarchal society found only in Islmic countries because men there look at women in a sexual context so they cover them up like we say “lead us not I to temptation”. However, the Niqab has nothing to do with Islam. It is a cultural thing. My reply to Trudeau and other sympathizers is when are we going to stop defending Islam? We are busy providing excuses day and night that Islam is a religion of peace. Well I speak Arabic and I confirm it is not a religion of peace. It is a propaganda machine that brainwashes you to believe that it is a religion of peace but it is full of hate towards no Muslims. I left the Middle East long time ago with my wife and children because I did not want to subject my family to feeling third class after the rats and camels because we are Christian. We have to stop carrying the Charter of Rights and defend such unCanadian way of life. Look at Europe today. They are what we will become 20 years from now if we allow Islam to have its way in Canada. I support the Government’s banning of the Niqab, Sharia law and anything that contradicts the Canadian way of life. No one asked me to come to Canada. I came with free will and accepted the Canadian way of life and live by its laws. I love Canada and would die serving it in peace and war. Time to earn up and respect the society we live in or butt out and pack thy bags and return to where you came from. I get so annoyed when we as Canadians defend something we know nothing of and know nothing of its implication on society. You want to call ISIL a terrorist organization well they enforce the true face of Islam. I will not entertain comments on my posting as I am simply givng my two cents on an issue that will make our lives a living hell in 20 years time when they grow in large numbers and change the laws of the land.

  6. Simple question: who can say the root reasons for wearing a niqab. Note the use of the word “root” – so I’m not looking for a superficial answer such as “it’s god’s commandment” or “it pleases my god”. I’m looking for the reasons someone’s god would want women to hide their faces in public, or whatever other root reasons that may exist

    I’ve yet to see this kind of rationalization for it, so perhaps I’ve been living under a rock and it’s obvious to everyone else.

    Please don’t take the question as an opportunity to spout anti-western, anti-muslim, anti-Trudeau, anti-Harper, anti-whatever rhetoric. It’s a simple question, that should have a reasonably simple answer.

  7. A niqab is not religious. Neither is a hijab, a chador, a burkka or any of this other clothing. They are cultural and were worn long befor Islam

    They were a sign of wealth, and a way to keep social friction down….living close together in tents as they were.The same with the separation of men an women.

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