Is Canada really as racist a society as the absurd and constant attacks on Jagmeet Singh indicate?

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NorthReport
Is Canada really as racist a society as the absurd and constant attacks on Jagmeet Singh indicate?

Just askin’

voice of the damned

Not that I wanna turn this thread into a gallery of racist vitriol, but can you provide some examples of what you're talking about? I'm sure this racism exists, of course, but, in any discussion, I do find it helps to have something tangible to focus on.

NorthReport

Who do you think you are kidding!

voice of the damned

I don't follow the career of and discussion around Singh as closely as others do. I know I've heard some people say that his open and visible affiliation as a Sikh might be a hinderance to his prospects, but those people seem to be talking about, not advocating, racism against him. Unless of course, they're using it as an excuse just to get Sikhs out of politics. ("Well, it's not that I'm personally racist, of course, but so many other people are, it's just not a good idea to have a Sikh leader.")

Other than that, can you provide some examples of what you mean?

NorthReport

dp

NorthReport
NorthReport

If we truly wish to confront racism in Canada why don’t the white people STFU and let’s start listening to the non-whites amonst us

https://www.straight.com/news/1157286/reporter-sunny-dhillon-quits-globe-and-mail-after-being-instructed-focus-less-race

Unionist

NorthReport wrote:

If we truly wish to confront racism in Canada why don’t the white people STFU and let’s start listening to the non-whites amonst us

https://www.straight.com/news/1157286/reporter-sunny-dhillon-quits-globe-and-mail-after-being-instructed-focus-less-race

I saw Sunny Dhillon's article yesterday and found it inspiring - actually re-tweeted it (and I tweet about twice a year). I think it deserves to be highlighted here on its own. He left the Globe & Mail after 10 years, and here's why:

Journalism While Brown and When to Walk Away

Sunny Dhillon wrote:

I decided to leave The Globe and Mail because that final conversation inside the bureau chief’s office crystallized what I had felt: What I brought to the newsroom did not matter. And it was at that moment that being a person of colour at a paper and in an industry that does not have enough of us — particularly at the top — felt more futile than ever before.

Now, I have no idea what this has to do with the ridiculous thread title. If being "anti-racist" means I have to stop calling Jagmeet Singh a neoliberal pandering creep, then I'll have to examine my most deeply held convictions.

NDPP

Well said.

Mighty Middle

On Power Play the other night CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier said Jagmeet Singh is not on top of the issues, is not keeping up with policies put out by the Liberals. Twice in media scrums, he has had to turn to NDP MPs and ask (in front of the media) what the NDP policy is on an issue he is being directly asked about. Not once, but twice.

Then yesterday in another media scrum Singh couldn't explain why he is only blaming Trudeau for not calling a by-election, when it was Kennedy Stewart who didn't quit earlier. And still sat as an NDP MP while campaiging for Mayor of Vancouver. Shouldn't Kennedy Stewart had quit 6 months ago when he first announced his mayoral run? (6 months is also the longest a riding can be left vacant before a PM has to call a by-election)  Singh had no answer to that just saying "Ask Kennedy Stewart"

NorthReport
NorthReport
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Caissa

Jagmeet Singh has not been the best NDP leader and he probably has not been the worst.

6079_Smith_W

I don't know about criticism of the NDP leader, but a community thinking a First Nations preschool is going to bring down property values sure shows how racist this community is:

https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/neighbours-oppose-proposed-sa...

 

lagatta4

That is definitely racist. I'm not fond of Singh, but for the same reasons that I was not fond of Mulcair - and it would be ridiculous to think of me as an anti-Irish or anti francophone racist, as I have family from both of those groups (and intertwined ones as per the Mulcair family). True, I can be a "self-hating Catholic", but I think it is clear that there are other reasons.

My dislike of Singh stems, as Unionist put it, from his neoliberal pandering, not the colour of his skin or the fact that he wears a religious headcovering. If I'm allowed to be a dirty-old-lady, I'd say he is rather good looking.

I'm not happy about this, because it seems to be dreadful for the NDP's prospects next year, and there is no credible left alternative. I expect that Alexandre Boulerice will win in my riding whatever happens - ALL of his federal riding is now held on the Québec level by QS MNAs - but he will have much less of a say if the NDP doesn't even have party status.

gadar

There is certainly a bigoted reaction to Singh by some, but implying that any and all criticism of Jagmeet is inspired by hate is disingenuous. But then, what else is new.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I am suspicious of any overt display of religiosity, so I do actually take issue with the turban. There are plenty of Sikhs who don't wear it. I'd be suspicious of any white guy sporting a cross, too.

That said, I am willing to look past it, but haven't seen anything especially effective in his leadership of the party or on the policy directions he's taking it in.

Unionist

Timebandit wrote:

I am suspicious of any overt display of religiosity, so I do actually take issue with the turban. There are plenty of Sikhs who don't wear it. I'd be suspicious of any white guy sporting a cross, too.

With respect, that's not a persuasive comparison, TB. Orthodox Sikh men don't cut their hair and keep it wrapped in a turban. Their religious beliefs make that mandatory. I'm unaware of any variant of Christianity that requires a guy to sport a cross. But would you also be suspicious of a white guy wearing a kippah? Or a woman of any colour wearing a hijab?

 

6079_Smith_W

Timebandit wrote:

I am suspicious of any overt display of religiosity, so I do actually take issue with the turban. There are plenty of Sikhs who don't wear it. I'd be suspicious of any white guy sporting a cross, too.

Though does that suspicion extend to people like Tommy Douglas and Lorne Calvert who were/are ordained ministers, or Elizabeth May, who is on track for ordaination. Not asking you personally, but I do think people who have non-Christian symbols get a lot more xenophobia, particularly if they are not white.

In the same way, Catholics have always been treated with more suspicion than mainline Protestants, most of it discrimination, pain and simple.

How much criticism of Singh in his role as leader of the NDP is tied to that is another question.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Orthodox + religion is something that makes me nervous. Orthodoxy of any stripe is often unfriendly to women and nonbelievers. Do I support the right to wear a turban or a hijab or a kippah? Absolutely. We have the right to dress and observe our belief systems as we see fit. But it's the orthodoxy, not the faith, that makes it mandatory - there are Sikhs who cut their hair, Muslims who don't wear the hijab, and Jews who don't wear the kippah all the time. Lots of them. With Christians, there's no mandatory headgear, but it's not uncommon for people who are very invested in their Christianity to sport a cross, fish pin, etc. There are subtle tells that a more moderate or liberal Christian wouldn't exhibit, and you can bet the farm I take them into account. Hell, I'm actually more worried about stealth Xtian fundies than anyone else.

But the question when it comes to politicians who are very religious is this: Do I believe that someone that invested in their religion will be able to support the values that I hold - including a secular state - as my elected representative? I'm not sure. I think it's less of a stretch for someone not so orthodox. It's the orthodoxy itself that gives me pause.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Timebandit wrote:

I am suspicious of any overt display of religiosity, so I do actually take issue with the turban. There are plenty of Sikhs who don't wear it. I'd be suspicious of any white guy sporting a cross, too.

Though does that suspicion extend to people like Tommy Douglas and Lorne Calvert who were/are ordained ministers, or Elizabeth May, who is on track for ordaination. Not asking you personally, but I do think people who have non-Christian symbols get a lot more xenophobia, particularly if they are not white.

In the same way, Catholics have always been treated with more suspicion than mainline Protestants, most of it discrimination, pain and simple.

How much criticism of Singh in his role as leader of the NDP is tied to that is another question.

The last question - I don't know. I am sure his race and the fact that he follows a minority faith is absolutely a factor in the criticism around him.

As for Calvert, he can be a right judgmental little prick when he wants to be, especially when it comes to secularism. He apparently got quite nasty about my atheist film when my DOP mentioned it to him (one of our characters is a UCC minister who's also an outspoken atheist).  TCD - he was a product of his time, and yeah, his religious views in this day and age would likely be a liability. I also don't like Elizabeth May - the Greens are not especially socially progressive IMV, so I'm not likely to vote that way. IOW, I don't think she would represent my values in government.

And again, I'm not saying I won't vote NDP while Singh is leader. Just that he's problematic for me in regard to religion vs secularism. It's still the party that is closest to my own values and what I'd like to see in government.

quizzical

i don't like the way he got himself elected as leader.

i don't like his orthodox religious displays or any from any politician. feel the same way about Scheer or Harper as i do Singh.

i don't like his decisions he has made as leader or his invisibility when he is not making stupid decisions.

but i agree with laggata he is good to look at but still not voting for him.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm not surprised if some of the comments regarding Singh are racist (I don't mean here, I mean in Canada in general).

But before we can say "Canada *that* racist!" based on those comments, we'd need to decide how many of those comments we need to see, or from whom.  We're a big country, and the idea that nobody would ever criticize a brown politician is absurd, but we can't just generalize to all of Canada from it.

Not saying Canada isn't, or cannot be, racist.  But some NDP hater sneering at Singh's turban won't be how we know.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I am an atheist who as a kid was abused by a Catholic priest so I have no love of organized religion of any kind. I am extremely wary of Born Agains and I do look for symbols of those sects. I know many Sikhs and some wear turbans and others don't. I support everyone's right to wear religious symbols as long as they do not proselytize in my presence, then I speak up.

Believing in religion is not a problem for me when it comes to politicians. Bill Siksay was the best MP I have ever met and had the pleasure to work with. He met for weekly pray meetings on the Hill when the House was in session He now works for the Anglican Archbishop's Office in New West. Harper belonged to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church and that always bothered me because their beliefs are scary.

The article above highlighted the Vancouver race but in Burnaby the only seat won by a non-BCA candidate was won by a white male and the only BCA candidate not elected was a woman from the South Asian community. The BCA ran a diverse slate but the voters topped the polls with all the old white guys who should be retiring.

I think the NDP is adrift without an ideological rudder and that predates its current leader. I personally think the rush to the center started with Alexa and Jack, using the Liberal playbook, ran for the leadership from the left and then took the party further to the right. Jack's big win in Quebec was not echoed in most of the rest of the country. Then Mulcair completed the transformation and tried to run on a left liberal platform. Sing is not the problem.

Sean in Ottawa

As for religion in politicians, I am at times unnerved by it and no. it won't be considered fair but it is my real feelings.

Generally, I would not care if a political person has religious or cultural beliefs I do not share. There is a category of them that disturbs me: this only relates to people who are right wing or skeptical of science and have religion. If people are right wing and religious, I worry that they think of a plan "b" if things do not work on earth - some heaven they can go to. I also fear that they believe some cosmic or religious justice for those who are disadvantaged in this life. I worry that these beliefs guide their policy outlook and that they may be close minded.

Those who are fighting for social equality in this life and who express willing ness to engage with science, and follow science-based decisions are in a category in which I do not care about their personal opinions or need to agree with them.

As for Singh, my understanding of his social policy view is that he supports justice in the here and now and he also supports, generally, science. His religion, as I understand it, does not include a belief that a person passes intact into a heaven but that the spirit of the person goes into a universal force. Thus, as the person he is, he does not beleive in a plan "b." His religion is not at all relevant to me.

There are Christians who rely less on the concept of a plan "b" and more on a concept of a requirement to help others and gravitate to policies of people helping each other and respecting the planet we are one. Generally, this does not both me very much. My main disagreement is the religious concept of charity that may drive them instead of equality and equal value and participation in community. I am disturbed by those who want to do good becuase they feel generous, even if they end up doing the right thing. I trust more those who believe in public good, equality and rights rather than charity -- even if in some policies the product is the same.

The only part of a person's religion that I worry about is how it may drive their politics and the principles they bring with them to politics.

I am completely unconcerned given what I know about Singh in this regard.

I believe that colonialism and inequality are the cause of the most misery and the risk that humans will destroy themselves and other life on the planet. for this reason, I am attracted to those who are not European, whose education (formal or informal from their family) is more likely to include anti-colonialism and an understanding of racism and sexism. Singh ticks a number of boxes in this regard.

I also want an politically effective NDP leader to advance many of the causes I believe in.

I am not certain the Singh is going to be effective but I have not written him off at this point. I remain both hopeful and fearful.

I am also concerned that the NDP represent those principles I believe in strongly and not just win for the name of the party but to make the needed difference.

I am most concerned about this but am open-minded, hoping that Singh and the NDP he leads, will take strong stands on these issues and make a difference. I am both hopeful and fearful.

I am not a fan of personality-focused politics and prefer strong policy proposals. I worry that Singh may be more superficial but I still hope to see soemthign good here.

In this context, I am as always critical about what the NDP does as it is not my objective but can be the means to my objectives. I am not party over indvidual policies.

I strongly suspect that my views on all this are identical to many, many current NDP supporters. I resent the idea that those who raise criticism are automatically racist although I fear that there is racism that is unprovable and hidden. In this sense, I suspect that my views are also identical.

To this end, I think about leadership when it is time to select a leader but my criticism, when I wish to lay one out, would be to the party especially since it is difficult to know where the leader is the problem and where it is the party. Outside of a leadership race, I am not sure that I need to diagnose this.

The NDP is broke, I cannot blame this on the leader but I understand that messaging is a challenge. I don't want the party to be just about messaging instead of real engagement and I cannot say if the party or the leader is taking the right steps as yet, but this looks to be a problem. I am open to seeing what happens in the next election.

I am strongly NDP in history but am capable of supporting another party based on candidates, local politics, and positions (the Greens). Again, while many here may be more partisan than that, others may feel the same way.

 

6079_Smith_W

And I'm not sure why this is framed as religion vs secularism. Those who suffer the most under a non-secular regime are often those of other religions. After all the new Orthodox zealots in Eastern Europe aren't just going after atheists; they are also attacking evangelicals and other groups which are not Orthodox.

And some of the biggest steps in secularism - in Britain and in the Ottoman Empire and later Turkey, and here in Canada - were overseen by deeply religious people. Why? Because they realized it was the right thing to do in a pluralist society.

The point isn't whether someone is a closed-minded jerk because of their beliefs; I know enough atheists who fall in to that camp too. It is whether they are mistrusted simply because they are a member of an identifiable group.

Mobo2000

Post25

"I personally think the rush to the center started with Alexa and Jack, using the Liberal playbook, ran for the leadership from the left and then took the party further to the right. Jack's big win in Quebec was not echoed in most of the rest of the country. Then Mulcair completed the transformation and tried to run on a left liberal platform. Singh is not the problem."

I agree with this entirely.   I was genuinely excited about the NDP's move to the centre with Jack and then Mulcair at the time, and hopeful they could finally get real power and do something significant.   But the public was more willing to accept real leftist/socialist ideas than the NDP were willing to table, and the Liberals took that ground.  

When I look back at my excitement then, I feel foolish, in that I misread the Canadian public so badly, and accepted a watered down socialism in exchange for the promise of power.    I think I've said something similar on here before.   I won't make that mistake again, and I hope the NDP stops making it too.

Sean in Ottawa

6079_Smith_W wrote:

And I'm not sure why this is framed as religion vs secularism. Those who suffer the most under a non-secular regime are often those of other religions. After all the new Orthodox zealots in Eastern Europe aren't just going after atheists; they are also attacking evangelicals and other groups which are not Orthodox.

And some of the biggest steps in secularism - in Britain and in the Ottoman Empire and later Turkey, and here in Canada - were overseen by deeply religious people. Why? Because they realized it was the right thing to do in a pluralist society.

The point isn't whether someone is a closed-minded jerk because of their beliefs; I know enough atheists who fall in to that camp too. It is whether they are mistrusted simply because they are a member of an identifiable group.

Of course an athiest can be close minded -- however, it is relevant that many religions call for a person to close their mind as a matter of belief rather than investigation. This is why an advocate from the right who holds a religious belief will be greeted by me with suspicion. My perspective does not need to be balanced or fair. A person who is religious but who advocates for the principle of justice and equality is less likely to raise a concern about religion than one who advocates for the positions that religion advocates for. Call it a fear of bias or a conflict with the secular -- or whatever you want. My concern would still exist.

Let's stop pretending that religion is neutral in motivations or beliefs. It is relevant in terms of guiding a person's policy and public ideas and it can offer clues to a person's flexibility and openness to certain perspectives. I would have to lie to say that with a right wing politician, hearing that they are religious does not make me more nervous. It would also be a lie for me to suggest that if they consistently advocated for social justice that I would not relax some of these concerns - or that if they were in a left party, the concern would not be as great. What I use to evaluate a politician does not have to be a universal truth: it just has to be consistent with my experience, beliefs, and knowledge. It also reflects openness to people proving themselves and my perspective about them evolving.

6079_Smith_W

Well that distinction didn't help Al Smith, did it? He still got blackballed.

And I call it what it is; discrimination. We all have it to some degree, but when we judge or mistrust someone based not on their actions but on our assumptions, that is what it is. And there is no excuse for it.

And no one has said religion is neutral and doesn't inform belief. There was nothing neutral at all about  these ministers who called out Jeff Sessions today:

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/ministers-interrupt-session...

Sean in Ottawa

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Well that distinction didn't help Al Smith, did it? He still got blackballed.

And I call it what it is; discrimination. We all have it to some degree, but when we judge or mistrust someone based not on their actions but on our assumptions, that is what it is. And there is no excuse for it.

And you might be technically correct while completely wrong.

My position is not one of discrimination in the way people generally understand it: the use of non-relevant information about someone to make judgments.

A person's religious views sometimes can be relevant -- not becuase of discrimination without reason but becuase those religious views may guide their policy decisions and openness to those of others. The result is a decision of credibility and we make them all the time. You cannot go through life without apply some information that gives you a clue as to the future behaviour of someone. What we generally mean by discrimination is the application of non-relevant information.

If this is discrimination, so is a decision to touch a stove that is cooled down over one that is hot still: the application of relevant information.

blairz blairz's picture

I think there are much more obvious indicators of pervasive racism in Canada than the success or failure of Jagmeet Singh. The election of Obama led some in the US to conclude that America was a post racial society, and we can see how that has played out. It's also always important to consider, as a White Person, that none of us are really as free from racism as we might like to think or wish to be. I try to examine all my attitudes about Women, Gay and Trans People, People of Colour etc. Given the importance of Quebec to the NDP in both the 2011 and 2015 elections it could be argued that voting for the guy with the turban was quixotic. That would ignore the very real divisions in the Party that were revealed by the the Party convention following Mulcaire's defeat. It seemed back then that many in the NDP already felt  that they had not only lost the last election but the next as well. If so, then Singh has been set up as the scapegoat for the 2019 post mortum. I was born in Canada but grew up in the US, so I have a better feel for US politics than Canada's. This already reminds me of George McGovern, a flawed candidate to be sure, but also a good Senator and a decent man whose life of service is too often ignored. What is also ignored by Democrats who like to make McGovern's name a by word for failure is the disloyalty of Democrats who dispised the left of their own party more Richard Nixon.

 

lagatta4

Indeed, in Québec the religious sign (turban) would have been far more relevant than the colour of his skin. For quite a while Amir Khadir was the only Québec solidaire MNA. Definitely "brown", but also secular. <

Obviously Québécois can be as racist as anywhere else, and I remember when living up in Lac St-Jean hearing people (always men, for some reason) with the eye fold typical of Innu and many other Amerindian people, straight black hair etc. complaining about the "Natives" having an easy time. These people were clearly Métis. The same occurs pretty much everywhere else in Latin America; the "whites" who exterminated indigenous communities in Guatemala and Chiapas were also pretty much mixed. This is horribly sad, and has been seen on other continents and in other contexts.

Unionist

lagatta4 wrote:

Indeed, in Québec the religious sign (turban) would have been far more relevant than the colour of his skin. For quite a while Amir Khadir was the only Québec solidaire MNA. Definitely "brown", but also secular. <

Agreed.

lagatta4 wrote:

Obviously Québécois can be as racist as anywhere else, and I remember when living up in Lac St-Jean hearing people (always men, for some reason) with the eye fold typical of Innu and many other Amerindian people, straight black hair etc. complaining about the "Natives" having an easy time. These people were clearly Métis. 

If by "Métis" you simply mean the product of intermarriage between Indigenous and settler folk, ok. In "western" Canada, the Métis are a nation, and recognized as such. But when using the term in Québec and the maritime provinces, we should do so with great caution. Sorry for the diversion, because I agree with the essence of what you're saying.