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Panel discussion on CBC: 'Canadians rejected the racism of the Conservatives, but white privilege is all around us'

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CBC Radio One's The Current aired a 24-minute panel discussion on October 21 on the outcome of the October 19 federal election. The discussion was devoted to past and present policies of Canadian governments on issues of social justice, inclusiveness and 'national security'.

During the election campaign, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada championed a message of welcoming an "inclusive Canada" with a "unique diversity" of language and national background of its citizens. In his victory speech on October 19, Prime Minister-elect Trudeau hailed what he called the "multicultural values" of Canada.

This message contrasted with the hateful, racist language of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Their election campaign spoke of "old stock Canadians" and proposed to establish a "barbaric cultural practices" police snitch line. They proposed spiteful, punitive measures against women of Muslim faith in Canada who wear niqab face covering.

The Current spoke to three Canadians about the past and present record of the Liberal Party and its governments on civil and social rights issues. They argued that the record is a bad one, that in many respects, previous Liberal governments opened the door to the coarsening that was seen during the nine years of Conservative governments. One guest described Justin Trudeau as "Stephen Harper lite".

The panelists cited the Liberal votes this year in support of the Harper government's 'Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015' (Bill C51, approved by Parliament on May 6, 2015 ) and the 'Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act' (Bill S7, approved by Parliament on June 16, 2015).

The newly elected Liberal government says it will tinker with changes to Bill C-51, as promised during the election campaign. The New Democratic Party voted against bills C-51 and S-7 and pledged to repeal them if elected. The NDP was the official opposition party at the time of the votes on those bills.

The three guests who spoke to The Current are:

  • Rinaldo Walcott, Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the the University of Toronto
  • Shireen Ahmed, a social activist and writer in Toronto
  • Rima Berns-McGown, teaches diaspora studies at the University of Toronto, Mississauga

Listen to the 24-minute broadcast at the weblink above.

A related, critical issue as concerns racism and 'national security' in Canada is the participation of Canada in the imperialist, military occupation of Haiti. This occupation began with the overthrow of Haiti's elected president, legislature and senate in February 2004. Canada, along with France and other countries of the European Union, played a key support role in the U.S.-led drive to oust Haiti's elected institutions in 2004 and then impose a permanent military occupation. That occupation is conducted in the name of the United Nations Security Council.

Among the wretched legacies of the Haiti occupation is a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 9,500 Haitians and sickened nearly 800,000 others. Soldiers of the foreign military occupation introduced cholera to Haiti in October 2010. The disease was previously unknown in Haiti in modern times. The UN Security Council and the other foreign occupiers have refused to accept responsibility for their role in visiting this deadly epidemic on the Haitian people.

Liberal governments under prime ministers Jean Chrétien and then Paul Martin led Canada in embargoing Haiti following the year-2000 presidential election, won by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and participating in his overthrow in February 2004. The opposition Conservative party of the day supported the Liberal actions and continued them once elected in 2006. With the important exception of several maverick members of Parliament at the time of the 2004 overthrow, the NDP has turned a blind eye to events in Haiti.

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