OTTAWA—We’re coming down the homestretch of this god-awful election and evidently the PPC aren’t the only ones with white male rage; Erin O’Toole and Justin Trudeau have turned particularly nasty, as both the gloves and the masks come off.
This election has been particularly silent on intersectional feminist issues. There has been little to no talk about systemic racism, the crisis of sexual violence, homelessness (yes, we’ve talked affordable housing to death, but not homelessness), sexual harassment at work, or the rising threat of white supremacy. These issues are at the boiling point, especially the rising threat of white supremacy. And nearly everyone in mainstream media is ignoring it.
Canada is about to get violent, and we are not prepared for the extent of the threat, even though we’ve been aware of it since 2017 with the Québec City mosque shootings.
The anxiety of the pandemic, increased time spent online, and a former American president that platformed hate are all ingredients to a cauldron of white supremacy. The Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD) released a report this summer, An Online Environmental Scan of Right-Wing Extremism in Canada, “which tracks the online ecosystems used by RWEs (right wing extremists) in Canada.” (This should be a horrifying journey.) The report notes a number of disturbing trends online: RWEs are drivers of disinformation campaigns; they are impervious to social media enforcement; and ISD “observed a small number of posts involving hateful and violent mobilization across the channels.” And this is the point. Hate doesn’t stay bottled up, it’s explosive and reveals itself in giant waves of overwhelming violence before the recipients or observers of that violence can absorb what is happening.
And it’s exploding.
Mark Douglas from 680 News tweeted on Sept. 13, “Ahead of an anti-mandate demonstration outside Toronto General Hospital this aft (coordinated with similar events at hospitals across Canada), a group of first responders against vaccine mandates stages a silent protest in front of Queen’s Park.” The tweet includes video of mostly white people staging a silent protest, standing in a line with their arms linked, with a placard that reads: Frontline for Freedom of Choice. This had to be one of the most disturbing scenes I had seen over this election. The calm of their stance betrays their capacity for violence, and given that we’re having a gun debate of some sort it’s important to note how much gender violence and white supremacy are intertwined.
The PPC is surging. CBC News reports: “People’s Party of Canada (PPC) Leader Maxime Bernier has gone from leading a small fringe group with tepid support to heading up a right-wing party that, according to the CBC Poll Tracker, could have the fourth-highest share of the vote on Sept. 20.” That should scare everyone, but it doesn’t. The people who are the most fearful are racialized; hell, the only people fearful are racialized.
Those votes can only come from one source, so look for the Conservatives to activate their racist dog whistles.
We are in a 2016 U.S. election loop and that’s why I hate Election 44 so much. Trudeau is Hillary Clinton, Bernier is Trump, and Jody Wilson-Raybould is Clinton’s emails. The vitriol is rising, the Deplorables are increasing their threats of violence and it’s only a matter of time before we get our own Tiki Torch moment. And to add insult to injury, media establishment pundits are calling for the platforming of Bernier, arguing why he should be in the debates. That is how media legitimizes and normalizes hate. But then this is also a news media who praises all-white panels a year after they presented their offerings to the altar of diversity and inclusion.
Though Bernier won’t win, he will make a significant advancement that will shock an impotent Canadian news media establishment that should’ve been tracking these movements all along. Remember that wave I talked about? It’s coming.
Erica Ifill is a co-host of the Bad+Bitchy podcast.