OTTAWA—Never in the annals of history have white men been so oppressed and subjugated—or that’s what Jason Kenney and Scott Moe would have us believe.
In fact, all over the world, we have been inundated by mainstream media about the care and support we must give our fallen white brothers.
Two and a half weeks after the 2019 election and we can’t stop talking about these white men, the threat of #Wexit (why one would choose a hashtag resembling Daffy Duck’s lisp is beyond me), and equalization. That’s not to say that Western alienation isn’t a thing—because as a Westerner, I can absolutely say it is—but for as much as the Laurentian Elite don’t understand the West, the West doesn’t understand the Laurentian Elite.
That fundamental lack of understanding aside, the grievances that Alberta and Saskatchewan seem to have are no different from the entitlement of the white men who lead them. They believe that they are entitled to special treatment and representation, even though they routinely gave the middle finger to the incoming Liberal government in the federal election, after having been antagonistic to the Liberals in their last term.
Hmmm … if only immigrants and people of colour could be so cavalier without having their loyalty to Canada questioned.
Given their whiny, toddler-like behaviour, neither Alberta nor Saskatchewan deserves special treatment. But we all know that “merit” is a farce and a way to exclude marginalized communities, the same communities that disproportionately suffer from the economic demise western provinces are facing.
But it’s not their faces in the Tea Party—I mean, the Yellow Vests’—movement.
However, here we are. All of Ottawa has their panties in a bunch because Alberta and Saskatchewan may not get their “fair share,” whatever that means. Never mind the fact that women, Indigenous people, Black people, and other communities of colour haven’t received their fair share of anything. Ever.
“Oh, but all the money that goes to Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs every year!”
“Oh, but the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission!”
“But the anti-racism strategy!”
“Where will we find the money for (*insert social program*)?”
There are Indigenous communities in Canada that still do not have access to clean drinking water, despite all the money given to those departments—and not just by the Liberals. Or maybe talk to someone who ran the anti-racism strategy consultations and ask about their mental health. Talk to Indigenous women about Canadian media’s insulting response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry’s final report. Talk to racialized communities about police brutality and mass state surveillance.
But no one does, and as evidenced by the way Sidewalk Labs has treated Indigenous consultations, they were just there to be tokenized and treated like the help. As my community elders say: “You may think you have a seat at the table, only to discover that you’re on the menu.”
These white guys are unhappy that they dare suffer, when suffering is a way of being for many in this country, who don’t have the ear of their provincial leaders. Governments of all stripes are complicit in the substandard treatment of marginalized communities, but no politician bats an eye until this “unfairness” is trumpeted by white men.
In Canada, white men have the final word. On anything. Even if they don’t have any credibility in the area (cue in numerous CTV and CBC news panels talking about race with all-white men).
But the problem is the left and their “identity politics,” right?
Identity politics is politics, but nary a Yellow Vester was accused of promoting identity politics, even though they defined themselves through an identity. But since white men make the rules, their identity is assumed and accepted as national culture and everyone else is judged on how well they reflect it.
White men getting special treatment is nothing new, as we saw last week with the announcement of the cancellation of a new Star Wars trilogy that was to be led by Game of Thrones showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The duo recently shared their disbelief at being given the opportunity to lead such a culturally important TV show, despite having never actually run a show before and admitting that they had no idea what they were doing.
Imagine, if you will, any person of colour being given that same opportunity. Meanwhile, Netflix is throwing $200-million dollars at Benioff and Weiss based on their adaptation of existing intellectual property, which they screwed up in the end, while Shonda Rhimes, of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder—all original storytelling—fame, received $150-million.
Benioff and Weiss get applauded, Rhimes should be grateful. That’s how it works, right?
Marginalized people should be happy that they even get a seat at the table, or in the case of politics, get consulted. Be grateful that you were even a passing consideration.
Erica Ifill is a co-host of the Bad+Bitchy podcast.