http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/samuel-getachew/why-i-quit-the-conservative-party_b_8198508.htmlI Am Quitting the Conservatives Because of Stephen Harper's Politics
Posted: 09/29/2015 5:18 pm EDT Updated: 09/29/2015 5:59 pm EDT
By the time you read this column, my membership in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario will likely be revoked. I will no longer be a director of the Toronto Centre Conservative Association.
This is not because I am no longer useful to the once-proud party of Bill Davis, John Robarts and, yes, Christine Elliott, but because I am coming out against comrade Stephen Harper -- our party's federal counterpart.
In an era of Patrick Brown and Stephen Harper, loyalty is more important to the Conservative cause, in both federal and provincial politics, than the dedication we show to our citizenship. It should not be and it is unfair.
The Stephen Harper era has made us too partisan, extremely fearful of our neighbours, cheerleaders in world affairs, less tolerant to new immigrants and refugees and mere observers in the affairs of our country -- instead of active actors. We have let our government create two-tier citizenship for us all.
Ignorance has replaced reason and compromise within the Conservative party of Canada. A decade ago, I should have taken to heart the advice of former Prime Minister Joe Clark, who reminded us to support "the devil we know" and look at the alternative more closely.
To look at where today's Canadian Conservatives are at present and where the party is headed, we do not need to go far. Just observe the candidates up close.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound candidate MP Larry Miller is on record suggesting Muslim women who wear the niqab should "stay the hell where they came from" and is still an approved Conservative candidate for Harper in 2015. The candidate from Willdowdale, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism and MP Chungsen Leung, once demanded to know why Iranian Canadians were in Canada in the first place, "if you like Iran so much."
Joe Daniel, the backbench MP from Don Valley East, has in recent weeks linked the Syrian migration crises to a "Muslim agenda" to take over European counties. This was meant to be a warning, according to him, to what is likely to happen to Canada, should we accept these refugees.
This comes as one-time Brian Mulroney Foreign Minister Barbara McDougall coined a column in the Globe and Mail in response to Stephen Harper's slow and lazy response to help the Syrian refugees.
Since Harper became our Prime Minister, he has made Canada less welcoming of the world's destitute refugees and created an exclusive society for new immigrants. The appointees that are put in charge of deciding the future of our immigrant population, as Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicators, have become partisan and less humane in their approach. As reported by the Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung, some are even rejecting 100 per cent of the asylum seekers that appear before them, as a Harper appointee, David McBean, managed to do so.
This is not just wrong, but borderline xenophobic.
The candidates, the appointees and the friends of our Prime Minister are indicative of the country we have been over the last decade. Somehow, we have lowered our standards and have become vulnerable, weak and less open-minded at home and abroad.
I became interested in Canadian politics at an early age. I liked the Red Tory tradition of Brian Mulroney and his unbinding commitment to the world's vulnerable. Jack Layton's commitment to human rights was something to admire. Pierre Trudeau gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedom, and John Diefenbaker the Bill of Rights. All of our Prime Ministers, save Harper, brought unique qualities to the position as they attempted to make us less partisan and more citizen-like in our Canadian citizenship.
Mulroney chose Stephen Lewis as Canada's United Nations ambassador, brought a bipartisan Canadian voice against apartheid in South Africa and spoke eloquently for famine victims in Ethiopia. Trudeau made the wonderful Edward Schreyer, our Governor General. Paul Martin gave Hugh Segal a chance to advocate for his signature idea -- Guaranteed Annual Income for Canadians -- and use the Senate of Canada as his pulpit.
I grew up in Ethiopia at a time when Canada played a profound role in helping curb a massive famine disaster in the East African nation, saving many lives. I know what Canadian leadership looked like from a distance. Canada was liked, respected and was seen as an exemplary country. Not anymore.
As we deny basic health care to vulnerable people at home; wedge foolish cultural warfare in Quebec; link aid exclusively with Canadian mining company interests abroad; become cheerleaders in the Middle East rather than peacemakers; speak out (sadly) against international institutions like the United Nations without clear alternatives; sell arms to rogue states; look away when the human rights of Canadians are compromised; and allow Germany to take Canada's leadership role in the Syrian refugee crises -- it is no wonder that the world is asking what ever happened to Canada.
The Harper government seems to misunderstand that the role of government is not to help create billionaires and millionaires, but to help strengthen society to be more open, fair and accessible for all. Rich people do not need an advocate in government, but ordinary citizens do.
Stephen Harper has made us a minor player, vulnerable at home and weak in the world. It is unfortunate that his brand is competitive -- even leading -- in the latest polls less than a month from the upcoming federal election. It should not be. There must be something better out there.
Abdul Abdi's reputation among the Somalis/Muslims nowConservative candidate Abdul Abdi was a no-show at an all-candidates’ debate Friday in Ottawa West-Nepean organized by the Muslim Association of Canada.
His absence was surprising because Abdi, who had participated in an all-candidates’ debate the previous night, presumably should be eager to cultivate support among those who share his Muslim faith.
In an email Friday night, Abdi’s campaign manager, Austin Jean, wrote that he had informed debate organizers six days earlier that the Tory candidate would be unavailable to take part.
“He has made himself available to dialogue with voters from the Muslim community by attending and speaking at mosques throughout the city,” Jean wrote. “This happens almost every Friday including earlier today.” He only speaks to Muslims during Jummah khutbah cause he knows they can't go off on him
Christian Heritage candidate Rod Taylor also skipped the event.
Abdi’s absence was certainly noted by the 50 or so people, predominantly Muslim, who showed up for the discussion between the four candidates who participated — Liberal Anita Vandenbeld, New Democrat Marlene Rivier, Green candidate Mark Brooks and Marxist-Leninist Sam Heaton.
One questioner asked organizers if Abdi had been invited, saying many in the room would like to vote for him but he was running for “the wrong party.”
Another lamented that he had wanted to ask Abdi about the Conservative position on the niqab, which has emerged as a hot-button issue, particularly in Quebec.
“The Conservative candidate didn’t even come, folks,” said Green candidate Brooks. “So we need to get rid of this government.”
Questions from organizers of Friday’s event focused on issues of interest to the Muslim community, including immigration, the government’s controversial anti-terrorism law and Bill C-24, the new law that allows the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism.
All candidates said they would make it easier to sponsor family members to Canada. Vandenbeld won applause when she declared: “We will not pick and choose who can come to this country based on political considerations.”
All also declared their party’s intent to repeal Bill C-24. “They’re bringing back banishment,” Heaton said, describing the process as “medieval.”
Rivier called Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism law, “a dangerous bill that reflects the worst of thinking on this matter” and said an NDP government would repeal it.
She reminded the audience that, unlike the Liberals, her party voted against the bill on principle “when it was quite popular in the polls.”
Brooks made the point that Green party Leader Elizabeth May was the first to oppose C-51 and proposed 60 amendments to it, while Vandenbeld said the Liberals would “amend and repeal the egregious elements of this bill.”
When asked where they stood on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Iraq and Syria, several candidates seized the opportunity to lament the Conservative government’s approach to foreign policy.
“We can no longer be the honest brokers for peace that we have been in the past,” said Rivier.
Vandenbeld, who has worked extensively abroad for the United Nations, talked about a program she ran designed to bring Israeli and Palestinian women together. “I couldn’t get the Canadian government to fund it,” she said. “I had to get money from Norway and Spain.”
Organizers also asked what the candidates would do to create jobs, noting that the unemployment rate for Muslims in Canada is 13.9 per cent — double the national average.
That gave Vandenbeld an opening to tout the Liberal plan to run modest deficits for three years to help pay for $125 billion in new infrastructure projects over 10 years.
Abdul Abdi's reputation among the Somalis/Muslims now
I'm still rooting for Abdul Abdi, the corrupt police officer who told SecretAgent "I don't speak to your kind" and the man who has wicked links with Ottawa public housing.
I will criticize him within the Somali community but I will protect him in front of others.