Stephen Harper’s dog-whistle: Islamophobia and Canadian politics

It is rare that a politician, elected or otherwise, openly admits that he or she is capitulating to the bigoted and “irrational” fears of his or her constituents, but that is exactly what Shawinigan, Que. Mayor Michel Angers did on Friday.

At a press conference he held to explain his council’s frankly inane decision not to allow the minor rezoning of an industrial park so that a small mosque could be built there, he bluntly acknowledged that, in opposition to his own beliefs, pressure from people “across the province” had motivated them.

While it is nice to see honesty from our political class, it makes the decision of him and his council no less gutless.

Angers went on to say “people in Shawinigan aren’t afraid of Muslims”, which is a rather absurd contention after calling these same people out for being irrationally afraid! It is obvious that growing numbers of Canadians, and by no means just in Quebec, encouraged by the media and the rhetoric of right-wing politicians, are very much afraid, irrationally so, of Islamics, Canadian or otherwise.

Fear of the “other”, of the immigrant or perceived outsider and the use of racially charged or bigoted rhetoric has long been a staple in the right’s political armoury and 2015, an election year, is certainly proving no different in Canada…