As the world reels from an attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people, politicians in Canada are grappling with how best to handle a political landscape that one pollster says is seeing rising concerns of radical white nationalism.
In an interview with CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon, airing Sunday, Angus Reid Institute’s Shachi Kurl said Canadians are both increasingly concerned about the Islamic religion’s role in Canadian society and increasingly awake to a potential threat of white nationalist radicalization.
« On one hand we’re still seeing a lot of suspicion towards the Muslim community, at the same time we’re seeing a rise of radical white nationalism that people are growing increasingly alive to, » Kurl told Solomon.
« It’s starting to become a part of the Canadian political landscape. »
Politicians, meanwhile, are at odds in terms of how best to react to this changing political scene.
Following the mass shooting in New Zealand, political reaction steadily poured in. All party leaders – except for People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier – expressed their condolences at the news and condemned the attack.
However, it didn’t take long before politicians began weighing in on how best to engage with those spreading the kind of hate that Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told CTV News « feed[s] into a narrative » that leads to the kind of violence seen in New Zealand on Friday.
One individual who ended up in the hot seat was Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who both NDP MP Tracey Ramsey and Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell slammed for attending a pro-pipeline rally that was also attended by Faith Goldy. Goldy is a public figure known for espousing white nationalist views.
« We have a responsibility and we should be calling it out, » said Ramsey. « The Conservative Party of Canada needs to call it out, and they need to end any platform for this type of hate in our country. »
O’Connell echoed the concern.
« If you didn’t know that Faith Goldy was at this rally, then you should stand up and condemn it. Andrew Scheer should be a leader, » she said.
However, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre took issue with the characterization of the event. He said the event that both Goldy and Scheer attended was a rally in favour of pipelines. He also warned that if politicians suddenly become responsible for the views of every person who attends the same event they’re attending, it would require a « very different approach. »
« We always call out racism, we always oppose any form of hatred, and we absolutely condemn this terrorist attack and the hatred that motivated it, » he said.
He accused Ramsey and O’Connell of attempting to score political points in raising the Goldy issue.
« It is not about political points to talk about the fact that there is a dialogue of hate, » O’Connell said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also weighed in on the issue. Like the others, he echoed the importance of condemning and stemming the growth of hate.
« We know that hate is like a fire. Once allowed to grow, it spreads, consuming everyone. So we all have a responsibility, » Singh said.
Singh also pitched a slightly different approach for tackling the spread of hate. He said « economic insecurity » is at the heart of growing fear and hatred. The NDP leader suggested tackling that insecurity in order to stop the spread of hatred.
« The fear comes from a lack of hope for the future, and we can do so much better to help people out who are feeling fear, » Singh said.