The politics of fear, division and dissemblance are in full swing as Canada’s 2015 election looms.
Similar tactics were used by John Howard’s Liberal Party, an extreme right-wing faction of the Australian political scene. With Lyton Crosby steering Howard’s 2001 election campaign, the country became divided on sensitive issues of race, xenophobia, the terrorist threat and refugee migration.
In a scandalous fabrication of disinformation, the Howard campaign falsely reported that refugees arriving in boats were holding their own children to ransom and throwing them overboard into the sea. A later senatorial inquiry found that this was a lie and no such incidents had ever occurred.
Nonetheless, the inquiry was too little too late and Howard was elected for the first of two dismal terms, eventually becoming the most reviled prime minister in Australian history.
I trust that Canadians will not fall into the same trap being set by Crosby as he now advises Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign using the same tactics that Australians suffered 14 years ago.
Beware of the wedge being driven into our society as this election comes to a head. The use of the wedge for the sake of getting elected is unique to the Conservative Party in Canada and indeed is a favoured approach by neo-liberal campaigns the world over. The tactic is an insult to our Canadian values of fairness, humanitarianism and helping the underdog.
Canada’s population grew by about 9.5 million in the 30-year period between 1981 and 2011. With a negative natural replacement rate, much of the increase was due to Canada’s open door policy to migrants and refugees. Let’s keep that in mind as we head into this election. And mind the wedge.