It’s a wry thought I’m stealing from my husband, who explains the history of the Canadian Conservative Party to Americans and Europeans this way — when they tell us that a “right wing” party could never get enough votes to win in their nation; that the EDL or Geert Wilders are too “fringe” to appeal to “average people” — and their country’s professional leftists, especially the media, will destroy them:
That “Reform Party” referenced below?
Over the course of two decades, it evolved into today’s Conservatives, and many “Reform”ers are now part of Canada’s first Conservative majority Parliament in a jillion years. Including the Prime Minister.
Not bad for a gang of ignorant fringe racists.
The need for such liberal, secular democracies as Canada to prepare themselves for immigrants who might come unready to accept citizenship responsibilities will likely be one of the warnings Ms. Hirsi Ali brings to Calgary on Tuesday, where she’ll be speaking at a sold-out dinner officially launching the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education. Exploring tensions around multiculturalism will be one of the focuses for the foundation, named for, and led by, Reform and Canadian Alliance party founder Preston Manning, which will put as much emphasis on its own scholarly work as it will on granting funds to other non-profit policy-minded groups.
The selection of Ms. Hirsi Ali as the celebrity to kick off the event is an intriguing one: Opponents once frequently labelled Mr. Manning’s parties as intolerant. Former Liberal cabinet minister Elinor Caplan called their supporters “Holocaust deniers, prominent bigots and racists.” The National Anti-Racism Council of Canada and Toronto columnists branded Reform as “anti-immigrant” – and there were occasional members who lent credence the charge: Toronto Reform candidate John Beck withdrew his candidacy in 1993 after saying that immigrants could bring “death and destruction” to Canada, and that they were “overpowering” Canadian culture.
And yet, Ms. Hirsi Ali, with her deep black complexion and lilting Somali accent, will be the one arguing next week that Canada needs to be more careful in its immigration policies.