Liberal MP John McCallum said on Thursday in the House of Commons that Conservative Immigration Minister Chris Alexander "assumes that all Muslim women who wear the veil are terrorists."
That accusation was part of the debate over the Conservative government's proposal to ban face coverings at the oath-taking ceremonies for new citizens.
McCallum's conflation of the issue was as preposterous as it is dishonest, and Alexander invited the Liberal Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to repeat his accusation outside the House of Commons, where he would have no protection from a libel suit. The fact that McCallum has failed to do so says a great deal about the nature of his accusation and the integrity of his comments.
Recent polls indicate that Canadians overwhelmingly, to the extent that nine out of ten, agree with the government's requirement for people to show their faces at citizenship ceremonies. More than seventy percent of Canadians agree with Prime Minister Harper's statement about the niqab and burqa being symbols of oppression.
It was an exploitative effort by McCallum to play identity politics and stoke the flames of supposed "Islamophobia." McCallum referenced hate crimes against Muslims, and tried to blame and vilify the government over them.
This distortion of perspective is incredible considering that the statistics McCallum invoked actually show that the group most frequently targeted in Canada for hate crimes due to religion are not Muslims but Jews. That number is all the more alarming since there are more than three times as many Muslims in Canada than Jews, but hate crimes against Jews are three times the number of those against Muslims.
What does John McCallum have to say about that? Good luck finding anything on that subject.
McCallum's divisive pandering to one community at the expense of others and worse, at the expense of fairness, reminded me of an incident from three years ago in which he played a minor role.
In 2012, members of two Canadian ethnic communities that feel they are the targets of discrimination and prejudice, both from each other and the population at large, came together at an event that was supposed to promote mutual understanding.
That sounds great. But the North American Muslim Foundation's speech competition on the topic of "Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia" was a fiasco that would be comedic if it weren't so horrifyingly indicative of the Jew-hate running rampant in Muslim communities.
The featured guest speaker at the event prior to the competition was none other than John McCallum, MP. At the event McCallum headlined the speeches by Muslim students made reference to anti-Semitic texts as if they were factual reports about the behavior and practices of Jews.
According to the account of one witness: "Almost all the speeches were misguided about anti-Semitism. Most of them said it was something that happened in the Holocaust but has ended. The most egregious speech quoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as if it were true. Many talked about Jewish money and power. "
After reading about the incident, I called McCallum's office to inquire about it. Eventually, I was able to speak with him, and McCallum invoked the Sergeant Shultz Defense, claiming he knew and heard nothing about those speeches.
Of course he didn't, and how very fortunate for John McCallum. If he had perchance been listening to the speeches at which he was the featured guest speaker, the ensuing narrative would have messed up his entire agenda.
Unlike 72% of his fellow Canadians, including many Muslims, McCallum hasn't been able to figure out why the niqab, a vestige of medieval tribal culture that requires women to completely enshroud themselves so that they don't provoke men into a sexual frenzy, is oppressive.
To the casual observer, it might look like a number of Liberal MPs have made a habit of accusing the Conservatives of pitting one group against another for political purposes, while hypocritically engaging in that practice themselves to a far greater extent.
But perhaps, I'm being too cynical and maybe we're not seeing divisive, sleazy politics from the Liberals. As soon as they start donning niqabs and burkas to demonstrate that such garments are, as they claim, not oppressive, I'll believe them.
But I'm not holding my breath until it happens.
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