Through the curiosities of circumstance, Nigel Clarke finds himself marooned in Ottawa, the capital of the socialist haven of Canada. Thanks to The Progressive Army and co-conspirators who must remain nameless, Nigel is able to smuggle his thoughts on life behind the curtain to the outside world each week.
To read last week’s correspondence here
Earlier this week, I came across a feature article in a Canadian newspaper emotionally detailing a refugee’s journey. It described the trip across unforgiving terrain on foot, an odyssey from tyranny to freedom and opportunity.
What was most unanticipated was that the terrain being described was not the arid landscape of northern Mexico, the jungles of Central or South America, or the war-torn Middle East, but rather the frozen tundra of the north. The refugees in the story were fleeing the United States for socialist Canada.
When Donald Trump first unveiled his ‘Muslim Ban,’ Canada’s Revered Leader Justin Trudeau was one of the first world figures to enter the fray, doing so with his distinctive flowery language and strong signals of his own virtue.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Beautifully said indeed. However, I have heard many dissenting voices whispering in the night of Trudeau’s failings on the issue.
He campaigned on a promise to bring 25,000 refugees into the country immediately after assuming office. A year and a half later, Canada has finally crested above the target number, though I am told this is due more to private sponsorships by community organizations, charities, and religious groups than direct government action.
More concerning, Trudeau’s government has now instituted what here is being called a “pause” on refugees from certain war-torn countries, save for a small number still admitted from particularly vulnerable groups.
In reality, Trudeau’s “pause” with exceptions for ‘vulnerable groups’ may not be entirely dissimilar from Trump’s “ban” with exceptions for Christians (who, perhaps, are a vulnerable group in certain regions right now).
But, oddly, this may be a rare situation in which rhetoric is as important as action.
I recently read a related article in a Canadian magazine called The Walrus, which I presume to be a socialist rag. It proclaimed Canada to be the last country in the West “holding out against the tidal onslaught of xenophobia.” Furthermore, it stated, in an only semi-facetious way, Canada was “the last country on earth that believes in multiculturalism.”
Even Kevin O’Leary – as I have previously mentioned, a man being presented here as ‘Canada’s Trump’ – has, to this point, failed to embrace overt xenophobic pomposity. Recently, his campaign and supporters have even started using the slogan ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’.
What The Walrus article was doing, for all the salaciousness of its statements, was commenting not necessarily on national policy, but more so on national attitude.
The other night I was out walking when the door of a nondescript building swung open violently and a group of teenage boys I recognized from around the neighborhood burst out.
As they started off at a run, I stopped to watch, a smile spreading across my face. I realized they were about to partake in one of the great pleasures of those fortunate enough to live in conducive conditions – The Great Ice Race.
Growing up in a cold climate, I remember having races from the front door of my school to the bus stop across sheets of ice that were more like the surface of the moon than a skating rink. A group of people stopped and watched the young men, smiling, as they took off hooting and hollering, slipping and laughing across the ice.
Especially relevant, and something which I have chosen to omit until now is that this particular group of young men was and is exclusively made up of teenage children of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. The majority are Muslim, and all have dark skin. (I know these things having spoken with them periodically at a café we both frequent)
The thought occurred to me what someone like Alex Jones would do with footage of the (in context; joyously) screaming young men – ‘Breaking: Muslim refugees rampage through Canada!!’
Really, it is not only an issue of ‘fake news,’ but the difference between a climate of fear, and one of beauty. The elderly woman walking her dog, the obese man delivering pizza, the high roller in a suit and tie, and the out-of-towner marooned in a socialist haven; all able to stop and enjoy a beautiful moment in cold weather culture.
Here, the power of rhetoric is tangible. The difference between Trump’s “ban,” and his “wall,” and Trudeau’s “sunny ways” is shockingly evident.
The Canadian newspaper article which started this whole line of thought ended with an interview with an American man living “30 meters” (100ft) from the Canadian border. He described watching people walk past his house, essentially through his front yard, and across into socialist Canada.
He closed the interview by imploring Trump to build a wall on the Canadian border because “it shouldn’t be that fucking easy” for people to walk across.
Trump already seeks to build a wall on a Mexican border which for the better part of the last decade has seen more people leaving the United States for Mexico than entering. And, as he talks about enacting a “ban” on certain groups of people, some already in the United States are fleeing to Canada, crossing a border some Trump supporters believe should be walled as well.
I am reminded of a capitalist anecdote on Cold War-era Berlin, used to criticize the communist East: ‘The guns along the Berlin Wall all point in one direction.’
As Trump and his wall(s) percolate a climate of fear in a country suffering from depression-level inequality, a crumbling infrastructure, dangerously poor healthcare and education systems, one always seemingly on the brink of the next war, it is perhaps not unfair to ask:
In the United States, which way are the guns pointing?
Read More: Correspondence from Socialist Canada