Watch out, the bigots are out.

The problem for the pundits today is the presence of bigots in the Conservative Party. They are not the majority. They are barely a faction. They exist. They hurt the cause. They are something of a wild card.

But some of the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership will cater to this faction. It hardly helps though when some Liberal MPs do not know the difference between bigotry and a deep-seated psychological disorder. Bigotry and Islamophobia might produce some of the same consequences but a motion in the House of Commons is not likely to help cure a phobia. A motion such as the one proposed should serve to put bigots on notice.

It is just that making this subject a matter of debate in the House is going to bring out the bigots who relish the argument. They want the exposure. They want the heated arguments. They are delighted to hear of the 50,000 (sic) communications claimed to be received by a Muslim M.P. It gives the bigots amongst us support.

A few years ago, we saw a predominantly Muslim area (Thorncliffe Park) in Toronto organized to protest against a revised sex education curriculum for schools. It was a clear indication of the power of Ontario Conservatives to organize and use that community for its political purposes. It was a warning.

That foolish ‘hijab’ debate in the last federal election was another example of political use of bigotry. Thomas Mulcair thought he could use the subject to help hold Quebec seats. He had already lost most of those seats, so he paid the price for the error in Ontario. Yet the argument helped the Conservatives hold some of their Quebec City area seats.

It was also in that election that M.P. Kellie Leitch got her start at a ‘barbaric cultural practices’ tip line. Along with then Conservative M.P. Chris Alexander, this announcement was roundly criticized as pandering to bigotry.

And yet, here are both those spokespeople for their party, running for its leadership.  Chris Alexander had the disadvantage of losing his seat in the last election and that puts a serious crimp in his campaign. Not that Kellie Leitch is expected to do much better. Her strength will be concentrated in her first-choice ballots. She will be second choice of only a few.

But that is also what makes the federal Conservative race so hard to dope out. Conservative Party voters can indicate their preference in order. If many go past a third or fourth choice is up to them. It is what makes this race one that will be decided by the losers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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