How Racism Has Invaded Canada
By Robert Fisk
Independent" -- --
This has been a good week to be
in Canada — or an awful week, depending on your point of view —
to understand just how irretrievably biased and potentially
racist the Canadian press has become. For, after the arrest of
17 Canadian Muslims on “terrorism” charges, the Toronto Globe
and Mail and, to a slightly lesser extent, the National Post,
have indulged in an orgy of finger-pointing that must reduce the
chances of any fair trial and, at the same time, sow fear in the
hearts of the country’s more than 700,000 Muslims. In fact, if I
were a Canadian Muslim right now, I’d already be checking the
airline timetables for a flight out of town. Or is that the
purpose of this press campaign?
First, the charges. Even a lawyer for one of the accused has
talked of a plot to storm the Parliament in Ottawa, hold MPs
hostage and chop off the head of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Without challenging the “facts” or casting any doubt on their
sources — primarily the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or
Canada’s leak-dripping Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
— reporters have told their readers that the 17 were variously
planning to blow up Parliament, CSIS’s headquarters, the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and sundry other targets.
Every veiled and chadored Muslim woman relative of the accused
has been photographed and their pictures printed, often on front
pages. “Home-grown terrorists” has become theme of the month —
even though the “terrorists” have yet to stand trial.
They were in receipt of “fertilizers”, we were told, which could
be turned into explosives. When it emerged that Canadian police
officers had already switched the “fertilizers” for a less
harmful substance, nobody followed up the implications of this
apparent “sting”. A Buffalo radio station down in the US even
announced that the accused had actually received “explosives”.
Bingo: Guilty before trial.
Of course, the Muslim-bashers have laced this nonsense with the
usual pious concern for the rights of the accused. “Before I go
on, one disclaimer,” purred the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente.
“Nothing has been proved and nobody should rush to judgment.”
Which, needless to say, Wente then went on to do in the same
paragraph. “The exposure of our very own home-grown terrorists,
if that’s what the men aspired to be, was both predictably
shocking and shockingly predictable.” And just in case we missed
the point of this hypocrisy, Wente ended her column by
announcing that “Canada is not exempt from home-grown
terrorism”. Angry young men are the tinderbox and Islamism is
The country will probably have better luck than most at “putting
out the fire”, she adds. But who, I wonder, is really lighting
the match? For a very unpleasant — albeit initially innocuous —
phrase has now found its way into the papers. The accused 17 —
and, indeed their families and sometimes the country’s entire
Muslim community — are now referred to as “Canadian-born”. Well,
yes, they are Canadian-born. But there’s a subtle difference
between this and being described as a “Canadian” — as other
citizens of this vast country are in every other context. And
the implications are obvious; there are now two types of
Canadian citizen: The Canadian-born variety (Muslims) and
Canadians (the rest).
If this seems finicky, try the following sentence from the Globe
and Mail’s front page on Tuesday, supposedly an eyewitness
account of the police arrest operation: “Parked directly outside
his ... office was a large, gray, cube-shaped truck and, on the
ground nearby, he recognized one of the two brown-skinned young
men who had taken possession of the next door rented unit...”
Come again? Brown-skinned? What in God’s name is this outrageous
piece of racism doing on the front page of a major Canadian
daily? What is “brown-skinned” supposed to mean — if it is not
just a revolting attempt to isolate Muslims as the “other” in
Canada’s highly multicultural society? I notice, for example,
that when the paper obsequiously refers to Toronto’s police
chief and his reportedly brilliant cops, he is not referred to
as “white-skinned” (which he most assuredly is). Amid this
swamp, Canada’s journalists are managing to soften the realities
of their country’s new military involvement in Afghanistan.
More than 2,000 troops are deployed around Kandahar in active
military operations against Taleban insurgents. They are taking
the place of US troops, who will be transferred to fight even
more Muslims insurgents in Iraq.
Canada is thus now involved in the Afghan war — those who doubt
this should note the country has already shelled out $1.8bn in
“defense spending” in Afghanistan and only $500m in “additional
expenditures”, including humanitarian assistance and democratic
renewal (sic) — and, by extension, in Iraq. In other words,
Canada has gone to war in the Middle East.
None of this, according to the Canadian foreign minister, could
be the cause of Muslim anger at home, although Jack Hooper — the
CSIS chief who has a lot to learn about the Middle East but
talks far too much — said a few days ago that “we had a high
threat profile (in Canada) before Afghanistan. In any event, the
presence of Canadians and Canadian forces there has elevated
that threat somewhat.” I read all this on a flight from Calgary
to Ottawa this week, sitting just a row behind Tim Goddard, his
wife Sally and daughter Victoria, who were chatting gently and
smiling bravely to the crew and fellow passengers. In the cargo
hold of our aircraft lay the coffin of Goddard’s other daughter,
Nichola, the first Canadian woman soldier to be killed in action
The next day, he scattered sand on Nichola’s coffin at Canada’s
national military cemetery. A heartrending photograph of him
appeared in the Post — but buried away on Page 6. And on the
front page? A picture of British policemen standing outside the
Bradford home of a Muslim “who may have links to Canada”.
Allegedly, of course.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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