Opinion

GOLDSTEIN

A racist behind every tree

By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

In the 1950s, American politicians on the U.S. House Committee on unAmerican Activities saw a Communist hiding behind every tree.

Much like the premier of Canada’s largest province today sees a racist hiding behind every tree.

Because that’s how Kathleen Wynne -- who may as well have been Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Ontario campaign manager in last month’s federal election -- rolls.

For Wynne, it’s not enough that she’s right and you’re wrong. It’s that she’s right and you’re evil.

When she introduced a controversial new sex-ed curriculum in Ontario schools this fall, she accused parents who disagreed with it of homophobia.

When Canadians worried about national security in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks in light of Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015, she accused them of racism.

“What we can't give in to, I think, is allowing security to mask racism,” Wynne said last week in Ottawa at a conference organized by a “progressive” think tank.

“That’s the danger ... that somehow talking about security allows us to tap into that racist vein, when that isn’t who we are.’’

Wynne wasn’t alone in this view. The audience loudly applauded, according to The Canadian Press.

Fellow Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard of Quebec nodded his approval while Wynne spoke, suggesting not only are Canadians who have security concerns about the refugees racist, but xenophobic, meaning they fear people from other countries.

Wynne’s remarks angered former B.C. premier and federal Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh, who gave her a public dressing down on his blog, tongue planted firmly in cheek, but making a serious point:

“Premier Wynne, did you just call me a racist and a xenophobe?” he began. “Yes, you did!”

“Did I take it personally? Yes. I took it personally on behalf of 67% (of) Canadians who disagree with the year-end deadline imposed by the Canadian government to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country ... Sixty seven percent (of) Canadians who disagree with the government's artificial timeline got labelled racist -- in one fell swoop ... In that instant I became a racist and a xenophobe! ...

“(Y)our comments did a disservice to the spirit of debate and democracy. They had the potential and perhaps the effect of suffocating debate. You tarred a whole lot of fair, just, thoughtful and compassionate Canadians with the brush of xenophobia and racism. That is hurtful and truly Un-Canadian!”

Dossanjh was in a strong position to call out Wynne on what she was doing -- suggesting that a few deplorable attacks by bigots on Muslims in Canada that have been widely condemned, meant that Canadians were camouflaging racist attitudes toward Syrian refugees by claiming to be concerned about security.

A Sikh who has fought against actual racism all his life, Dossanjh was nearly beaten to death as a young lawyer for denouncing Sikh extremism.

Indeed, Dossanjh favours admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, but, like most Canadians, was concerned whether it could be done with due diligence on the security issue by the end of 2015.

Trudeau has since announced his government will not admit all 25,000 refugees into Canada before Jan. 1 as it originally intended, but will extend the time frame into the New Year to make sure it is done properly, paying heed to the security concerns of Canadians.

Memo to Wynne: That doesn’t make him a racist.