Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hudak's Ontarians are Stingy Bigots. Are They the Majority?

Who are we as a people that Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak thought that his tactics would work -- and that they did? Hudak's PCs received almost as much of the popular vote as Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals. If not for first past the post, the PCs would have had close to the same number of seats as the Liberals. And they did it by appealing to the racist and bigot in Ontarians. Hudak began his us-them campaign by vilifying the university scholarships McGuinty proposed to offer foreign university students. These scholarships are a drop in the bucket compared to what the Ontario government offers Ontario students, but that was neither here nor there. The point was that Ontario tax dollars were going to foreigners -- to benefit us, but who cares about that? The operative word was “foreigners.” Hudak continued his us-them campaign by calling new Canadians “foreign workers” and decrying a tax credit to encourage employers to overlook lack of “Canadian experience” and to hire them. The key word for Hudak was “foreign.” Not us. Hudak completed his hat trick of bigotry by completely misrepresenting the Toronto School Board’s sex ed policy and distributing a poster in a certain neighbourhood that was unmasked gay bashing. Those people are not us. And “they” want to make our kids like “them,” was his message. Canadians like to image themselves as a tolerant, peace-loving people, people who accept all comers to Canada, who accept fellow humans of all types and inclinations. Yet Hudak and his campaign team clearly believed the opposite. Their campaign and his statements showed they thought Canadians, specifically Ontarians, are a bigoted lot, fearful and resentful of immigrants, of people from foreign lands, of their fellow humans different from the mainstream. They also seemed to believe that Ontarians are a stingy lot who resent sharing their resources with anyone. Former Premier Mike Harris capitalized on this kind of resentment and focused it on Toronto. We won’t let Toronto waste our tax dollars anymore, was the message he used successfully to sweep into power, never mind the fact that Toronto citizens raise more tax dollars than any other Ontario municipality and so supports them, not the other way around. Clearly Hudak thought that latent resentment to Toronto still existed and had now spread to others. Or perhaps the latter had always existed, but in the 21st century, it was politically okay to voice resentment to and fear of the foreigner and the sexually different. Whatever the case may be, Hudak’s campaign clearly marks Ontarians as hypocrites who are not tolerant, not accepting of “the other” despite the fine words they spout about being multicultural and welcoming to all. Or perhaps his campaign reveals the opposite. Ontarians were fed up with the Liberals, wanted to chuck them out, were prepared to sweep the Tories into power -- as evidenced by Hudak’s huge lead going into the election -- but were so revolted by his campaign to build resentment in us against new Canadians, foreigners, and people “not like us” that they swung back to the Liberals and some to the NDP. Still, it is troubling that quite a few agreed with him -- over a third of the Ontario population.

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