By Jake Wray
In the dark hours following Donald Trump’s unfathomable victory Tuesday night, I heard a dangerous sentiment repeated by many of my fellow progressive Canadians: “At least we don’t live in the States.”
I generally respect optimistic reactions to bad news, but the circumstances surrounding this disaster in America are so dire that it’s time for us to be unreservedly upset. Optimism might serve to calm us – this is not the time to relax.
On Wednesday morning, The Globe and Mail reported that Kellie Leitch, the Conservative leadership candidate pushing for codification and enforcement of “Canadian values,” sent an email earlier in the day to her supporters in which she praised Trump’s ideologies.
“It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well,” she wrote.
Leitch is one of 14 candidates engaged in the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race. Remember when Trump was one of 17 candidates in the Republican primary back in March? He was a joke, an afterthought – not a serious contender. Look at how quickly that fell apart.
If Canadians take only one lesson away from Trump’s unpredictable ascent to power, it’s that we need to pay a little more attention to right wing fringe politicians and their raucous followers.
Trump’s win is only the latest example of a disturbing global trend toward dangerous right wing politics. The violent reign of Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte, the economically reckless Brexit vote and the forceful impeachment of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff are all examples of damage wreaked by the extreme right.
We cannot afford to underestimate Trump’s victory or the rumblings of fringe conservatives in Canada. That doesn’t mean we should demonize Trump’s supporters or their Canadian counterparts, either.
Forty seven per cent of the popular vote went to Trump on Tuesday. That’s not a small group of outliers whose concerns, no matter how vitriolic or offensive, can be written off.
Progressive Canadians need to study those concerns, so we can anticipate the course of our next federal election. Perhaps, by breaking bread with Canadians on the far right, we can steer our country away from a catastrophic federal election in 2019.