Whitewashing: Canadian Media Propping Up the PPC Is a Threat to Our Democracy

The PPC are the party for, and endorsed by, white supremacists. Yet recent columns in Canada’s paper of record have provided them with apparent sympathetic coddling -- with one even suggesting we give them seats in Parliament to assuage them.

Erica Ifill
Special to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Source: Twitter

White supremacist violence is growing in Canada. There were 223,000 hate crimes in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. White supremacists and anti-maskers are rallying around the People’s Party of Canada, which may actually win a seat. The milquetoast response from some of the media elite betrays their own internalized white supremacy. 

I am reminded of Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham jail:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate…”

In what ended up being a one-two punch of racial microaggressions performed by the Globe and Mail, both John Ibbitson and Andrew Coyne wrote sympathetic articles about the rise of the PPC. These white men are telling on themselves with their coddling of the increasingly violent white supremacist movement backing the PPC. This is where we are: a white Canadian media which, after the year of racial justice, have returned to their original form of plantation politics. They risk silencing the voices of their own racialized staff -- who are already calling for more diversity and accountability practices in the newsroom. 

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“…who is more devoted to "order" than to justice…

I read this racist dribble, so you don’t have to. Let me share the highlights. Ibbitson argues that “the People’s Party of Canada is a legitimate political party that deserves representation. It reflects the views of almost two million voters. Suppressing the voices of those voters will only worsen their estrangement from the mainstream.” 

Coyne, for his part, argues that “the fix is in” because Bernier wasn’t invited to the election debates, despite not meeting the criteria. He calls it “a travesty of the democratic process.”

“…who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…”

Too bad they forgot to mention the PPC’s ties to white supremacy, which is why they are a threat in the first place. Instead of standing up for what’s right, the white moderate, exemplified by Ibbitson, will not say they must be fought against. In fact, Ibbitson argues that due to their penchant for violence we should give them what they want -- lest we suffer their consequences. 

Ibbitson insists that the PPC deserves representation because they’re popular enough. However, one could make that argument for any registered group that passes some arbitrary threshold of popularity. And that’s the point: the PPC has no more right to be in the legislature than any other party, unless there is some cut-off point of popular support that isn’t transparent. The PPC is not owed representation, they must work for it the same way everyone else does, so why are they being offered a shortcut? 

Whiteness, that’s why. Watch it work. 

In 2016, after Black Lives Matter stopped the Pride Parade in Toronto, Ibbitson wrote an article that stated: “We can be concerned that police – who used to arrest and harass queers, but have since apologized for that – will be offended if they aren't invited next year. We can urge Pride leaders to ignore promises made Sunday [to BLM] to appease blackmailers. And we can, and should, tell the people of Black Lives Matter that they don't get to dictate to the rest of us.”

Black Lives Matter wasn’t threatening violence, they were demanding action for racialized and oft-left out members of the LGBTQ2+ community. What’s the difference between them and the PPC? Whiteness. Ibbitson evidently offers grace and space to the PPC’s white nationalist base, which he himself implies are a dangerous crowd, but not BIPOC people. As of today, BIPOC people have experienced a disproportionately catastrophic pandemic and now must also deal with the fears and anxiety of the growing threat of white nationalism, exemplified in the PPC.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Shallow understanding, indeed. Here is an example of a white man who doesn’t have the range to speak on the important social justice issues of the day. But due to institutional racism, he is afforded a platform, apparently free of editorial oversight, to spout racist basura. 

“There are plenty of reasons why so many people have become resentful and untrusting: the loss of manufacturing jobs due to offshoring; the increasing number of non-European immigrants,” writes Ibbitson. It’s hard to read this as anything other than a justification for racism. This part has been quietly edited by the Globe and Mail, like we wouldn’t notice. The quote here is the original text. This is the lukewarm acceptance King wrote about in his 1963 letter. Instead of saying that racism is wrong, the white moderate makes justifications.

The PPC are the party for, and endorsed by, white supremacists. As the Toronto Star noted, “it is clear that white nationalist and far-right groups view the party as a viable vehicle for their grievance-fuelled politics.” In other words, the PPC is the party of the white grievance industrial complex where there are too many non-white people in Canada, multiculturalism should be banned, climate change doesn’t really exist and New Canadians would be “interviewed to ensure they embrace ‘Canadian values and societal norms,’ which are ‘those of a contemporary Western civilization.’” Evidently, what was abhorrent under Kellie Leitch in 2015 is now acceptable under Maxime Bernier in 2021. 

What the Globe and Mail printed was unconscionable in what it is arguing -- let’s just appease the dangerous white nationalists who make up part of the PPC’s base. That’s a threat to the lives of people who the decision-makers at that publication either don’t care about or can’t be bothered with — racialized people in Canada. After the police murder of George Floyd, and BLM demonstrations, we were made promises, again. Seems like we are back to normal. 

Erica Ifill is an economist and journalist who founded Not In My Colour, an equity and inclusion consultancy that builds inclusive workplaces. She is the co-founder and co-host of the Bad + Bitchy podcast, which focuses on politics and pop culture from an intersectional feminist perspective.

She is also columnist for The Hill Times, where she writes about federal politics and economics, with an equity lens, whose bylines include Maclean’s, Press Progress and the Globe and Mail. 

Follow Erica on Twitter @wickdchiq.

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