Canadians embracing US style of personal political smears

I have watched with sadness as our society has lost civility during the pandemic. Politicians, public health officials, healthcare workers, and even patients at hospitals and vaccine clinics have been subjected to threats, violence, and harassment. During the occupation of Ottawa, we all witnessed the symbols of hate being displayed by white supremacist groups. There were also many signs hurling obscenities at the Prime Minister, as well as images of him behind bars or with a noose around his neck. I have personally seen vehicles in this community with signs proclaiming him as “public enemy no. 1.”

I put the blame for the beginning of this downward slide on the political movement in the US that embraced the use of personal smears against political enemies and chants of “lock her up.” That escalated to some Americans regarding a violent, deadly attempt at an insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.”  Unfortunately, this attitude seems to have spread to Canada.

In a democracy, it is our right to criticize a politician’s policies and actions. However, it is not our right to attack them personally, or to vilify or dehumanize them to the point that some people believe violence or intimidation are justified. It is not right to call them criminals unless they have been convicted in a court of law.

Canadians claiming that the Prime Minister has divided the country need to reflect on how their own words and behaviour have contributed to those divisions. The hateful rhetoric needs to stop.

Penny Robertson


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