Following President-elect Donald Trump’s election to the White House, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a congratulatory statement that emphasized Canada’s “shared values” with the United States; it focused almost entirely on boosting trade and security.This move — especially when compared to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s vow to only work with Trump on the basis of respect for all — makes it clear that Trudeau will be placing what he deems to be ‘diplomacy’ over the safety and security of the millions of marginalized people who will be affected by Trump’s presidency. What is more, like Trudeau, the frantic reports in the media detailing what the US election may mean for Canada’s fate have focused almost exclusively on the economy and the various trade deals that the country has with the US.However, the devastating consequences that Trump’s policies and rhetoric will have on marginalized Canadians and the environment are deserving of more attention. It is not only ignorant but also dangerous to assume that Canadians will not be affected by the election of a bigoted president in the US. Canadians must show solidarity with the people who have been and will be affected by Trump, in order to live up to the country’s image as a benevolent state committed to justice and equality.Keystone XL It comes as no surprise that a president-elect who called climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese has expressed interest in putting the Keystone XL pipeline back on the table. There are a number of issues with Keystone XL, including the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, the potential for drastically increased carbon emissions, and the sidelining of the concerns of Indigenous peoples — which include damage to sacred sites, water contamination, pollution, and subsequent increased health risks. Despite this, following Trump’s election, TransCanada spokesperson Mark Cooper expressed the company’s willingness to work with Trump, stating that TransCanada “remains fully committed to building Keystone XL.”Given that it was President Barack Obama who rejected the pipeline proposal and not Trudeau — who stated that he was “disappointed by the decision” — there is a real risk of the return of Keystone XL. From a strategic point of view, the Keystone pipeline would only further the Canadian oil industry’s dependence on the US at a time when Canada should be trying to diversify its markets; projects such as the Energy East pipeline were introduced for this very purpose.More importantly, since both the US and Canadian governments will be open to the Keystone XL project once Trump is sworn in, it is much less likely that the concerns of environmental groups and Indigenous activists will be adequately heard. This will undoubtedly set a dangerous precedent for how Canada handles such concerns.Political shiftsThe political shifts that will come out of Trump’s election are potentially devastating for the party system in Canada. The rhetoric that has suddenly jumped to the forefront of political discourse is not only jarring and divisive — it is being strategically employed to warp perceptions of important issues. These constructed misconceptions can later be used to gain votes.For example, Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch recently stated that she feels Trump conveys an “exciting message that needs to be delivered in Canada as well.” Leitch wants every “visitor, immigrant, and refugee” to be screened for “Canadian values.”Leitch is using divisive statements as a campaign tactic, much like Trump did. This appears to be an attempt to appeal to the social right-wing in the hopes that enough members of the Conservative Party will follow suit, rather than vie for the votes of the centre-right party members, as over 10 other leadership candidates are doing. Although this may seem like a risky strategy, let’s not forget that Trump won using the same kind of ideological maneuvering.These politicians are bringing forth the kind of hateful speech that previously lurked in the darkest corners of reddit and attempting to spin them into policies. Such provocations from politicians like Leitch and Trump are largely based on prejudice and hold no correlation to the issues they purport to be trying to fix. When these messages are disseminated on a large scale, they have the potential to warp perceptions on important issues such as immigration and national security.Increases in targeted violenceSince Trump’s election, reports of violence against marginalized people, particularly in the form of anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and sexism, have been on the rise and documented on social media and in the news. Women have reported having their hijabs pulled off, including on a number of university campuses. There have also been multiple reports of racialized people being stopped and harassed at gas stations and convenience stores.Though we may attribute these hateful actions to Trump’s US supporters, these incidents have not been confined to the United States. Recently-released footage of a racially-charged verbal attack on a Toronto Transit Commission bus reveals the perpetrator saying, “Yeah, so what? Go Trump!” when called a racist. This is a clear verbalization of the connection between Trump and the normalization of racism and xenophobia; it has been demonstrated in many other reports of harassment over the last few weeks.In light of these events, arguing that not all Trump voters and supporters are bigoted is not just unproductive — it also misses the point. In showing support for Trump, people are affirming that issues like racism, sexism, and xenophobia are secondary to them, and the lives of those affected by Trump’s election are not of importance. As The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj articulated in his statement after the election, being racist, sexist, and xenophobic comes with the package when it comes to Trump. Taking that deal is to say, “I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.”Given the profound impact Trump’s election has and will have for Canadians, Trudeau’s statement about “shared values” was in poor taste. It needs to be made clear that, by electing Trump, the values the highest office of the United States will soon represent are not acceptable to a Canada that prioritizes the protection of marginalized populations. Working against the hate that Trump represents can start locally: strategies include rejecting the rhetoric perpetuated by politicians like Leitch, demanding increased government consultation with environmental groups and Indigenous peoples, and disallowing the safety and security of marginalized people to be sidelined in the name of the economy.This election has brought to light the kind of prejudice that has always, albeit subtly, been present in our society, regardless of political alignment. Beliefs that were previously considered radical, alternative, and even insignificant have taken the spotlight. There is much work to be done in Canada to combat bigotry, and it starts with showing solidarity with those who are most threatened by Trump’s election, rather than pandering to or finding excuses for perpetrators of said bigotry.Saambavi Mano is a third-year student at Victoria College studying Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies. Her column appears every three weeks.
Published: 3:59 pm, 20 November 2016
Modified: 2:07 am, 21 November 2016