Concordia bomb threat

Kellie Leitch and the new merchants of hate

Did would-be domestic terrorists in Montreal draw inspiration from the Conservative Party?
Photo: Steve Drolet

Yesterday Montreal woke up to an act of domestic terrorism. A threatening letter promised to detonate one “small artisanal amateur explosive device” per day in spaces where Muslims congregate on campus, unless the university agreed to ban Muslim prayers and close Muslim prayer spaces.

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The night before, in Toronto, a mosque was torched. A spike in hate crimes targeting Muslims and Jews has met the election of Trump here in Canada, and in the U.S. bomb threats have been called in to over 100 Jewish community centres while hate crimes against Muslims have increased by 67 per cent according to the FBI. We just buried six Muslim men in Quebec City last month, gunned down as they prayed by a homegrown terrorist.

Thankfully today’s threats appear to have been hollow, and this morning news broke that a 47 year-old man has been arrested in connection with the threats, but it’s another sign that we teeter on the edge of a wave of homegrown terrorism. Terrorism committed by isolated and angry young white men (sometimes not so white, or so young, but almost always men) radicalized by the racist alt-right and their stalking horses in the “respectable” media and some political parties.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric is inspiring extremists

Speaking of political parties, there’s an unavoidable symmetry between the name and logo of this would-be terrorist cell and that of the Conservative Party of Canada. The terrorist group, which calls itself the “Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada” and has a stylized C for a logo, seems to have drawn inspiration from an American white supremacist group called the “Council of Conservative Citizens,” but there’s such a startling similarity between their iconography and that of the CPC that they included a disclaimer on their bomb threat, in both official languages.

“Not associated with the Conservative Party of Canada.”

Bomb threat
Sent to Concordia University on March 1

So that got me thinking. Is this self-described “underground” group worried about a civil lawsuit from the CPC for copyright infringement over their anonymous bomb threat?

Hardly seems like it would be their first concern, does it?

So what’s up with that disclaimer? The way I see it, they’re most likely fans of the CPC. That’s why their name and logo both pay homage to Canada’s conservative party, and it’s why they included the disclaimer. Not to guard against a lawsuit from the CPC, but to protect the CPC from being associated with their terrorist acts.

I suspect they’re fans, and they think they’re doing what their political leaders are suggesting they should. They think they’re reading between the lines, and in some cases maybe they’re right.

In their twisted minds these types are the armed vanguard of the anti-Muslim movement, footsoldiers of the new Crusades, acting on the call to arms issued by their prophets in politics and media.

As obvious as their apparent homage to the CPC was, they left no clues as to their preference in that party’s ongoing leadership contest. But we can guess, can’t we?

Fuck you Kellie Leitch

Kellie Leitch is a member of parliament and medical doctor from suburban Ontario who freaks out if her 16 letters worth of honorifics are left off her name. By almost any definition of the term, she is an “elite.”

All the same, she styles herself a champion of the common people and earlier this year appeared on U.S. cable news to rail against Canada’s out of touch elites and disparage our socialized healthcare and alarming openness to refugees and immigrants.

Up until the last year or two, she was known as a red tory, perhaps to the left of her party on some issues. Then came her advocacy for a barbaric cultural practices ‘tip line’ during the 2015 election campaign, which many explained away as a distasteful task forced upon her by her party.

Indeed, in April of 2016 now-leadership-candidate Leitch tearfully apologized for her role in that particular piece of race-baiting in an interview with the CBC’s Rosemary Barton. “I regret that it occurred, and it shouldn't have been done.”

So back in April Leitch sought to boost her leadership campaign by denouncing her role in an election stunt which demonized the Muslim community, but by the end of August she had announced her plans to screen immigrants for “Canadian values.” What changed? Trump happened, and Leitch saw an opportunity.

She jumped on the Trump train and decided she could ride fear of Muslims and migrants all the way to the prime minister’s office. But she’s not just riding the wave, she’s helping to create it.

And she’s not alone. There are major figures in both the media and politics who hide behind dog-whistles to articulate a startlingly bigoted view of Islam and Muslims. And I’m not just talking about Leitch or Ezra Levant and his band of merry dupes.

So when I wake up to the news that the university I attended has been shut down by a bomb threat, a threat signed by a group that styles itself after the CPC and is obsessed with Muslims, I look around for who to blame for creating the climate in which this kind of hate festers and I see Kellie Leitch. But she isn’t alone.

At least she won’t win

The one redeeming factor in the tale of this faux convert on the road to white supremacy is that she seems unlikely to win. Dropping in the polls, dogged by scandal, and down a campaign manager, Leitch went back to the Canadian values message this week with a new video.

It was quite possibly the worst political video ever made, and yes, I’m including both the one where the dude rides a CGI eagle, and the Stephane Dion home movie disaster of 2008 in my assessment.

So don’t worry, Leitch isn’t going anywhere fast. But she won’t be the last to try to ride fear and divisions to power, and it’s time we started standing up to those who would stoke our prejudices for cheap votes and website clicks, and let them feel the weight of our disapproval.

These merchants of hate deserve our contempt.

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