Friday, May 15, 2009

Conservatives are attacking all Canadians

By now most people have probably seen the much awaited Conservative attack ads against Michael Ignatieff. Until I actually saw them I really didn’t think the Conservatives would be so provocative as to insinuate that Ignatieff is somehow less Canadian than other people because he has not lived in Canada for his whole life. What next? Might they suggest that because he is a world renowned academic he is somehow unqualified to be the Prime Minister? Oh yea, they did that too. These ads are a serious and significant indictment not of Michael Ignatieff but of the Conservative leadership because they are a consummate example of negative advertising. Instead of making substantive claims about Ignatieff’s approach to policies, his more general approach to politics, or even his integrity, the Conservatives have lowered political discourse to geography. Presumably, any Canadian who has lived outside of the country for any length of time, or even a so-called snow-bird who spends significant portions of his or her year away, is not really Canadian. But most troubling aspect of these ads are this: since Ignatieff chose to give up his prestigious and lucrative career  abroad and has spent the past few years here in Canada working for his constituents, what does this say about recent immigrants to Canada? Are they also less Canadian than the rest of us because they have only spent a few years here? And what is the cut-off point? I was not born in this country and since arriving in the 1970s I have spend quite a few years out of the country. Am I to assume that the government of my country questions my status as a Canadian? Harper and his bullies have done many questionable and sinister things but now they have put everyone’s citizenship status in question and put themselves in the position of deciding who qualifies as Canadian and who doesn’t. This is a disturbing and frightening precedent which should trouble everyone. Once again the Conservatives have shown that they have no respect for the law or constitution of this country. I hope that Canadians overwhelmingly reject these distasteful and troubling actions by the Conservatives and let them know that Stephen Harper is not the arbiter of people’s citizen status. It seems to me that regardless of one's political affiliation, these ads should be considered offensive and an attack not only on Michael Ignatieff but on all of us. 

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