Harper and Duceppe were able to come to common cause in last night’s French-language debate on CBC. I’m sure it gave both men the warm fuzzies to finally get to be such good chums, even if it was over their joint willingness to court the basest, most racist elements in Canadian society.
The question they linked arms and sang anti-Kumbayas over was on niqabs and whether they should be banned during citizenship ceremonies, with both men arguing the government should be in the business of telling women to dress less modestly than they feel comfortable with if they want to be out in public interfacing with our nation’s bureaucracies.
Apparently Quebec at the political level agrees unanimously with them on this — that’d be the entire national assembly and all the province’s big city mayors. Meanwhile, nationally, polls are saying over 70 per cent of Canadians are also niqab-averse.
Taken all together it just adds fuel to my thesis from Monday’s blog post that Canadians are secretly really horrible people at heart. They don’t want to be seen doing or saying horrible things, so they’ll vote Harper into another majority government because he’ll say and do all the horribleness for them.
Nice work Harper and Duceppe at putting yourselves forward as options for the asshole and coward vote.
The other three leaders tried to defend the notion that women can wear whatever they want and the government has no business saying otherwise. Most nobly, Elizabeth May, the only woman on stage, tried to point out how the whole niqab debate is a mean-spirited distraction. And Duceppe at least let her nearly finish her point before he shouted her down and all but mansplained to her about how he’s the better feminist.
But by far the most heated moment — and the ugliest — of the exchange came when Harper, the most animated I’ve ever seen him be, shouted at Mulcair, “I will never tell my young daughter that a woman should cover her face because she is woman!”
When I heard that I was stunned. It sounded like a non sequitur. “What the hell is he talking about?” I thought. “Nobody wants to tell his daughter how to dress. That’s kind of the whole point of opposing the niqab ban.”
But I forgot for a moment that Harper isn’t talking to me. He’s talking to his supporters and his potential supporters. They would hear what I thought was a nonsensical freak out and recognize that there was a dot-dot-dot at the end of it.
A blank that they know how to fill in.
The full message Harper was sending out to his true believers was, “I will never tell my daughter that a woman must cover her face! But THEY will!”
The “they” of course being the Islamic, fifth-columnist terrorists in our midst.
Mulcair came back with a stern, if softly spoken, response:
“Attack the oppressor, don’t attack the woman, Mr. Harper … have the courage to do that. It’s not by depriving these women of their citizenship and their rights that you’re going to succeed in helping them. You’re playing a dangerous political game,” said the NDP leader.
The sentiment — while correct — was completely drowned out, both in terms of volume and passion. It flitted by, leaving almost no impression. As proof of that: finding a transcript for Mulcair’s retort was much more difficult than finding transcripts of Harper’s flash of paternal anxiety.
So once again, Harper won the night by playing the us-against-them card. And, you know, I really am trying very hard to not throw the word “fascist” around when writing about Stephen Harper. And when people use it around me, I’m careful to respond with a, “Welllll, you knowwwww… ‘fascist’ is a reeeeeeally strong word.”
But after last night’s debate, I think it’s safe to say that if it quacks like a duck and goose-steps like a… well, you see where I’m going with that.