… The language is ridiculous, but don’t forget – it always starts with language. At a recent event in Vancouver South a Mandarin-speaking woman wanted to sign our Let BC Vote pledge, but explained that she was about to write her citizenship exam. She didn’t want to anger the government.
I laughed it off as paranoia. Sure, there are countries around the world where politically inconvenient people disappear. Secret agents torment families. Peoples’ careers and reputations are ruined. But we tell ourselves that’s not supposed to happen in Canada.
Well, here’s the ugly truth: she’s not wrong to harbour those fears. This country was built on cultural genocide. We invaded territory, stole children, wiped out languages – all of this was official government policy. Canada really did impose a racist head tax on immigrants. And in the First and Second World Wars thousands of citizens were stripped of their rights and property and interned for years in prison camps. These are difficult events to come to terms with, but they’re part of our history.
The only thing protecting us from such abuses today are limits on state power. These checks and balances are not given to us – they had to be fought for. Our job is to guard them vigilantly from the political and corporate interests that would weaken our democratic institutions to their own advantage.
This is one of those moments…