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Inside The Perimeter

Writer and photographer Shannon VanRaes spends her days with the Manitoba Co-operator and her nights covering urban affairs in Winnipeg. Look for her in Metro every Tuesday.

VanRaes: Cut the queue-jumping rhetoric, Ted

The Provencher MP is not providing a platform for discussion or free speech, but for unfiltered hate, wild rumours, threats and lies, writes Shannon VanRaes

Provencher MP Ted Falk

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Provencher MP Ted Falk

Ted Falk has found his niche.

The frog-loving and Pride-loathing Conservative MP hadn’t really made a name for himself since crawling out of the cretaceous period and into a 2013 byelection, but thanks to a keen ability to exploit human suffering for political gain he’s managed to grandstand his way to notability. Yes, he’s targeting those risking everything to apply for asylum in Canada, while also ignoring the needs of his own struggling constituents, but for the former vice-chair of the standing committee on justice and human rights it’s just another day representing the riding of Provencher.

Most recently, Falk released a video saying migrants take advantage of Canada’s generosity and exploit loopholes. In question period he added asylum seekers who walk across the border are “jumping the queue.” 

The publishable translation of this dog-whistle is: It’s not fair.

Sadly, Falk’s views are in tune with those held by many of his constituents. His obviously unmoderated Facebook page received hundreds of accolades following his comments, many of which link asylum seekers to ISIS, call for the Prime Minister to be jailed for life — if not hanged for treason first — or suggest Canadians take up arms and stop migrants themselves, presumably with deadly force.

Now before you ask, if you haven’t already, yes I am aware that social media has long been the home of unsavoury, ignorant and hateful commentary. But Ted Falk is not some rent-a-bigot shilling for a dying tabloid chain because Ezra Levant was unavailable. Ted Falk is a member of Parliament. 

And now, he’s providing a platform not for discussion, not for free speech, but for unfiltered hate, wild rumours, threats and lies, which is absolutely what one expects from dog-whistle politics that target vulnerable people.

Clearly, Falk isn’t interested in curbing xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism or bigotry on something that bears his name and if he has a problem with the idea of imprisoning or killing our current Prime Minister or shooting migrants, he hasn’t piped up to say so.

It’s unacceptable, it’s dangerous and it’s shameful.

You know what’s really not fair, Ted Falk? Having your country plunged in chaos and war, watching your life destroyed, family killed or maimed. Being persecuted for political affiliation, religion, gender or sexual orientation – that’s not fair.

Queue-jumping is when someone cuts in front of you in the grocery checkout. Queue-jumping is not fleeing your homeland and making it to Brazil in the hope of walking through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico without being robbed, detained, injured or killed, then finding yourself in a country that won’t assist you before making a final trek across the Canadian border. 

This is no short cut.

For those walking across the border at Emerson there’s no hope of meeting Canada’s stringent point system that regulates immigration. Many born and raised in Canada — quite possibly Ted Falk himself — would not be eligible to immigrate to Canada were they not already Canadian citizens by accident of birth.

Despite the heroic efforts taken to reach Canada, many asylum claims will still be rejected or withdrawn. Canadian Border Services deported 9,382 people in 2016.

If Ted Falk had any interest in the democratic processes of the country whose parliament he sits in, he might have provided some facts and insight, rather than populist rhetoric. And if he had a compassionate bone in his body, he’d try a little more understanding and whole lot less fear.

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