STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Global migration is a centuries old phenomenon. It re-emerged in mid twentieth century. Nearly six decades ago,immigration started from Asia to Europe and North America. It started as a trickle and then gained momentum from the seventies onwards. New immigrants were accepted in the host countries that were mainly Caucasian.This sprinkling of color was considered quite exotic!
The migrants worked hard and tried to blend in. They were a good labor pool for professions requiring physical work and long hours. Not too popular with the locals. New comers were mainly economic immigrants; some pursued education or fled persecution from their home countries. Benefits started to filter back home and that encouraged greater numbers to move.
North America and Europe had lax immigration controls making entry easier. UK, USA and later on Canada were the destination of choice for English speaking countries. France for French speakers and post war Germany attracted many Turks. After the 2nd World War, industrial production expanded and the need for manpower surged. This void was filled by new immigrants. A good fit for all concerned.
The floodgates opened in the eighties and nineties. The number of immigrants shot up dramatically. Pakistan had its fair share too.
Around the same time Gulf countries had a huge oil boom. Massive development projects were undertaken. Most of the work force came from the sub-continent and South Asia.Over a decade or more,these migrants acquired a nest egg and skill sets.
Gulf countries don’t absorb immigrants.So the professionals and businessmen amongst them undertook a second migration to the West, especially Canada and USA. After 9/11, the rules of the game started to change. Security concerns in the West increased. Barriers started to come up. Immigration became difficult especially from Muslim countries, however the movement from South America to USA continued unabated.
In the early nineties, another phenomenon started to unfold. China emerged as a vibrant economy. It was followed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Mexico. These economies grew by expanding their industrial base. They provided a secure, well regulated environment with a large pool of inexpensive labor force.
Capital and capitalist have no national boundaries or nationalities. Production facilities started shifting to greener pastures. In North America automobile, steel, coal, textiles and electronic sectors provided employment. It started to dwindle and eroded substantially. A drive through industrialized US states is a haunting site with boarded up manufacturing units.
Till the nineties, a blue collar worker on a single wage could afford a house, a car, raise two or more kids and lived in decent suburban cities. With industries moving, jobs disappeared and skill sets became redundant. For last few decades, the same worker along with his spouse work two or more jobs and are barely surviving.
This gave rise to a seething anger, prejudices and frustration in the communities.These feelings were generally directionless till smart right wing politicians entered the arena. Using media and appropriate slogan mongering, they were able to direct this resentment against the immigrants. The events after 9/11, especially the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the rise of terrorism through ISIS and Al Qaeda made it easy to scapegoat Muslims.
How did it translate into the political landscape in North America? In USA under George Bush II and Obama these sentiments kept seething. The Right Wing through their media and messaging tapped into this latent anger. They worked to pitch the affected working class against those who looked different and stoked religious sentiments.
They found a perfect match in Donald Trump. Previously a Democrat supporter, Trump realized he had little chance against Hillary Clinton so he hopped onto the Republican band wagon which was in disarray. What happened thereafter is recent history and the soap opera continues.
In Canada, the events unfolded differently. Liberals, in power for multiple terms, saw erosion of support after Chretien. Internal groupings didn’t help either. This paved the way for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. His two terms speak for themselves about Conservative views on New Canadians, especially Muslims. His Bill C-24 creating tiers among the Canadians are still fresh wounds that nurtured prejudices.
In 2015 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mounted a successful challenge to this disruption of the Canadian society. Endearing himself to voters as a credible, logical and a compassionate leader he elevated the discussion espousing values Canadians hold dearly. In his first term he was able to raise the quality of life for all Canadians especially the middle class. He took steps to address grievances of First Nations and took a firm stand on protecting the environment. His approach to all segments of society was compassionate and inclusive.
Running for a 2nd term, Trudeau is faced with an angry Right Wing.With filled coffers, they are lashing out, stoking prejudices and running a campaign of fear and exclusion. They refuse to acknowledge global warming and are hell bent to make budget cuts supporting the struggling classes.
Conservative campaign is filled with hate and smear. I have experienced it in comments on my recent posts. Temperatures are running high. Last week a Justin Trudeau rally in Brampton was held up for more than one a half hour by security forces in view of a credible and real threat to Justin Trudeau. He had to give up his open cuffs, folksy style of interacting with the voters because he was made to wear a bullet proof vest. It didn’t stop there. Their social media claims that the threat was fake and engineered by security forces!
This is the ultimate ugliness of global prejudice,championing mindless forces of racism and religious conflict. Let us join to block these attempts to distort our harmonious Canadian society that we are proud of. We need to keep moving forward. Let us elect Team Trudeau on 21st October 2019 to safeguard our TRUE AND PROUD NORTH.