TORONTO - It’s 2018. Someone should remind the Leadership debaters in the contest for the next government of Quebec. Evidently, the xenophobic fires of racial and regional insecurity have yet to adapt themselves to the contemporary world.
There is a resistance to the inexorable, steady advance of a society we are only remotely aware exists – already – in our own backyard. President Trump has unleashed (and legitimized) the appeal of reactionary, “make [America, or any other entity] great again”, populist, sloganeering excuse to “cut out the other guy”.
It is a dog whistle suggestion that “privilege”, to be truly that, must be shared with as few people as possible. Quebec leaders now want to ensure the survival of “the French language”, so they are debate a proposal that would result in the expulsion of Permanent Residents who cannot pass a French language competency test after three years in the country/province.
No discussion regarding the economic and social integration of those same people or the negative consequences of their deportation. Maybe they are resentful that people can live Life in a different language; dress differently; enjoy different music; delight in different foods; value their distinctive physiology.
They still promote the values of the rule of law, collective good, honesty, acceptance and mutual respect.
Sylvia Mendes, native of Mexico City, is a Spanish language radio. Yesterday, she also co-chaired the 24th celebration of Mexico Independence Day - for liberation from Spain government in 1810. Ms. Mendes said, “it’s more of an opportunity to celebrate that we are part of Canada and that we bring an experience and culture that has intrinsic value, for which we are right to be proud”.
Nathan Phillips Square was teeming with people from Toronto’s 16,000 strong Mexican-Canadian Community. Some even spoke English. Over in another corner of the square, a dedicated group of Brazilian ex-pats were collecting to show support for democratic principles and freedom of expression as exemplified by their hero candidate for the presidency in the upcoming Brazilian elections.
They were doing it in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese with a sprinkling a sprinkling of polish and German. Brazil is a multicultural country.
Rosina Schmidt, a former sergeant in the Brazilian police force, as well as Councillor in the Canadian Advisory Council to the Brazilian Consulate, says there are approximately 55,000 Brazilians in the GTA. “Canada is our country now”, she adds, ‘but we still maintain our affiliation to the rights of assembly and democratic principles. We need to show support to people like Major Jair Bolsonaro who have courage to stand for similar principles despite great physical personal risk”.
Bolsonaro was the victim of a knife attack at a public, political demonstration two weeks ago. He is the front-runner in an election to replace a discredited Lula.
Bolsonaro is also of Italian background. There are 351, 992 Brazilians who also have the right to vote in Italian elections. Employing the multiplier we use in Canada, for such registered eligible voters to extrapolate residents, that suggests Brazil is home to close to 4 million ethnic Italians. They all speak Portuguese as well. “Language does not prevent us from shaping our future together”, says Captain Olivero Acevedo a spokesman for the pro-Bolsonaro crowd. “There are approximately 6,000 Brazilian ex-pats entitled and registered to vote in next month’s election.
For us, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to play a role in the promotion of Canadian values abroad’, he added. Rosina Schmidt explained to me that a significant number of Brazilians fall into the category of Undocumented Workers, when several people around us insisted that the numbers (already large, by may calculation) would have been larger if there were not the pervasive view that Immigration Officials were trolling the grounds in search of people to deport.
They must have been watching the Quebec debate. The Toronto City security guard monitoring the Square, an Afghani, tried to put their fears to rest.