But the Conservative Party’s scapegoating of Canadian Muslims dates from well before this campaign. The government first banned the niqab from citizenship ceremonies in 2011, but its directive was successfully challenged by Zunera Ishaq, a former high-school teacher from Pakistan.
More recently, government officials said Syrian refugees would be prioritized, with first dibs given to the country’s religious (read: Christian) minority. Mr. Harper’s own office was found to have personally intervened in the processing of Syrian refugees. Coincidentally or not, Canada has admitted only about 10 percent of the 10,000 the government had promised it would accept.
The foot-dragging is a marked deviation from Canada’s history of accepting refugees fleeing strife. In 1979, the Progressive Conservative government of the time began admitting some additional 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. The comparatively modest number of accepted Syrian refugees has riled some within the Canadian military, with which the Conservative brand (the “Progressive” was lopped off in 2003) is closely associated.
“We’ve got to stop being afraid of our own shadow,” said Rick Hillier, a beloved retired Canadian general who says the country could easily accept 50,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.