By JULIAN ICHIM*
On September 15, I participated in a debate on immigrants and refugees held at the Victoria Hills Community Centre in Kitchener, Ontario. I did so to contribute to and help articulate a political perspective. This includes the necessity to challenge the hegemonic ideology of imperialism that “Might Makes Right” promoted by both the party in power and the parties in opposition.
The start of the discussion revealed that the so-called major political parties have no analysis or ideology and that the purpose of this debate was not to argue ideas or politics but rather to have a feel-good moment. Each candidate had to show how sorry they feel for the refugees and relate anecdotal evidence and irrelevant stories about their great grandparents to prove it. Feelings and a stream of stories do not a discussion or an analysis make.
The sorry state of political discourse is evidence of the crisis in which our political system is mired. The political process which brings parties and so-called leaders to power has done away with the discussion of political trends and ideas. The speeches of a Conservative or Liberal or NDP politician can all sound the same because the essence of the problem is not discussed. Instead Canadians are presented with personal feelings, thoughts, wishes and anecdotes.
Not unexpectedly, the Conservative candidate took this to quite another level with his ability to turn the truth upside down. He said that in terms of Bill C-51 anyone who actually has a factual analysis that shows it to be a danger to Canadians’ rights is a liar and fearmongerer. Not only is the emperor not ashamed to strut around naked, which he can get away with because of the courtiers around him saying he is wearing a beautiful suit of clothes. He thinks his untouchability is such that he has the audacity to yell at everyone else and say it is they who are naked.
Given that this was the level of discussion that we were presented with it’s no wonder so many people came up to thank me afterwards, not because I’m cool or suave but rather due to the fact that I actually presented a political analysis of the crisis, which to any observer is quite clear. The refugee crisis is a direct result of competition between the imperialists and big powers to establish their hegemony over the countries where they have instigated civil wars and nation-wrecking, meddling in their internal affairs to push for regime change with the pretext of high ideals. Through direct military means or through destabilizing of regions, they have been creating and arming terrorist groups which they then claim are non-violent protesters. They use economic blockades to bring economic ruin and devastate countries.
In other words the refugee crisis is a direct result of the current foreign policy, which is based on war and aggression abroad and intensified repression at home. In the specific case of Syria, this involves criminalizing the actual groups on the ground that are fighting ISIS, by putting them on so-called terrorist lists. These groups include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – YPG), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Hezbollah.
Given this fact it is quite clear that the first political decision that must be taken is to reject this foreign policy as it is spawning anarchy and violence and exacerbating the current crisis. Everything else stems from that. Since the imperialists and big powers created the crisis, there is a moral responsibility for them to fix the consequences.
The representatives of the so-called major parties are not even allowed to touch this issue, let alone explore it. None on them even ventured a hypothesis which sought to explain the cause of the crisis. This shows the need for Canadians to not only reject this refusal to engage in political discourse but to create alternatives where political issues can be discussed and analyzed and political solutions can be implemented that favour the people.
From the debate in Kitchener on immigrants and refugees it is quite clear that the present political arrangements exist to ensure the needed discussion cannot happen. Canadians themselves have to take up discussing the matters which affect their lives. The fight for political renewal is a crucial one which will determine our future.
*Julian Ichim is the MLPC candidate in Kitchener Centre.