media and think-tank researcher

Donald Gutstein

18 Nov '11

Letter claims ‘Islamic extremists’ will set up ‘no-go’ zones for non-Muslims in Canadian cities

Last week I received a spooky, racist letter, meant, I think, for the Reform wing of the Harper Conservatives.

The letter advises me to be fearful because what has happened in some European cities will happen to us in Canada unless we make radical changes in our immigration policies.

In these unnamed cities, “Islamic extremists” have taken over entire neighbourhoods, intimidated moderate Muslims, pushed out non-Muslims and created “microstates that have rejected their host countries’ legal systems and instead govern themselves by Islamic Sharia law.”

These “no-go” zones are too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, the letter informs me.

In case you’re wondering what planet the letter-writer inhabits, a clue to what is going on can be garnered by a quote in the letter from an unnamed source who describes the situation as “an occupation without tanks or soldiers.”

Googling that quote, I discover it was uttered by Marine LePen, leader of France’s far-right National Front. LePen was referring to the phenomenon of Muslims praying in the streets because the mosques are full.

The French government had enacted a law prohibiting Muslims from praying in the streets. Hundreds of Muslims ignored the law and prayed anyway in the streets and on the sidewalks of Paris and other French cities. Where else can they pray until more mosques are built?

This situation seems to be the basis for the letter’s charges.

It is true that praying did disrupt traffic and forced some shopkeepers to remain in their stores until prayers were finished. But the letter’s depiction of the situation is extreme and unjustified.

The letter then switches to Canada. “We’re in for the same problem because we accept the highest per capita intake of immigrants in the world.”

It points to some scary numbers: in 20 years 6.6 per cent of the Canadian population will be Muslim, up from 0.4 per cent in 1981. That’s a far cry from today’s 10 per cent in France and 25 per cent in Marseille, which received the bulk of immigration from France’s North African colonies.

There’s a simple way to ensure Muslims don’t have to pray in the streets. Make sure enough mosques are built to accommodate the population pressure.

End of problem? End of the threat of “no-go” zones in Vancouver and Toronto? Not for the letter-writer.

“Sikh extremism, such as the Air India bombing, Tamil terrorist activity, Chinese espionage, human trafficking by Asian gangs and Russian mafia, honour killings and female circumcision are all symptoms of immigration policies that are detrimental to our personal well-being and our national security.”

The solution is simple, the letter says. We must cut immigration and make sure the people admitted accept Canadian values and contribute to the economy.

But what are these Canadian values immigrants are supposed to accept? Progressive or conservative? Based on racism, like the letter-writer, or based on social justice?

The letter comes courtesy of a new organization called the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform (CIPR). Its goal is to create a “groundswell” of “citizens engaged around immigration to convince our public policy makers” to bring in regressive immigration measures.

This is a fund-raising letter from CIPR. If I contribute $150, I will receive an autographed copy of my choice of books by Salim Mansur and Mark Steyn, both of whom have the distinction of being mentioned in Anders Breivik’s Manifesto.

If I contribute $250, I get both books.

So who is the CIPR? Its president is Margret Kopala, a conservative writer and former research director for the “theoconservative” — Marci McDonald’s descriptor — Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, which has close ties to the Harper government and the pro-Israel lobby (with its important evangelical Christian base).

CIPR’s secretary is Peter White, former Conrad Black sidekick and former principal secretary to Brian Mulroney. He may be the organization’s money-bags.

Another member of the advisory board is Barbara Kay, pro-Israel propagandist and columnist for the National Post.

But what sticks out are the connections to the Fraser Institute. Institute senior fellows Martin Collacott, Gordon Gibson and Herbert Grubel are all on CIPR’s advisory board.

I think I got the letter because I’m on a Fraser Institute mailing list.

I’m glad I got it, though, because it indicates to me a growing threat to democracy in a country governed by a Harper majority.

In his speech to the secretive Civitas Society in 2003, Harper outlined his route to power by creating a coalition of social and economic conservatives. The economic conservatives — the libertarians — as represented by the Fraser Institute, were already on board.

Harper’s party-building task was to court social conservatives, particularly recent immigrants who historically voted Liberal but espouse conservative values. He achieved his goal in 2011 with his historical majority victory.

What better way to lock in a conservative majority than by changing immigration laws to privilege immigrants with conservative values?

The Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, as an alliance between the theoconservatives and libertarians, seems dedicated to that task.

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Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada

harperism cover

Margaret Thatcher transformed British political life forever. So did Ronald Reagan in the United States. Now Canada has experienced a similar, dramatic shift to a new kind of politics, which author Donald Gutstein terms Harperism. Among its key tenets:

  • A weakened labour movement – and preferably the disappearance of unions – will contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity
  • Cutting back government scientific research and data collection will improve public policy-making

These and other essential elements of Harperism flow from neo-liberal economic theories propounded by the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek and his U.S. disciples. They inspired Thatcherism and Reaganism. Stephen Harper has taken this neo-liberalism much further in many key areas.

The success of Harperism is no accident. Donald Gutstein documents the links between the politicians, think tanks, journalists, academics, and researchers who nurture and promote each other’s neo-liberal ideas.