Dear Andrew Scheer,
You’ve recently been elected the leader of the Conservative Party, and I congratulate you on that accomplishment. At the helm of the Canadian Conservative Movement, you get to control the image and reputation of your party. Surely you’re aware that young people, like me, view the Conservative party in a negative light; the party of rich old men. Despite my own personal political affiliations, I am nevertheless concerned about the state of your party because, during the 2015 Election, it was your party that put a target on the back of religious minorities, specifically Muslims.
By inciting the unnecessary niqab debate, the Barbaric Cultural Practices Tip Line, and Bill C-24, your party made it difficult for the average Muslim Canadian to get out of bed and face the day. All my life, I considered myself as nothing but Canadian. I grew up here, I speak both English and French fluently and most importantly I am proud of our history and what this country stands for, liberty for all, without discrimination. I respect our laws and so do other Muslim-Canadians. However, during the 2015 Election, your party told Canadians that the term “Muslim-Canadian” does not exist, that they are simply Muslims and therefore, “the other”. For the first time in my life, I was different than Canadians. Forget the fact that I am a proud Canadian, my religious affiliation puts me in the category of “other”.
You lost that election for a reason, Canadians didn’t believe the notion that Muslims are not Canadian. The majority did not believe that we were the “other” and I don’t think you believe that either. However, there are members of your base that will overlook the fact that Muslims-Canadians have unconditional love for their country and simply reduce us to a religious belief. I understand that you can’t control who supports you, and I understand that you are not encouraging these people. Nevertheless, you aren’t doing anything to stop them.
If you want to be our Prime Minister, you need to stand up for the rights of Canadians unequivocally and without hesitation. For good reason, I doubt your ability to do so. Not because I think you’re an Islamophobe, but because I think you’re afraid to isolate members of your own base and party.
Despite the fact that Rebel Media, a controversial media outlet, covered the Charlottesville protest whilst mocking the “leftie” counter-protestors that were crushed by a car 2 seconds after Faith Goldy called the right-wing protestors “patriots”, it took you nearly 2 weeks to denounce the Rebel and cut ties with the network. When the nation was shocked by the Mosque shooting earlier this year, Rebel Media promoted the idea that the shooter was a Muslim, fulfilling their narrative. Despite this, you still went on the network for an interview later that year. Overall, when it came to protecting and standing up for the rights of minorities and potentially isolating members of your base, you choose your base. You choose your base when you did that interview with the Rebel despite their hateful coverage of Muslims, and you choose your base when you hesitated cutting ties with the media organization altogether.
For a potential Prime Minister, there should be no question of protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens. This truly should not be a difficult decision to make, but clearly, it is to you. When a potential Prime Minister has a problem with upholding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all citizens have reason to be concerned and lack trust in the candidate.
Bottom-line is: unless there are changes in the party or some changes in your decision making, Muslim Canadians cannot trust you to uphold their rights. I can’t trust that the 2019 election won’t be as nasty and humiliating as the 2015 election. The truth is, some of us are still healing from the previous election and the Quebec shooting. You’re going to need more than dimples to win our trust. We need a change in our political discourse so that Canadians can debate ideas freely without the fear of discrimination or being demoted to the status of “other”.
This is our country as much as it is yours. I know you believe that, but now is the time to show it.
A faithful Canadian.