Alistair MacGregor

Alistair MacGregor column: We must fight divisiveness in Canadian politics

Democratic norms, respectful political discourse, and faith in institutions are fragile things.

By Alistair MacGregor

Democratic norms, respectful political discourse, and faith in institutions are fragile things.

This January we saw an attack on the very heart of democracy in the United States. This attack was not unsurprising; it was the natural conclusion of the divisiveness, polarization, conspiracy theories, and outright falsehoods that have permeated U.S. politics, especially during the last four years. The new U.S. president, Joe Biden, has a monumental task ahead of him in trying to repair the damage left by his predecessor.

The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was shocking, leaving a trail of death, destruction, and injury in its wake. Those images have since made me stop and reflect on our own politics and wonder about our own vulnerabilities to that type of violence. Canadians can often be smug about our system, especially in relation to what is happening south of the border, but we would be foolish to think we are immune from what happened on Jan. 6.

A brief look at comments on social media posts by any party leader in Canada will quickly disprove the myth that we are much different than our American neighbours. Supporters of every party are quick to demonize the supporters of another party and conversation quickly moves away from politics. Personal attacks replace policy criticisms, and there are more who are seeking a “gotcha” moment as a means with which to score quick points.

When we are no longer able to talk to each other about important issues in respectful and civil discourse, it allows those issues to fester, eroding our sense of community and of togetherness. While the freedom of opinion and expression is expressly guaranteed in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is important to remember that it is subject to reasonable limits as can be justified by a free and democratic society.

The hatred and calls for violence that we see online will eventually manifest into real action if allowed grow and persist; I personally witnessed the extremist signs and speeches in front of Parliament in early 2019 during the Yellow Vest protests. This is a time when we as a country need to reflect on how we discuss politics and other issues of importance with our neighbours and families. We must learn from what we witnessed in the U.S. and commit to doing better.

I find the farewell message from former NDP Leader Jack Layton is even more profound in light of this month’s attack on the Capitol building: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So, let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Hopefully, that is something we can all commit to.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Drinkwater Elementary School dating to Feb. 25. (Google Street View image)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Drinkwater Elementary

Possible exposures occurred on Thursday, Feb. 25

A graphic design of the new RCMP detachment which will be located on a five-acre property bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road. (File graphic)
Heavy trucks not allowed shortcut during construction of RCMP detachment

North Cowichan won’t allow heavy trucks on Drinkwater Road where not designated

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Laketown Ranch to welcome campers this summer

Sunfest site will provide camping amenities between May and September

‘I chose my children’s breakfasts purely based on what dishes would fit best into the dishwasher.’ (Bobbi Venier photo)
Sarah Simpson Column: Delayed gratification and the benefits of efficiency

I was driving with just my daughter the other day and we… Continue reading

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Most Read