What happened in D.C. ‘likely will happen here’
I would like to apologize on behalf of all Americans that you had to witness the shameful and tragic events of Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol building. As a U.S. citizen and Canadian Resident, I am immensely grateful and proud to call Canada my home now.
As you know, a mob of several thousand white supremacists and other Trump supporters stormed into the chambers of Congress. Organized and led in large part by ex-military and ex-police personnel, they forced lawmakers to flee in fear of their lives, and halted the final election certification for eight hours. Most Canadians likely found this brazen insurrection horrifying, and rightly so. You may have felt disbelief or sadness; possibly you felt gratitude that you live in a civilized country.
However I need to caution Canadians that, not only could a similar event happen here, I would say it very likely will happen here unless we act now to stem the tide of racism and white-supremacist extremism, which is rising in Canada, especially in the military and in police forces...
Please make it known to your MPs and MPPs that you are concerned about the trend of growing intolerance here. Hate crimes have risen sharply in all categories since 2016, and those based on sexual orientation nearly doubled between 2016 and 2019 (source: Statistics Canada). More alarmingly, the Department of Justice states that unreported hate crimes “may run as high as 95 per cent” because racialized minorities and the LGBTQ community are afraid to go to the police, in fear they will be dismissed and/ or treated poorly (source: DOJ bulletin on Disproportionate Crime).
All it would take here is for a charismatic, bigoted leader to rise to power, embolden racists and homophobes and pull the country toward fascism. I tremble at the thought of a “Ford Nation” taking root at the federal level. We need to discuss racism and intolerance openly in schools and in all media, and tell our leaders we want organizations like the Proud Boys classified as terrorists. We need to send a loud and clear message that a civilized people will not stand for bigotry in public discourse, the military, law enforcement or anywhere.
Rest assured that most Americans never thought thousands of insurgents, some armed, could break into the Capitol and bring the democratic process to its knees. Americans acclimated little by little as U.S. political waters warmed steadily for many years before coming to a boil. Friends, I feel the water here heating up too. Please take this seriously.
Paul J. Hetzler