Alberta MP calls racist emails about his immigration policies ‘hate crime’
A Calgary MP is concerned about a return to what he calls “old Canada” after receiving a number of racist emails last week.
“I started getting emails, hate mail … the first one started saying ‘go back home’ and now it has escalated to some saying ‘brown piece of …’ you know what,” Deepak Obhrai said from his Ottawa office Monday.
“When you go down to this level, there’s no debate. It’s an insult – a hate crime.”
Obhrai suggested the emails started showing up in his inbox after he opposed fellow MP and federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s immigration proposal.
“I am the only candidate who will require face-to-face interviews with new immigrants and screen for Canadian values,” Leitch said at a leadership debate in Saskatoon last week.
In a video response posted to his website, Obhrai said, “I believe this debate is fear mongering … anti-human rights and a very un-Canadian response to an issue that does not exist.”
Obhrai is concerned tensions over the U.S. presidential election have also created a deeper divide in politics north of the border.
“Our younger generation that is now coming out of university into the job market [has] slightly different values than our traditional supporters that we had,” Obhrai said.
Some Calgarians said they see proof of that divide in local debates.
“Even if you go on social media, if you go on Facebook … that’s all anyone is talking about,” Calgarian Angela Parsons said. “It actually kind of unearths a lot of racism and misogynistic undertones. I think a lot of people feel safe saying those things now in Canada even.
“Some people are coming out of the woodwork because of what’s happening in America.”
“I think it’s a generational thing,” Nasreen Ghebari, another Calgarian, said. “It’s been weird for sure. There’s definitely an energy around here.”
Leitch has said she shares some ideas on immigration with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Ontario MP Michael Chong — who also is running for the Conservative leadership — accused Leitch of importing divisive Trump-style politics.
“I think it’s clear – both in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States – that it’s not difficult to play … to people’s anti-immigrant fears,” Chong said. “I think we have to be careful about that.”
Many are simply hoping those fears won’t trump what Canadian values mean to them.
“There’s just a sense of family with Canada and I hope that doesn’t change,” Ghebari said.
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