In the aftermath of a mass murder attack, folks tend to say: this isn't America or this isn't Canada. As Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino noted, this is very much America. Canada isn't the US--it has less gun violence, its racial politics are different, but, yes, violence is inherent in the system.
In 2015, after violent Islamophobic hate crimes in Toronto, some local Muslim girls were warned not to jaywalk in case a driver decided impulsively to hit them.— Selena Ross (@seleross) June 9, 2021
So, many people have worried about this exact kind of attack for at least six years. https://t.co/LKd7XbGM0t
We just had an attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, where a driver killed four members of the family leaving the youngest severely wounded and orphaned. This is not the first attack on Muslims. An attack on a mosque was only four years ago. It seems light years away when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Syrian refugees in the face of rising xenophobia and Islamophobia. Since then, Quebec has passed legislation squarely aimed against Muslim women who were hijabs as well as other religious minorities. It may be too much to say that the recent violence is state sanctioned but not too far to say that the province has created a permissive environment that allows those who hate Muslims to feel as if they have a legitimate grievance.
To be sure, this is not just a Quebec thing as that legislation is popular in the rest of Canada, that violence has occurred in Ontario not just this week but often. That Muslims throughout Canada report hostility and harassment on a regular basis.
This is a time of hate. Several things are coming together. The pandemic and the economic challenges have caused people to seek blame, to be frustrated, to seek to act out. Fox and its ilk compete to curry with the resentful--putting out the most awful brew of lies and blamecasting. Social media giants like facebook, twitter, and google have pursued clicks and encouraged others to do so, helping to radicalize folks. The shift in right wing politics, where resentment boils over, has led to politicians either tolerating awful stuff because they fear electoral repercussions (notice the Republicans buying into the Big Lie, notice the Conservative Party of Canada having fights about whether to go further right or to become more centrist) or embracing it in order to get votes. The People's Party of Canada is a xenophobic party seeking to use hate to get beyond two percent of the vote. The centrist parties are reluctant to confront the hate of the so-called populists. Trudeau criticized the Quebec legislation when it came out a few years ago. Now, he mostly demurs.
These are very dangerous times for those who are different and for Democracy. Canada is in better shape since its diversity and its institutions make it hard for the Conservatives to shift further right and still win elections. But the environment is still breeding violence. Perhaps most Canadians buy into some version of the multicultural ideal of strength from diversity, living with each other, but there are sufficient numbers of folks out there willing to do harm. This, alas, is Canada.