A warning to those who believe that electing a “conservative” government automatically will inspire tougher measures to fight radical Islam: Canadians know from experience that this formula does not always work as planned.
When Canadian voters again rejected the nation’s “natural ruling party” — the Liberals — and handed the Conservatives their second minority government in the fall of 2008, Islamist Watch asked some prominent Canadians how Prime Minister Stephen Harper would tackle creeping Sharia and other manifestations of homegrown radical Islam.
Two years later, it is time to revisit those questions.
In 2008, Ezra Levant, a lifelong Conservative Party supporter, had just emerged as the country’s premier critic of Islamist lawfare, having been hauled before a government tribunal for publishing the infamous “Muhammad cartoons.” Back then, Levant said that he was optimistic about the government’s commitment to battling domestic Muslim belligerence.
Today, he admits that “progress is slower” than he had hoped, but Levant remains encouraged by what he has seen. For example, he lauds the Conservatives’ refusal to bow to international progressive pressure to somehow rescue “child soldier” and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, who currently is being held at Guantanamo and just pleaded guilty to murdering an American medic during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
On the home front, Levant reports that through sharp criticism and even funding cuts, “the government continues to marginalize the worst groups out there, such as the Canadian Islamic Congress” (CIC) — the Islamist body that unsuccessfully attempted to silence Mark Steyn — “and the Canadian Arab Federation,” a peddler of anti-Semitism and 9/11 conspiracy theories.
However, the ruling government faces a continuous uphill battle when instituting even moderate reforms such as those, due in large part to Canada’s particular parliamentary structure.
“The main problem for deep reform remains the minority government,” Levant explains. “For example, a few months ago when there was evidence of niqab-clad women boarding a plane without revealing their faces, the Conservatives called for the matter to be discussed at a parliamentary committee. The [left-leaning] opposition parties, which together have a majority on all committees, blocked that discussion.”
Salim Mansur agrees that any analysis of the Harper government’s successes and failures must take mundane political realities into account. However, the author of Islam’s Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim is not willing to excuse the Conservatives for failing to embrace necessary reforms.
Mansur accuses Harper of holding back on reforms because the prime minister fears alienating Muslim and centrist voters. Yet Mansur is convinced that if the Conservatives were bolder in their opposition to radical Islam, they would gain more overall votes than they would lose.
“It looks to me,” says Mansur, that Harper “wants to win the majority without in any way rousing any controversy over the subject of Islamist jihad that he fears will make him lose centrist votes, hand the opposition a political stick to beat him up with, allow the mainstream media to paint him as a redneck, and drive him out of leadership if he cannot win the next election with a majority. So Harper is playing safe politically and he is betting that this subject will not turn into the make-or-break issue in the next election.”