Civil Dialogue project launched to protect and strengthen Canada’s democracy
Civil Dialogue is a new grassroots initiative to help protect and strengthen Canadian democracy. On Tuesday, it sent a letter signed by prominent Canadians and organizations urging federal party leaders to denounce and take policy steps to eradicate hate however, and wherever, it may appear.
Christopher Holcroft, the organizer of Civil Dialogue, says he was driven to take action by events in the United States.
“Like many, I watched the recent violence in Washington with a degree of horror and felt compelled to take some action to help protect and strengthen democracy in Canada,” he said.
You can show your support for the statement at http://civildialogue.ca/
A call to protect and strengthen Canada’s democracy
January 26, 2021
- Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party
- Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party
- Mr. Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
- Mr. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party
- Ms. Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party
We are shocked and saddened by the recent political violence in Washington, D.C. and unnerved by the prospect of similar events occurring in Canada.
What happened in the United States was not a spontaneous, isolated act; rather, it was the culmination of a political discourse that has become unmoored from reality and detached from decency. President Donald Trump may have incited a riot, but enablers of ignorance and excusers of hate created the conditions for it.
This is a lesson Canada must heed.
Our country is not immune to such danger. In fact, Canadians are tragically familiar with acts of terror inspired by conspiracy theories and hateful words. The 2017 mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City is one example. The 2018 van attack in Toronto is another. Last summer’s armed intrusion onto the grounds of Rideau Hall could have been one too.
Nor have we evaded the ecosystem of far-right media websites, gun lobbies, and anti-government think tanks that has proven effective at sowing distrust in public institutions and between citizens in America.
Two recent studies underscore the urgency of the moment: Canada is among the global leaders in online right-wing extremism and home to an alarming spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
As representatives of Canadian civil society, we call on our political leaders to confront these threats to our discourse, and ultimately, our democracy, with courage and conviction.
Public fears around the pandemic, uncertainty over climate change, anger at racism, and resentment of income inequality are merging at the same time bad-faith actors are seeking to exploit emotions and foster divisions for power and profit.
It is vitally important that our leaders distinguish between fact and falsehood, respect and ridicule, partisanship and poisonous politics.
We implore each of you to:
• Denounce and take policy steps to eradicate hate however, and wherever, it may appear
• Reject and hold accountable individuals and groups benefiting from online harassment and the spread of dangerous misinformation – including by those who may support you
• Commit to respecting science, civic norms, and democratic institutions
• Promote, and participate in, responsible citizenship and civil discourse
Democracy is too fragile, human rights too precious, and Canada’s possibility too great not to act.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Canadian AIDS Society
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadians for Tax Fairness
Diversity Institute, Ryerson University
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
HIV Legal Network
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Ryerson Leadership Lab
Toronto Article 9
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish – Professor of Global Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto
Dr. Neil Arya – Fellow with the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University
Lloyd Axworthy – Former Canadian Foreign Minister and Chair of the World Refugee and Migration Council
David Baker – Founder, bakerlaw and ARCH: Disability Law Centre
Dr. Philip Berger, OC
Arthur Bielfeld, CM – Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanu-El
R. Blake Brown – Professor, Department of History, Saint Mary’s University; Member, College of New Scholars, Royal Society of Canada
Semir Bulle – Co-founder, Doctors for Defunding the Police
Michael Byers – Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia
L. Andrew Cardozo – President, The Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy
Dr. Debby Copes
Anne Lagacé Dowson – Journalist
Mohamad Fakih – Founder and CEO of The Fakih Foundation and President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods
Mitchell Goldberg – Refugee and Immigration Lawyer
Christopher Holcroft – Founder, Civil Dialogue
Peggy Mason – President of the Rideau Institute
Andrew Pakula – Human rights and peace activist
Dr. Michael Rachlis – Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Allan Rock – President Emeritus and Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, former Attorney General of Canada and Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations
Kathleen Ruff – Founder, Right On Canada