In Other Words: Growing protests a front for intolerance

Yellow vested protesters have been seen in small pockets across the province. In 2019, let’s resolve to remember Saskatchewan’s provincial motto: “From many peoples, strength.”

Along with the federal carbon tax, one of the key talking points of this group is a United Nations agreement which is being used as a dog whistle to spread conspiracy theories and stoke fear about immigration.

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A 2018 UN declaration created the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, two non-binding international agreements: one for refugees and one for migrants.

In the City of Swift Current, Mayor Denis Perrault has been honking and waving at weekly yellow vest protests in front of city hall. According to the local radio station, Mayor Perrault’s intentions were more friendly than political.

Perrault, a Crown Corporation board member, has pledged to have 25,000 people in Swift Current by 2025. Instead of honking his horn in tacit support, we need leadership that provides a passionate defence of immigration, multiculturalism and the value of newcomers.

The irony is not lost that these xenophobic protests are occurring during the Christian holiday season, as the Bible clearly states, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Whether it’s the story of Moses or Jesus, it’s all about refugee families seeking a better life. When we share stories of migration, compassion for immigrants and refugees inevitably grows, including respect and love for Indigenous Nations and treaty responsibilities. 

The yellow vest movement began as an anti-austerity protest in France but has morphed into something much uglier in Canada.

Lest we forget that the Ku Klux Klan settled in Saskatchewan in 1926 and gained momentum by 1927 with upwards of 25,000 provincial members blaming Roman Catholics and immigrants for society’s problems. 

We must oppose what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as the “triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism” and take action that addresses our shared existential threats of nuclear war and climate change.

Saskatchewan has the worst minimum wage in the country and among the worst plans for the environment.  

It’s time for leaders and the people of Saskatchewan to speak up for refugees, immigrants and defend human decency.

Joseph Donnelly is based in the R.M. of Excelsior, Saskatchewan and works with the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre, a group that helps new immigrants settle in southwest Saskatchewan.

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