Ideas don’t stop at the border

I fully expected for history to be made this American election season and it was, but definitely not in a way that I'd seen coming. 

In a stunning upset, Donald Trump is now the President-elect of the United States of America. 

I don’t understand how we live in a world where someone with such divisive, oppressive rhetoric that all mainstream media ensured us was trailing in the polls still managed to pull ahead and win this election.

‘But it’ll be fine’, I heard people say. ‘He’s the president, not the prime minister.’ This is true — Donald Trump won’t be passing laws in Canada anytime soon. But his racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric is already slipping into Canada. After all, ideas don’t need a passport; ideas don’t stop at borders. 

After Hillary Clinton conceded and Trump was declared the new President-elect of the United States, Kellie Leitch, former Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Woman under the Harper administration, sent an email to her constituents congratulating him on his victory. Despite the irony of the former Minister for the Status of Women supporting a racist and sexist demagogue, she said that Trump was sending the kind of message that Canada needs to hear. Her latest campaign message promises to screen refugees and immigrants to make sure they follow “Canadian values”. 

Does that sound familiar to you? 

“Canadian values” have always been about diversity, equity, and inclusivity. They have always been about creating a cultural mosaic, not a melting pot. This idea of “Canadian values” being anything else is the by-product of Trump’s subversive, inflammatory remarks. It’s terrifying to think that one day Canadians may be faced with a similar election to this recent one in the US with the potential for someone like Trump to lead our country. 

Now is the time to prove that we’ve never going to be that country. Canadian and American politics have always had strong ties to each other — but those ties don’t need to include values that invalidate the lives and identities of the millions of people proud to call Canada home. 

White supremacy may be alive and well in America, but let’s not make that our story too. Canada has its issues, but we can be better — so we should rise above. 

After all, when our neighbours go low, we can only respond by going high. 

Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy is a third-year stage and screen and certificate of business student.

 

For other reactions to the American presidential election: 

What Trump really represents

When Campaigning goes awry 

Migrating to Canada is no joke

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