The first week of Donald Trump’s presidency was not at all what many expected — it was considerably worse.
Following his election, many found solace in the idea that a serial liar like Trump was unlikely to fulfill the many ugly promises he made. His border wall and Muslim ban were no more likely to happen than if he had promised to deliver lightsabers to each and every American home. Again, many of us were wrong.
Trump’s administration is clearly intent on implementing their twisted version of the American dream. They moved expeditiously to build the border wall, silence officials, and enact a Muslim ban in all but name. In response, Americans gathered at airports, parks, and the White House gates en masse to exercise their constitutional right to say, “Not today.”
Americans are not the only ones at risk, here, and there is much we Canadians can do from our side of the border to lend our support in opposing the new president and his dangerous agenda.
First, Canadians can lend their voices to those speaking out. My colleague, Lisa Kinsella, did just that in Washington D.C. Refusing to give Trump even one day’s rest, she joined thousands of women in Washington — and millions worldwide — in denouncing the president’s misogyny.
If exercising your right to protest makes you uneasy, support groups at the vanguard of defending civil rights. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for one, is speaking on behalf of the many silenced voices. They have filed legal oppositions to Trump’s agenda, and vow to continue doing so. They accept donations for their work, and will gladly accept your Canadian dollars.
Beyond formal protest and legal sanction, Canadians can resist Trump by refusing to tolerate bigotry everywhere. Online and in life, personally or professionally, opposing Trump means opposing intolerance wherever we see it. Wherever you may be — as the hashtag suggests — there is no better time to #MakeItAwkward.
Promote stories that stand in contrast to every lie Trump tries to perpetuate on the American people. Share positive stories about refugees and immigrants as widely as you can – narrative cannot be established in a vacuum. If only one side is doing the talking, theirs is the only story being heard.
Canadians cannot support dissent against Trump without supporting dissent here, especially when it makes you uncomfortable. If Black Lives Matter or Idle No More, leave you feeling defensive, ask yourself why? Seek out voices from underrepresented communities and listen to what they have to say. By encouraging people to speak out against our own injustices, we show resistance to a president who ignores injustice.
Keeping Trump’s hateful narrative out of our own politics must be a priority for the resistance. Opposition to oppression knows no political affiliation, and Tory-types looking to oppose Trump can start with their own leadership race. Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch have been referred to as “Trumps of the North.” They ought to be asked to what extent that’s true.
Like Trump, O’Leary is a businessman, or at least plays one on TV. He should be aggressively pursued — by media and Conservative party members alike — to weigh in on Trump’s agenda. If O’Leary’s social views are as close to Trump’s as his fiscal ones are, Canadians deserve to know.
Leitch draws comparisons to Trump for her proposed “Canadian Values” testing. She considers equality and freedom to be fundamental to those values. Yet she refused to speak out when both were violated in airports across America this weekend. Defending human rights cannot stop at the border, and should never be belittled as “interfering.”
Conservatives who oppose Trump can display a sense of responsibility the GOP never did. They should ensure that if Leitch and O’Leary are not willing to denounce the worst of Trump’s agenda, they pay the electoral price Trump never did.
The popularity of Prime Minister Trudeau can be a powerful tool in the stand against Trump. Mr. Trudeau sent an important message to the new administration in his unwavering support for refugees. His government could send an even stronger message by choosing to increase the number of refugees admitted to Canada. Yesterday’s announcement from Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen indicates the government will accept fewer refugees than last year, which, following the influx of those seeking sanctuary after this week’s events, should perhaps be reconsidered.
In defiance of Trump — and as a signal to the world — Canada must remain a place where refugees and immigrants are welcome to seek hope, build their lives, and enrich our society.
Reports have yet to confirm if last night’s tragic attack on the mosque in Sainte-Foy was motivated by the same xenophobia Trump promotes. Regardless, the idea that hate may have been the motivation is a sobering, sad reminder of the consequences faced when prejudice is met with silence.
Those who were killed last night and were silenced forever deserve a voice. As do the people who find themselves oppressed, threatened and frightened in Trump’s America.
That voice cannot come from Americans alone. Canadians and the world at large must speak loudly enough for the president to hear, and with one voice say “No!”