The brutal attack on a Quebec City mosque was not an isolated incident.
In Canada, we like to pride ourselves on our acceptance of cultural difference, especially compared to our neighbours to the south. We smugly assert that what happens there can’t happen here.
But it has. A white man who was a fan of Donald Trump and French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, who was scornful of refugees and women, is accused of murdering six people and wounding numerous others in the Jan. 29 attack.
He may be alone for now in turning his hatred into murderous intent, but if we don’t do something now, he won’t be the last.
Hatred simmers under the surface in Canada, and more and more it has been bubbling up in public.
The racist and misogynist goons who have haunted the internet since it was invented have grown more organized. They have been emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, and by the variety of fringe right-wing figures he has surrounded himself with.
They have spilled into the real world. Racist flyers have cropped up from Richmond to New Westminster to Abbotsford in recent weeks.
It would be wrong to link this phenomenon only to outsiders.
Political elites in Canada have to shoulder some of the blame.
There has long been a tradition of stirring up a bit of populist xenophobia among politicians – from Stephen Harper’s ill-advised niqab gambit during the election, to Quebec’s attempt to ban all religious symbols and garments in public service – except for the cross in the National Assembly, of course.
We have to decide, as a society, to say no to racism and sexism. We have to do that before the next massacre.