There has been some press about a matter between myself and Marilyn Gladu, our federal member of parliament for Sarnia-Lambton. I called attention to her religious extremism and she didn’t take too kindly to it. Some people have asked me, “Why did you attack Marilyn Gladu?” or, “Why does any of this matter?” So I thought I would take a bit of time and explain why this is important to me. Despite what some have suggested, I have thought this through and I believe that I have solid reasons for saying what I have said. I would not have risked my reputation if I did not. Of course you may disagree with me and how I went about calling Marilyn out. Fair enough. However, I hope that you do not disagree with what I am calling her out for, because there are many issues with her behaviour and beliefs that have links to some very terrible times in our history. I am still learning my lessons on how to speak factually without the truth getting lost in the drama, and without coming across as nit-picking or angry. This can be difficult to do, especially when we are talking about things we care about deeply, so please bear with me. This will be my attempt to explain why I feel it necessary for Marilyn Gladu to be called to account for her actions and words.
All of us possess deeply-held core beliefs, and there are considerable overlaps between what different people believe, regardless of variations of faith or creed or the lack thereof. Canada, too, proclaims core beliefs about our world that we, as Canadians, uphold to be of the utmost importance. Government, and all the institutions of government, must abide by these beliefs, because we have all agreed that, by doing so, we make the world a better place for everyone. Affirming and honouring the innate human rights of all people is one of these beliefs. We have seen what happens when these rights are not recognized. We remember the horrors of Concentration camps in Germany, Apartheid in South Africa, slavery in The United States, residential schools in Canada, and the list goes on. When governments disregard human rights suffering and death quickly become the norm. But we can learn a lot from these times in history. For example, we now know that there are certain patterns and identifiers that signal to us the early stages of these death-dealing movements.
Consequently, when I started seeing some of these identifiers emerge within the words and actions of our Federal Member of Parliament, I could not stay quiet. We all are familiar with the classic quotes about staying quiet:
“Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“The silence of the good people is more dangerous than the brutality of the bad people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Here, then, are the reasons why I could not stay quiet.
- Marilyn Gladu has demonstrated blatant xenophobia by discriminating against people from other countries based upon they way they dress and by associating them with crime. Thus, for example, she tells those who want Canadian citizenship that they should “pick a different country” if they don’t want to wear what she wants them to wear. Similarly, she was confronted by the Mexican embassy because she said “the government also eliminated the visa requirements for people coming in from Mexico, so lots of experienced people could just move in and take over the whole [drug trade].” The Mexican embassy responded through an official statement saying “The embassy strongly disagrees and rejects any assertion that singles out or pretends to portray Mexicans as criminals, comments based on stereotypes are inaccurate and hurt the dignity of the Mexican people and should be avoided.” Looking back on the history of the twentieth century, we can observe that this kind of xenophobic rhetoric was deployed by fascists to stimulate their voter base and erode liberal democratic institutions in the ‘20s and ‘30s.
- Marilyn Gladu is a fear-monger stating that “people came to a country with certain values, and now want to kill everyone else.” She makes dramatic accusations in order to sow fear in her constituents’ hearts and scare us into voting for a government that will protect us from these “dangerous” people. This, despite the fact that it has been proven that immigration actually reduces crime in Canada. A comprehensive study done in 2014, concludes that: “immigration has a spillover effect, such as changing the neighbourhood characteristics and affecting the behaviour of the native population, reducing crime rates in the long run.” So why claim that immigrants want to kill us? Well, it is a strategic method to encourage her base to vote for her. For an historical example of this very same fear-mongering tactic, one need look no further than the pages of Mein Kampf. Fear of immigrants is deployed to justify the consolidation of increasingly invasive and militarized power in the hands of the State in order to maintain “peace and security” at home and dominance over enemies outside of our borders.
- Marilyn Gladu has no concern for the bullying and oppression of those who are marginalized in Canadian society. When Canada passed the much needed Bill C-16 which protected vulnerable Candians from being discriminated against because of who they are, she voted against it and said: “there are many people in this country who do not believe that a transgendered lifestyle is God’s plan or that it is medically beneficial, so if we pass this legislation, would that then affect their ability to tell their children not to speak about those ideas in a public place?” Her question here demonstrates that she cares more about promoting fundamentalist religious beliefs about sex and gender (as encoded in texts recorded hundreds of years ago) than she is interested in promoting the well-being of some of the most vulnerable members of society. Again, one finds parallels with fascism. In How Fascism Works, Jason Stanley explains that fascism will “include a belief in the ‘common man’ while deriding ‘women and racial and sexual minorities who seek basic equality as, in fact, seeking political and cultural domination.” In other words, fascism tends to reverse the positions of the oppressor and the oppressed, claiming that the latter are actually oppressing the former–which is also precisely what Gladu does.
- Marilyn Gladu has adopted a questionable approach to cannabis legalization in our country. As George Mathewson points out, she has a hypocritical approach to cannabis: she enjoys the economic stimulus that cannabis brings while also saying that she is “very opposed to the legalization of marijuana…because it is bad for people.” Again, this runs contrary to the facts of the matter. The medical benefits of controlled cannabis use are quite significant and it has also been shown that legalization can decrease opioid overdoses. Furthermore, we know that Black and Indigenous people are overrepresented in Canada’s cannabis arrests, and legalization would thus work to rectify some of the systemic racism found in Canada’s legal system. However, Gladu does not acknowledge any of these positive aspects of cannabis legalization and she spends most of her time speaking about children’s possible access to cannabis. This distracts us from the fact that our current cannabis policy protects youth from being criminalized for being in possession of cannabis. It is important to note her effort to try and stop legalizing cannabis because it shows us that she does not base decisions upon evidence-based research or understand the systemic ways in which criminalized cannabis has been a major problem for oppressed communities all throughout Canada. If she actually promotes children’s safety then she would promote decriminalization of all drugs as this has been proven as one of the primary ways in which governments can encourage healthy and safe communities.
- Marilyn Gladu likes the idea of freedom of speech, and lauded Trump (which is terrifying in itself) saying a “bright light is that he has sort of restored freedom of speech to America.” But we know that Trump has been threatening freedom of speech more than any other American President in history. Gladu also threatened me with legal problems for exercising my freedom of speech and has deleted comments that oppose her on social media. It seems that Gladu only likes the idea of free speech if it isn’t in opposition to her opinions. Of course, as history reminds us, one of the first steps towards fascism is using the rule of law to limit people’s freedom of speech and using tax dollars to try and silence any opposition.
- Marilyn Gladu outspokenly sides with an illegal and oppressive nation state because of her fundamentalist Christian views. When asked about her views on Israel she said: “in terms of who has the right claim to the land [of Palastine], legally, that is the Israeli’s … my Christian background would say that the Jews are God’s people and certainly I adhere to that, and I believe strongly that people and Canada should come to Israel’s defense…I don’t know where you are going to move these Palestinian people…Palestine does not have any documented rights.” In a further display of egregious ignorance, she said, “nothing is being done to Palestinians’ homes right now, they are attacking Israeli homes … Palestinians are squatting on their [i.e., Israel’s] ]land … They [the Palestinians] used the funding to educate the children to hate the Jews … There has been nothing signed that gets them anywhere past Israel owning that land as a nation…essentially Palestinian people are occupying that land and Israeli people are paying for their water and a bunch of things that go on.” This directly contradicts the legal rights of Palestinians, the use of torture and military force to defend the theft of Palestinian territories through the deployment of settlements that international Law recognizes as illegal, and the two-State solution favoured by international courts.
These are the primary reasons why I could not stay quiet. To me, the parallels between Gladu’s position and those held by fascists in the twentieth century were too obvious. The future dangers are too great. Our federal MPs have a unique position in which they are shaping the policies that directly affect the lives of millions of people. I’m not trying to scare you or be a reverse fear-monger. However, I am trying to show you that fascist movements are bred and grow because of leaders who believe the same things as Marilyn Gladu.