Opinion Column

Cracking the code of 'old stock' Canadians

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Many politicians around the world use fear tactics about Muslims to swing voters. 

Many politicians around the world use fear tactics about Muslims to swing voters. FILE PHOTO, POSTMEDIA

“Last month's Muslim rioting in France, this month's clashes between old stock Australians and Muslim immigrants on the beaches of Sydney - these may well be portents of a troubled future.” - Republican strategist David Frum, December 2005


Prime Minister Stephen Harper made no mistake last week referring to “old stock Canadians” versus “immigrants and refugees” – it was deliberate and calculated.

And it is coded language also regularly used by the one-time Republican strategist David Frum, who helped come up with U.S. President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” phrase to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea in 2002.

Frum has regularly used the term “old stock” to refer to non-immigrant citizens in Australia, Germany and the United States – and to controversially contrast primarily white voters with Muslim immigrants.

The question remains as to whether the Harper Conservatives’ new Australian political consultant Lynton Crosby - the “Lizard from Oz” – put “old stock Canadians” into Harper’s talking points for the Globe and Mail debate.

Certainly Crosby is known for injecting anti-immigrant language into former Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s campaigns and those of British Conservatives.

But Frum – a Harper fan and Canadian whose sister Linda is a Conservative Senator – has been publicly using “old stock” as a code word for Caucasian, non-immigrants for some time.

And it’s unlikely that Harper is not well-acquainted with Frum’s writing, since he regularly fawns over Harper.

“U.S. conservatives deeply admire Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ... Well they might,” Frum wrote in a 2013 CNN column.

So it’s almost inconceivable that Harper – a well-read, former head of the right wing National Citizens Coalition – would not understand the coded meaning of “old stock Canadians.”

And Frum is blatant about bashing non-European Union immigrants and refugees.

“Europe is learning that today’s refugees are at high risk of becoming tomorrow’s high school dropouts, tomorrow’s unemployed, and tomorrow’s criminals,” Frum, executive editor of The Atlantic magazine, wrote in July.

Harper’s comments are a pale version of Frum’s foaming invective, but the intent of his “old stock Canadians” is clear – to appeal to a right-wing base frightened of immigrants and refugees, to motivate them to vote in this election.

And it’s an approach that’s reason enough for voters to reject Conservative politics of fear.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman  


Do you think Stephen Harper deliberately used the phrase “old stock Canadians” to appeal to anti-immigrant voters?

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