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Monday, April 15, 2024
Editorial: Rooting out the hate in our midst

For several weeks now, we have reported on the appearance of nasty, racist, anti-immigrant posters around town.

In the past week, another ranting flyer was put up on the public notice kiosk outside the downtown post office.

Someone, or perhaps several people, small-minded xenophobes, have surreptitiously gone about Niagara-on-the-Lake to spread their message of intolerance.

Political debate is one thing. Knock yourself out. If you despise Justin Trudeau, the Liberals or Doug Ford (though, we suspect the “folks” erecting these posters would be fans of the premier), by all means have your say.

But the hateful anti-immigrant rants, in a country of immigrants for goodness sakes, only serve to show how backward and ill-informed many people can be. Why are you so afraid of people who don’t look like you, worship like you or come from the same part of the world as your ancestors?

It is disappointing, to put it mildly, that in 2019 such behaviour still exists. But as anyone who is non-white or otherwise “different” knows, it isn’t surprising.

However, it was gratifying that after our reports of the flyers were published, some NOTL residents spontaneously pushed back, posting their own pro-immigrant notices around town and on social media, and writing letters of support, which The Lake Report published.

The Niagara Regional Police and an expert we interviewed from Ryerson University both say the posters that have appeared in NOTL over the past few weeks do not cross the line into hate speech, as defined by Canadian law. They are abhorrent and repugnant, not illegal.

It’s not new that some people hold racist or anti-immigrant views. But it’s well documented that many suspect the rise in right-wing populism worldwide has allowed more people to feel it is acceptable to spew venom against immigrants and people not like themselves.

What has been happening in NOTL might not be a hate crime, but there is no question it is hateful. And regrettable.

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