MLA Janet Routledge highlights dangers of politicians “stoking the narrative of rage, fear, and mistrust

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by Staff on November 21st, 2019 at 9:22 AM

Janet Routledge, the NDP MLA for Burnaby North, delivered the following statement in the B.C. legislature on November 20:

“Last week we attended ceremonies all over British Columbia where we promised to remember those who went to war so we could live in peace. But do we remember why they were called upon to sacrifice their lives, their health, their youth in the name of freedom? It was the philosopher George Santayana who said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ words that are inscribed on a plaque at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“Many people in my community are voicing their fear that civilization is once again teetering on the brink of violent upheaval. They turn on their TVs and see white supremacists marching in the streets. They hear their neighbours openly blaming immigrants for their own feelings of vulnerability. They watch those in positions of great power seeking to undermine public confidence in democratic institutions in the media, in science, and they see it working.

“It is unnerving how much of what is happening around the world today resembles what we now know was taking root in Germany and Italy almost 100 years ago—the deliberate spread of misinformation, the systemic degradation of political discourse, rhetoric that portrayed life as a dog-eat-dog struggle in which one could only gain at the expense of another and the fanning of the flames of regional and national grievance, all creating a sense of crisis that encouraged citizens to voluntarily hand over their freedoms to demagogues in exchange for the promise of predictable order and safety.

“Last week we remembered those who had to die because their leaders didn’t see what was coming. Leaders today do not have that excuse. We can see what’s coming. While we may feel small in the face of what is happening on the world stage, we can at least agree to refrain from stoking the narrative of rage, fear, and mistrust.”