Last month, anti-racism protestors in Montreal toppled over a statue of John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada.
That same afternoon, in under two hours, Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta denounced the act in a Twitter thread.
In his thread, he referred to the protestors as a mob and “roving thugs” and referred to their actions as defacing, vandalism, and violence. In addition, he placed responsibility for the event on the “extreme left”.
Compare that to an Alberta event held a month later.
This past Sunday afternoon, anti-racism protesters had organized a Black Lives Matter rally in Red Deer. People opposed to the anti-racism protest showed up and started punching and pushing protestors.
Kenney again took to Twitter to respond to the event:
Notice the difference in messaging?
- In response to the pulling down of an inanimate object, he immediately resorts to words like deface, vandalism, and violence.
- In response to the sucker punching and pushing of humans, he uses instance of racism, bigotry, or intolerance,
- He doesn’t place the responsibility on a group of people (like, say, the extreme right).
- He doesn’t call the anti-antiracists a mob or roving thugs.
- He took two days, instead of two hours, to respond to the event
In fact, it wasn’t until two hours after his first tweet, after dozens of comments called out his politically correct language in his original tweet, that he finally connected the word violence with this event.
And even then, he still doesn’t assign blame to a group of people, nor does he call out specific actions, which contrasts his immediate response to the statue toppling.
To Kenney, when racists—or, in this case, statues of racists—are the victims, it’s violence, but when racists are the perpetrators, then it becomes intolerance.
And given that people who show such overt racism as these anti-antiracists did likely also voted for Kenney in last year’s provincial election, I guess this response shouldn’t be that surprising.
Because alienating part of your base will just send them to another party, and vote splitting is the last thing Kenney wants as his support tanks in the polls month after month.