By Jonathon Van Maren
Like the rest of Canadians, I haven’t been paying much attention to the federal NDP’s leadership race, especially as much of what the candidates have to say appears to be indistinguishable from your average mob of angrily bewildered student activists. One candidate especially appears determined to prove that she can beat the most fervent devotee of any Women’s Studies program in her dedication to fringe left-wing politics: Manitoba MP Niki Ashton.
Ashton, as some of you might remember, has utilized most of her time in the House of Commons to loudly insist that abortions should be way easier to get than they already are and accusing other lefties of being insufficiently radical on a wide array of issues. Her platform looks like a fusion of student clubs and undisguised communism: She’s declared solidarity with Palestine (there are some fundamentalists she’s willing to find common cause with), claimed that Justin Trudeau isn’t a “real” ally to the LGBTQ community, and actually put out the slogan “You privatize it, we nationalize it. You deregulate it, we regulate it.” Now, I wonder where she got that from….
Her favorite endorsements all herald her impeccably progressive credentials. One MP noted that “Niki is an authentic activist feminist who has always put others ahead of herself,” highlighting the well-worn truth that abortion enthusiasts are usually also paragons of selflessness. And then there’s her endorsement from comedian Charlie Demers: “Niki gets that our party’s socialist legacy is no burden but an asset, as free market orthodoxy and carbon-intensive colonialism collapse around our ears.” So there you have it, then. Hang on to your ears.
But especially indicative of the totalitarian streak inherent in Ashton’s socialism is an exchange she had with fellow leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh, a member of the Sikh community. Sikhs are generally a socially conservative bunch, which is why immigrant communities made up the bulk of the opposition to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new sex-ed curriculum for Ontario, and Singh had responded to the opposition in his community by registering vague protest about how the curriculum was implemented. This prompted Ashton to wheeze into her homophobia dog whistle immediately, demanding to know why Singh had done something so repulsive:
I want to ask you about your stance on the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario. You described it as “disrespectful to parents.” And “It must respect the diversity of beliefs when it comes to educating our children.” That’s the kind of language I expect from Conservatives. Why did you take this position on sex-ed when it was strongly supported by the LGBTQ community?
I’ll give Miz Ashton this, she’s not subtle. She genuinely finds the idea that government has a responsibility to respect “the diversity of beliefs” in society to be appalling. In her view, government’s role is to enforce her progressive ideology from the top down, and those stupid immigrants and their throwback supporters can catch up to her level of enlightenment later—at least their kids will be re-educated and they won’t be able to pass on any of their own traditions or beliefs effectively. She also indicated that her loyalty is not to parents—their opinions on the curriculum taught to their children are irrelevant. Rather, Ashton wanted to know how Singh managed to summon the courage to make a few mild statements on the curriculum when it was so strongly supported by the LGBTQ community. It seems that on the oppression hierarchy, brown people are out and drag queens are in.
Singh attempted to respond by saying that he’d supported the curriculum but found it “offensive” that the government hadn’t provided translated explanations of the curriculum to “racialized communities,” although I suspect he knows that if that had happened, there wouldn’t be a lot of Sikhs overjoyed to discover that their children were being taught the mechanics of masturbation and alternative sexual lifestyles in school. In fact, such translated material probably would have increased opposition from immigrant communities, which is why Wynne and the rest of her social engineers preferred not to do so. Singh even managed to pull off a neat about-turn and complain that the lack of translated materials allows “the right” to disseminate horrible “misinformation.”
This, as you might suspect, did not impress Miz Ashton one bit. In a tone that was equal parts condescension and contempt, she demanded to know if Singh could be trusted:
So Jagmeet, I entered politics because of the issue of same-sex marriage. Our NDP MP was against it, and I stood up against those who would impose their beliefs on society. But you called the curriculum “disrespectful to the diversity of beliefs.” What beliefs come ahead of the needs of our children, particularly so many kids who are discriminated against because of their gender identity and sexual orientation, and how can we trust that you’re not going to take a position like that again?
I don’t mind that progressives take themselves so seriously, but it is irritating and slightly worrying that they expect the rest of us to do the same. Ashton, fresh from her opening salvo where she excoriated Singh for indicating that there is a “diversity of beliefs” in this country, championed her own noble goal of disallowing those who do not share her ideology from championing their ideology, which gets in the way of her goal of ensuring that everybody else’s children get taught what she believes. Like most progressives, she believes that the state has just as much right to children as their parents do—she demanded to know whether Singh was going to let the parents get in the way of progressives indoctrinating “our children.”
I can speak for thousands of parents when I interrupt Miz Ashton’s arrogant blathering to inform her that our children are none of her business, and that the contempt she shows for parents who have spent their lives sacrificing for their children rather than strutting about the House of Commons championing the right to abort others illustrates precisely why she is the sort of person we would like our children to stay away from. Ashton does not understand the deep-seated cultural and religious beliefs of other communities, and perhaps it would be nice if she realized that we feel about her worldview the exact same way that she feels about ours.
While leadership campaigns are often long and boring, occasionally there are moments of value. Ashton’s exchange with Singh was one of them, because it gave parents a good look at what so-called “progressives” actually believe about them, and highlighted that Ashton feels entitled to our children. That reason alone is good enough to ensure that she never holds the reigns of power—because one of the first things she’ll do is embark on the nationalization of the country’s children.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.