A person working for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) riding association in Burlington has been removed from their role after sharing a racist meme on a party-branded Twitter account.
A screenshot shows the since-deleted tweet from the @BurlingtonPPC account was posted on May 3. It was reportedly a response to a tweet from another user saying they don’t understand racism, because “we only have one race living on this planet: the human one.”
The Burlington PPC account responded “not all [people] are homo-sapien, some are homo erectus.”
Homo erectus refers to an extinct species believed to be an immediate ancestor to modern man.
Also included was a series of three pictures showing people of different racial backgrounds next to images of skulls, with outdated and offensive labels like “caucasoid,” “mongoloid” and “negroid.”
This mixture of social media, politics, racism, dog whistles [and] rhetoric creates a combustible situation where people are able to display this kind of behaviour.– Kojo Damptey, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
The social media post drew criticism from many online, who accused the poster of perpetrating phrenology, a debunked pseudoscience involving measuring the shape of the skull to predict mental traits and character.
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for the PPC sought to distance the party from the tweet.
“This tweet obviously has nothing to do with the views of the PPC and the person who was running this account was removed from their position in the riding association yesterday,” wrote Martin Masse.
He did not respond to questions asking for more information about the person responsible for posting the tweet, or whether or not the PPC is concerned about people who hold racist views seemingly finding a place in the party.
Kojo Damptey, manager of programs at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, said images like the one shared in the tweet harken back to a time when “scientific racism” led to discrimination in society.
“Truth be told I think there are individuals in Hamilton, Burlington, in Ontario, in Canada that believe some of the vile ideas around scientific racism,” he said.
Comments as code words
Damptey noted it is “disheartening” the tweet came from a PPC-branded account, as that could lend legitimacy to the messages it shares.
When contacted by CBC News, the person using the account said they were “not affiliated” with the party and their “opinions are [their] own” — despite the fact Masse confirmed that the person held a position in the party’s riding association, and the account continues to use PPC branding.
Multiculturalism has been a controversial topic for the PPC ever since leader Maxime Bernier took aim at what he described as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “cult of diversity” back in August. He also claimed Trudeau’s policies are leading to division and a culture of government dependence.
4/ Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong.
In an interview with CBC’s As It Happens, Bernier defended his stance, saying rather than always celebrating “extreme multiculturalism,” the country should promote what unites it.
“Diversity, it is good. This country has been built by diversity. But diversity in sharing of values? For me, it’s not good. A person that wants to come to our country must share our Canadian values.”
Damptey said messages like that from a party leader can act as “dog whistles” for racism by making people feel comfortable sharing prejudiced views like the image from this Twitter account.
“Making comments like that are code words for racist ideology, xenophobia and bigotry,” he explained. “Once the leader of a party is able to use that language that gives people in their party the confidence to make statements like that.”
Damptey said he expects to see more troubling posts on social media as the country moves toward the federal election in October.
“This mixture of social media, politics, racism, dog whistles [and] rhetoric creates a combustible situation where people are able to display this kind of behaviour.”
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