It was a jarring question, one that seemed to bring out our basest human emotions.
Prospective voters were asked – in an Angus Reid poll, no less, that professed to gauge how Canadians feel about new federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh – if “they, themselves, could vote for a Sikh man who wears a turban and carries a kirpan.”
Thirty-one per cent said ‘no’.
And asked about how Canadians as a whole feel towards the idea of a Sikh person serving as prime minister, about half said either “most” or “some” of the people in their lives wouldn’t favour a visible-minority national leader.
Disappointing to say the least.
Suffice it to say that Canadians seem to have learned little from an anti-Muslim sentiments that came to the surface in the United States last year during Donald Trump’s shockingly successful run for president.
Of course, many commenters online were as frustrated as we were reporting these repugnant questions, but some seemingly most outraged that we would report the poll as news online at www.peacearchnews.com. (Indeed, the wording of the headline even sparked debate among Black Press journalists behind the scenes.)
While many were critical of our reporting, others agreed with some of the poll respondents that they wouldn’t want a Sikh serving as their prime minister.
To those who agree with the negative respondents, we can only ask what religion they would like their elected officials to be. And if they have an answer at the ready, we ask them to perhaps suggest a sect or division within that religion.
Certainly, now, Canada can claim no moral superiority over our southern neighbours when it comes to open-mindedness and truly separating church from state.
And we in the media have to learn to report better, so as to not repeat the turmoil that they are experiencing nearly 250 years after becoming a country.
We have to be better than this. All of us.