Conservative candidate's ISIS flyer advocates 'fear and division,' opponent says
Liberal and NDP candidates say it's 'old school... fear and division'
A campaign flyer from Hamilton-area Conservative candidate Vincent Samuel that raises the threat of terrorist attacks in Canada and contains a quote "You will not feel secure in your bedrooms" is being called offensive and divisive by his opponents.
The piece of campaign literature for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas candidate landed in riding doorsteps and mailboxes over the weekend. The flyer, which came from national headquarters and was modified for Samuel's campaign, contains an image of a National Post story entitled "Isis urges Jihadists to attack Canadians" with the quote "You will not feel secure in your bedrooms."
Despite what his opponents say, Samuel says the mail-out wasn't meant to be fear mongering.
Next to the newspaper style headlines are photos and quotes from NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau about how they would stop military action against ISIS in Syria. Underneath are the words "We will fight jihadists terrorists at home and abroad."
Liberal candidate Filomena Tassi called it "old school politics" of "fear and division," while NDP candidate Alex Johnstone branded it "offensive."
But Samuel said the "secure in your bedrooms" quote was about a recent CBC report on ISIS sleeper cells in Canada. The flyer was meant to point out the threat, not draw a comparison.
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Canadians will only be less safe under the NDP and Liberals if those parties undo the hard work the Conservatives have done in the war on terror, he said.
"If they remove those conditions we have made in law and the extra resources and powers, that is giving the opportunity to jihadists," he said.
He also said he's seen acts of terror in his native Pakistan, so he doesn't think the flyer is fear mongering.
"I came from a country where I saw this fear," he said. "I experienced this fear. I've seen the burning of people. I've seen the beheading of people. It's something which I've seen as a reality. I can't say that's fear mongering."
This isn't the first riding where the flyer has turned up. It has also been used by PC candidate Diane Watts in the B.C. riding of SouthSurrey-White Rock.
Terrorism-related issues have been a key way to distinguish the parties this election. A main one is Bill C-51, the Harper government's controversial anti-terrorism bill. The Liberals supported the bill but vow to amend it. The NDP say they'll repeal it.
The parties also disagree on how best to deal with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Conservatives have joined an international coalition to bomb ISIS targets inside Syria. The Liberals say they'd put more effort into humanitarian aid and training native troops. NDP claim the bombing is expensive and ineffective, and say they would boost humanitarian aid instead.
As for the flyer, Johnstone said it "paints an image of the Muslim community in a very bad and untrue way."
"This is more of the mud slinging kind of politics that Canadians don't have an appetite for."
Tassi hadn't read the flyer on Monday, but when she did, wasn't a fan.
"When I see that, I just think it's old school politics," she said. "It's trying to instill fear and division. That would be my response to that."
Samuel wasn't the only HWAD candidate to draw criticism on Monday. Johnstone issued an apology for a joke she made about Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, seven years ago on Facebook. Johnstone remarked that the electrified fence posts at Auschwitz are phallic shaped.
She wrote: "Ahhh, the infamous Pollish, phallic, hydro posts … of course you took pictures of this! It expresses the how the curve is normal, natural, and healthy right!"
The other candidates chose not to comment on the Facebook post, which has since been taken down.
ISIS was a key subject at a Hamilton Mountain all-candidates debate held by the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union this weekend. Yonatan Rozenszajn, a Hamilton Centre Conservative candidate, told the audience that the Liberals and NDP would "put Canada at risk on the "altar of ideology."