Jakob Letkemann will represent the National Citizens Alliance in the May 6 Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection. (Photo submitted)

Anti-immigration party is on the ballot in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Opposing candidate says National Citizens Alliance’s participation ‘highly problematic’

A party with extreme views on immigration is putting forward a candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

Jakob Letkemann will represent the National Citizens Alliance of Canada in the May 6 federal byelection.

The NCA has been a registered political party with Elections Canada since January and uses the slogan “anti-globalist, pro-Canadian.”

The National Citizens Alliance’s platform calls for immigration levels to be reduced to 50,000 per year; current targets are 310-340,000. Letkemann said the party is not anti-immigration, but he feels current levels are too high.

“We need to really look at what’s going on in our own country, for a while, anyway,” Letkemann said.

He said many people, including retirees and veterans, are suffering or not being well-served.

“Where I live we’re at an absolute housing crisis. No one can find a place to live,” Letkemann said. “Why are we bringing more people here?”

Stephen Garvey, leader of the National Citizens Alliance, protested a House of Commons resolution in 2017 condemning Islamophobia and other religious discrimination. NCA party policy on immigration calls for discriminating against people perceived to “pose a threat to Canada.”

“These are people who have cultural norms, values, beliefs that are inconsistent with our liberties and civil rights and we believe if they’re in our country, they’re growing and expanding, they are a threat to our basic cultural norms,” Garvey said. “I have to stress, we don’t paint all Muslims the same, we don’t do any of that. But when it comes to radical extremism … we have to call it out. We don’t want it here.”

Party ‘doesn’t have the steam’

Vancouver Island University political studies professor Alexander Netherton said the National Citizens Alliance seems to want to play with fire, but doesn’t have the steam. He said the party is “not harmless,” however.

“Any of these movements are worrisome, especially if they take root,” Netherton said.

Paul Manly, Green Party candidate for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, said the National Citizens Alliance needs to be “called out for hate” rather than be ignored.

“I think it’s highly problematic that they’re hopping into an election race to have a platform to espouse these kind of views,” Manly said.

He suggested people need to be educated and “aware of what’s wrong” with viewpoints being expressed by the NCA.

“We can’t build fortress Canada and lock the world out. That doesn’t make sense at all,” Manly said. “We need to work together as a human species to deal with the problems we face globally.”

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, asked about the National Citizens Alliance, said when people feel fear and insecurity about the problems they’re facing, they look to blame others.

“The frustration people feel is real, but there is a concern that there’s going to be some folks that will use that fear and frustration to divide us, when what we should be doing is coming together,” Singh said.

Bob Chamberlin, NDP candidate, suggested the vast majority of voters believe in equality.

“We have different faiths, we have different paths, we have different foundations, but the thing is, we’re all Canadians and there’s space for everybody,” Chamberlin said. “I think the diversity is going to bring out varied voices, but I think we’re going to see consistently that the number of votes that are going to go for an extreme position are going to be far less that what is going to be on the mainstream side of society.”

Netherton agreed, and as a comparison, recalled the most recent municipal election, when a candidate with extreme views and a running mate bid unsuccessfully for Nanaimo city council.

“I think they got all their family and their three best friends to vote for them,” Netherton said. “So that tells me that they’re out there blowing wind on the internet, but they basically have no grounding.”

The poli sci professor said he would be more worried about the National Citizens Alliance if it were using its website to try to reach out to youths or vulnerable segments of society or promoting self-radicalization.

“But when I look at this particular website, I don’t see any incitation to violence,” Netherton said. “I see a rejection of the quote-unquote ‘globalist regimes’ and a scare about the hordes at the door.”

Party has anti-globalist stance

NCA leader Garvey said that “ethnic enclaves are multiplying and expanding” in Canada, which he said is creating division.

“We’re not against immigrants but we don’t support the replacement of our traditional people,” he said, specifying that by ‘traditional people’ he means First Nations, Métis, Inuit and European-Canadians. “This is unprecedented in world history that a government would actually replace its own people but that’s what’s going on if you look at the demographic data. A lot of Canadians are waking up to this. They’re very disturbed by it.”

The National Citizens Alliance supports a referendum on exiting the United Nations, withdrawing from UN agreements and reducing foreign aid by 75 per cent. Garvey said the UN’s “interference in our sovereignty” is a huge issue for Canadians and Letkemann said Canada isn’t getting a fair shake with the UN.

“They’re not asking us to do things, they’re telling us what to do in our own country,” he said.

Letkemann is a proponent of easing gun laws to allow people to publicly carry semiautomatic pistols, with safety restrictions, and be able to use them in extreme circumstances.

“Why shouldn’t we be able to carry them…?” he asked. “Every Canadian citizen who is law-abiding should have the ability [of] immediate protection if law enforcement is not present.”

Letkemann is a single father and a board game designer who lives on Salt Spring Island.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection is May 6 and the seven candidates are Bob Chamberlin, NDP; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; John Hirst, Conservatives; Paul Manly, Greens; Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada; Brian Marlatt, Progressive Conservative Party; Jakob Letkemann, National Citizens Alliance.

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