Is This Canadian Politician Slamming Atheists in an Informal Holiday Greeting?

Brian Pallister is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba — kind of like a Canadian version of John Boehner.

He recently offered some holiday greetings to interviewer Natalie Pollock, and his comments took a strange turn when he began to talk about atheists:

… I wanted to wish everyone a really really Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, all the holiday… all you infidel atheists out there, I want to wish you the very best, also. I don’t know what you celebrate during the holiday season — I myself celebrate the birth of Christ — but it’s your choice, and I respect your choice. If you wish to celebrate nothing and just get together with friends, that’s good, too. All the best.

I watched that clip several times and it strikes me as a sincere-though-somewhat-sarcastic greeting to atheists. I wasn’t offended by his use of “infidel” even though it probably one of those words *we* can call ourselves but *you* shouldn’t use. And I don’t take offense at his ignorance of what we do around this time of year — he just doesn’t know that we celebrate the holidays pretty much the same way everyone else does, minus the Jesus bit.

But I don’t know Canadian politics and I may be missing the subtext here.

For what it’s worth, the commenters on YouTube and other websites found reason to criticize him.

Canadians, feel free to set me straight here.

(Thanks to Dorothy and Kevin for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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