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Rick Mercer Says The Conservatives Are Trying "To Get Everyone Upset About Muslims"

Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby was hired for this purpose, Mercer said.

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Rick Mercer says nobody should be surprised the federal election has been dominated by cultural wedge issues like the niqab.

CBC

Mercer appeared on CBC Toronto's morning radio show Metro Morning on Monday to talk about the federal election and the start of the new season of Rick Mercer Report.

He told host Matt Galloway the election was supposed to be about the economy, but when that didn't work the Conservatives tried to make it about security. And when that didn't work, they found a new strategy.

Mercer traced the sudden focus on Muslim Canadians to Lynton Crosby. The Australian political strategist joined Stephen Harper's campaign in September, having made his name getting conservatives elected in Australia and the U.K.

Fiona Hanson / AP

Lynton Crosby, right, seen in 2012.

Critics say Crosby uses "dog-whistle" politics and emotional wedge issues to get votes, and since he came on the Conservative campaign has doubled down on banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and fighting "barbaric cultural practices."

"They hired a guy — and we all heard about it — they said, 'In breaking news, the prime minister has hired a guy whose job it is to get everyone upset about Muslims.' And then next thing you know, everyone was upset," Mercer said of Crosby.

"Wow! He's earning his money."

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Mercer also encouraged young people to vote on Oct. 19, as he has done in past elections, saying that "if young people show up to vote, it will change everything."

Watch the full interview below.

View this video on YouTube

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Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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