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It is possible that people are over-reacting to the news that a group of anti-carbon-tax protesters in Edmonton on Saturday began shouting "Lock her up!" in reference to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

After all, in today's postmodern world, the protesters might have been invoking the infamous chant from Donald Trump's ugly rallies as a self-aware joke. Sure, it's the misogynistic, anti-democratic rallying cry of the darker forces in the Trump campaign, but maybe a bunch of everyday Canadians on the steps of the Edmonton legislature were just having everyone on.

The same goes for former federal cabinet minister and current Conservative Party leadership candidate Chris Alexander, who was captured on video smiling along to the chant. He even appeared to endorse the sentiment by repeatedly emphasizing the word "lock" with a sly wave of a pointed finger. But maybe he was so mortified by what the crowd was saying that he couldn't think of anything else to do, poor fellow.

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Ed Broadbent: Proportional representation is the way to stop Trump

Marcus Gee: How should Toronto respond to Trump-fuelled hate? With calmness and solidarity

Read more: Is Donald Trump's victory emboldening hate-mongers in Canada?

And maybe the media company that organized the rally isn't trying to ride the coattails of similar websites in the United States that make a buck by sowing enmity for institutions that are critical to liberal democracies, such as the media, civil rights and equality.

And maybe Mr. Alexander's leadership opponent, Kellie Leitch, isn't trying to boost her political fortunes by fomenting distrust of immigrants, à la Trump.

Maybe we should all relax.

But on the other hand, what if we aren't on our guard, and we end up with a government whose chief strategist is a sympathizer of white supremacists, and which is led by a lying, inexperienced, unethical braggart who cares little for the niceties of democracy, such as not locking up your political opponents?

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What if we become complacent about little acts that damage our democracy, until they gain momentum and become irreversible?

We're with the interim Conservative Party Leader, Rona Ambrose, who called the chant unoriginal and idiotic. The words of the crowd were despicable and shameful on their own, but even more so for willfully referencing a president-elect who courts racists and treats women like chattel. They must be denounced by all.

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