RSS Feed

Category Archives: Canadian Politics

CHEAP POLITICOS AND GOOD COMPANY MEN (AND WOMEN): POLITICS HIJACKED BY NEO-LIBERALS AND RACISTS

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.– Leonardo da Vinci

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. – Confucius

Frank A. Pelaschuk

While we might believe or hope it otherwise, politics is not a career for grownups with character. Character requires integrity and the ability to experience shame. We see little of that from members of the two major federal parties and their leaders, Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer. Jagmeet Singh, of the NDP, and Elizabeth May, of the Green Party, have not had the opportunity to prove themselves before the voters as members and leaders of a governing party. Maxime Bernier, one-time Harper conservative and so-called libertarian and leader of the portentously and somehow ominously named Peoples’ Party is a panderer of the worse sort, appealing mostly to the simplistic laissez faire mindset of the extreme right who often draw support, as do most conservative groupings, from the racist and religious bigots in the brutish white supremacist movement.

It is not just that folly, farce, pride, greed, ambition, pettiness, hypocrisy, vice, and venality all too often come into play in the service of special neo-liberal interests, it is that whole governments all too frequently can be bought to heel in the service of those special interests placing in jeopardy the very institutions meant to safeguard the nation and its citizens. Trust in a politician or a party is almost always misplaced and inevitably ends in betrayal. It happens because, while a very few provinces appear more open to change, federally we limit ourselves to inviting into our house and handing the keys to the only two parties we have since Canada became a nation. Others knock at the door pleading just to be acknowledged, listened to and heard; to them, NDP and Greens, thus far, we remain deaf, dumb and blind at the time we should be most receptive unable to adjust our thinking or break the stranglehold of the liberals or conservatives. It is foolish, if not insane, that we play along with the game of hope and betrayal in the full knowledge that the parties to whom we pass the keys can be trusted only to betray us and yet refuse to even consider the possibility of the NDP, my preference, or the Greens, proving more capable, more trustworthy, more reliable. Until that happens, and though I do believe it mostly true of the liberal and conservative parties, I cannot side with the cynics who insist of politicians: They are all the same.

They may be, I’m just not certain.

Still, when I look at those conservative leaders, Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Jason Kenney, Blaine Higgs, I cannot help but despair. These folks, with their parochialism, their closed mindsets regarding the environment and social responsibility, their willingness to appeal to the worst of us with messages of racial and religious intolerance are representatives of the truly ugly underbelly of Canadian society. They are spiteful, petty, amoral, ideologically partisan, and dangerously blindly angry people preoccupied with achieving power and tearing down the accomplishments of their opponents regardless of how good, intelligent, successful, popular, and sanesimply because these fail to mesh with their blighted philosophy of angry, bitter, victimhood. Further evidence, if any is needed, that it is not just cream that rises to the top.

So, sometimes even doing so sick at heart, we vote for conservatives and liberals, occasionally vaguely aware that there are other parties out there but dissuaded from considering them with messages that voting for one of them will split the vote and lead to the victory of the party and leader you dislike most. Is that really how we should vote? For conservatives, federally and provincially, governance is simply opposing every progressive idea out there, especially those ideas coming from the federal liberals. That’s the mindless hysteria of the truly desperately stupid.

This tactic works well with the soft voters of no deeply held ideological bent and no fixed loyalty to either conservative or liberal and who have, perhaps, even boldly in the past, voted for the NDP or Green Party. We vote as we do often because we buy the message of fear and tell ourselves: Maybe it will be different this time.Of course, in our heart-of-hearts, we know it won’t be. It’s silly, stupid, destructive, this wistful faith. Only sometimes it does work out, the voter is rewarded. It doesn’t happen often; the rigged slot machine that wins; the player gets the noise and flashing lights and a few coins but it’s the house that walks away with the purse. If there is any real public benefit, it is likely accidental, very little and always crafted in such a manner to assure the beneficiary gaining most is the governing party and those special interest lobbyists to whom those conservatives and liberals are so closely wedded.

GOOD COMPANY MEN (AND WOMEN)

Politicians are cons. Every word they utter must be taken with a grain of salt for they can lie as easily and smoothly as any huckster defrauding Aunt Nelly of her life savings. Every promise made must be greeted with skepticism. Voters are pawns, props for politicians and fodder for special interests. Politicians are users, manipulative, liars, evasive, hypocritical, dull, stupid, dishonest, and always, always, shameless gasbags. Watch Question Period in Parliament. They seldom if ever answer a question directly put to them in many iterations by members of the opposition. When they do so, the response is a circuitous and lengthy non-response or, when read from a script, repeated so often the benumbed viewer is able to offer the response as fluently and as cleverly as that ignoramus blowhard he is looking at.

Politicians will portray themselves as different from those of other parties. That’s true but the differences are often too slight their tastes, loyalties and ideas making it almost impossible to differentiate one from the other.

Stephen Harper’s governance was heavily criticized by opposition members for its reliance on and use of omnibus bills in which legislation having nothing to do with the bill was quietly slipped in with the hopes they would escape notice of the opposition and the public. Harper’s conservatives, with Pierre Poilievre leading the charge as Minister of Democratic Reform, introduced the Fair Elections Act (George Orwell?) which not only sought to erode the power of the Commissioner of Elections to investigate campaign irregularities and, even more egregiously, to disenfranchise thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of transient voters, including students away from home, members of the First Nations, and the very poor unable to secure fixed, safe, affordable accommodation. The theory was that these people did not vote conservative. Harper and crew, you see, were not content with just using robocalls to misdirect people to vote at non-existent polling stations but also to divert funds between ridings to hide illegal expenses. Now that Justin Trudeau’s liberals are in power, omnibus bills seem a good idea. For politicians, especially the knuckle and dime variety like Scheer and Trudeau and the provincial princelings mentioned earlier, a good idea is a good idea even if it’s probably not good for democracy and benefits no one but the governing party and special interests to whom so much is owed. But that’s likely true of most of us without character.

It was Harper who initiated the Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with murderous Human Rights abusing Saudi Arabia even though it contravenes UN and our own Canadian laws regarding international dealings with such nations. While the NDP vehemently opposed the deal, opposition liberal leader Trudeau, while declaring reservations, could not bring himself to state he would cancel the contract worth $15 billion and 3,000 Canadian jobs. Just as well he did not, his supporters would then have had another reason to be disappointed in him. In spite of Trudeau’s tepid views and the harsh criticisms from the NDP and Human Rights activists and our own laws, Harper remained undeterred. This was business after all and he’s nothing if not a good company man.

But, out of office and replaced by liberal Trudeau, there was solace for Harper and the conservatives if not validation for their stand on corporate interests versus Human Rights. Trudeau was on the same page. It’s easier to talk about principles than having to live them. His government signed off on the LAV deal with Trudeau falsely claiming he had no choice, it was a done deal, his hands were tied and, even if he could intervene, Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner would lie in ruins. These were excuses, not reasons and none of them were valid. Trudeau, too, could be a good company man. Which goes to show that self-interest is a greater incentive than lofty ideals.

While it is true many had doubts about Trudeau, they were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It didn’t take long to be tested again and again. He was not above accepting free, illegal gifts or flouting his own conflict of interest mandate edicts in letters to his ministers. Over the 2016 Christmas holiday with family and friends, he accepted a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan. Coincidentally, it was announced that Canada, a major contributor to the Aga Khan Foundation since 1981 to the tune of $330 million, would donate another $55 million over the next five years.

More egregious were the many lies, denials, justifications, and final admissions of his many secret fundraising events attended by the well-heeled with claims that business matters were never discussed, that those doing or wishing to do business with the government were instructed to go through the proper channels, and that he, Trudeau, seldom knew beforehand who attended those events because he would often drop by at these private events without notice. That last is not credible if only because of security concerns. At one of these events, as reported by Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase, April 7, 2017, 32 Chinese business men, a few of them billionaires, were in attendance. One of them was insurance mogul Shenglin Xian, founder of Wealth One Bank of Canada and president of the Shenglin Financial Group Inc. Shortly after that fundraiser, Wealth One Bank was given the final okay to open up a federally chartered bank in Canada.Too, weeks later, Mr. Zhang and another businessman, Niu Gensheng donated money parceled out to the university of Montreal and the Trudeau Foundation to the tune of $1 million. Coincidence? Questionable. But it was not just Trudeau but also his cabinet members holding such events with the well-heeled sponsored by drug and other companies, cronies and acquaintances in the business world not only enriching the liberal coffers but also rewarding those benefactors. Good company men are not only rewarded, they also give back.

On May 8, 2019, the case of breach of trust against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, charged with leaking information regarding the procurement of a supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, was stayed after two-and-a-half years, his reputation and career apparently in tatters. This was a case involving political interference, not only in the procurement process pitting the Davie Shipbuilding company based in Quebec which had won the sole-sourced contract under Stephen Harper effectively shutting out other bidders including the Irving Shipbuilding company in the east coast, and favoured by the liberals, but also in the judicial process, the government refusing to release documents to prosecution and defence. The charges came about because someone had leaked at least 12 times, the majority during the Harper years, that the Davie contract would be placed on hold and reviewed by the PMO, evidently at the insistence of Scott Brison, then President of the Treasury Board, with close ties to the Irving family. The liberals were not happy at the revelation and, embarrassed, quickly approved the original Davie deal to forestall accusations of political interference. Too late. The damage was done and someone would pay and it would be Norman even though it was determined by the Privy Council Office that at least 73 others were aware of the outcome of the November 2015 liberal cabinet meeting regarding the matter. It was a letter written sent to the House defence committee by three conservative and one NDP MPs accusing the PMO of political interference, that may have precipitated the stay when Norman’s defence raised questions about what they knew. Shortly after this, the prosecutor determined there was not reasonable expectation of conviction and, following that decision, former cabinet minister, Peter MacKay, stated that Norman had been authorized by the government to speak to Davie Shipbuilding and therefore could not be guilty of leaking to the company. The curious thing is the RCMP investigating did not interview any of the 73 witnesses. That is an astounding investigative lapse and needs to be looked into but begs the question: Why had conservatives, knowing this, waited this long before stepping forward on their own to clear Norman whose only crime, apparently, was a desire for the Royal Canadian Navy to get its much-needed ship? The behaviour of the liberals seems purely political but what of the delay by the conservatives who might have spared Norman many months of hanging in the wind? It seems to me they were making political capital from the very victim they were purportedly and loudly defending! (For the list of names, refer to the David Pugliese Dec. 4th, 2018 piece for the Ottawa Citizen (https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/the-mark-norman-files-the-official-list-of-those-who-knew-about-cabinet-discussions-on-supply-ship-project).

There are many questions remaining regarding this issue, not only with the role Trudeau’s liberals played but also by the role Stephen Harper’s conservatives played in changing the procurement rules from open bidding to sole source a fact that opposition conservative critics curiously gloss over. Harper was clearly playing for the Quebec vote just as Trudeau was the east coast vote. For Vice-Admiral Norman, whose only crime seems to be concern for the welfare of the Canadian navy, Trudeau’s role would prove itself to be as brutal, vindictive and, ultimately, inept as the Harper regime in its heyday.

But there is another matter that is equally troubling could prove fatal to Trudeau’s reign. Again, Scott Brison was to play a pivotal role and that was with his resignation who, according to reports, wanted to be with family. The departure of Brison triggered a cabinet shuffle leading to a surprising move of one MP to another cabinet post who, clearly disgruntled, tendered her resignation in a public forum setting off a scandal with suggestions of political and judicial interference by the PMO. This, of course, is the matter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based construction giant facing charges of corruption and bribery which has had Trudeau and gang behaving in ways resembling that of cheap politicos owing favours which is exactly what they were and are. Not only did the liberals bow to the lobbying efforts of SNC-Lavalin by inserting a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) clause in the omnibus 2018 Budget, they sought to undermine the independence of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) by pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould, at the time Attorney General and Justice Minister, to lean on Kathleen Roussel, the DPP, to stop the proceedings against the company that faced the possibility of a criminal conviction that would bar it from bidding on lucrative government contracts for ten years. While claiming his primary concern was preserving 9,000 (mostly Quebec) jobs, the PMO denied judicial interference: no one, they claimed, had “directed” her to intervene in the trial. For days Trudeau and cabinet members would use that word. She was never “directed” to intervene in the matter. That’s legalese or, as some might say, legalese for weasels. What we are to infer from that is that Jody Wilson-Raybould, as independent Attorney General, could independently conclude Canadian interests might best be served through the use of the DPA. While I may believe he was concerned about possible job losses, Trudeau and his liberals were likely more focused on last year’s Quebec election and this year’s federal election. The liberals would not want a Quebec-based company to be negatively impacted especially during an election year particularly if there were threats by the company to move its headquarters elsewhere. Clearly unhappy with the letter of resignation after her move to Veterans Affairs, the PMO engaged in a smear campaign against the former AG seeming to question her loyalty, her role as minister, as leader, and as boss. The public did not buy the unseemly and unfair attempt to smear her any more than they bought the charge against Vice-Admiral Norman apparently under the apprehension that bullies playing the role of good company people were working to protect Big Business and the PMO with claims that DPAs are used in other jurisdictions and that it is legal (even though, in this instance, lobbied for by the very company under investigation).

With the DPA in place, all the company had to do was admit wrongdoing, pay a hefty fine, reorganize the company structure and reimburse any illegal benefits. Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to play along saying the DPP as an independent body had made its decision. That was the right, decent, required move. The fallout of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation resulted in the resignation in solidarity of the very capable Jane Philpott. She had recently been shuffled to the position occupied by Brison, that of President of the Treasury Board. Fallout from this debacle resulted in the early retirement of Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, and resignation of Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s lifelong friend and Principle Secretary so as not to be a “distraction”. While it’s difficult to accept that it may happen with all the attendant negative publicity, it’s very possible that SNC-Lavalin, a company with a dark and checkered history, might still benefit from the DPA it fought so hard to pass into law. Further to this story, it recently came to light that SNC-Lavalin, hoping to influence the outcome of elections between 2004 and 2011, made illegal contributions to the liberal and conservative parties by having employees make donations as if their own and then reimbursing them. Canada’s election commissioner at that time, Yves Côté, offered no punishment for the criminal acts by the company executives eliciting from them only the promise to sin no more, an option denied conservative Dean Del Mastro charged with breaching the Canada Elections Act during the 2011 elections for which he spent a month in jail, four months of house arrest, and eighteen months of probation for doing the very same. Now I have no sympathy with Del Mastro for whom I have no liking, firmly of the belief he deserved even more time in jail. But he is right when he whines that SNC-Lavalin, a serial offender, got off scot free. The company, protected by politicos, has not only been given too many breaks only to reoffend rather than reform, it apparently does so without any show of repentance or in change of behaviour.

Justin Trudeau knows the company’s history as do all other members in the Canadian political and business landscape. David Lametti has replaced Jody Wilson-Raybould as Attorney General and Justice Minister. We can only wait and see how good a company man he is. We all know what Trudeau wants for SNC-Lavalin. I’m sure Lametti does as well.

So, how good a company man is Trudeau?

During the Harper era, Peter MacKay, at that time Defence Minister, with Stephen Harper leading the charge, had set about to purchase fighter jets setting their sights on the F-35s made by American Lockheed Martin, the most expensive and best flying machines in the market. Unfortunately, Harper and MacKay bungled the procurement process never able to satisfactorily settle on what the costs would be for the purchase of the 65 jets except to guesstimate anywhere from $9 billion to $19 billion though critics were doubtful saying the costs were likely in the $25 to as high as $125 billion range. The liberals were outraged, Trudeau loudly declaring, as is his wont, he would “never” as prime minister, do the deal. Well, in early May, he was reconsidering, planning to hold an open bid to replace the creaky CF-18s. The move however left US officials warning Canada that as one of the F-35 partner signatories of 2006, there was no requirement committing signatory nations to reinvest in Canada using Canadian suppliers for parts which, at present, is the standard for most military procurements. Trudeau, admitting Canada could not consider an open bid with one bidder (Lockheed Martin) effectively shut out, has hinted he is prepared to make changes to the procurement requirements. It seems that even this good Canadian company man has fallen under the spell of the Cadillac of jets in the same way as did the Harper gang and may be prepared to throw Canadian parts suppliers under the bus. It should surprise no one.

When it comes to the neo-liberal agenda, conservative and liberal politicians really are the same.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

Advertisements

HATRED: THE VICTORY OF IGNORANCE AND FEAR

Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated. – George Bernard Shaw

America needs fewer men obsessed with erecting fences of hate, suspicion and name calling.– William Arthur Ward

Frank A. Pelaschuk

January 29, 2017, Quebec City, Canada, mosque – 6 dead, 8 injured

August 11-13, Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally, one protester mowed down by car driven by neo-Nazi, 2 police helicopter pilots responding to protests killed in crash 

March,16 2019 Christchurch, NZ, two mosques– 50 dead, 50 injured

And many, many others

Who are they? What kind of people are they?

To call them crazy, lowlifes, morons, sickos, twisted, is too easy, pat phrases that appear to explain or excuse away the enormity of the acts as if such can be excused or easily explained. They are signs of society in deep trouble, fearful, angry, suspicious, intolerant and racist. Not all the far too many mass maiming and murders are racially motivated but too many are while too many of us stand on the sidelines shrugging and tut-tutting: What can one do, that’s the way the world is today. It need not be. 

Following each event racially motivated or not, the reaction is much the same: immense shock, profound sorrow, public aroused, much naval gazing, the rote denial of “This isn’t us”, race to the scenes, instant memorials, embraces, tears, prayers. Pundits pontificate, media endlessly replay images of shocked, grieving survivors, politicians politic railing against violence and hate with varying degrees of sincerity or, as with our own Maxime Bernier, stunning silence which about sums up all one needs to know about him, and racists retreat to the sewer for a day or two or take to the web until the outrage wanes. A few days, weeks, back to business.

Not all mass murders are racist white supremacists nor are all white supremacists murderers, but too many are. Those that aren’t kill in other ways dehumanizing those they fear and hate, targeting them online, harassing them on public streets, on buses, in restaurants and lineups, in schoolyards and at work. Haters seldom work alone, they need the encouragement and approval of other cowards or authority figures to fuel their fear and fury attacking people who have done no harm to them or theirs, whose only crimes appear to be their religion, the colour of their skin, the clothing that they wear, the place of their birth and country from which they have come. Mass murderers, including racists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, likely do not know their victims and have no desire to know them; to do so is to admit the possibility of their humanity, the possibility they may not be all that much different from us and, therefore, not to be feared, hated or blamed. It could be that those who come here from a distant elsewhere do not want what is ours but rather what we all desire and believe are the rights to which we are born: life, security, freedom. What is there to fear from people who are forced to leave the country of their birth only because the life they have known has become intolerable, brutal and unsafe offering no possibility of better simply because of their political beliefs, their sexual orientation, or that they are women wanting only to be recognized as free and independent as any man? Racist haters will not contemplate such a possibility for the risk to their worldview is too great. Could it be possible that all they believed and were fed was and is a lie? If that foreigner, especially the illegal, one more reason to hate and fear him, is not to be blamed, then who is? 

For that is the crux. Haters are of a kind. They likely believe that those foreigners, those asylum seekers, those just looking for a better life are steeped by the same awful emotions of envy, anger, fear, suspicion, and desire that poisons themselves and therefore are a threat. Haters do not know these foreign immigrants, these asylum seekers, these illegal border crossers, these people of many languages and shades. Numbed by unknown terrors and made dumb by inarticulate rage and lacking insight, all haters are blind to reality and to facts that conflict with their worldview, a worldview distorted and malign where they, the haters are victims, and those they maim and murder, men, women and children, are the guilty not only because they are different but also simply for being. Such seems to be the sentiments of Australian Senator Fraser Anning who, in the aftermath of the March 15, 2019 murders of fifty and the maiming of another fifty plus Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand by another Australian, tweeted: “Muslims may have been the victims today; usually they are the perpetrators.” He further claimed, “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” His was the racist touchstone employed by all his ilk; the great, godless bogyman. Weeks earlier, Anning, had evoked the holocaust with his anti-Muslim stance saying, “the final solutionto the immigration problem is a popular vote.” That’s a racist speaking. And one who likely knows his audience. His statements are so far removed from reality as to be derisory were not the outcomes all too often so predictably tragic. During a media scrum, seventeen-year-old, Will Connolly, standing behind the senator, committed what I consider a very sensible and brave, if not heroic, service by cracking an egg on Anning’s noggin, thereby informing the world that Anning was a man clearly too shameless and stupid to know when he has egg on his face.

But that is how haters work. The big lie, the great fear. They lie to others and themselves. That is not to say that terrorist acts are not committed by foreigners but, as in New Zealand, in the US and Canada, they are often home-grown whites, racists or not, feeding off each with their simplistic, unimaginative slogans telling themselves their white lives are under threat by immigrants, feminists, politically correct politicians, pro-abortion anti-Christian anti-family values bleeding heart socialists, Big Media and fake news, and Big Government and Big Unions. They repeat these stories so often they have morphed into caricatures of barely sentient beings goading each other with stories of greater outrages, real or imagined, by enemies of their perfect way of life. The rage and hate grow, inchoate and formless, without character, coherence or even a glimmer of intelligence. They embrace their ignorance, their fear, and are steadfast in their unreasoning refusal to not only see but to accept or even consider the possibility that any differences can enrich, enliven, and enhance too wedded to an unauthentic cult of victimhood: they are victim and everyone is out to get them. Yet, if pushed, they would find it difficult, perhaps even impossible, to articulate what it is they fear and hate without exposing themselves as ridiculous, if frightening, uninformed conspiracists blind to their own failures and failings.

The sad part is, the victimhood in which they bask, is often buttressed by those whom we elect.  

Donald Trump, who has much to answer for regarding the rise of white terrorism around the globe, has given licence to this sense of victimhood inflaming the fires of fear and the spectre of terrorism at almost every opportunity branding Syrian refugees as terrorists and Hispanics as illegals, criminals and rapists. In response to the Christchurch massacre, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, unwilling to offend his fan base including Ezra Levant’s vile, racist, anti-immigration publication, The Rebel, for which Scheer seems to hold a special fondness, bravely tweeted a tepid, generic, all-occasion at-the-ready tweet: “Freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers are targeted in a despicable act of evil. All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear.” A short time later, shamed for not stating the victims were Muslims and the place of worship mosques, Scheer bravely sent out another tweet. As for libertarian Maxime Bernier, founder of the new what’s-its-name party, not a word. The thing is, both parties, led by Scheer and Bernier, seem to hold a certain appeal to racists, bigots and haters from which neither seems willing to disassociate themselves. Votes are votes. They take them anyway they can. 

The United Conservative Party of Alberta, led by Jason Kenney, an ex-federal minister who possesses an understanding of truth far different from me, recently accepted the resignation of star candidate Caylan Ford after private communications came to light highlighting where her sympathies lay in certain areas. 

In a Facebook posting following the Charlottesville, Virginia attack which led to the death of a young woman protesting the white supremacist rally, Ford said the following: “When the perpetrator is an Islamist, the denunciation are intermingled with breathless assurances that they do not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of peace, etc…..When the terrorists are white supremacists, that kind of soul-searching or attempts to understand the sources of their radicalization or their perverse moral reasoning is beyond the pale” ( https://pressprogress.ca/ucp-candidate-complained-white-supremacist-terrorists-are-treated-unfairly-leaked-messages-show/March 19, 2019). 

In other words, there’s a double standard, the poor white supremacists as victims! Then, typically of such ilk, further commenting on her resignation, she blames PressProgress accusing it of “colluding” with the source of  the material supplied, “a man who, for over a year, has waged an obsessive campaign of intimidation, harassment, and defamation against me…PressProgress has shown itself to be utterly without regard for truth or decency” (Calgary Herald, Shawn Knox, March 19, 2019). In other words, she was misquoted. But, let’s give her her due: when called out, Ford did condemn the targeted shooting of Muslims in Christchurch, NZ. It just took a nudge. Maybe it’s just me, but I still see a bigot and an ex political candidate playing the role of victim. Sure, I may have said those things but why should you hold that against me? Too many hold that attitude; unfortunately, conservative parties and their leaders don’t hold it against those types, that’s their base and pandering is preferable to offending with harsh criticism against racial and religious intolerance. Votes are votes. They take them anyway they can. In politics, shame is for losers.  

But haters who turn killers want more than life, security and freedom…many of them want to be famous but possessing neither skills, talent, ambition, intelligence, not even a scintilla of imagination, go about achieving it the only way they can: mindlessly destroying the very ones they fear, envy and do not understand because they, the killers and haters know to the core of their dark, cold bitter hearts that those they kill are unwitting testaments to their own mediocrity. They, the sad, pitiful collective of nobodies measure up to nobody except other mediocrities wallowing in their own victimhood of the mind embracing the hateful myths lacing the messages of Fraser Anning, Caylan Ford, and ex-MPs Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander who many may recall were members of the same party Scheer leads, adjuring us to rush to the special government snitch line to report any “barbaric cultural practices” we happen to notice committed by those godless immigrant Muslims.

Racist haters see immigrants and asylum seekers as law breakers and threats, as people who have made it only because of government largesse and a natural tendency of Canadians to see only the good in others. We are too kind, too forgiving, too lenient, haters say, more willing to help them, those foreigners,than our own. The haters refuse to see, let alone acknowledge, that the “successes” by immigrants is by dint of extremely hard work: learning the ways of a new culture; learning a new language; getting an education; holding down two or three jobs and pooling the wages, resources and unified efforts embodied in the abiding love of family and friends. Haters are losers and know it. It’s easier to pull someone down than raise oneself up. For some, “Success is simply a matter of luck.” Unfortunately, haters never read to the next Earl Wilson line: “Ask any failure.”

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.—  Benjamin Franklin

TRUDEAU VS JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD: POLITICS CHEAPENED

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Thomas Cooper

Frank A. Pelaschuk

The February 27 testimony offered by liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould to the Justice Committee, if compelling and revealing and likely very damaging to the Trudeau brand, does not appear to offer sufficient reason for Trudeau to step down notwithstanding conservative leader Andrew Scheer screaming from the sidelines for Trudeau’s resignation and for the RCMP to be called in to investigate. The former Justice Minister, with her own credibility issues regarding conflict of interest breaches, came across as confident, articulate and, most importantly, as a truthful and reliable witness seeming to contradict much of the February 21 testimony of Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council and the most senior bureaucrat in government

Wernick came across as candid and open about his dealings with the former Justice Minister regarding SNC-Lavalin and possible harmful consequences should the Montreal-based construction company face the courts and be found criminally guilty of bribery and fraud. However, while proving himself loyal and vocal, he was not particularly effective because of his partisan asides in his defence of Trudeau and the liberal governance. Claiming that no undue pressure was exerted on Jody Wilson-Raybould by himself or the PMO to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case, Wernick asserted that if the former Justice Minister believed otherwise it was simply a matter of misperception on her part. The knives were definitely out. 

While he came across as articulate, intelligent and confident, if not arrogant, his was the demeanour far removed from the perception of the public functionary often imagined, quietly and silently toiling in some dark, dank dungeon ensuring our government operates efficiently and effectively. Often passionate, even aggressive at times, he did himself damage when raising legitimate concerns about foreign political interference and security issues by resorting to inflammatory rhetoric with claims that usage of the words “traitor” and “treason” led to the real possibility of assassination. This is  the politics of fear and passing strange for one who holds the position not of politician but as public servant and who must, by virtue of his job, maintain an attitude of neutrality. Wernick, experienced bureaucrat as he is and as he kept reminding us with his thirty-five years of service, failed miserably to convince this viewer that the PMO was not working desperately to convince Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution case against the company. He was holding to the party line to which he should not be a member working to undermine the credibility of Jody Wilson-Raybould. It was her word against their word. Wernick is no mere humble but talented bureaucrat but an ardent, unabashed Trudeau liberal booster worthy of an appearance in Babbitt. 

Interestingly and most telling, moments before Wernick’s appearance, Committee member conservative MP Michael Cooper sought to have those testifying before the Justice Committee take an oath and thereby held liable to perjury charges should they lie under questioning; the liberal majority wanting none of that voted it down five to four. It was clear that the investigation into the Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin matter would be guided along party lines, the liberals circling wagons around the PMO and the opposition MPs scoring points: they wanted that gotcha moment. If the truth was to be exposed that day, or any day, it would be by accident unless Trudeau waived the attorney-client privilege hamstringing the former Justice Minister and Attorney General. Trudeau did, Feb. 25, with restrictions: confidentiality was waived regarding her role and those with whom she talked about prosecution options for SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud but she would be restricted from speaking publicly as to her communications with the Director of  Public Prosecutions (DPP), Kathleen Roussel. Jody Wilson-Raybould was free to talk but limited in what she could reveal. Even so, she had a lot to say and say it she did. That was enough to get Scheer to squeal like a pig on ecstasy. Resignation! Police! Almost levitating, certainly salivating, Scheer and his conservative colleagues, trembling with faux indignation, shrieked (and no one shrieks louder than Candice Bergen) of preserving the independence of the courts and that of the Director of Public Prosecutors and maintaining “the rule of law” extolling the virtues of Jody Wilson-Raybould a liberal member whom just weeks before they would gladly have eviscerated. It seems they have forgotten their years of silence as members of Stephen Harper’s regime when the conservatives sought to stack the Supreme Court against “activist judges”. Conservatives are not only stupid, like all partisans, they have a quick forgettery that highlights the fact. 

Missing from the debate is the question of morality, integrity, the ability to experience shame. The conservative members are not standing up to corruption. They simply want to score points and take down the liberal government and to replace them so they can do the same. As long as jobs are safe, promises are made and people embrace the lies, it apparently doesn’t matter what politicos corrupt and corrupt they do. The wants and needs of special interests must be accommodated regardless of the effects on society, our laws and our democracy; just don’t don’t it loudly so as to be noticed. Voters are to be used, politicians purchased, Big Business allowed to make the rules. SNC-Lavalin has a sordid history of corruption. Allowing it to plea bargain with hefty fines, admission of guilt, changes in organizational structure and the reimbursement of unlawful benefits is not sufficient. It hasn’t worked in the past and it will not work now. I, too, care about the nine thousand Canadian jobs as much as the next person but not at any price. If companies go under, so be it, there are others willing to step in but now in the full knowledge that we mean it when we say no bad deed goes unpunished, even corporate deeds. Bad businesses do not change; they only seek change to laws or of those they cannot buy.

But this is politics and doubtless similarly played in all western democracies. Jody Wilson-Raybould seems to be the ammunition that could topple the Trudeau government mortally wounded by one of its own. The conservatives and NDP today fall all over themselves to embrace her as honest, absolutely truthful, fearless and a beacon of integrity which she well may be none really questioning why she has done her party as she has. Was she getting back at Trudeau for her demotion because of her failure to do what Trudeau wanted of her? While she may be telling the truth, and I believe she is, I do not buy that hokey “I am a truth-teller” line she offers and her First Nations supporters feed us as if to suggest as an absolute of nature inherent to indigenous peoples. Where was her voice of objection when Trudeau held those many, many secretive exclusive fundraising events with Big Business and foreign millionaires and billionaires? Why did she not stand up to him when he shamelessly publicly turned on his own electoral reform promise? What of her own conflicts of interest breaches? 

“I am a truth-teller”. Well, it sounds good. Better than that throw-away line she offered saying she had attended the fundraiser sponsored by lawyers not as Justice Minister but as a liberal member. If people cannot be trusted on the small things, and I don’t think conflict of interest breaches small, I find it difficult to trust them on the big things. But, hey, that’s just me. I accept her testimony but not unreservedly.

During her testimony, she had stated that in regard to the SNC-Lavalin matter, she felt the PMO had crossed the line but admitted no laws had been broken. She also believed she was removed from the justice ministry to the Ministry of Veterans Affairs because of her refusal to do what the PMO wanted from her: intervention in the SNCE-Lavalin matter. So the question remains: was she retaliating for her demotion from a post she clearly loved? Unsurprisingly, Trudeau responded swiftly, saying he completely disagreed with her “characterization…of these events.”

There is little doubt that the then Justice Minister was under considerable pressure to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin matter to spare the company from facing the courts and the possibility of conviction for bribery and corruption. Such a conviction could prove costly not only to the Montreal-based construction giant but also to its nine thousand Quebec workers whose only wrong seems to have been working for a company with a history of corrupt practices. For the liberals, the line has been that the ultimate decision was hers, that no one from the PMO had “directed” her. That’s a feeble defence smacking more of legalese weasel verbiage than a firm stand for “the rule of law” Trudeau kept dredging up whenever questioned on the Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest on the request of the US but, however tenuous, is given credence by Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony when she says no laws were broken. There are ways of “directing” without spelling it out. Trudeau knows that as well as we do.

Trudeau cannot be trusted. He has proven himself of fluid ethics, evasive and unashamedly ready to break promises. He loves the glitz and image of grand promises and grand gestures but, when all is said and done he is a straw man who accepts free gifts and breaks major promises, such as that of electoral reform, going through the motions by creating a committee, which he initially sought to stack, to look into it, then, declaring Canadians had lost interest, proceeded to undermine and then drive a stake through the hope because the committee failed to make the recommendation he favoured. His months of denying his many secretive private fundraising efforts with foreign millionaires and billionaires further demonstrate he is untrustworthy and untruthful. His efforts to help SNC-Lavalin by leaning on the Justice Minister is just one more nail to the end of his sunny, sunny promise.

While I do not trust Trudeau or the liberals, I have even less hope for the Scheer gang who are mostly members of the old Harper gang who were as overbearing and deceitful as this liberal mob. The shoe in on the other foot and the sides have switched positions they once opposed, detested and derided. That’s not just politics, though it is politics; it’s hypocrisy and a clear demonstration of the dearth of integrity possessed by both sides. I cannot speak of the NDP simply because they have never led this country but I suspect, overtime, they too would succumb to the corruptive allure of power. Thus far, that has been the purview of only two parties, the liberals and conservatives who have swapped places and positions since Canada’s inception, two faces on the same coin melding at times into one. Next election will offer nothing new, just another swap of the same old same old.

While it is understandable and acceptable the liberal government would want to preserve those jobs (Scheer’s conservatives would be no different), it is not understandable nor acceptable that governments would pass into law DPAs (Deferred Prosecution Agreements) that would allow corporations to escape criminal verdicts. What makes this even more offensive is to claim that other democracies have done this and that Canada is late joining the party. No company, and that includes one with a very dirty past, should be allowed to be considered “too big to fail”. That SNC-Lavalin was successful in its lobbying efforts suggest that the liberals disagree. When the conservatives form government, they will defend DPAs as staunchly as the liberals. 

Canadians and their government have no duty assure the survival of rogue corporations by assisting them in their bid to escape punishment for their depredations. Yet, that is exactly what DPAs allow: governments to abet criminals escape justice. Now some have said admissions of guilt, hefty fines, restitution of funds unlawfully claimed, restructuring, and denial of doing business with cash cow governments for ten years (the standard around the globe it appears) is not insignificant.  Perhaps not. But it’s not justice when individuals without the wherewithal can be sent to jail and corporations get raps on the wrist for doing the same thing with corrupt executives escaping justice because well-paid lawyers know how to work the system or because of “unreasonable” delays in prosecution. 

Even more worrisome, have been rumours of Trudeau’s government quietly tweaking the DPA provision so that punishment is less onerous for corporations: time from doing business with government would be reduced from ten to five years and some have even suggested a reduction to six months!

It was clear from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, notwithstanding Trudeau’s relentless mantra of focusing on jobs, that the real concerns of liberals were on the Quebec and the upcoming federal elections. In other words: it was and is all about getting re-elected and saving SNC-Lavalin was and is an essential part of the plan to that end. What’s good for SNC-Lavalin is good for the liberals. Tomorrow it could be the turn of the conservatives. 

It is a sad fact that governing parties are less concerned with the interests of Canada and Canadians than in their own continued hold of power. Harper and his gang were that way and the liberals are no different. Sovereignty and the rule of law all too frequently seem to be side issues for governing parties. Apparently, the prime minister and his crew were unaware that the Director of Public Prosecutors plays an independent role. Perhaps it’s time that the  Minister of Justice and Attorney General be independent as well with a neutral non-politician taking the dual roles. The law must not be toyed with or shaped to the fashion of the day. Yet Trudeau, and Harper before him, have implemented laws that allows for such abuses. 

Trudeau has long ago betrayed the promise of newer and better, of openness and transparency. He is no different from Harper and I am tempted to say of both and their colleagues they are just another set of “cheap” politicos but I am of the same mind as Laurence J. Peter who opined, “There’s no such thing as a cheap politician.” He’s right; the cost of electing liars, cheats, people without integrity who respect neither democracy nor the “rule of law” or even voters, is far too high a price to pay. But, in the end, whose fault is this, really? Theirs or ours? 

Had Trudeau accepted the recommendation proposed by the Electoral Reform Committee, the next election might have offered the answer. When only two parties with little to distinguish them have governed the nation, one cannot be surprised that complacency has taken root. It is a rotten system and we are part of it.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S ACHILLES HEEL: THE ‘RULE OF LAW’ TAKES A BEATING

I once said cynically of a politician, “He’ll double cross that bridge when he comes to it.” –Oscar Levant

There is no such thing as a cheap politician. –Laurence J. Peter

Frank A. Pelaschuk

All parties campaign on them, offering promises of honest, transparent, fair, equitable governance. For Trudeau, there would be more: not only would his be a gender-balanced cabinet, a promise he kept, 2015 would also be the last ever first-past-the-post election and an end to the massively unwieldy omnibus bills which the Stephen Harper regime had turned into an art form in hopes of slipping legislation without anyone noticing and the opposition liberals and NDP unremittingly fought against for that very reason. He broke the last two promises and many others since, but electoral reform must surely have been the most brutal betrayal for those who voted for him on this issue alone while his turning his back on his omnibus stance may be the costliest because of recent allegations made against the Trudeau regime in the Globe and Mail of political interference in the 2015 criminal charges laid against the Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin company regarding bribery payouts to Libyan public officials.  

In the 2018 liberal budget, there was inserted a little noted provision having nothing to do with the budget. Few people noticed; those that did made noise, were ignored by the governing party and the public paid little attention perhaps still in love with Trudeau or believing this was esoteric stuff or just mere noise by sore losers or unsurprising worthy only of resigned shrugs: What’s new, this is how it works, business and politicians working together gaming the system. The provision buried deep in the budget tome refers to the “Differed Prosecution Agreement” (DPA) or the “Remediation Agreement”. It is a plea-bargaining tool commonplace in Britain and America much favoured by those into protecting the health and welfare of Big Business rather than that of citizens from whose purse those corporate interests often pillage upon winning government contracts; evidently, it’s a tool Trudeau and the PMO find attractive and, if it works as a lure for corporate donations, all the better. With DPAs, corporate beneficiaries bargain with prosecutors to avoid costly public trials: they admit to guilt, pay big fines, give back accrued benefits and make changes within the corporate structure perhaps with a few sacrificial bad apples (never mind if the barrel is rotten). But here’s the real value of avoiding trial with a plea deal: corporations also avoid the ten-year penalty of not being allowed to bid on lucrative government contracts. Free enterprisers lose nothing while granted licence to capitalize on the free pass to do business as usual, perhaps even repeating the very acts that got them into trouble in the first place: buying politicians and winning government contracts while all parties laugh their way to the bank. Why not? Since we became a nation, we’ve given the conservatives and liberals a similar pass to lie, break promises, help their friends as they always have because too frightened, too lazy, too stupid to try something new. Change scares us, leaves us frozen and makes us accomplices.

With Scott Brison’s departure, the cabinet shuffle that followed raised some eyebrows particularly with the demotion of Jody Wilson-Raybould as justice minister. Not only was she the first First Nations member to achieve such a high position in cabinet, she was, notwithstanding several breaches of conflicts of interest issues, in some circles considered a moderately effective minister. However, within hours of her demotion, she issued a statement on her website which included this excerpt: “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power” (for the full statement,http://www.netnewsledger.com/2019/01/15/statement-from-minister-jody-wilson-raybould-mp/). This piece alone is a remarkable statement seeming to suggest all was not well between the justice minister and the PMO and, with the Globe and Mail piece, takes on added significance that cannot and must not be ignored. SNC-Lavalin, with a dubious history and in preliminary hearings with no trial date yet since last October, stands to lose billions. The allegation is that the PMO sought to assist the construction company avoid trial and thus enable it to continue to have the opportunity to bid on government contracts by leaning on the justice department. Apparently, the tactic failed; the justice department pushed back thereby assuring the demotion of Jody Wilson-Raybould. The above excerpt seems to suggest there was some kind of political interference but, if so, what kind? Cynics have suggested that the Globe and Mail story was leaked by Wilson-Raybould herself and that the statement of January 15 was the groundwork for what followed. Was she fired because she attempted to intervene in the corruption case? If that was true, and none of it has been proven, the statement by the then minister could read as a pre-emptive strike against the PMO as a means of exacting revenge for her demotion. Whatever happened, the story is out there and only Jody Wilson-Raybould and the PMO know the truth of the matter. When asked about the Globe and Mail story, February 7, the following exchange took place: 

Question:“Did you or anyone in your office pressure the former attorney general to abandon the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin?” 

Answer:“Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.” Question:“But the question is whether there was any sort of influence. Are you saying categorically there was absolutely no influence or any pushing whatsoever?” 

Answer:“At no time did I or my office direct t the current or previous attorney general to make any decision in this matter.” 

Question:“But not necessarily direct…. Was there any sort of influence whatsoever?” 

Answer:“As I’ve said, at no time did we direct the attorney general current or previous to take any decision in this matter” (National Post in the Ottawa Citizen, Friday, February 8, 2019)

Not only were Trudeau’s responses circular, evasive and legal, Jody Wilson-Raybould chose not to clear the air or to support Trudeau when, shortly after the Trudeau interview, she was asked questions of a similar nature. Had the PMO sought to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin matter? “No comment” was the succinct and telling response. Devastating for Trudeau and leaving open room for many more questions. One thing was clear: the one-time justice minister, now veterans affairs minister, had no interest in helping the PMO. The following day, February 8, she stated she could not answer more fully because she was “bound by solicitor-client privilege” an argument some legal experts claim could be waived by the prime minister. That did not happen. It likely will not happen. 

NOW WHAT?

We all know how easy it is to make promises. It is much more difficult to follow through on one that would alter if not destroy the very thing that allowed you your greatest success. Such promises usually go by the wayside; it takes a person of great moral character to follow through on such a promise. Trudeau is not that man. He never was. It was not because of a change of heart by Trudeau that electoral reform failed; reform failed when it became clear that his preferred choice of ranked ballot, something he kept from the public, was not to be. Trudeau set about to undermine and then kill the effort; it would be ranked ballot or nothing as far as Trudeau was concerned though it was clear that those supporting electoral reform preferred some form of proportional representation as recommended by the committee struck up to look into the matter. It was never about what the public wanted or about a fair and open system. It was all about maintaining the status quo, maintaining what worked for the liberals and conservatives since 1867.

From the start, honesty and transparency bit the dust and recent events have shown the extent of Trudeau’s deceit with his slipping of the DPA provision into the 2018 budget. He was and is and likely always will be just another politico out for the main chance. His loyalty is not with you and me but, rather, with those with the big bucks. Evidently Trudeau really does believe and support the sentiments of General Bullmoose, the rapacious capitalist Al Capp creation made infamous in Li’l Abnerfor saying, “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for America”. Bullmoose is fiction but not so the real-life capitalist and former head of General Motors, Charles E. Wilson, who, in appearing before a senate committee in 1952 opined, “What is good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa.” Sixty-seven years later, the rapacity of General Bullmoose continues unbridled often under the protection and with the assist of governments more interested in the good health of Big Business than the health of those who elect them. We saw some of that with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program when Stephen Harper was in power and Jason Kenney, employment minister, only after public exposure made changes to a low allowing companies to pay foreign workers less than Canadians. We see some of that now with the DPAs sneaked into law by Trudeau. 

Trudeau is very good at grandstanding and shamelessly touching all the politically correct hot buttons except the ones that count, including integrity, honesty, the ability to experience shame. I cannot help but think of the Yiddish proverb which, with apologies, I will paraphrase: Trudeau loves everybody but he helps himself and his friends.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, ANDREW SCHEER, JAGMEET SINGH: COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA

Politics offers yesterday’s answers to today’s problems.– Marshall McLuhan

A Liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins.– Heywood Broun

Frank A. Pelaschuk

A few days ago, a young Saudi woman asylum seeker, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, came to Canada. She had barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel and took to the Twitter-verse in an effort to fight off deportation to Kuwait where, she stated, her brothers, family and the “Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait. They will kill me. My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things” (Independent, Richard Hall, Jan. 7, 2019). She was seeking asylum, hopefully with Australia but, unsurprisingly, it was Canada that was able to respond with a rapidity Australia could not match. This was too good an opportunity for the Trudeau regime to miss. 

And exploit.

When Ms Qunun landed in Toronto, she was not only greeted by reporters and well-wishers, she was ushered out to face the public by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, with the minister’s arm proprietorially draped over the teenager’s shoulders as she welcomed this “brave new Canadian”! That’s how easy one becomes a Canadian, evidently.

This event, and this image, about sums up what all one needs to know of this liberal government. I did not like what I saw, a young Saudi woman used as a photo-op. While I have no reason to doubt, and I don’t, the dangers outlined by Ms Qunun, Saudi Arabia is, after all, a notorious human right abusing nation and we are well aware of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi case, I do have grave reservations regarding the motives of the Trudeau government in this particular instance; we’ve seen this before by him. With Freeland’s presence at the airport, I saw what I’ve seen too often, shameless politicians seizing an opportunity for a grand photo-op to promote themselves under the guise of doing the right, the decent, the noble thing. For the liberals, Ms Qunun’s plight was fortuitously ancillary to burnishing Trudeau’s image and they did not hesitate to exploit that opportunity. It was cynical and cheap and even mean. They could have allowed Ms Qunun a day before sinking their filthy claws into her. 

I welcome Ms Qunun and just hope she meets better people than the one she met in Freeland acting on behalf of Trudeau’s government. 

ONE TERM FOR THE PRINCE?

This new year might well see the end of the liberal reign after one term with Trudeau at the helm. That is neither good news nor bad news; just more of what Canadians have known since Canada became a nation. Whichever party wins or loses, the beneficiaries of the election are from the same coin and remain as unlikable, untrustworthy and undeserving as any gang of bigoted, mean-spirited and stupid group of people inflicted upon Canada: conservatives and liberals, sewer rats out only for the main chance. Whatever happened to the goal of truly serving Canada and the people who elected them?

For Trudeau, glibness, fake sincerity and mean-spirited cynicism are lodestones masqueraded by charisma and simple-minded public tolerance and good will. Political correctness offered with smarm and charm: feminism, tolerance, human rights, the things that all decent folk profess to believe in but, as does Trudeau, will turn their backs upon as easily as he can call up a tear when it suits provided a camera is nearby to catch that single effortlessly milked saline drop. 

Not content with just fluid ethics, his shamelessness is boundless as when, while first working to undermine his own promise of electoral reform, he proudly boasted of not regretting turning his back on it saying the public had lost interest. That wasn’t true, but what the hell, this is Trudeau, Trump-lite liar with a smile. Anything goes with him. Even his decency is prodded and primped for that photo-op public consumption. With his election, everything would be newer, better. Remember? Well, that didn’t happen. The same old politics as practiced by Harper. Trudeau could have called three by-elections months ago but, mimicking Harper in pettiness and meanness, he held off until he could hold off no longer without looking even smaller than he is; on January 6, he called the by-elections for February 25. It is Jagmeet Singh he really fears but not because Singh is a charismatic leader (he certainly is not) with a chance of winning (zero), but because he fears that the NDP, starving for funds under an absolutely weak and unprepared leader (this hurts; I have supported the NDP throughout my long life) will take away some of the votes from the disappointed who strayed to the liberal fold when they succumbed to shimmering image and grandiloquent, ultimately empty, promises. Trudeau’s is the substance of eye candy.  

But Trudeau didn’t just break promises. He broke trust. It is not enough to say words. You must believe what you say and promise and follow through. With First Nations people, he must surely be a disappointment. He makes grand declarations but cannot keep to them because he wants to be all things to all people. That’s wishful thinking, folks. Just as easy to believe in fairy tales and wishful thinking as did all those folks who elected him. First Nations members gave him the benefit of the doubt as did most Canadians and, for a time, he seemed to be up to his words. Maybe, just maybe. Communities would finally experience what it was like to have their own pure, clean, drinkable water. They would finally have homes they could live in, programs that their young could take towards better education, away from alcoholism, drugs, despair, suicide. Maybe never had a chance at “Yes!” So much for promises, communities still suffer, kids are still dying. Newer and better? Just words, wishful thinking, phony baloney.

We have First Nations members divided when it comes to pipelines. Almost everyone believes in climate change just no one wants to do anything about it. We have blockades set up by indigenous members and their supporters. The pipeline issue seems unresolvable without someone not just bending, but bending a lot. Climate change is here; the danger is real. But so is the need for jobs. Until one of the needs is met, there is no possibility of meeting the other need. We all have to change, not just our behaviour but also our mindsets. Change must happen quickly but it cannot happen overnight. But it must happen. 

Trudeau does not measure up to the job. Not only were his first two years plagued by conflict of interest issues and questionable secret fundraising efforts, there were the unwarranted expense claims by various ministers early in the liberal mandate including Catherine MacKenna, Chrystia Freeland and three by then education minister Jane Philpott who was embarrassed into repaying them. She now replaces Scott Brison who resigned as president of the Treasury Board and was alleged to have intervened in the procurement process of an interim supply ship rescinding a contract with a Quebec shipbuilding company in favour of the Halifax based Irving Shipbuilding company in Brison’s home province. There was some speculation that this was a thank-you present to the eastern provinces for giving the liberals a clean sweep in the 2015 election. It doesn’t help that the opposition and that premiers across the country are more bent on advancing their own causes than in fighting Trudeau and his party and their ideas with ideas of their own in a manner not so crudely self-serving. Do they really act in the best interests of the nation when they point fingers and then, when upon winning the brass ring, they do what they once condemned?

The conservatives, federally and provincially, are not builders of a nation while in opposition any more than were the liberals. The NDP have never governed federally. It is difficult to know if they would be any better unless they are giving the opportunity to do so. None of the sides show real signs of wanting to contribute through cooperation but all sides have shown clearly that they are out for the main chance: what’s in it for me?

I dislike Trudeau. I do not believe he is sincere or ethical; I believe him to be craven and weak. He does not stand up for what he says he believes because I don’t believe he believes in anything but saying the thing that will win people to his side. Scheer is another I dislike because he is from the old Harper gang and, in spite of his smile, absolutely charmless and brings with him the same meanness of his predecessor. His idea of being opposition member is that of whinging, tearing down and never, ever contributing something constructive because, you see, it just might help the liberals.

I support the NDP but not Jagmeet Singh. He is an ineffectual and unprepared leader. That’s too bad. His handling of the harassment allegations against Erin Weir brought against him by NDP member Christine Moore on behalf of others was poorly handled to the extreme and effectively destroyed the promising political career of one NDP member whose only real crime seems to be one of social awkwardness while Moore, herself a subject of predatory harassment allegations, escaped relatively unscathed. 

So, why did the NDP go with Singh. Well, he was young, handsome, articulate, intelligent and a visible minority. Trudeau-lite if you will. The NDP had shed its old image of being the conscience of the country as willingly as Trudeau his electoral reform initiative. Elections are about winning is the NDP song: the main chance. That must have been the thinking behind Thomas Mulcair’s election strategy. For decades, the call for balanced budgets won elections. The NDP was known as the spend and spend party with good intentions but poor budgetary skills. Not in 2015! Mulcair would run on the promise of a good heart and a balanced budget. Oh, dear, look where it got him. Trudeau veered to the left and, of course, won the election. People can always be bought with their own money. For old fools like me, it’s about roots and principles. In the past, the NDP has proven itself effective even without winning. But that’s the past, I guess. It’s not enough that a leader be “likeable”; for me, Singh never coulda been a contender.

And what can I say of Maxime Bernier who, as a member of Harper’s cabinet with extreme libertarian views, distinguished himself by leaving behind secret government documents after an overnight romp at the home of his then girlfriend, a one-time girlfriend to a Hell’s Angels member? Disenchanted with losing to Andrew Scheer in his bid for the Conservative leadership, Bernier left the party to form his own unimaginatively called People’s Party of Canada made up largely of constituents to whom he and the conservatives he left often pander: the ignorant, the disenchanted, the intolerant. Is this know-nothing to be trusted let alone supported?

Oh yeah, happy new year.  

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. –  Benjamin Franklin

TRUDEAU, DRUGS & HUMAN RIGHTS

I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.– Will Rogers

Frank A. Pelaschuk

With the disappearance and death, likely murder, of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering a Saudi embassy in Istanbul October 2, 2018, it would seem the world is finally ready to face Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses. It is, however, one thing to face the outrages and another to act. Standing in the sidelines blustering and tut-tutting disapproval is totally inadequate. Western democracies must take a stand: either they believe in human rights, including the right to speak out, or they admit that while supporting such rights in principle when possible, they will not do so at any cost, especially when that cost is economic self-interest. In other words, why not just admit what we all know and apparently embrace: human rights is a honey if it doesn’t cost money.

So where does that place Justin Trudeau the touchy-feely, the self-declared (if equivocal) feminist, the world leader who readily and easily cries on cue (especially when there’s a camera to take note), who offers the less than forceful condemnation of the rogue Saudi state? For myself, there is no surprise. I expect less of him because, apart from his hypocritical strutting rodomontade on electoral reform and promises of making human rights a priority, he consistently delivers less. So, it’s hardly surprising when weighing three thousand Canadian jobs and $15 billion invested in the Light-Armoured Vehicle (LAV) trade against suppression of rights, imprisonment, torture and murder of people we don’t know and who whose votes don’t count that human rights takes a back seat. It did under Harper who brokered the deal and continues under Trudeau who utters the banalities to which he is prone, empty words and no action with the added side benefit for him of earning the praise of Neo-liberals for his “pragmatism”. I can think of a more accurate word.

On Friday, October 19, 2018, the Saudis, after weeks of denial and silence, had finally admitted that the journalist had died at their hands with this fantastical offering with changes in the days that followed: Khashoggi, in the embassy for the purpose of picking up documents allowing him to remarry with proof of divorce, got into a fight, the reasons undisclosed, and somehow died. The admission came about within days of a Washington Post story of US intelligence intercepting a Saudi report outlining a plan to kidnap a prominent journalist and the release of videos of “suspected” Saudi “assassins” entering and leaving Turkey within hours of Khashoggi entering the embassy. The admission made, the absence of a body and the image of a respected journalist engaging in fisticuffs stretches all credulity. Even so the Saudis had detained 15 individuals and fired two ministers sealing the admission that the Saudi embassy had indeed, as the world suspected, become an execution chamber perhaps on orders of the youthful prince, Mohammed bin Salman, widely praised as a moderate reformer when he took the reins of power over a year ago and quickly proving himself anything but.

While foreign minister Chrystia Freeland had been mildly critical of Saudi Arabia’s record regarding the treatment of women in the recent past, evoking an over-the-top response by the Saudis, Trudeau’s recent assertions of confronting Saudi Arabia “over many years” for its human rights abuses is patently absurd evoking memories of the Harper regime that shamelessly and routinely resorted to historical rewriting. If Trudeau was outraged, if he has “confronted” the human rights abusing state, he kept it to himself and in the liberal family and he certainly offered little in the way of concrete action that he had done so. In fact, we have evidence of Trudeau in full hypocritical mode and I’m not talking about his ethics which are extremely fluid, but of his behaviour regarding the LAV deal.

Before he became prime minister, Trudeau’s liberals were critical of the Harper regime deal but, once in office, it was he who finalized it responding to critics it had become a done deal under Harper and that his hands were tied. Absolutely untrue. It was Trudeau’s signing off on the deal that allowed for the movement of the Canadian made LAVs to the destination country often through a circuitous route so as to enable him to claim that he did not break Canada’s own guidelines regarding international trade with human rights abusers. While that, too, is utter hogwash, such behaviour is a clear indicator of how willing Trudeau and gang are to practice deception. Trudeau then went on to claim that he had to complete the deal because breaking it would ruin Canada’s reputation as a trusted broker. Again, utter hogwash. The Dutch had no qualms about breaking a contract with the Saudis over human rights abuses and Canada’s Jean Chretien, without even the pretence of anything as noble, had no difficulty breaking a military helicopter contract brokered by Brian Mulroney simply because it had been brokered by Brian Mulroney. Canada seems to have survived the petty and costly debacle and the Netherlands appears to have weathered the storm with its reputation not only intact but possibly enhanced. Of course, there are always penalties when such deals go wrong but the question remains: should progressive democracies trade with human rights abusers? Ignoring our own laws regarding such with flimsy alibis is inexcusable. After signing off on the deal, Trudeau said he would in the future not commit to similar agreements with human rights abusers. With nothing in the horizon and nothing to lose, that was an easy promise.

The LAV deal, which I, and those more knowledgeable, have opposed from the Harper era, cements forever my impression of Trudeau as a fair-weather, self-interested, human rights poseur. He is an actor, he is a liar and a phony, he is untrustworthy.

As of this writing, the entire Canada-Saudi Arabia relationship is under scrutiny according to Chrystia Freeland. That’s nice but it means absolutely nothing. On CBC’s Power and Politics Oct. 22, 18, with the Trudeau regime facing increasingly harsh criticism and demands that the LAV deal be canceled, liberal MP Andrew Leslie stated that the government would not be rushed into making a hasty judgement, that they were in the process of “gathering the facts”! Really? The facts have been known for years. Saudi Arabia persecutes, prosecutes, imprisons, executes and just abuses its citizens. There is nothing more to know now that the Saudis themselves have finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi was dead and that the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was, in fact, a death chamber for Jamal Khashoggi. With its many variant stories regarding the journalist’s death, nothing is plausible with the Saudi explanations but this: Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi embassy simply because he was a critic of the prince and the state.

Where is Canada on this?

Well, nowhere.

Why is he so hesitant? Canada has joined the US in passing the Magnitsky Act which, while initially meant to target Russia, allows for sanctions against any human rights abusing nation profiting from corrupt practices. What is there to investigate? Trudeau knows exactly what the world knows. Saudi Arabia is a rogue state.

But, according to Leslie, Trudeau and the liberals need more.

Trudeau’s lasting legacy will not be that of human rights crusader but rather as crusading drug lord. He is the smarmy Snake Oil salesman, a pro-business slut of fluid ethics believing in nothing but the main chance. He has casually turned his back on those voters who believed him on electoral reform for which no one was calling but which he had loudly and grandiosely declared would make 2015 the last first-past-the-post election. He has also lobbied fiercely and intensely to see the passage of his drug bill for which the nation is ill-prepared. This was one promise he would, could, and did keep even though there are, as yet, no reliable means of testing for driving under the influence of marijuana.

That is inexcusable and unconscionable.

Yes, Trudeau is the world’s newest and favourite Drug Czar. Opportunists and users are ecstatic. He could have found a better way to make a greater difference. He ignored critics and signalled trade was more important than human rights. He had the opportunity to possibly save lives but in signing the LAV deal placed lives in jeopardy. Doing the right thing costs at times but human rights around the world would have been all the better for it. Doing the wrong thing also costs. Evidently Trudeau weighed the consequences to him and opted for the cheap victory of the cheap entry into the history books.

People will likely die because of his failure to cancel the LAV deal. They will certainly die because of the Trudeau vanity drug project for which Canada is ill-prepared.

Maybe I’m just too old. It’s bad enough having a one-time two-bit drug dealer as premier of Ontario. I’m just not ready for a prime minister who can now add the title of Drug Czar to his résumé rather than that of Human Rights crusader.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

NAFTA II: TRUDEAU AND THE CONTINUED ABANDONMENT OF SOVEREIGNTY

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them. – Karl Marx 

Frank A. Pelaschuk

The hallmark of liars is the belief they are smarter than the mark. They often are; the galling part is their certainty of our stupidity.

For Justin Trudeau, the “new” NAFTA is a win. For local Canadian retailers, already under stress, there is even greater stress as consumers will be able to buy more American goods online before duties kick in. As for farmers, they too seem to have been abandoned forced into accepting a life they do not and did not seek, not just government subsidization, but also a loss of independence and, for most, if not all, a way of life they would not exchange at any price with the further indignation of knowing that for those who would end supply management, their livelihood and their lives are considered a small sacrifice at the behest of the free market, which most likely support and have now fallen victim to. The free market now threatens them with American milk surpluses dumped into Canada and taxpayers compensating farmers. The winners will be the big guns and, in the end, almost certainly have Canadian farmers and consumers as losers.

Trudeau had said more than once, “No deal is better than a bad deal”. He was always glib with the homilies but, when it comes to the crunch, he is more successful in what he says than what he does. It takes practice, I guess, and character of fluid ethics. 

Politically, Trudeau has from the start been deceitful, dishonest and hypocritical; he campaigned with grand promises and loud claims while never offering notice that there were strings attached to some and others he had no intention of honouring because he did not even believe in the things he wanted us to believe he believed though he was convincing in that area, shedding tears on cue and oozing, simply oozing, sincerity. He promised more and better and had little difficulty in walking away from both when they failed to suit his purposes as with the mandate letters to his caucus outlining what he expected from them and their ministries. Foremost among the mandates was his expectation of avoidance of real and perceived conflicts of interests which, almost immediately, Jody Wilson-Raybould, his minister of justice, ignored and he excused off-handedly. No big deal. Except it was. For the next year, he and his ministers attended secret meetings at private fundraising gatherings with the well-heeled movers and shakers who always seem to have the conservatives and liberals in their pockets in matters that really count for them. 

And then, of course, who can forget or even forgive that massive betrayal of his loud, boastful declaration that 2015 was the “last ever” first-past-the-post election. Oh, he put on a good show of self-congratulatory puffery, setting up a committee to look into reform and make recommendations but was immediately outed for stacking the deck which he quickly corrected without apparent shame for attempting to pull a fast one. But it wasn’t long before he set about undermining the newly reorganized committee saying the public was losing interest in Electoral Reform. Naturally, that was a lie. Why should he kill the golden horse on which he rode to majority victory? He would and did not. But he did want a show, a pretend spectacle of offering opportunity for change until proceeding to kill his own creation when he realized the committee he sought to rig would not make the recommendation he sought, the ranked ballot system that would all but guarantee, as has happened since confederation, that the liberals and conservatives would continue to govern for as long as Canada existed. Instead, the committee recommended a form of proportional representation. Trudeau’s liberals (with conservatives cheering him all the way) was having none of that. Why? Because, with PR, every vote counts. In other words, PR forces a fair election with a fair outcome. 

Even with the best will in the world, I cannot help but believe Trudeau lied, absolutely lied to the public when he made that declaration while withholding from voters his preferred and only choice. In other words, with his preference off the table, he had no intention of following through with electoral reform.

Three years later, Trudeau continues to lie with the conclusion of the “new” NAFTA negotiation. He was snookered, trumped by that lunatic to the south and he has the gall to call it a win. What is astounding is that so many seem to be of that view. Any deal, even a bad deal, seems preferable to no deal is the stand he now takes. It is the health of Big Business, evidently, that is of more concern to the Liberals, than the health and well-being of Canada and its citizens. The conservatives cannot be ignored in all this; had they had their way, the bad deal would have been signed months earlier and, without doubt, with a potential for greater harm to Canada and Canadians. 

NAFTA II (USMCA) reinforces the perception that we have already surrendered sovereignty when corporations, under NAFTA could take legal action against a nation it perceives as protectionist and harmful to their bottom line. Under this agreement, there is a clause in Chapter 32, Article 32.10A inserted by the Americas which basically takes another swipe at sovereignty. None of the three signatories will be allowed to engage in independent trade negotiations with China without first notifying the other two and allowing them to review the agreement for month before the deal is signed. If the other parties don’t like the deal, they can withdraw from NAFTA II within six months. If that is not surrender of sovereignty, what is? Defenders of the deal say other signatories had the same option to withdraw under NAFTA. That is true but not quite under conditions like this. For the past two or three years, Canada and China have been exploring trade talks. With USMCA, Canada and Mexico will be dragged into an American, Trump-instigated trade war with China. China cannot help but look unfavourably on this clause and wonder whether Canada, as a signatory to the deal, can really be trusted in future talks, if they ever take place, when under the subjugation of the American boot on its neck. It’s a surrender of sovereignty and nothing but. Pharmaceutical companies, especially American, will do very well When you hear conservative politicians largely praise the deal notwithstanding the required partisan political shots at the liberals, you know what you’ve probably always known: When it comes to the interests and welfare of ordinary Canadians, Conservatives and Liberals will always number the health of Big Business their first priority. And Canadians will feel the affects of that priority for real when they feel the blow of prescription costs going up.

Yeah, it’s a great deal. Unless you’re an ordinary, hard working Canadian farmer, a local retailer and its employee.  

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.  Benjamin Franklin

%d bloggers like this: