RSS Feed

Category Archives: Political Commentary

Political Commentary

TRUMP, MISOGYNY & RACISM: TRUDEAU’S PECULIAR SILENCE

In Rhodesia a white truck driver passed a group of idle natives and muttered, “They’re lazy brutes.” A few hours later he saw natives heaving two-hundred pound sacks of grain onto a truck, singing in rhythm to their work. “Savages!” he grumbled. “What do you expect?” – Gordon W. Allport

If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities. – Voltaire

Frank Pelaschuk

 

It may be a truism that has become reductive: Every tragedy offers opportunity to showcase the best and the worst of us.

We have recently been witness to a lot of both. We have seen the faces and heard the voices of hope and reason standing up to the ugly proponents of intolerance, unreason, and violence. Heather Heyer and scores of others, as part of the first group in Charlottesville, Virginia, became victims of the second group. Heyer paid with her life only to have her and the others targeted again by Donald Trump when he attempted to offer a moral equivalency to their behaviour as opponents of racism to that of the white-supremacist neo-Nazis who feed on fear, ignorance, hatred, and victimhood. Heyer, as Trump would have it, was as responsible for her death and the others as responsible for their injuries as the white supremacist supporter who aimed his vehicle at them. His comments, vile and shocking as they were, surely could not have surprised; it was only a question of how low Trump would sink. Well, it appears, there is no sewer that does not appeal to him. A few days later, Barcelona ­­– 14 innocents murdered, terrorists hunted, captured and killed. In both instances, immediately following the tragic and murderous insanity, in Charlottesville and Barcelona and around the world, ordinary citizens, opponents of white supremacist neo-Nazis and terrorism rallied on the side of the angels in massive displays of defiance and grief: the haters and butchers would not intimidate them.

THUGS

Unfortunately, for those opponents of fascism and white supremacists, there were a few, as there invariably is at such gatherings, set on undermining the hopes of forceful, effective and peaceful support for the victims of Charlottesville and Barcelona. In Quebec City a far-right anti-Islam anti-immigration group, La Meute, had been granted a permit to march August 20th before Quebec’s National Assembly. Gathered at a nearby parking lot, La Meute marchers found themselves outnumbered and confined to the parking lot by anti-fascist protestors. The march did not take place. Even so, La Meute and its supporters were handed a get out of jail card claiming victory in the name of free speech while their anti-fascist opponents, sporting a black eye, reeled, wondering what had happened. Among those opponents of fascism and racists, there mingled a familiar and particularly nasty group of masked, black-clad thugs shouting anti-fascist slogans; but these were not men and women seeking to aid the cause of forceful, effective and peaceful opposition nor were they interested in constructive dialogue. They, apparently all men, were there as thugs, disruptors, more interested in the display of force than in suasion roaming among the peaceful anti-fascist ranks in groups seeking to do damage beating a man for carrying a Patriotes and Quebec flag, throwing plastic chairs at helmeted police, setting a dumpster afire, and targeting members of the media snatching and smashing cameras. These hooligans were hardly on the side of the angels their behaviour more that of agents provocateurs working on behalf of the far right or, as in those good old days of the sixties and seventies, for the police, in hopes of discrediting so-called leftists, i.e., opponents of fascism, though it is doubtful that those brutish elements who show up at every political rally believe in anything but violence and thuggery. If they differ from the imbecilic and ignorant white supremacist racists who must scapegoat, blaming everyone but themselves for their failures, it is difficult to determine. By day’s end, the far-right group and supporters emerged from the parking lot knowing they had carried the day and been granted an opportunity to look good, if such an outcome can be possible of bigots. Even so, the victory was not absolute; one member who had come in support of La Meute appeared on the late news saying something like this: “We’re not racists, we just hate Islam.” Go figure.

There is, nevertheless, almost reason for hope. Those really on the side of the angels appear, for now, to far outnumber the vile, hateful, violence-prone racists and murderers seeking to spread their nihilistic messages. Almost reason for hope. It is not enough to declare oneself as anti-fascist and then act like the thugs you claim to detest; what pride must one possess in deeds that he must mask himself from the public eye?

THE MISSING

Almost reason for hope. But something is missing. Oh, yes, the great and small and good are out there, arms linked in sorrow and defiance not only to the mad acts but also the mad ravings of someone who heads one of the great democracies in the world. But where are the world leaders when needed most? True, they condemn the mad acts; that is easy enough to do. But what have they to offer regarding the lunatic musings of Trump besides the muted generalized and inoffensive pap of which we hear too much? Where is the loud, loud, loud united condemnation from our world leaders? Oh, there have been a few raised angry voices, predictably from enemies of the US. But what of American allies? Where are the voices of outrage, of resounding condemnation, the pointed fingers and loud, unequivocal denunciations of that most unpresidential of lunatics who, the day after Charlottesville, sought to blame both sides for what happened, then reversed himself and then doubled down only to reverse himself once again? Which Trump can we believe? Unquestionably, the real Trump is the monstrous Trump that refused to condemn those white supremacists that first day and who, while campaigning urged his supporters to punch out those who disrupted his rallies.

Amy B. Wang, of the Washington Post, Aug. 16, provides a few offerings from some of the leaders. The first is by British PM Elizabeth May. “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views wherever we hear them.” May, you will note, does not name Trump. And there is this by the European Commission, again without mention of Trump or Charlottesville, “We reject and condemn all forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia. They are incompatible with the values and principles upon which the E.U. is founded.” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas was more direct: “It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville. No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.” Martin Shulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, had this to say: “Nazis must be confronted decisively. What Trump is doing is highly incendiary. Those who downplay violence and hate betray the values of the West!”

Shouldn’t there be more? Should not our own Canadian political leaders take a more forceful, more direct stand regarding Trump’s vile moral equivalency?

HYPOCRITES

Well, yes. But they have failed miserably. Of the three major Canadian leaders, only the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair from the get go has stood out in absolute opposition to Trump calling him a “fascist”. For some, that language was extreme. But was it?

In the wake of Charlottesville, Andrew Scheer, newly elected leader of the Conservatives, Jason Kenney, ex-MP, and Brian Jean, former member of the Wildrose Party who, with Kenney, was a guiding force behind the Unite the Right movement in Alberta, suddenly seemed to have discovered that granting interviews to Ezra Levant’s The Rebel, may not be such a good idea after all. The Rebel, a media platform for the far-right anti-Islamic white supremacist media group and the purveyor of “real” fake news since 2015 with the death of Sun News Network, appears to be Canada’s answer to Breitbart and it has been so from day one. One of its stalwarts, Faith Goldy, providing live coverage in Charlottesville when the events leading to Heyer’s death unfolded, seemed in her element offering favourable “reportage” of the neo-Nazi rally and gleefully condemning the left as “intolerant” even as the car drove into the crowd killing Heyer and injuring scores. This was just one of several events that was to offer The Rebel one of its worst weeks with members leaving and/or fired, contributors fleeing and questions regarding financial mismanagement, accusations of dishonestly solicited donations, misuse of viewer and supporter email addresses, charges of blackmail, hush money, and the man himself, Levant offering a pitiably inadequate mea culpa in an attempt to distance himself from the Alt-Right and Faith Goldy, since fired, evidently having gone too far in Charlottesville and for appearing on a podcast by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi pro-genocide outlet and purveyor of extremist white supremacy and anti-Muslim hate-mongering views while whining about white victimhood. Evidently her sympathetic support of white supremacists raising the issue of “white racial consciousness”, her take on “white genocide” by Muslims, and her concerns regarding the “JQ” or Jewish question were not offensive enough. These are folks with a nasty mindset long known for extremist views warning Canadians of the Great Muslim Takeover Of The World, a conspiracy theory otherwise known as Counter-Jihad. So when Scheer, Jason and Jean seek to distance themselves from The Rebel with claims of being surprised and unhappy with the direction it has taken, serious doubts occur; can they be believed or trusted? Hardly. From the start, The Rebel has been espousing the same filthy bilge. When it suited his needs, as during his Conservative leadership bid, Scheer and other Conservatives, have had no difficulty citing The Rebel as a source and in granting interviews clearly untroubled then by The Rebel’s vicious anti-Muslim stance and its assertions of “white genocide”. Can anyone in the Conservative camp claim to be surprised and be honest about the direction of The Rebel, which has never sugar-coated their vile, extreme views especially when at least one campaign manager for Scheer during his leadership bid was on the editorial board of The Rebel? These are rats abandoning a stinking, sinking ship. It is not the loathsome opinions that disturb Scheer, Kenney or Jean but the sudden unwanted harsh glare of bad press threatening The Rebel and themselves by extension. Surprised? Levant has been peddling his hateful drivel for years and yet, remarkably, very few, if any, voices from the Conservative party have ever confronted his vile grab bag of cant. For those interested, I highly recommend Inside Rebel Media by Richard Warnica in the National (http://nationalpost.com/features/inside-ezra-levants-rebel-media).

THE PHONY PM

But where, oh where, is Justin Trudeau in all this? Well, not surprisingly, the big talking phony is mute. Hardly a peep. Oh, yes, he’s loud on the big and symbolic as last weekend marching happily in the Gay Pride parade; that’s how he got elected. I’ll make Human Rights a priority. I’m a feminist. 2015 was the last ever first-past-the-post election. Loud, smug, self-reverential, self-serving blarney. However, when it comes to proving himself, to standing up and being counted, really counted, on the big issues, Trudeau has shown himself a man particularly nimble at escaping the close scrutiny and utter contempt of the public simply by remaining silent. He reminds me of a line: Everybody should believe in something; I believe I’ll have another drink. That about sums up Trudeau, a man who knows his priorities and that’s looking after number one.

My view of him is not a result of disgruntlement born of bitter disappointment, a Trudeau fan lashing out at him for failing to honour so many of his grand promises. I never believed in the Trudeau or his promise in the first place but I was willing to wait and see. It didn’t take long to determine what manner of man he is: he is just a prettier and softer version of Harper but unlike Harper, less honest about who and what he is. Yes, the world loves him. That sunny, sunny smile to go with his sunny, sunny ways. And when it comes to sympathy, no one, absolutely no one oozes it quite like our boy, brows furrowed, eyelids working, lips slightly pulled down and, lest we don’t quite get it, right hand over left breast, fingers tapping, tapping, signalling that it is all there, in his heart, that he oozes, just oozes, sincerity and comprehension of one’s pain. And, if that’s not enough, just wait, he’ll pull out a handkerchief and dab at the corner of his eye. You won’t miss it. The camera will find it, that single tear as Trudeau delicately dabs it away. The world may be moved by such a heartfelt display but I’m not buying it. It’s an act, it’s as real as Trudeau’s feminism.

But the signs of what he is were there very early into his term and I have written of them many times. There were, of course, the many worrisome fundraisers attended by Trudeau and his ministers raising the spectre of conflict of interests; he lied and then did a turnabout when he claimed no one sought to do business with him at these affairs. While campaigning he had made Human Rights a priority but almost immediately turned his back on that by signing off on the $15 billion trade deal with Human Rights abuser Saudi Arabia ignoring warnings that the Canadian made light-armoured vehicles could be retrofitted with weapons and used against Saudi citizens. Recently, some videos came to light purportedly showing exactly that. Chrystia Freeland, international trade minister, found that very troubling if true. Not a peep from Trudeau. And, of course, we can all recall his craven undermining of the electoral reform committee when, shortly at its formation, he grumbled that Canadians no longer considered it a priority. But this was after he sought to stack the committee to get the outcome he desired: a ranked ballot system. When that didn’t work out he had his minster, too cowardly to do it himself, kill reform offering a miserable, absolutely false lie as justification for doing so (it could lead to extremists taking control of government) when most Western democracies enjoy a robust and healthy form of Proportional Representation. He is not only a liar he is a revisionist sneak. He is certainly not a man to be trusted.

As he proved when he refused to support his many declarations of himself a feminist while pointing to the makeup of his cabinet as proof. It’s no such thing. When offered the opportunity (twice at least) to condemn Trump’s misogynistic statements which came to light during Trump’s campaign, Trudeau stated that everyone knew he was a “feminist” and that it wasn’t Canada’s business to comment on the internal affairs of another country. He said that twice. Which makes him a coward twice, at least. His supporters claimed he was practicing diplomacy and they applauded his tact and prudence. You don’t want to rile Donald Trump especially with NAFTA negotiations hovering in the background. Remember, Trudeau boasted about his feminism and campaigned, in part, on Human Rights. He failed the test on both counts but not for the last time. For Trudeau, as for Harper, the health and well being of BIG BUSINESS is paramount. Human Rights and feminism, well, when push comes to shove they’ll take second place. As apparently does his promise to be different and better. Not only did Trudeau accept a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan during Christmas holidays, a family friend whose foundation has received over $310 million from Canadians, he took along friends with him. One of his closest advisors, Gerald Butts, is also a life-long friend of Trudeau. It is said he is also a personal friend of Trump’s. Now that’s okay but should he be advising Trudeau on anything regarding Trump? As well, another friend of Butts, Rana Sarkar, has been appointed as consul general in San Francisco at almost double the usual salary. Several concerns arise from this. Why such a high salary? Butts tweeted that it was for the sacrifice Sarkar has made by leaving the private sector! Hey, what? If Sarkar finds it a sacrifice he should consider returning to the private sector rather than suffering on the public dime. Too, I’d be curious to know the role Butts and/or Trudeau played in the hiring and in determining Sarkar’s pay package. As well, why did Butts fail to remind Canadians that Sarkar had lost a bid for a Liberal seat in 2011 and that he had lost a nomination battle in 2015? Sounds like a loser rather than a winner getting rewarded, doesn’t it? But the Liberals have a long history of rewarding their friends, haven’t they?

To me, Trudeau’s biggest failing is that of a man of principle. When it comes to talk, his backbone is in his mouth. As with feminism, when offered an opportunity to respond to Trump’s outrageous comments following the Charlottesville tragedy, he failed to deliver. Instead, he offered this pitiably inadequate tweet: “We condemn it (racists violence and hate) in all its forms & send support to the victims in Charlottesville.” That is it. This is a world leader who spouts all the nice words but when it comes to actually, to actually backing them up, falls far too short. That is the weak-kneed response of a man unwilling or unable to take a principled stand. Or maybe he just doesn’t believe in anything but what’s in it for him.

I expect better of our prime minister. Trudeau is not it. He has proven himself to possess fluid ethics. He is dishonest, as when he lied regarding the Saudi trade deal saying his hands were tied and when he disregards his own mandate regarding conflict of interest. He has broken many, far too many promises with the flimsiest of pretexts and often with outright lies, most notably when walking away from electoral reform. He says he is a feminist. Saying so doesn’t make it so. He is deceitful, smug, and self-aggrandizing. He is an opportunist, who is more interested in the health and welfare of BIG BUSINESS than in the Human Rights he made claim to as a priority. He is all about the symbolic and grand gestures, a showman who will only do the safe leaving risks to his ministers and others. He is a contemptible showboat who appears at all the grand and mostly safe events that have wide appeal but when it comes to really standing up at times that matter, he has proven himself too small, too shallow, and too venal to earn respect least of all mine.

***

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

CANADA’S PHONY PRINCE: JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S WORLD OF HYPOCRISY, LYING, SECRECY AND BETRAYAL

 

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government. – Jeremy Bentham

Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction. – Edward Teller

Secrecy is the freedom tyrants dream of. – Bill Moyers

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Every once in a while we are reminded that the world of politics often resembles that of fractured fairy tales whereby, for a time, the Handsome Prince and/or the Beautiful Princess appear to be exactly what they offer in the way of promises and hope. Eventually, however, the real world obtrudes and the Handsome Prince and/or Beautiful Princess, so widely loved and highly praised, all too often and with unseemly haste succumb to the lavish blandishments perhaps convinced they are deserving and untouchable and behave in ways truer to their nature and character the public persona peeled away. Now there will be among the adoring public some who have never been swayed by the Handsome Prince and/or Beautiful Princess and there will be others who, over time, may notice a change and see behind the facade what they may have suspected and feared all along: ugly, warty toads. Much of the public may not notice nor even care but those that do may well be repelled by the similar and yet unique features exposed revealing even uglier natures and characters those of Deceit, Venality, Pride, Hypocrisy, Avarice, and Gluttony and all oozing, simply oozing, the stench of corruption.

Those are the real faces of Justin Trudeau and his savage little gang. Oh, the Handsome Prince is still handsome – superficially. Beyond the husk, rot has firmly taken root.

AND THEIR RIGHT HAND IS FULL OF BRIBES

How much does it take to buy a politician? There are those who will say that a politician cannot be bought for $250 or $750 or even $1500. I am not of that crowd. Venality is not new and it has no limit. But when politicians so shamelessly grant private access for cash from eager “donors” with thousands in their fists, even cash from foreign interests, as Christy Clark, premier of BC, oops, now ex-premier, has over the years or when a drug company sponsors a BC Liberal convention or when her Liberal party tops up her premier’s salary with a bonus estimated at over $277K from 2011 to April 2016 for her fundraising efforts, you know she’s doing something the party and Big Business likes and that should be a matter of serious concern for taxpayers. Long ago when questions were raised concerning her fundraising methods, her response was basically this: I can’t be bought. Well, we have to take her at her word, don’t we?

And then there are the excesses of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in that area as well. I have spoken more than once on these issues: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s clear conflict of issue when she, as justice minister, attends a fundraiser sponsored by a prestigious law firm; finance minister Bill Morneau’s forays into fundraising with developers in the east coast; and an event in Toronto organized by Barry Sherman, the chairman of Apotex, a generic drug manufacturer and lobbyist of the government, the same company that provided the sponsorship for the BC Liberal convention of 2016. Sherman withdrew from the event after news became public but Apotex is still a lobbyist to the Trudeau government.

We know whom, sometimes we know who is buying, but can we really claim with certainty to know what is being bought?

Well, influence maybe?

Oh, no, the parties involved will all aver, fingers crossed behind their backs. We can’t be bought. We will be told, and we have been, that those lobbying governments are not allowed to approach MPs regarding business pending interests. Not allowed. Doesn’t happen. We are to take them at their word. Well, sure, why not… if you can’t trust a Liberal who can you trust? Sponsorgate? That was just an unfortunate aberration, can’t, won’t, happen again. Right.

And while it is true all parties fundraise, it is unseemly they do so furtively, in private homes, especially when those in attendance are government cabinet ministers and multi-millionaire even billionaire tycoons representing corporations lobbying governments. Is it really as innocent as the Liberals and Conservatives would have us believe?

Of the many quiet $1500 a plate fundraisers attended by Trudeau, at least 18 of an estimated 100 plus for the Liberals, there was one event in particular that drew interests because of its secrecy and the many Chinese millionaires in attendance some of whom were seeking to do business with the Canadian government. Coincidentally (nudge, nudge), a Chinese businessman in attendance and his business partner donated $1 million to the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal Law Faculty after that event. Too, a month later, another coincidence: Wealth One Bank, founded by one of the attendees was granted federal approval to start operations in Canada. While Trudeau originally claimed that no business was ever discussed at these fundraisers, he later recanted admitting to being lobbied and that he and his staff directed the lobbyists to go through the proper channels. If that was the case, why lie in the first place? Well, whatever the reason, Trudeau revealed he could lie with the best of them. But we suspected that anyway, didn’t we? His staffers also claimed that Trudeau did not always know who were attending these events because he would often just “happen” to drop by at these private house gatherings. Again that stretches credulity. Trudeau’s security would certainly not allow him to attend any affair without knowing who were in attendance.

It is not the fundraising that concerns me as much as the cost of attending and, even of more concern, the secrecy surrounding them. How can anyone believe there are no issues of concern when the parties involved behave in secrecy as if they were doing something wrong? Trudeau, Morneau, Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal party have broken Trudeau’s own mandate regarding openness, transparency, appearances of conflict. And it began within months of taking office.

Following months of denying anything untoward regarding these private fundraisers, Trudeau announced that future events would be open and costs to attend would range from $250 to $1500. This move is clearly a move to make it easier for the average Joe or Jane working at Tim Horton’s to attend such events. Well, I provides a mild chuckle. Too, the events would be open to journalists. Well that was a joke. In a recent event held in Ottawa in appreciation of Liberal donors ($1500 a year and $750 for those under 35), journalists were kept in a pen and not allowed to mingle or ask questions other than when guests registered and entered the event. Shades of Stephen Harper! After the speeches, reporters were told to leave. Well, another empty promise, surprise, surprise. But, of course, there would be nothing to report because, as we know, nothing is ever traded in exchange for cash.

Well, when it comes to venality, the Harper gang, Christie Clark and the Liberal gang are not unique. The rot has even tainted city hall as evidenced by reports of Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city once voted the best mayor in the world, has his own fundraiser events but at $2000 a plate with strong encouragement to throw in another $3000. That’s a lot of pork. Makes Trudeau look like a piker.

So, yes, we know who’s being wooed, sometimes who is buying but seldom, until far too late, the exchange of any.

But how is it possible that they can and do get away with it and that they do so so openly and shamelessly?

Well, perhaps the political pundits who appear everywhere on the media circuit and write for the press share no small measure of the blame. I have heard too many such luminaries opine that it’s ridiculous to believe that a politician can be bought for $1500 a plate. Really? I would like to ask these worthies what is the price that does buy favour? What does it take to further corrupt a person ripe for corruption? Fill a room with folks wanting the same thing from the government at $1500 a head, say twenty widget salesmen. Well that’s $30,000. And multiply that by the number of fundraisers Trudeau attended last year, about 18 according to some sources. If so, that’s $480,000. Is that enough to buy favour? Now I suspect there are some in this world who cannot be bought at any price. I don’t believe Trudeau or any member of his gang is numbered among them. It is disingenuous, or extremely dangerously naïve, to suggest politician can’t be bought for $1500. One needs only harken back to Bev Oda, a member of Harper’s cabinet, forced to resign for padding her expense tab with a $16 glass of orange juice to be reminded how little it takes to ensnare those easily baited. If a politician will cheat on the small he will certainly cheat on the big and we have experienced questionable behaviour from some of Trudeau’s own ministers and one glaring example from the phony Prince himself. There was health minister Jane Philpott who repaid questionable expenses several times; there was minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, who hired her own photographer on the public dime while attending a climate conference in Paris already teeming with media photographers. And, of course, there was minister of international trade, Chrystia Freeland, who, instead of returning home on the government plane waiting for her when on a Philippine business trip for the government, made a detour on a commercial plane to appear on a TV talk show in California. To legitimize the cost of the diversion, which cost Canadians over $17K, Freeland apparently met with some Californian dignitaries. And Trudeau? Well, over the Christmas holidays he and close friends vacationed with a long time family friend, the Aga Khan, even accepting a free helicopter ride from the Bahaman mainland to the Aga Khan’s private island. Not only was that a violation of rules governing the acceptance of gifts, it also violates conflict of interest guidelines. Since 2004, Canada has donated $310 million to the Aga Khan foundation with Trudeau pledging another $55 million over the next five years.

Trudeau sees no problem with this or with his fundraising endeavours. Really? And he saw nothing wrong with his justice minister attending a fundraiser sponsored by lawyers. How about you? Do you accept, as Trudeau has, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s explanation that she had attended as a mere MP and not as justice minister? Really?

MERCY’S HUMAN HEART?

Such behaviour, such lowered standards should make one cringe. Is there no shame?

This prime minister and his team are so glib and free and easy. They squeeze truth, acts and ideas that really matter to shapes unrecognizable and then toss them aside as the useless things the have become.

As when he vowed to make Human Rights a priority only to sign of on the light-armoured vehicle trade deal with one of the world’s most egregious Human Rights abuser offering all kinds of justifications for doing so none of them holding water. The previous Harper government had tied his hands. It was already a done deal. Canada would look untrustworthy if it broke the deal. There was no evidence Saudi Arabia would use the LAVs against his own people. He, or his ministers speaking on his behalf, lied on all counts. In going through with the deal, Trudeau broke Canada’s own guidelines governing international arms trading with Human Rights abusers and even breaches UN sanctions against such deals. Human Rights a priority? That’s to laugh. Even now Trudeau is actively seeking to expand trade with China another outrageous Human Rights abuser. But MONEY and BIG DEALS coupled with CANADIAN JOBS talk just as loudly to Trudeau as they did to Harper. Yet, for all his faults, Harper wasn’t a hypocrite in this: he didn’t concern himself with Human Rights when it came to business and its benefits.

Recently, Trudeau has announced that Canada will extend its role of “advise and assist” in the war against ISIS. Yet, when a Canadian sniper gained fame for breaking the record for the longest kill shot, Trudeau, who weeps at every saccharine opportunity especially when there’s a camera around, called the act “something to be celebrated” without a moment’s reflection on the life that bullet erased, he ignored questions by outgoing NDP leader Thomas Mulcair regarding Canada’s real role in Iraq. Is Trudeau even aware that that kill shot puts a lie to the claim that Canada’s role is that of non-combatant? Trudeau wants it all ways and all of them phony. Harjit Sajjan, minister of defence, refused to respond to questions regarding how many times Canadian troops have engaged in battle. He surely knows. Why don’t we?

There is also the matter of Harper’s C-51 anti-terrorism bill and Access of Information Act (AOI). Trudeau campaigned on the promise to make his government better, open and transparent “by default”. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Changes to C-51, condemned almost universally by academics, jurists and legal scholars, renamed C-59, does provide some fixes but not sufficient to alleviate concerns regarding the most troubling aspects of the bill. While the bill does provide for greater oversight of our security agencies with the formation of a National Security and Intelligence Committee made up of MPs and Senators, the PMO has rendered it toothless because it can shut down investigations and withhold documents at any time and without explanation. C-59 does nothing to assure Canadians regarding the sharing of information with other and/or foreign agencies. As to access to information, well, that, too, appears to be another empty promise. Documents obtained by AOI are still if not even more so heavily redacted. Jeremy J. Nuttall, reporting for The Tyee, (June 23, 2017) points out that the changes actually grant the government increased powers to add restrictions to access. Nutall quotes Sean Holman, journalism professor at Mount Royal University: “Governments will now have the power to unilaterally disregard an access to information request if it is vexatious or meets a number of other conditions” (https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/06/23/Trudeau-Liberals-Let-Down-Open-Government/). Scot Brison, president of the Treasury Board, claims the changes allows the Act to apply to the offices of ministers and will provide “proactive” release of information. The problem with that is the PMO decides what information is made public just as it is the PMO that determines what request is “vexatious”. Considering this regime’s propensity for secrecy, very similar to Harper’s, it is doubtful many requests will not be deemed problematic.

Cash-for-access, reporters penned, information heavily blacked out, files on citizens shared, access to information left to the whim of the PMO, citizens routinely spied on, and public watchdog committees tightly controlled and made toothless, again reliant on the yea or nay of the PMO. This is the reality of Trudeau’s promise of newer, better.

CRY ME A RIVER

Trudeau is a blowhard, a phony with an endless supply of Kleenex to wipe away the affected tears he and his wife can call up in an instant as they, oozing, simply ooooozing, sincerity, tap their right hand fingers over their hearts for whatever and all occasions as needed their brows furrowed and lips quavering and eyes squeezing out tears as many as needed for the occasion but careful, don’t overdo it.

Oh, he is loud with the grand gestures and the symbolic touches, the handkerchief dabbed at the corner of the eye. Look at the make up of his cabinet, both genders equally represented with women placed in major ministries. Oh, yeah, he’s big on feminism but when given opportunity twice as he campaigned and several times since to stand up and call out Trump’s buffoonery and misogyny, he opts to remain mute too cowardly to do the right, decent thing because, as with his stand on Human Rights, it’s all about business, fear of offending the red-headed freak south of us. He’s a feminist as long as he doesn’t have to prove it.

The same seems to be with the committee cobbled together to look into the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls tragedy. We know it’s been formed but as of yet, it appears to be hopelessly mired in – what? What the hell is happening to it? It’s fine as a symbol but, thus far, useless for convincing one that anything is, has been or will be accomplished. How much longer must those surviving family members wait?

Oh, he’s big on the symbolic. On National Aboriginal Day this year, he promised to rename the day National Indigenous Peoples Day and to remove the name of a residential school proponent. He has declared a downtown Ottawa heritage building and former US embassy to be home to Inuit, Métis and First Nations People in the “hope that this historic building will be a powerful symbol of the foundational role of indigenous peoples in Canada’s history” (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, June 21, 2017). On June 19, 2017, Trudeau and his wife, while honouring outstanding Indigenous Leadership at Rideau Hall, wept, no surprise there, to a moving speech by singer/actor/activist Tom Jackson. And when First Nations Activists set up a tepee on Parliament Hill, Trudeau visited them June 30, 2017 and spent 40 minutes with them; for some observers, that was a powerful gesture. But a gesture only. Trudeau offers too many such, most of them empty when what the First Nations community really needs is action, action in ensuring that Indigenous communities have access to fresh, clean, safe drinking water, that they also have affordable housing, that their children be given every opportunity to access education, job training and jobs. Surely Indigenous communities are tired of words and symbols; they need help in concrete ways to end the vicious cycles of poverty, addiction, abuse, and teenage and adult suicides. Trudeau says he understands the impatience of the Indigenous people and that he is impatient himself. Those are words. What has Trudeau and his Liberals really done for the community he panders to with such grand, empty gestures?

SHELL GAME

Among the empty promises was that of putting an end to omnibus bills. Didn’t happen. Instead he offers a budget bill, which includes a bill for the creation of the Infrastructure Bank with limited debate and no consultation two other practices he said would end. He lied, of course, for that is what Trudeau does – with a smile. This so-called infrastructure bank is just another way of privatizing infrastructure work, projects and highways with tolls for who knows how long collected by companies that, seeing a huge windfall in the cash cow they see in government, will suck the country dry with massive cost overages as always happens when profiteers work for the government. When the Senate held back the legislation for a bit, Trudeau, who had booted the Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus with one of his many grand gestures saying he wanted a truly independent Senate, began to whine that it had no right to impinge on the PMO’s territory when Senators began to flex their muscles. True, the Senate cannot make money bills but it can make amendments. The bill passed after much whinging from Trudeau and gang; the phony wants it both ways, an independent Senate that does what he tells them.

Can Trudeau be trusted with anything? Doubtful. Recently, the Liberals had sought to appoint as language commissioner Madeleine Meilleur. The appointment, announced by heritage minister Mélanie Joly who at one time worked for Meilleur a long serving Liberal MPP and Liberal donor, was made without consultation of opposition members as required and clearly breaches conflict of interest guidelines. No matter, the Trudeau gang pushed back until Meilleur, having had enough, withdrew. It’s a small thing but telling for it shows how willing the Liberals are to reward and protect friends.

One such is John Herhalt. Herhalt, a senior partner of KPMG, Global Chair of Government and Infrastructure and high-ranking Liberal volunteer had been appointed last June to the National Board of the Liberal party as Treasurer that includes Trudeau and his principle secretary and life–long friend, Gerald Butts, at a time when KPMG was under investigation by a Liberal dominated parliamentary committee over its role in the offshore investment scam involving shell companies set up in the Isle of Man. Herhalt said he had retired from KPMG in 2013 but in June of 2016 he was working contracts for KPMG and using a KPMG email address. The committee shut down the testimony of independent witnesses critical of KPMG (remember, this was a Liberal-dominated committee). Only after they promised not to bring KPMG into their testimony, were the witnesses allowed to testify which seems a ludicrous exercise since it was KPMG that was being investigated. Was Herhalt’s appointment a breach of ethics as well as a breach of conflict of interest regulations? You bet it was. For those interested, wishing to know more, I highly recommend CBC’s Fifth Estate’s program regarding off-shore tax avoidance scams and the role played by KPMG (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2016-2017/kpmg-and-tax-havens-for-the-rich-the-untouchables).

While Trudeau has proven himself a toad of ugly aspects in so many ways, his behaviour in handling electoral reform must surely be among his most offensive. It was he who made a great show of declaring 2015 the last first-past-the-post election. We know how that worked. In every aspect of handling that matter, Trudeau proved himself deceitful. He sought originally to rig the committee to weigh the vote in favour of the Liberals. When that failed, he loudly mused that Canadians did not see electoral reform as a priority. By then, it was clear that the exercise would fail because the committee was not about to recommend Trudeau’s preferred choice, that of the ranked ballot voting system. Trudeau replaced rookie democratic minister Maryam Monself who had denounced the work of the reform committee as careless and hasty with another young rookie MP, Karina Gould. It was left to Gould to declare electoral reform, which was Trudeau’s baby from the first, dead as a doornail. Trudeau didn’t even have the guts to kill the project to which he had given birth. Shortly after that, home from the holidays and his free helicopter ride, he did a cross-country coffee tour talking to Canadians in hope of refurbishing his image. During one of those events he not only bragged about feeling good on turning his back on reform, he claimed that the preferred choice suggested by the committee invited the election of terrorists and could lead to a terrorist lead government. During a June 27, 2017 press conference, he repeated that canard saying PR would be bad for Canada. “I think creating fragmentation amongst political parties, as opposed to having larger political parties that include Canada’s diversity within them, would weaken our country” (Brian Platt, Ottawa Citizen, June 28, 2017). Absolute rubbish. A form of proportional representation is used, and very effectively, by most of the Western democracies. He continued, “Unfortunately, it became very clear that we had a preference to give people a ranked ballot… We thought that was the right, concrete way forward. Nobody else agreed. The NDP were anchored in proportional representation as being the only way forward” He went on to say the Conservatives wanted to keep the “status quo”. That was revisionism worthy of the Conservatives under Harper: blame the NDP and Conservatives. He then went on to claim that his preference for ranked ballot was well known. When he made his pitch for electoral reform, he had not declared his preference at the time. In fact, while it was true that in 2013 and 2014 he may have spoken in support of that system, he did not do so at any time while campaigning that I can recall. His was an act of deceit by omission. Anyone familiar with the system of ranked balloting would know it tends to favour those in the centre. In other words, it is Trudeau and the Conservatives who would maintain the status quo.

Shallow, prone to big gestures and fine symbols, Trudeau is everything he sought to convince voters he was not. Nothing of real moral substance differentiates him or his gang from the Stephen Harper gang voters repudiated. Trudeau is a half person who will be exactly what you want him to be as long as it oozes, simply oozes sincerity and charm and is saccharine enough to allow for tears to be called up in an instant. There is the other half, of course, the truer Trudeau, the hard-edged, cynical, scheming, dishonest, deceitful, lying Trudeau that is shameless in its hypocrisy and smarmy manipulative guile. He is neither a truthful nor a courageous man. He is a man of no moral resolution or conviction but, rather, more attuned to the interests of Big Business than to the feminism he espouses but will not defend or to the Human Rights he has made a priority and yet upon which he has turned his back.

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau will have taken centre stage, where else, hosting the midday festivities. Just remember this: 70% of the $2 million in trinkets and gewgaws Canada spent to celebrate the day, the baseball caps, flags, pins etc. that will be handed out, were manufactured outside of Canada. That about sums up Trudeau: he is loud promises and grand symbols. Just another chintzy politico.

**

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

 

LIBERALS VS. CONSERVATIVES: TRUDEAU MASTERS THE RACE OF HYPOCRISY AND SINCERITY

Conservative, n. a statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. – Ambrose Bierce

A man’s reputation is the opinion people have of him; his character is what he really is. – Jack Miner

Frank A. Pelaschuk

If anyone wishes to look upon the faces of practiced liars and hypocrites, one has only to look at those sitting in Parliament Hill. The Liars and Hypocrites far outnumber the Truthful and the Forthright and, of those, the preponderance from the only two parties that have ever formed governments of Canada. In recent years, those elected to represent us have proven themselves particularly untrustworthy, petty, mean-spirited, and vindictive, more representative of sewer rats than those who append the word Honourable as part of their title as MPs. The Trudeau Liberals, from whom I expected little, who replaced the stale, bitter, spiteful Harper gang, from whom I expected even less, may be even more offensive. More offensive because they demonstrated little hesitation in appealing to and milking the best in us while campaigning only to betray, very early in their mandate, the highs hopes, the grand promises and extremely high expectations that lured the truly hopeful as well as those mistrustful of politicians and those fair-weather types who, with the least amount of effort and thought and holding to no conviction but the tenet of “what’s in it for me”, vote for those who promise most in the way of shiny trinkets. The Liberals and Conservatives have been immensely successful for 150 years with the same formula the voters acting as if the bargain promises and sparkly trinkets singular. The past election is just another nail of proof, and a mirror of the election before, that it only takes 39% of the vote to form majority governments, with two different parties, the same as always, with over 50% of the seats the public apparently content to cede absolute control to likeminded groups whose only real concern appears to be planning for the next election victory with the same old lies, same empty promises and voters of the same stunning parochialism. The NDP may well have its share of liars and hypocrites but having never formed a federal government it has been denied the same opportunity granted the other two parties to abuse its privileges and all that that entails including the tyranny of the majority.

I have said more than once politics is a dirty game. I was wrong; it’s not a game and it’s the people who are dirty.

THE SWEETNESS OF SCHADENFREUDE

Recently, Canadians have been treated, if that’s the word, to the sad spectacle of salivating opposition members happily savaging a government member of Parliament and cabinet minister with a stellar record in the military who, for whatever reason, sought to enhance his image by embellishing his role during three tours in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer. In doing so, Liberal Harjit Sajjan, defence minster, stained his reputation and set loose the dogs of opposition baying for his resignation with accusations that his behaviour was tantamount to an act of “stolen valour”, i.e., claiming experiences and honours not earned. That charge is too much and, I believe, unfair. It was not enough to simply witness his humiliation; the Conservatives in particular wanted blood the thirst seemingly fuelled by his own inept apology if that was what he had offered.

A few weeks before, while giving a speech in New Delhi, the defence minister spoke of his role in Afghanistan as “the architect” of Operation Medusa, a major 2006 battle, which resulted in Canadian and British casualties and led to a severe setback for the Taliban. He had made a similar claim during the 2015 election campaign. It just wasn’t so. When the matter became public, Sajjan said he had made a “mistake”. His boss, Justin Trudeau, and fellow Liberals have loyally defended him, for how long who knows, repeating that line as if it were defence enough: Sajjan had made a “mistake”.

Well, no, it was not a mistake. It was a lie, a foolish, very damaging lie and, on the surface, completely inexplicable because apparently so out of character; there seemed no reason for Harjit Sajjan to pad his CV. Yet he had and because he had, the frenzied dogs of hypocrisy are after him bared teeth dripping saliva. But, even as I write this, there appears to be signs government support is waning.

There may be good reason, after all.

In light of his lie, the NDP had asked the Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to reopen an investigation into another matter although her first look into that issue hardly warrants the decorous label of “investigation”. In 2016, defeated NDP MP Craig Scott put forth an e-petition to investigate Canada’s role in transferring suspected Taliban detainees to Afghan authorities while aware of the likelihood they would be tortured. This happened while Sajjan was in the region; should an investigation take place there was a strong possibility he would be called upon to testify. To no one’s surprise, defence minister Sajjan turned down the petition with the explanation that Canada had obeyed international law and that the Military Police Complaints Commission had already investigated and found no wrongdoing. Scott, not satisfied, wrote Mary Dawson suggesting that in turning down his petition, Sajjan was in conflict of interest because of his role as liaison officer with the Afghan police at the time this happened. Dawson looked into the matter speaking to the defence minister and appeared confident he had no knowledge of the allege abuses of detainees. She had not called for any other witnesses apparently satisfied that Sajjan’s word was enough and the matter was dropped. The Liberals were relieved. Remember, this was the same party who had as opposition members repeatedly, loudly and fiercely supported NDP calls for such investigations since 2009 following former Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin’s testimony (for which he endured a smear job by the Conservative government) to the torture of Afghan prisoners. That should have been it but, in light of Sajjan’s “whopper” as Thomas Mulcair called it, the NDP is seeking to have the matter reopened. The Liberal government, however, has made it amply clear that it is no longer interested in the detainee affair. Funny, isn’t it, how a shift in the balance of power changes one’s perspective and diminishes one’s outrage leading parties and politicos to easily swap and adopt positions with the same sincerity as they proposed or opposed them. Hypocrisy has many faces and all of them shameless.

There is no question Sajjan had lied and that his apology, a mumbled iteration of “I made a mistake” without explanation as to why, is clearly inadequate. Yet, watching him squirm day after day during Question Period should provide no pleasure to anyone but a sadist especially as some of the loudest apparently most offended had themselves, as members of the Harper gang, demonstrated a clear capacity for disgraceful conduct. That is not to absolve the defence minister but to remind others we all carry baggage and, as sinners, often all too eager to demand from others what we will not of ourselves. Over ten years ago, the Liberals were booted out of office for corruption. They were replaced by a government that was mean, spiteful, punitive, and secretive, many members of whom proved unethical, deceitful, and dishonest, more interested in the health and welfare of special interest groups and clinging to power than in playing the role of actual governance for the well-being and interests of all Canadians. The players have merely changed ends.

UGLY FACES OF HYPOCRISY

We have had Conservatives Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, Conservative leadership contenders, playing the racial and religious intolerance card on behalf of the Conservative party during the last election with the vile Barbaric Cultural Practices snitch line, Stephen Harper, prime minister, and Peter MacKay, justice minister, seeking to smear a Supreme Court Justice for daring to comment on their preferred, and failed, candidate to Canada’s Highest Court. And we had those two again engaging in smear jobs taking particular delight in targeting and seeking to tarnish the reputation of the previous Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page simply for doing his job in attempting to hold the Harper regime accountable for the management (and mismanagement) of public funds. When Page challenged the government’s cost estimates for the purchase of new fighter jets, the F-35’s, to replace aging and out-dated equipment, Stephen Harper and then defence minister Peter MacKay attacked Page by questioning his credentials and refusing to hand over documents supporting their figures. And, of course, we cannot forget Peter Mackay’s commandeering of a search and rescue helicopter while on vacation with lobbyists. We have had the Conservatives seeking to rig elections with the so-called Fair Elections Act. We have the Trudeau Liberals undermining and killing their own platform promise of electoral reform and betraying in fact and spirit Trudeau’s own mandate to his ministers of a government “…committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines.”

Nice words but empty demanded by a prime minister who is interested only in surface, in what looks or sounds good for the eye or ear to a man more interested in grandstanding than grand stands. When the leader gives up on his own high-toned words, why should his colleagues not do the same? Little rings as hollow as the hollow promises of a shallow showboat looking and posing for the cameras.

We have witnessed the embarrassment of Harjit Sajjan and I am convinced he is truly embarrassed. Shortly after the 2015 election, in April of 2016, Kellie Leitch shed tears on CBC’s Power and Politics for her role in the snitch line debacle, but they were not tears of atonement, nor tears of admission to wrongdoing. They were just tears of self-pity. Today she is running for the leadership talking of interviewing immigrants and refugees for “Canadian values”. Hers was the values of racial and religious intolerance that targeted Muslims and cost the Conservatives last election. So, think she’s changed?

That Sajjan continues to insist on calling his embellishment a mere “mistake”, however, diminishes one’s desire for empathy. It isn’t easy to witness the downfall of anyone who, from all accounts, has served his nation well. But what is so difficult about owning up to stupidity, to the folly of vanity, to seeking to burnish an image already bright enough? We all exaggerate and when caught simply feel foolish as we ought if we are able to experience shame; if wise, we admit it and move on bruised but not too badly damaged for the public seems to suffer from a quick forgettery. It’s the failure to recognize ourselves as foolish, prone to mistakes and often ordinary that hurts. Watching Sajjan twisting while his opposition members call for his head is difficult because I believe his embarrassment. But I also believe he should resign not because Conservatives and New Democrats are calling for his head but because it is the right thing to do. His was a foolish, unnecessary lie, but it was not insignificant; from his stricken expression, it is evident Harjit Sajjan knows it.

SCHADENFREUDE’S STING

Now, I have little patience for liars and even less for hypocrites and preening peacocks who are all talk and strut but little else. Some of the Conservatives calling for Sajjan’s head were major players during Harper regime’s reign of error lasting almost a decade. It was a regime that lied about almost everything, abused its majority with numerous attempts to slip legislation into omnibus bills, limit debate and failing to consult with the opposition Liberals and NDP members. The Harper gang routinely undermined the electoral process engaging in the so-called “in-out” scams to divert monies from one riding to another, employing robocalls to divert voters to non-existent polls, and seeking to limit the powers of Elections Canada to investigate electoral fraud by making the agency accountable to the government rather than parliament. Conservative Rona Ambrose slammed Sajjan and the Liberals for disrespecting our military men and women the same charge the opposition Liberals levelled against the Conservatives for closing nine Veterans Affairs offices and replacing the life long disability pensions of veterans to one-time lump sum payments. Of course, now in power, having reopened many of the veterans’ offices, the Liberals nevertheless failed to follow through with their promise to restore the life long disability pensions; instead, they offered a lump of coal by only increasing the amount of the one-time lump. Conservatives such as Cheryl Gallant and James Bezan, eyes red and mouths spitting fury, went after Sajjan with a vengeance. There was Bezan questioning Sajjan’s integrity, opining, “…the minister knows there are consequences for being dishonest and untrustworthy under the military’s code of conduct and ethics…” In politics as well, Mr. Bezan. This is the MP who, along with then member Shelly Glover, had been recommended for suspension by Marc Mayrand, chief electoral officer of Elections Canada for failing to submit a full report of campaign expenses. Andrew Scheer, then Speaker of the House and now Conservative leadership contender, had sat on the recommendation for a couple of weeks failing to inform members of parliament, as was his duty. Scheer refused to suspend both Conservative members even though the Elections Act calls for such measures when election rules are broken by those running for office saying he would wait for a decision by the courts to the appeals made by Glover and Bezan. By then, it didn’t matter, Harper, as was his wont, had prorogued Parliament for the fourth time. But there was Scheer and the rest in the House now demanding the defence minister resign. Glover, who decided not to run in 2015, would go on to other troubles appearing at secret fundraising events attended by those who stood to gain from decisions made by her department one of which was caught on camera leading her to refund those who donated.

Cheryl Gallant, another Conservative calling for Sajjan’s head, is another type of fish and, to my mind, a more offensive type, a venomous mean-mouthed MP who suffers from a history of histrionics, intolerance, pettiness and just plain meanness. In 2002 she displayed her anti-gay biases when she repeatedly attacked then minister of foreign affairs Bill Graham during Question Period with such witticisms as “Ask your boyfriend” and “How’s your boyfriend?” In 2004, Gallant again opposed an amendment to Bill C-250 in the criminal code meant to protect sexual orientation against gay bashers saying that such an amendment would limit freedom of expression and make the Bible “hate literature”. But, this being a stupid person, Gallant wasn’t done; the same year, while campaigning, she compared abortion to the brutal murder of Iraqi hostage Nick Berg by beheading and then suggested at another time the Liberals were persecuting “Christians”. During the 2011 campaign, she once called then Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff “Ignaffi”, a clear reference to Libyan dictator Mommar Khadaffi. In 2016, seeing an opportunity to be exploited, she shamelessly used the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, murdered in the attack on Parliament Hill, to raise money for her campaign. She has claimed that PTSD is fake and that the Rideau Institute, a foreign policy think tank of having links to Russia, Iran, and North Korea “because a drop-down menu on the institute’s donation page allows users to select those countries as a place of origin” (Amanda Connolly, iPolitics, May 14, 2016). During Question Period she had said Sajjan was only “sorry after he was caught”. This is risible coming from one called upon to apologize in the House numerous times. While she may be forgiven her incredible stupidity, she cannot be her bigotry, meanness and hypocrisy. After recently slamming the defence minster, Gallant forcefully and theatrically plumped herself into her seat with an expression of great moral indignation and rolling of eyes that not only had me laughing but also suspecting she had practiced that look before a mirror many times in hopes of being offered the opportunity to showcase her acting skills. She’s just a bad actor. Period.

But not just Gallant or the Conservatives. The Liberals have demonstrated that they are equally adept at embracing diametrically opposing beliefs with the same sincerity and/or outrage.

When Trudeau and gang failed in their attempt to rig the electoral reform committee and eventually realized Trudeau’s preferred choice of ranked balloting would not be recommended, the Liberals worked towards undermining the committee’s work and the reform itself by claiming their was no great demand from the public for electoral reform and by directly attacking the efforts of the committee members. When Trudeau made that particular promise, he did so in bad faith. When the committee finally submitted its final report and recommendation for a form of proportional representation, Trudeau killed electoral reform offering several reasons, none of which were valid and one inexcusably vile. First, he claimed there was no “consensus”. That wasn’t true. The committee had made a recommendation. He also suggested that moving towards a proportional representative system would lead to “extremists” becoming members of parliament and, possibly, forming extremist governments. This from a man of putative intelligence! A vast majority of Western nations successfully employ a form of proportional representation. Trudeau’s statement was that of a liar or a buffoon and an ignoramus from the school of Donald Trump. Not achieving from the committee his preferred choice of election system, he was too cowardly to follow through with a commitment that, if accepted and the recommendation adopted, would have almost certainly fulfilled his avowed commitment to fair, open, and transparent governance in the future. But Trudeau is a phony, all show and glitz, and he did as phonies do; he had two junior ministers work the department, undermining the first, letting the second announce the killing of electoral reform and then, himself, offered excuses and outright lies for the demise of mock effort.

But wearing two or more faces, all false, are not unique in politics and certainly not for Justin Trudeau.

When the Harper gang rammed through the so-called Fair Elections Act, the opposition were quick to protest none screaming louder than Trudeau’s Liberals. And that was the right thing to do because Harper and gang were seeking to rig future elections.

However, last year, perhaps suffering from some form of fugue state, the Liberals introduced Motion-6, which was simply a power grab worthy of Harper to limit opposition debate. On Sunday, April 30, 2017, Trudeau’s gang put forth sweeping rule changes regarding how the House was to run claiming the move necessary for purposes of efficiency. Utter rot. The move, opposed by all opposition members and even some Liberal backbenchers was to fulfill commitments to promises made during the last election. Well, that was the line put forth by Trudeau and Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and of small businesses and tourism. Again, utter rot.

As Power and Politics host Rosemary Barton pointed out, the government seems willing to honour some promises (the reopening of Veterans Affairs Offices) and yet let others die (electoral reform, re-instatement of life-long disability pensions for veterans, honesty, transparency, etc. etc.). Chagger ignored that question saying that the government was open to the opposition and willing to meet with them only to immediately negate that avowal by stating the reforms were going ahead regardless. Which begs the question Barton posed: What is the point of meeting with the opposition if the decision has been made?

The reforms, some of which are even acceptable, appear primarily concerned with weakening the ability of opposition to do its job of holding accountable the Liberal government with its massive majority. The tactics employed by the Liberals is much the same as Harper’s and with the same goal, to silence and squelch opposition voices and to undermine democracy. It was Harper who routinely, without opposition input, rammed through legislation by hiding them in omnibus bills, invoked debate time limits, closure, and prorogation of parliament. The Liberals seem determined to follow Harper’s lead.

The changes proposed have been loudly condemned by the opposition not only as an unseemly power grab, which it is, but also for the government’s failure to consult and seek consensus, as has been the norm. Trudeau’s avowal of openness and transparency, his promises of consultation and disclosure, were showy bagatelles nothing, absolutely nothing, more.

For now, it is true, the Liberals have dropped advance time allotments to debate and committee studies of bills, set aside a limit of comments by MPs during committee hearings to 10 minutes (leading Chagger to warn that government will be “forced” to impose time limits. Different from Harper? How?), dropping the proposal to test electronic voting in the Commons thus forcing MPs to continue standing — heaven forefend! — as they vote, and deferring the move to end Friday sittings. What stays is the following: Wednesday Question Periods will be allocated to Trudeau who will answer all questions for all his ministers (shades of Stephen Harper). He may or may not appear in the House other days. When he does show up (last year, according to the Huffington Post, he missed 69 of 118 sessions) Trudeau has continued with the tradition perfected by Harper, answering questions with non-answers repeatedly with almost the same words regardless of how the question is posed. The Speaker will be allowed to give more time for questions and answers (a good move) and he will be able to challenge questions put forth by MPs (how about challenging the non-answers from government members?). Perhaps the speaker will bring an end to MPs reading from scripts and all members, including the PM compelled to actually answer the question posed. The Liberals who had used an omnibus bill for its last budget, proposes to curtail the improper uses of such bills. Right. The rules would also require the government upon returning to the House after the imposition of prorogation to explain its reasons for the move with the report to be subject to study and Commons debate (Harper used prorogation several times to avoid tough questions and close scrutiny). The Liberal move is good if honoured but I suspect it will be mere window dressing and of no more value than that. Liberals also propose better oversight of taxpayers’ dollars but that is one proposal that is highly dubious and likely to feed public cynicism. As noted above, the Harper gang did not hesitate to go after the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page simply for doing his job. Both the Liberals and NDP were incensed at the time by Harpers continued efforts to undermine the integrity of the individual and the office. Well, the worm, and I do mean worm, has turned, Harper’s gone and there’s Trudeau seeking to do exactly what the Liberals condemned by Harper, i.e., restrict scrutiny of public finances and to hold government accountable. One way of doing that is by making the reports public. Last month, the Trudeau Liberals introduced measures to limit the PBO’s power to initiate reports and of MPs (presumably opposition members) to request estimates. As reported by Andy Blatchford, for the National Post (Ottawa Citizen, May 4, 2017), the government would impose controls on the PBO by the House of Commons and Senate Speakers. As well, the PBO would be required to cost election promises by political parties thereby diverting its resources and undermining its perceived independence. As well, it would be required to submit it’s plans for the year for approval to the Speakers of the House of Commons and the Senate thereby allowing these bodies to engage in efforts to forestall future investigations that may prove embarrassing and to restrict the ability of the PBO to investigate any new questionable behaviour that could derail government initiatives. Too, the PBO would not be allowed to make any reports public until a day after they were submitted to the Speakers of both Houses or to the parliamentary committee requesting the research.

Are these really the actions of a fair, open and transparent government?

Trudeau and Chagger have demonstrated that when it comes to saying and doing, they will lie and do as any unethical politico will. They have employed omnibus bills to slip in legislation; they have flouted conflict of interest rules, engaged routinely in secretive access-for-cash fundraisers, lied routinely, accepted gifts from millionaires, and padded expense claims. Just this week Trudeau has resumed his cash-for-access meetings with a few changes but not enough to convince me that everything is on the up-and-up. The fundraisers will be open to any member of the public able to pay $250 to the maximum allowable, $1500. They will be held in public places when Trudeau or ministers are in attendance, they will be announced in advance and the media will be allowed to attend and disclose the guest list within 45 days after the event. Sounds good and seems to have convinced Rosemary Barton of CBC’s Power and Politics that $250 cannot buy a vote. I don’t know if that’s true. If 300 widget salesmen attended for $250, that would bring $75K to the fundraiser. If 50 bankers attended the same meeting for $1500, that would bring in the same dollars. But imagine 300 lobbyists with similar interests at $1500. Anyone favour can be bought and I suspect from politicians more easily than some.

If politics is a dirty game its because of those who run for office for parties who have governed this nation far too long. They have become lazy and complacent more self-interest than nation-interested; their primary concern appears to be the getting of power and then clinging to it. And when they do form governments, particularly when they form majority governments, they make and changes laws that work best for them and those to whom they are beholden. They care absolutely nothing about you or me and all they want from us is our vote. They do not want reminders of their hypocrisy, of their dishonesty, of their dipping into the public trough; they want even less to hear from us that we expect honesty, decency, fairness, justice, and the ability to experience shame or that they work for the interests of all Canadians. They will not say so, but it is not for the interests of Canadians they work but themselves and those to whom they owe. They do not want our thoughts, our wisdom or our abilities except in how well they can best serve their needs. They will gladly accept our donations and our labour but not our opinions. We are ancillary to their needs.

Yes, Trudeau is a different man from Stephen Harper and, seeing him operate and knowing that he still rides high in the polls, a much more dangerous man. He is surface, with a brilliant smile and a killer’s heart. He is all too willing to appeal to those enamoured with the gloss and glitz and with short attention spans and little depth and seems to have little interest in standing up, truly standing up, for what he claims to believe. So, in what does he believe? He believes in enriching the Liberal party fortunes and in secret back room meetings and the privatization of infrastructure works projects that will cost Canadians even more as free enterprisers freely milk the public cash cow, perhaps some of them recipients of one of the 600 Broadway tickets for “Come From Away” paid for by Canadian taxpayers.

When he campaigned, he talked loudly and grandly and promised so much. It was chimera, smoke and mirrors. Poof! Nothing there.

But he’s not alone. There is a sewer full of those just like him.

***

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

THE PEACOCK PRINCE AND THE HOPE THAT NEVER WAS: JUST ANOTHER SLIMY POLITICO

Modesty is the only sure bait when you angle for praise. – G.K. Chesterton

Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. – Eric Hoffer

Frank Pelaschuk

For diehard Liberal supporters, Justin Trudeau was the swaggering handsome young prince who would sweep the party back into office where they belonged with his charm and many loud grand promises of real change, of newer, better and brighter in the way of honesty, consultation, openness and transparency. The diehard Liberals likely didn’t believe that part, they know the party and its people too well but they did believe in Trudeau, he was a winner and that’s what matters in the end. For the young voters, they saw in Trudeau not only the son of a one-time political star but also a star in his own right; he was young, confident, he had the words and god he was handsome, graceful, with a beautiful wife and kids and there was no doubt, no doubt at all, he was a winner and that’s all that matters in the end.

THE PEACOCK STRIKES

Oh the promises were many and grand. In all, there were over 200 promises (according to the non-partisan TrudeauMetre.ca website); among them he would: make 2015 the last first-past-the-post election (dead); make Human Rights a priority (only when convenient and when it doesn’t conflict with trade deals); amend the Access of Information Act so that all government date was made “open by default” (pending, likely will not happen); unmuzzle government scientists (done); gender parity in cabinet (done); restore the long-form census (done); ban partisan ads (pending, likely will not happen); provide resources for Elections Canada to investigate electoral fraud and other abuses (pending, likely will not happen); eliminate omnibus bills (doubtful, some claim recent Budget is an omnibus bill); restore the right of the Commissioner of Elections Canada to report and be accountable to Parliament and not to the government (removed by the Harper Conservatives, may happen but doubtful); review spending limits of political parties during and between elections (will not happen); restore home mail delivery (dead); introduce pay equity (will happen just in time for next election); restore life long disability pensions for veterans (did not happen though he did increase one-time lump sum payment); reopen nine Veterans Affairs offices closed by Liberals (done and/or pending); bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees in timely fashion (done if delayed by a few months); run deficit of $10 billion (done, but tripled to $30 billion); legalize marijuana (done); restore age of OAS eligibility to 65 (done); amend Harper’s anti-terrorism bill C-51 (dead, powers to spy on Canadians and share information with foreign security agencies increased); reduce taxes for those earning between $45K and $90K (done, cut by 1.5 percent; Trudeau was all about the middle class but never heard him talk much, if at all, about homelessness, education, the plight of the young and elderly).

To voters hearing them for the first time, many of the promises were appealing particularly pot for the young, pay equity for women, and electoral reform for those who believe democracy is less about outcomes of votes than the fairness of the outcomes; in this, our present system fails. On the surface, just with the few examples above, Trudeau seems to have done not too badly. Unfortunately, those promises kept were relatively easy because largely supported by the public as with the Syrian refugees, reopened Veterans Affairs Offices and legalization of pot. It’s where he fails that is significant. If anything, Trudeau is mostly surface, candy for the eyes and ears that appeal to the easily distracted and those who want only to hear what appeals and conforms to their worldview; challenges, a different point of view, hearing the other out rather than shouting them down, embracing new contrary ideas, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone are too difficult requiring the ability to empathize and exert the energy of actually having to think. Beneath the surface, under all that Trudeau charm, that dazzling, smirking smile, and that cloying, oozing, simply oozing sincerity, lies something much darker, a calculator, a schemer willing to demonstrate, when it suits his purpose and promises gain, a ruthless edge with the occasional bloody gesture meant to burnish his image as one not shy of revealing his mettle. He did that when, in January 2016, as one of his first acts, he publicly, and loudly, expelled Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus. As far as he was concerned, the Liberal senators would now sit as independents. As if declaring a thing makes it so. It was a clever exhibition, a bold, unexpected, and public show that stunned senators and observers alike and informed the world that Trudeau was more than a pretty face with hair. It was a gesture that played well but didn’t mean much except to his fans who became legion following his 2012 whupping of Senator Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match and the photo-op of him performing the yoga Peacock Pose. The expulsion of the senators provided further affirmation of Trudeau as an action figure super hero.

If he was capable of surprising with ruthless efficiency, he was also, that January, able to surprise again with his appointment of neophyte MP Maryam Monsef, as minister of democratic institutions and placing in her hands the matter of electoral reform which he had affirmed would go ahead. But, it was in May of 2016, there occurred two troubling events that may have alerted some to the darker side of Trudeau as a sneak and plotter less interested in the power of democracy than of the power of victory. What happened then did not and does not bode well for Canadians or for Canadian democracy.

Motion 6, introduced by then Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc without fanfare and limited, if any, real consultation was a Liberal attempt to seize control of the House, as if his majority wasn’t enough, by weakening the tools of opposition members to debate, filibuster or force a surprise vote to catch governments flatfooted as the NDP had days before when they put forward an amendment to another bill which left the Liberals scrambling to find enough members to defeat the amendment. Motion 6 was eventually dropped but not after a raucous fracas on the floor of the House which led Trudeau to swagger across the floor and inadvertently elbow a female NDP member in the chest as he manhandled opposition whip Gord Brown by grabbing him by the arm to drag him to his seat in hopes, Trudeau said, of speeding up the vote on Bill-14, the physician-assisted dying legislation being delayed by MPs milling about the House floor. For that incident, Trudeau rightly apologized…twice…but the apologies had less, I suspect, to do with the bill or the manhandling of the two MPs than with seeking to restore the public’s perception of him as a fine, extremely likeable young man rather than the impatient, strutting, bullying peacock to which the world was treated. He may have lost that power grab but it gave Canadians, if they were paying attention or even interested, the first real hint of what governance and democracy meant to Trudeau and his gang and it was not all that dissimilar from Stephen Harper’s and the Conservatives: control, fulfilling the agenda, power, and the keeping of that power.

Rigging the game has nothing to do with democracy. Trudeau was just getting started.

The second occurrence that May was the announcement by Monsef regarding the formation of the Electoral Reform Committee. It began simply enough but not so innocently with disclosure of the committee makeup: 6 Liberals, 3 Conservatives, 1 NDP member and 1 each from the Green and Bloc parties with non-voting rights. The opposition and public outcry was instant and loud for it appeared to confirm what the sceptics had been saying for some time: electoral reform would not happen or happen only if the outcome supported Trudeau’s preferred choice: the formation of a Liberal dominated committee was his effort to make that outcome happen.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, public fury proved too much, they retreated rejigging the committee in June 2016 to more closely reflect the popular vote granting the Green and Bloc parties a vote each, increasing the NDP vote by 1, keeping the Conservative votes at three and reducing the Liberal vote from 6 to 5. As the committee travelled the country hearing from citizens, Trudeau began to show a restive and distant attitude towards reform admitting to his preferred choice of ranked or preferential balloting. During an interview with Le Devoir, he mused that Canadians had no appetite for electoral reform. You could see where this was heading. With the release of the committee’s report December 1, 2016 recommending some form of proportional representation, Monsef mocked and lectured the members derisive of their efforts for failing “to complete the hard work we expected them to”. On Dec. 5, the Liberals announced the creation of an online survey that would accept Canadian input for six weeks. The survey was widely derided because designed to achieve a desired outcome.

Monsef had faltered from the first with the formation of the committee and, with plenty of help from Trudeau, had bungled the portfolio throughout. In January of this year, Karina Gould, another neophyte MP, who replaced Monsef as democratic institutions minister during a cabinet shuffle, would make the official announcement February 1, 2017 that electoral reform was dead as Dickens’s Marley. It had been a test by fire for Monsef who failed and Gould who passed admirably but left some wondering why Trudeau, who had made electoral reform a key element of his platform, had left the dirty task of killing it to a relatively inexperienced and untested member of his caucus. It was the little sister fighting the battle that was her big brother’s. If there were to be a public backlash, she would bear the brunt. There was no backlash for this; Trudeau and the public had other things to fret about and it had everything to do with Trudeau’s Christmas vacation and another rap to his image.

As for electoral reform? It had been shot dead and stomped into the earth. The party that had garnered 54% of the seats with just 39% of the popular vote, the same percentage that gave Harper his majority, had opted for the status quo. Disappointing yes, but no surprise unless you were among those that really, really, really believed Trudeau said what he meant and meant what he said. Poor innocents.

THE PEACOCK RUFFLED

Even as electoral reform played out, not dead yet, but soon to utter its last gasp, Trudeau and his family, with friends Tom Pitfield, of Data Sciences Ltd., and his wife, Anna Gainey, were spending Christmas with long time family friend, the Aga Khan, generously paying for the helicopter ride from the Bahamian mainland to his private island. Now no one, no one begrudges the Trudeaus taking time off for the holiday season. But there are several issues here. Firstly, while rules regarding gifts can and should be tightened, members of parliament, including the prime minister, are not allowed to accept gifts above $200 without publicly declaring them “unless they are routine expressions of hospitality or protocol” (The Canadian Press, June 11, 2015) while those above $1000 must be forfeited to the Crown. By way of explanation, Trudeau had claimed the helicopter ride was the only method possible of accessing the island. Not true. The Privy Council Office technician who usually accompanies the PM for audio and visual technical services had hired a chartered seaplane for $6,695 (National Post in Ottawa Citizen, April 12, 2017). When challenged as to why he accepted the helicopter ride, Trudeau then claimed that the RCMP made decisions regarding the safest way for the PM to travel. Not content with breaking conflict of interest rules and his own mandate regarding openness, transparency and conflict of interest, Trudeau fudged, again. Know a person who lies on the small things, don’t trust him with the big. Canadians picked up the tab for security and the Challenger jet on standby and for “per diems” for the tour technician. Including the cost of the chartered plane, the trip cost $133,882 mostly for security, lodging and overtime and the Challenger jet on standby. That’s fine, part of the package necessary when one is prime minister. Still, one wonders why, apart from the questionable helicopter ride, there were reimbursements of funds to the Aga Khan as reported by CBC news for the cost of meals for “at least one government employee” (Elizabeth Thompson, CBC News, April 4, 2017) to the tune of $1602 USD for the 12 days especially if the technician was doing government business. Was the government trying to hide something? Accepting gifts, even in the way of food and accommodation from a personal friend and head of a foundation that has, since 2004, received government grants of $310 million with another $55 million pledged by Trudeau for the next five years, and failing to report them, is a clear conflict and is presently under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson.

It was this that likely precipitated Trudeau’s cross country tour, called by some the cowbell tour, doubtless to draw attention away from this serious ethical lapse along with numerous other distractions including Trudeau’s cash-for-access grabs. There was probably no need for these photo-op affairs and that’s what they were, Trudeau talking to Canadians, doing well with some tough questions thrown his way but none raising the holiday debacle and one or two expressing concern over his killing of electoral reform. On that Trudeau, clearly unrepentant, even close to boastful, responded: “It is because I felt it was not in the best interests of our country and our future that I turned my back on that promise.” He then went on to say, “If we were to make a change or risk a change that would augment individual voices, that would augment extremist voices and activist voices…I think we’d be entering an era of instability and uncertainty” (Kristy Kirkup, the Canadian Press, Feb. 10, 2017). The suggestion of course was that proportional representation would lead to extremism and extremist, unstable governments. It was ridiculous and unworthy of someone in that position and that intelligent. It’s a lie, it’s untrue, it’s a gross misrepresentation of proportional representation. Trudeau did not get his way regarding preferential voting so he presents a storyline that is incredibly vile as well as stupid. Most nations in the Western world have a form of PR and most have proven stable and effective. That moronic utterance was just another sign that Trudeau is a schemer, untruthful, and a phony. If Kellie Leitch is the hysteric on the Conservative side with her outrageous racial and religious intolerance, what can one say of these comments by Trudeau? The words were not just nonsense they were revelatory.

The java tour accomplished little for the public really engaged in such issues as electoral reform, in honesty in government and in our politicians but it did allow Trudeau to lard on, and I mean lard on, that smarmy charm and oozing, simply oozing sincerity.

At the time, little attention was paid to the friends who accompanied Trudeau on that Christmas jaunt. And Trudeau wasn’t talking. Tom Pitfield’s company has been awarded contract work for the Liberal party offering digital and support services to enhance its voter contact database capabilities. Trudeau and the Liberal party refuse to discuss how much is being paid for the services. This is important because, the other member in that party of happy holidayers, Pitfield’s wife, Anna Gainey, is president of the Liberal party. Further, two members of Pitfield’s company, one a sister to Trudeau’s press secretary, also sit on the Liberal party’s board of directors. Pitfield’s wife will recuse herself from any party decisions made regarding Data Sciences Ltd. Yeah, right. For the president of the party, that might be difficult.

Does anyone smell cronyism yet? Does anyone recall Adscam or sponsorgate?

Can Trudeau or his cabinet be trusted? Depends who’s trusting it seems.

THE PEACOCK’S CONFLICT

This man came into office promising real change, more openness, transparency, and honesty. Neither he nor many of his MPs have delivered.

Early on we saw minister of health Jane Philpott reimbursing taxpayers for expense claims, minister of environment and climate change claim thousands for a photographer to follow her in Paris during a climate change summit and we had then minister of international trade Chrystia Freeland, cancel a government plane flight home at the conclusion of a business trip to the Philippines to attend a TV talk show with Bill Maher at a cost between $17K and $20K for Canadian taxpayers according to the Conservatives but which her office pegs at close to $14K. The Global Affairs website lists several meetings that day with the L. A. Chamber of Commerce and California’s Office of Business and Economic development which likely explains why she did not feel the need to reimburse the public. What do you think?

In April 2016, MP Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, accepted a free trip to Tanzania by lobbyist World Vision that, since 2015, has received $50 million from Canadian taxpayers.

Another Liberal MP, Arif Virani, took a free trip to England paid for by the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation. Not troubled yet?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould attended a fundraiser sponsored by lawyers. Conflict of interest? You bet. But neither she nor Trudeau see it that way. She claimed that she attended as MP not as justice minister! Go figure. She and Trudeau must have laughed at all us dummies who swallowed that. What a bunch of simps.

No doubt she laughs at this, as well. Her husband registered as a lobbyist immediately after the election victory. He was partner with her in a business, which she left to campaign as a Liberal candidate. He continues on as consultant for two clients, one of which is a wealthy First Nations band in Kelowna and the other the not-for profit First Nations Finance Authority that offers financial and advisory assistance to First Nations members. Her husband, as a lobbyist, could conceivably do business with the justice department on behalf of his clients, which places his wife in a real conflict of interest position. It is not enough she recuses herself. Her husband must quit as lobbyist or the minister resign. Again no movement by the justice minister who continues to hold the confidence of Trudeau and still hasn’t a clue about conflict of interest.

But if the justice minister appeared naïve at best or disingenuous at worse, what can one say of finance minister Bill Morneau’s secretive meeting at a private home with developers in Halifax one of whom had been appointed to the board of the Halifax Port Authority by the Liberals? Again conflict of interest rears its ugly head.

And of course, we mustn’t forget Justin Trudeau’s many, many forays into the fundraising field many at private homes and unadvertised. In one event at a private home attended by about 30 Chinese millionaires and billionaires, there were two who donated $50K towards a stature of Justin’s father, $200K towards the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and $750K for the University of Montreal law faculty scholarships. About a month later, one of the attendees won government approval from regulators to operate Wealth One Bank of Canada. Coincidence?

With Trudeau, ethics, transparency, and truth are rather a loosey-goosey mishmash. When questioned about these meetings, Trudeau and his gang made clear they could not be influenced, that no business was ever discussed, that whenever any attendee attempted to raise business they were directed to go through the proper government channels. Trudeau and his staff would also claim that Trudeau often just happened to drop by at these events and often did not know who were in attendance. Really? When he has security glued to him 24/7? Later, Trudeau would admit that business was discussed at some of these meetings.

Can Trudeau really be trusted?

Why, even when given the opportunity more than once by reporters to actually demonstrate his oft self-proclaimed feminism, he stood mum, mute, unable to bring himself to condemn Trump’s vicious misogyny, And when Trudeau was presented with the opportunity to demonstrate that his campaign pledge of making Human Rights a priority was more than mere words after Trump laid out his travel ban on Muslims, he again fell short demonstrating that there was no there there.

Motion 6 gave us the first real taste of Trudeau as a plotter and sneak just as capable of slimy politics as the worst of politicos. The cash-for-access manoeuvring, the cronyism, the treatment of the ballyhooed electoral reform and sundry other displays have cemented my opinion of him as surface only. There is little to respect because, of the things he has accomplished that are good, sometimes even very good, there have been a diminishment because they seem more illusory than substantive, meant more to enhance his image and stature than as concrete, meaningful acts to fully commit to the openness, transparency, and integrity he had promised. His lack of candour bespeaks deceit, calculation, and contempt.

Last month, with Bardish Chagger leading the charge for Trudeau and gang, the Liberals resumed their efforts begun with Motion 6. They have released a discussion paper that Liberal Scott Sims proposed be adopted by June 2, 2017 outlining their desire to make wide-ranging change to the rules of Parliament quickly and with real possibility of going against custom by doing so unilaterally. That opposition response was immediate and hostile should surprise no one except for the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Conservatives who, should any need reminding, sought to disenfranchise voters and remove the ability of Elections Canada Commissioner to investigate election fraud with the so-called Fair Elections Act.

The Liberals wish to reduce the number of sitting days to four, leaving Fridays open for members for “Constituency” days. Yeah, right. As it is, most members leave for their ridings on Thursday evenings taking turns to sit on Fridays. They also want to allow one day a week, based on the British model, where only the PM responds to questions during Question Period. He will not be expected to show in the House other days. Too, as with Motion 6, the move is clearly designed to limit debate. Both the NDP and Conservatives believe that changes as extensive as these must require all party agreement. The Conservatives, now official opposition, believe this with absolute sincerity…today. Next time they form a majority they’ll be doing what they have in the past and what the Liberals are doing today. It’s a dirty power grab played in a dirty game.

Those who voted for Harper mostly knew what to expect and what they were getting. Harper was ruthless, petty and vindictive. His was a narrow vision: tax cuts, tiny, shiny baubles in the way of promises, Alberta oil and Keystone, fear and security, the free market, aligning with business to suppress wages, more prisons, more jail time, and treating welfare recipients as fraudsters and bums.

In many ways, Trudeau’s betrayal is more significant than anything pulled by the Harper gang because Trudeau played on the hopes, decency, innocence, and generosity of those he relied upon for votes by making grand, grand promises that at times seemed too good to be true. Well, they were. He offered a vision that was grander than the Liberal party, which promised more than they intended to give, and that was largely stolen from the NDP playbook. He offered the Big Rock Candy Mountain and, in doing so, confirmed our image of ourselves as good people, generous people, welcoming people.

Oh, yes, he delivered some. But he lied with more. Sunny days, sunny ways was all a crock. There is nothing beneath the surface of that oozing, simply oozing sincerity.

Trudeau is not a bad man; he is just not a good enough man. He is like many of us, easily corrupted when offered too much and wanting and expecting more. Apparently, for such as he loved by all and with a majority government, love is not enough; what good is power if not wielded for benefit? For others, it is bitterness that corrupts, the belief we are unrecognized, have been denied, and that the world is unfair. Both camps should give it a rest.

What is so difficult about keeping one’s word and doing one’s best, about owning up to mistakes or admitting failure? What is so important about you that you would throw away your honour, tarnish your name, betray those who place trust in you, you, for the sake of power and glory?

And you, what do you see in that peacock? What is there about him that has numbed your brain and disabled your senses? What is there about you that paralyses you, forces you to sit back, to do nothing, to accept no responsibility?

In the end, we are all dust. In the meantime, we are all accountable and complicit.

***

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

 

KELLIE LEITCH ET AL: THE UGLY FACE OF FEAR & INTOLERANCE

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

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Frank Pelaschuk

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about Canadian values. We have heard it from the Liberals, Trudeau oozing, simply oozing sincerity as he puts to words, hand over heart, what we all want to believe of ourselves: welcoming, generous, tolerant, open, free, gracious, kind, polite, humble, not only the best country in the world but also recognized by Canadians at least if seldom declared above a whisper — superior to Americans – though this is something that Trudeau, so eager to win friends and please, would never, never, allow such thoughts let alone they be known. It’s a cozy Canadian picture if a bit overblown and slightly tainted by the aura of modest smugness.

But, while most of us have our own ideas of shared Canadian values, they have been dragged to the fore by Kellie Leitch and fellow conservatives contending for leadership of the party and recently by Tory MPs in the House who oppose M-103, the anti-Islamophobia motion by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, with fanciful and untrue claims that it will lead to changes in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gives Islam preferential consideration over other, i.e. “Christian”, religions. From that one small step, they argue, will follow more steps including the imposition of Sharia law and the denial of the right to free speech. Such assertions, especially from the Conservative members, are patently absurd and might easily be dismissed as laughably hypocritical were the matter not so serious. Leitch and most of those vying for top spot were members during the Conservative reign of Error under Stephen Harper which, as many may recall, was a government that routinely shunned the “lickspittle” media, that labelled critics, particularly environmentalists, as “radicals” and “stooges” in the service of foreign interests, that broaden the powers of security agencies to spy on Canadians, that made possible charges of economic terrorism against peaceful protestors, that muzzled government scientists, that denied the most fundamental of right of free expression, the vote, to Canadians living abroad more than five years, that, through the CRA, targeted charities perceived as “left-wing”, and that tarred all critics of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Jewish going so far, in one instance, as to rescind the thirty year charitable status and government funding of KAIROS, a multi-faith aid agency. On that occasion (2011), the agency had received approval for funding until then cabinet minister Bev Oda forged the government document with the insertion of the word “not” thus denying the charity’s funding and status. The Conservatives, with Jason Kenney leading the charge with claims that the Harper regime was cracking down on anti-Semitic groups, made the false claims that KAIROS had been spearheading the charge of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against the Israeli government. The truth is, KAIROS, while critical of Israel’s policies regarding Palestine, did not support BDS. But Jason Kenney, prone to partisanship, to using government letterheads for party fundraising, to smearing opponents with innuendo and falsehoods, to tweeting bogus images of a child bride with her “husband” and of chained women re-enacting an historical event as if they were “real”, has had a long history of demonstrating that, when it comes to truth, he is a happy stranger as are almost all those conservatives, especially those of the Harper era. As with KAIROS, they lie when they suggest M-103, a non-binding motion to study systemic racism, is a threat to “free speech”. While M-103 could have been worded with greater clarity to leave absolutely no room for the mischief-makers, liars and weasels, there is no secret agenda to undermine “Christian” faiths or to impose Sharia law. The threat comes not from the motion but from those political opportunists who are eager to exploit the ignorant and lazy who prefer to believe the lies that offer them comfort and the illusion of safety and security. Yes, there is danger in the world but, thus far, in Canada and in the US, since the twin towers, the terrorists have been lone wolves Canadian and American born.

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT

What Kellie Leitch and those of her ilk offer has less to do with Canadian interests than self-interest and self-aggrandizement by any means. It is about achieving power and influence by fair or foul means though, it is true, for some, the foul means seem bred to the bone, easier and more natural. In that respect, Leitch has much in common with Donald Trump with whom she wishes to identify and emulate: neither have much interest in truth or facts nor of the harm they are doing with their inflammatory messages of blame and hate. For that, they have much to answer. Little wonder those spewing vile messages on the social network, encouraging vandalism, offering threats and engaging in violence directed against Muslims, Jews and other marginalized members of our society feel emboldened: they have received the seal of approval from those who seek their votes and tell them exactly what they want to hear: it’s not your fault, we will fix things, we will heal you. As for how, save that for later.

So when Trump talks about security and seeks to ban immigrants from countries with large Muslim populations or when Leitch, particularly following the aftermath of her role in the odious Conservative snitch line debacle, talks about screening refugees for “Canadian values”, there is little reason to doubt that a racist and religious bigot and/or mean-spirited opportunist is at work pandering to the worst in us. Couched in any way she may wish, the message and intent cannot be mistaken. Leitch is referencing Syrians and Muslims in particular. This is not new to her or to the Conservative party but, until the last election campaign, was a relatively tepid political gambit fuelled by world headlines and several Canadian born lone wolf acts of terrorism.

About a month before the October 19, 2015 election, supposedly the last first-past-the-post Trudeau promised (that’s another topic for another time) Leitch and Chris Alexander, another leadership candidate for the Conservatives, stood before the media to announce the creation of a snitch line so that Canadians could report the Barbaric Cultural Practices of those niqab-, hijab-, burka-wearing you-know-who. Months later, the election over and the Conservatives out of power, Kellie Leitch appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics expressing regret with fake tears for her role in the snitch line debacle. Then, just months later, entering the leadership race, she reverted to the persona of the sewer from which she had briefly emerged. Following the murders of six Muslims in a Montreal mosque January 29, 2017, Leitch fell silent for a few days but not, it appears, to reflect on her leadership strategy for soon she was back at it spreading the message of her kind of Canadian values working up the elements of fear among those with the same values and questionable IQs against those, you-know-who, flooding our borders, even though the murderer, a young French-Canadian with an unhealthy interest in white supremacy (likely a characteristic common to her supporters) made a lie of her message. It didn’t and doesn’t matter. For the bigots, hysterics and those poisonous vipers fuelling the fires of racial and religious intolerance, it makes no difference that Canadians have far less to fear from the Muslim and Jewish communities than those communities have to fear from Canadians. Live a lie long enough one begins to believe it; it’s easier to accept you’re not to blame; you’re the victim and others are out for your job, your family, your faith – your life! It’s certainly easier than having to actually think and perhaps risk the niggling worm of doubt forcing you to question those feeding you this line: is there an agenda here?

The manipulators, the fear mongers, the exploiters and users, the power hungry and the power mad (autocrats, despots, and tyrants at heart), know this and they love it. It is not enough to have power but to wield it and wield it ruthlessly. That requires a compliant, ignorant and fearful populace, which seems to have grown in numbers in spite of the opportunities and advances offered by education and science. The dumber we are, the safer and the happier they are. Conservatives and their supporters will tell you that the non-binding motion, M-103, is dangerous but it is unlikely they would encourage you o actually read it for yourself (and it’s very unlikely their supporters in the rank and file have). M-103 clearly states, “the government should: (a) recognise the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination…” “Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” Only an illiterate or someone with an agenda would see an agenda not there.

Contrary to the naysayers opposed to the motion, nowhere does Islam get preferential treatment. What this motion does is highlight what should be self-evident to anyone who possesses a modicum of integrity and common sense and is able to follow the news: Muslims and Jews are being targeted and the fear mongers, the racists and the lowlife panderers like Leitch and the Conservatives opposing the motion are exploiting this issue less because they believe in Canadian values, which they may well do whatever they are, but because they are more interested in seeking power and influence but suffer from a lack of will and desire to compromise and to be truly original and constructive in ways that will make for a better Canada.

Last year, the Conservative hypocrites suffered no qualms regarding threats to free speech when one of their members made a motion, supported by the Trudeau Liberals, condemning the BDS movement which stated: “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the BDS movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” The motion, as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair noted, was a direct attack against the right of free speech and assembly. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals gave a damn. Evidently it’s some kind of crime to be critical of Israel or to suggest that Palestinians have been victims of unfair treatment.

BE AFRAID, YOU ARE THREATENED

So what Canadian values are Leitch, and those of her ilk or even Justin Trudeau’s cash-for-access, ethically challenged and bald-faced lying hypocritical Liberals talking about? While Trudeau and the Liberals have demonstrated many shared, unpleasant, questionable and deceitful traits with the Conservatives (placing trade before Human Rights, reneging on open nominations, and turning away from openness and transparency and from electoral reform, for examples), they, thus far, have demonstrated none of the openly vile tendencies of racial and religious intolerance espoused by Leitch and cohorts; Trudeau is about sunny, sunny, sunny ways, more interested in getting on everyone’s good books promoting trade and himself as a proud feminist but too timid to chid, even mildly, the vile comments of a misogynistic Trump when offered the opportunity to publicly prove himself.

On February 24, 2017, during the penultimate leadership debate at the Manning Centre in Ottawa, Leitch spoke of some of her “values”: generosity, freedom, tolerance. Those are the same values Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair and many Canadians would share yet, uttered by Leitch, seem to hold a different meaning. There is about her demeanour and pinch-faced expression and the way she utters the words a miserliness and mean-spiritedness that saps the words of any value. There are strings attached to her type of generosity, freedom, and tolerance, conditions that require a signature and a surrendering to another what it means to be of an independent mind with values of one’s own. Throughout her campaign, she has been shamelessly vocal in condemning the “elites” by that, I guess, she means the media and those who disagree with her, while, as during the debate and at every occasion, not shy of throwing out her credentials and appealing to prestige by reminding all that she has been published. Well she is a doctor which means she is highly educated but when one sees her eight plus minute campaign video and the message she offers, you may be left asking: what good did it do her?

Clearly, there are some politicians who believe it really doesn’t take all that much to get voters on their side. Trump appears proof of that. For some, all you have to do is make a lot of grand promises without even a pretence of keeping them; you’ll worry about the fallout later and, if you are Trudeau, with a pretty face, nice hair, if you are named the best-dressed leader in the world and if you declare yourself a feminist and interfere in nominations to ensure that your preference, a woman, is selected, if you ooze, simply ooze sincerity, well, it doesn’t matter, the public will forgive all because you are golden. Or you can be famous, famous for being loud, brash, egotistical, and rich, rich, rich. That might be enough. No need to be a full-time Canadian; ideas are needed here either, just a promise to save the country and bluff, loud talk and self-congratulatory bluster.

For some, all it takes is the right message to win the vote. Pander to the fears, greed, and stupidity of the hateful and brutish. Everyone’s out for the main chance so promise anything, you don’t have to deliver. Next time do it all again. Fear, hate and greed are all you need to worry about. If you’re a politician, that will make you a winner, if not today, next time.

As for now, go about your business of getting elected, brag about your wealth or your credentials and hammer home the message that the world is a dangerous, dangerous place, that the voter is the victim and the barbarians with frothing mouths are pounding at the door wanting you and yours. Ignore the hateful, violent messages scrolled on school blackboards threatening harm to our Muslim and Jewish neighbours, ignore the firebombed mosque, the swastikas painted on synagogue walls, and the Muslim and Jewish tombstones overturned by the vandals, ignore the victims harassed and threatened and beaten on the streets. Ignore all this and say: I didn’t do this. I didn’t contribute. I’m not responsible.

Well, Leitch, if not you and those like you, who is?

***

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

 

A RAT TURNS TAIL: TRUDEAU BREAKS ANOTHER PROMISE

A man’s reputation is the opinion people have of him; his character is what he really is. – Jack Miner

Integrity has no need of rules. – Albert Camus

Frank A. Pelaschuk

On May 20, 2016, I posted the following: We have observed how this government has increased the wealth of the middle class while doing absolutely nothing for the poorest amongst us. We have watched as this government has operated with breathtaking arrogance and watched a prime minister so narcissistic he believes nothing will stick: broken promises, manhandling members of parliament, ministers placing themselves in conflict of interest positions and ministers working to jettison or rig, either is a possibility, electoral reform.

While I have never held much faith in Trudeau, suspecting him of insincerity and hypocrisy, I was willing to give him a chance even hoping I was wrong. He quickly proved to be all I feared and worse. I have written a few times that I believed him a phony, a man not to be trusted. Sadly, he has proven himself both a phony and untrustworthy and almost from the first. Oh, initially, it was true, he seemed eager to go through with his promise of electoral reform but very quickly proceeded to undermine the work of the committee set up to formulate a recommendation even once stating such reforms were not on top of the public’s list. When the committee did submit it’s report favouring a form of proportional representation, the then minister of democratic reforms, Maryam Monsef, mocked the work of those on the committee and accused them of not even doing what they were supposed to. It was clear where this was going. But the saddest aspect, in some way, is not his broken promise nor his betrayal of those who voted for him on this issue, so loudly trumpeted by Trudeau, but his throwing to the wolves Karina Gould, the neophyte MP who replaced Monsef, by having her make the announcement that electoral reform was now off. You see, he did not want to have any video of him wearing this, yet another broken promise. Oh, he is a brave man of integrity alright.

Justin Trudeau is a prize and a phony. Oh, yes, he smiles a lot, talks of sunny ways, and easily milks tears from those overworked lacrimal glands when he wants or needs to; he’s a take charge guy who does not hesitate to swagger across the room to rescue a fellow MP even if it means elbowing another in the breast. He talks big on big things. For him, Human Rights was a priority when he campaigned but, when it came to the crunch, Human Rights took a beating as he signed off on a trade deal with Saudi Arabia one of the world’s most repressive regimes. And, of course, Human Rights is never mentioned as he seeks to do even more trade with China, another Human Rights abuser. Well, let’s face it, Human Rights is a honey if it don’t cost money.

He talks big about tolerance and yet when he sees and hears a lunatic Donald Trump signs bills to erect walls and wage religious and racial wars against Muslim immigrants, he is strangely mute except to say Canada welcomes immigrants. That is not enough. Where is the voice of outrage and condemnation?

He has proclaimed himself time-and-again to be a feminist. Well, he was given the opportunity to prove himself during the American election campaign when he was asked to comment on the vile recording made of Trump boasting about groping women. This is what Trudeau said: “This relationship goes far deeper than any two personalities at their countries’ respective heads. I think, however, I’ve been very clear in my approach as a feminist, as someone who has stood clearly and strongly through all my life around issues of sexual harassment, standing against violence against women, that I don’t need to make any further comment” (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, Oct. 13, 2016). Not even a whisper of condemnation for Trump.

He was given another opportunity on January 24 of this year to speak when asked by a reporter, “Do you think Trump is a misogynist?” His response was exactly what one would expect of a craven phony. He said, he was “pleased to have a constructive working relationship with the new administration…and I have made it very clear over the past year, it is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process.” And this is our fearless, feminist, Human Rights defending prime minister?

This man Trudeau is a phony. He is a craven coward more interested in trade than Human Rights, more interested in access-for-cash than feminism, and more interested in oozing, simply oozing sincerity than actually doing the right and decent thing.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, admirable about a man, especially a leader of a nation, who remains silent on the sidelines watching others bullied and hoping, just hoping, no one will notice.

Well, Trudeau, one person has noticed. I had hoped for better from you but really did not expect it. I am not surprised by today’s announcement, I expected it long ago.

You are not a man of courage or of your word. You are just another phony out for the main chance. And I thought Harper and his gang were sewer rats.

***

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:THE ACCESS-FOR-CASH HUSTLER & A SHAMEFUL SILENCE ON TRUMP

Tell the truth about any situation & you are delivered from lack of progress, but become hypocritical or lying, and you may be in bondage for life. – Auliq-Ice

All other swindlers upon earth are nothing compared to self-swindlers. – Charles Dickens

There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy. – Joseph Pulitzer

Frank Pelaschuk

If Trudeau’s image has taken a bit of a battering lately, the sheen slightly worn, the glow very slightly diminished, it is largely of his making.

Swept into power largely on the tsunami of hope fed by many grandiose promises and the force of his youthful personality, he has, for some time, convincingly demonstrated his status as a star: it’s difficult to shake the faith of true believers who want only to believe.

Yet, from the very first, all that talk of making Human Rights a priority, of offering Canadians a real change, a new era of openness, transparency and honesty – all that hope – has proven to be mostly chimera. Words. And empty ones at that.

BAGMEN

Oh, yes, he has followed through with his promise to bring Syrian refugees to Canada and he has kept to his promise to consult with Canadians, oh, Lord, how he has consulted, name it…he’s got some committee talking to someone. And that is good. However, many of the promises he has kept have been the easy things, the things most Canadians can rally around and support and end up feeling good about themselves for doing so. That, too, is fine.

Yet, one could sense it almost from the first that what we got, all those young, new faces, the gender-balanced cabinet, all, all offering promise and hope, wasn’t quite true, there was something off, one of Trudeau’s own prize members almost ruining it, that high, heady euphoria not just of victory but of actually doing it, forming a cabinet that was not apparently but truly, truly, representative: women, new young political up-and-comers, visible minorities playing truly significant roles. He was promising a lot and demonstrated he meant business by making public the mandate letters for each ministry. But there was Jody Wilson-Raybould, a First Nations member, a first for the post, appointed a key position as minister of justice almost spoiling it by attending a $500 a plate fundraising event put on by lawyers from a prestigious firm and saying, with a straight face, that she attended not as the Minister of Justice but as a mere MP! As if such distinctions were really probable let alone likely. And there was Trudeau defending her, the clear conflict of interest violation blithely dismissed. If Trudeau saw nothing wrong, how could his supporters and gooey-eyed star struck fans.

But surely not all could ignore the clangour of distant alarm bells, however dimly rung. One began to immediately get a sense of what kind of man he was and it certainly was not as simple as the earnest, honest image he wanted us to embrace and love, love, love. It became clearer, of course, when the bells rang a second time for the justice minister. This was a result of her husband registering immediately after the election as a lobbyist for a First Nations band in Kelowna and for the not-for-profit First Nations Finance Authority that offers financial assistance to First Nations members. Again, apparently, neither Trudeau nor the justice minister saw reason to worry even though the justice department, which Jody Wilson-Raybould heads, and First Nations peoples are engaged in several lawsuits. We are to accept that the minister’s husband will recuse himself from any dealings with her department or that, as partners, they will not be talking to each other on these matters. That stretches credulity and is simply not enough of a safeguard particularly in light of the kind of judgement displayed by a minister and her boss who refuse to acknowledge clear conflict of interest and who resorts to weasel legalese to soft soap it: I attended as an MP not as minister of justice.

But these were just early harbingers of things to come. That it happened so quickly, easily and shamelessly is what makes it extremely surprising and so deeply troubling.

If it were simply a matter of Jody Wilson-Raybould, that would be it. Troublesome, yes, but nothing that could not be quietly dealt with and forgotten. Unfortunately, and very quickly, it was clear that the return of Liberal entitlement was back and here to stay. Jane Philpott, minister of health, early in her mandate, volunteered to repay questionable expense claims on three separate occasions after they came to light. There was Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change who hired, at taxpayer expense and when press photographers were aplenty, a private photographer to record her adventures in Paris during the Climate Change summit. And then there was Chrystia Freeland, minister of international trade, who makes these two look like amateurs when it comes to picking the public wallet; while returning home from a business trip to the Philippines, she took a side trip to LA to appear on Bill Maher’s TV talk show. That cost the taxpayers nearly $20K for the added plane fare and the government plane that returned without her. Unlike Philpott, neither McKenna nor Freeland seem troubled by these expenditures. This is less an issue about nickel and diming Canadians than about how easily it is to slip into a mindset of entitlement and easy spending when the money is not yours. These are small things, true, but significant and not to be easily dismissed.

Unfortunately, Canadians appear to be indifferent to these things even when the conflict becomes glaringly obvious and worrisome.

It is bad enough that finance minister, Bill Morneau, and others, have hired staff from lobbying firms including TransCanada the beneficiary of recent government pipeline decisions. It is that this senior member of Trudeau’s cabinet and others, as well as Trudeau himself, has engaged in countless secretive fundraising events at $1500 a plate with developers, with those from the energy sector, with drug manufacturers, and with billionaire foreign nationals. When these were finally brought to light, we were assured that no discussions of business with government lobbyists ever took place. Trudeau himself made that clear adding he could not be influenced, regardless. Right. His staffers assured us that whenever having business with government attempted to broach business they were firmly instructed to go through the proper channels. Later, stretching credulity once again, staffers and Trudeau claimed that Trudeau often just happened (on a sudden whim?) to drop in at these private events and had no way of knowing who was in attendance! Well, suckers, you can see what they really think of us. Again and again Trudeau and his staff told us that no business was ever discussed. Some took them at their word while others were sceptical. As for the public? Well, the public was largely uninterested; this was small stuff, what really mattered, after all, was that young Trudeau was voted best-dressed leader of the western world.

The thing is, Trudeau and his staffers and the Liberal party lied to all of us.

At one highly secretive meeting at a private home, Trudeau met with about 30 Chinese millionaires (and billionaires), a couple of whom later had donated $50K to fund a stature of Justin’s father, $200K towards the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and $750K towards scholarships for the University of Montreal law faculty. A month later, one of the attendees who had been lobbying the government won approval from federal regulators to open and operate Wealth One Bank of Canada. Coincidence? Perhaps. But, interestingly, after months and months of denials, stonewalling, and plain lying, Trudeau did own up this little tidbit: people did approach him and did talk business at these fundraisers. Still, he averred, everything was on the up and up.

Can Trudeau be trusted? I’ve heard time and time again, from supporters and media pundits, that Trudeau, in fact, no politician would risk his reputation or career for a mere $1500. But it’s not just $1500 times the number of people paying, is it?

CHISELERS

Now there was a bit of a kerfuffle with Trudeau quietly spending the Christmas and New Year holidays in the Bahamas with the Aga Khan, a close family friend and lobbyist of the Canadian government. There is no issue with whom Trudeau and family spend their free time. But there is an issue with his attempt to keep his whereabouts secret and that he had neglected to mention he had spent time with the Aga Khan two years before. There is also the matter of his acceptance of a helicopter ride, paid for by the Aga Khan, from the Bahamian mainland to the Aga Khan’s private island and that he did not inform the ethics commissioner, Mary Dawson. That is a breach of regulations regarding the acceptance of gifts. The secrecy of the affair is particularly troublesome since Canadians are picking up the tab of $60K for RCMP accommodations and $48K for the Challenger jet on standby for the nine days. It must also be noted that Canada has, since 2004, given $310 million to the Aga Khan Foundation with Trudeau pledging another $55 million over the next five years. This is not about Trudeau holidaying with a friend as the Liberals would have us believe, but about secrecy, accepting gifts, and clear possibility of conflict of interests with a lobbying charity and the prime minister’s government. This is serious and no longer small stuff.

But it is not just in the area of cash-for-access that Trudeau and the Liberals suffer when it comes to integrity. He also harmed himself when he turned his back on his pledge to make Human Rights a priority by signing off on the Saudi Arabia light-armoured vehicle trade deal begun by Stephen Harper. By following through with a deal to one of the most repressive regimes in the world, Trudeau breached UN sanctions and Canada’s own regulations regarding international trade. He justified the deal by saying he could not risk Canada’s reputation as a nation unwilling to honour business contracts. Absolute nonsense. Canadian governments have done so in the past and for less honourable reasons. It was the $15 billion deal and 3000 Canadian jobs that concerned him. Had he cancelled the deal, Canada’s reputation as a nation supportive of Human Rights would have almost certainly been enhanced and with little, if any, negative effect in trade. Instead, when it comes to jobs and money, and they are important, Trudeau and Harper are brothers under the skin but, of the two, Trudeau proves himself a slipperier sort; one always knew where Harper was going.

To loud fanfare, Trudeau promised that, if elected, the October 19, 2015 would be the last first past the post election. He had Maryam Monsef, minister of democratic reform, form an all-party committee to make recommendations after consulting with Canadians across the country. When the report was finally submitted, Monsef roundly condemned it and the committee for not doing the job expected of them. It was a move almost anyone could see coming, for by that time, Trudeau and his Liberals had made it plain they were no longer interested in democratic electoral reform. Monsef’s response created a backlash; electoral reform was back in the news and she was severely damaged. She was demoted and replaced; even so, it is clear the Liberals would wish to see the promise die. If Trudeau feels compelled to keep it, he will not go with the committee recommendation of adopting a form or proportional representation but adopt, instead to go with the Liberal preferred choice of ranked ballot. This issue, as much as his declaration of making Human Rights a priority was and remains a charade, announced with attention getting bravado and arrogance, only to be left twisting in the wind to simply fade away because, as Trudeau pointed out, they are items not on top of the list for Canadians.

COWARDS

Trudeau is fond of declaring himself a feminist and he can justifiably be proud when he points to his cabinet. But declaring oneself a feminist doesn’t necessarily make it so. Perhaps I don’t understand what it means to believe something or to say that one believes in something. I always took it as a given that, if faced with the opportunity to back up what one says, one takes it.

During the past American election campaign, shortly after the recording of Trump bragging about groping women and being able to do anything he wanted with them because he was rich and famous, Trudeau was asked to comment. He did not. Instead, his was a calculated, self-serving, and cowardly evasion of the politician saying, “This relationship goes far deeper than any two personalities at their countries’ respective heads. I think, however, I’ve been very clear in my approach as a feminist, as someone who has stood clearly and strongly through all my life around issues of sexual harassment, standing against violence against women, that I don’t need to make any further comment” (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, Oct. 13, 2016). This is a leader of a sovereign nation but he allowed himself to be cowed by the possibility of a bullying misogynist becoming president of the United States. Instead of roundly condemning Trump’s remarks and thus joining the chorus of outrage, he cravenly ducked his head and stood mute except for uttering a platitude he was not willing to prove or support.

On Jan 24 of this year, he was asked by a reporter, “Do you think Trump is a misogynist?” That’s a perfectly clear and reasonable question. But Trudeau the feminist again failed to take the opportunity to prove himself a man of conviction preferring instead to say he was “pleased to have a constructive working relationship with the new administration…and I have made it very clear over the past year, it is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process.” He went on to say, “It is the job of the Canadian prime minister to have a constructive working relationship with the president of the United States and that is exactly what I intend to do.” He was not asked to offer to opine on the US electoral process but on Trump’s attitude towards women. Trudeau refused, preferring to curry the favour of a vile, misogynistic bully by remaining silent. That is not leadership but a caricature; Trudeau as Babbitt. Some have said that was the right, smart move. Was it? To me, this is akin to witnessing from the sanctuary of one’s home another getting mug and doing nothing, not even calling 911.

And is it the right move for Trudeau to remain silent when Trump has signed a bill to build that wall at the Mexican border or to perhaps abandoning a NAFTA signatory to pander to the bully? And is it the right move for Trudeau to remain silent when, with a stroke of a pen, Trump bars entry to refugees from largely Muslim countries? As a leader, he diminishes himself and Canadians by proving he is too cowardly to do what is right, moral and just at risk of offending and enraging that lunatic to the south of us. That is cowardice, plain and simple. Remaining silent on racism, intolerance, and brutality is a sure path to self-destruction. Who will be Trump’s next target? Unions? Unionists. Jews? Where does Trudeau draw the line on what he will defend and condemn? I have no clue. I just know I cannot trust him be on my side.

When Trudeau returned from his foray with the Aga Khan, clearly troubled by the storm around the access-for-cash debacle, and clearly wishing to clean up his image and to show himself as one of the people, he engaged in a series of coffee shop tours across the country and took questions from the public, mostly friendly crowds. This was clearly an astute move, and it seems to have served him well. The questions were open and free. As a result, he did not always get a free ride; some of the questions were extremely hard. To his credit, he took them all. Now some have said that he was brave for exposing himself that way. Nonsense. Bravery is standing up for what you say you believe. He was simply fighting to regain that glorified image of himself, the golden prince working the crowd; his background as a teacher served him well and effectively. He is glib and sure-footed at such gatherings though, occasionally he did go off message and managed to enrage some as when, in Quebec, clearly pandering to his audience, he responded in French to a question posed in English about English language services. That was ignorance on his part and insulting to the questioner. Still, he escaped relatively unscathed the coffee shop tours are all win for Trudeau. Not once, not once, did anyone raise the matter of those access-for-pay fundraisers. What the hell is wrong with us?

Do I trust him? Can I trust him? I do not. I cannot.

Oh, yes, he is a prince, the golden prince, but he oozes, oozes charm and sincerity too easily and too readily for my liking. In a crunch he will, as easily and as readily, fail you smiling, smiling, a tear or two, perhaps, trickling down his cheek.

A man should never be judged by what he says but by what he does. We saw how Trudeau behaved during the past year regarding questions regarding access-for-pay and those elite, private, secretive fundraisers. After a year of denial, he promises to mend the rules around fundraising. I don’t expect much. The devil will be in the details. And we heard how he responded to direct questions regard the vile Donald Trump. Some have said his response was right, was smart. Was it?

To fear to act against a bully who may retaliate is neither smart nor prudent. Bullies thrive on picking on those perceived as weak and afraid.

Trudeau is both. But, what the hell, he is golden.

***

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: