Terrorism will spill over if you don’t speak up. — Malala Yousafzai
Speak your mind even though your voice shakes. — Eleanor Roosevelt
Never be afraid to speak your mind, you have one for a reason. — Sarah Moores
Frank A. Pelaschuk
Maybe it’s just me. In Canadian politics, I just don’t see much, if anything, to admire or respect, to risk hanging one’s hat on; it’s all about the main chance. Apparently, in matters of belief, principle, duty, and ability, the most important facility one needs to enter politics is the ability to be shameless. Integrity, character, empathy and sincerity are useful assets but not essential, items to be called upon when needed then set aside when not if and when they threaten one own’s goals. Honesty is a mug’s game so best possess a pokerface proficiency when lying.
The day of the truly honest, perhaps principled is a better word, politician has long passed, a product of another era; there was Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles. Three were even Conservatives: Robert Stanfield, Flora MacDonald and Joe Clark. But these are mostly personal impressions from what I have read, heard and witnessed on television. Though I cannot vouch for them first hand, I suspect these five were people, I might have liked though not enough to join the party of three.
The politicians of today do not interest me. None intrigue me or show signs of promise offering hope. The Conservatives are obstreperous, shrill, whiney, dishonest, short-sighted, and two-faced more likely to draw upon and appeal to the worst in us; they prefer to tear down than to raise up and are more willing to foment fear, create enemies and exploit bigotry not with the goal of making Canada a better place but in gaining power and clinging to it for as long as possible. The NDP fares not much better. It has surrendered too much of what I have always supported in the socialist vision. In fact, it spends too much time denying its roots drifting to the right, less interested in actually achieving things, as it often did in the past by holding the balance of power, than in gaining power. It’s a party that has consciously sought the middle ground threatening to drift and sink on the shoals of irrelevancy. As for the Liberals, well, what can one say? It’s a party steeped in corruption, hypocrisy and putrid with smugness, less interested in the governance of the nation than in protecting malfeasant corporate interests at the expense of judicial integrity provided the corporate interests are Canadian.
For all three, it’s about the main chance.
Justin Trudeau is not a man I would care to know or even meet; I see enough of him on the daily news and that is more than sufficient to form an opinion: he is a poseur. When he wants the world to know that he is about to do done something, particularly if it is politically correct or, at the least, sounds good, as when he announced during the 2015 campaign that that year would be the last ever first-past-the-post election in Canada, he will, first looking to ensure the cameras are there and correctly positioned, loudly, and smugly make the declaration with a bombastic flourish, head high, chin and chest out. A certain cartoon majesty seeking public notice and attention. That will almost always work when the declarations are what most can agree on: equality, human rights, feminism, an end to intolerance and it will work particularly well with those who actually do believe in the good of people, even the very politicos who betray them time and time again. Myself, I’m skeptical. But hindsight informs. The smugness, and you can see it in his carriage in almost every announcement that he believes significant, (they all are — to him), derives from his awareness that, however bold and bombastic the promise, he has them. And if he breaks his promise, and he has and does time-and-again, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how dishonestly, dishonourably or brutally he breaks the pledge and, at times, their hearts, he only has to smile and, oozing, simply oozing sincerity, dish up another offering just as meaningful to his fans. He is a rock star who can do no wrong no matter how outrageous or callous his betrayal. He treats them as suckers. And they are. They still follow and believe him when he utters, less often now than the early days as prime minister, that he is a feminist, that he believes in human rights, that he will fight for Canada, that his governance will be honest, open, transparent by default. Well, we know none of that was true, don’t we? One can almost hear him snickering: Suckers! He has wormed his way into their hearts with lies and promises that he broke again and again and will do again and again. He is tin sheet with the same depth.
Oh, he looks good. He looks convincing. But I do not trust him; I cannot believe in him; I certainly cannot like him. I tried, but within months of his taking office, you could see him for what he was. A phony. Jostling female members aside with his elbows as he sprang to the chamber floors of parliament to grab a member and push him back into his seat. Or, most recently, when he, and all the political party leaders, attended and spoke out at a memorial service in London, Ontario after a Muslim family of five, Yumna Afzaal, Madiha Salman, Yumna’s grandmother, and Salman Afzaal, were mowed down by a young man filled with hate using a truck as a weapon. A nine year old boy, Fayez Afzaal, survived to mourn the loss of his sister, mother, father and grandmother. All, three leaders spoke out against terrorism and Islamophobia, Trudeau oozing, simply oozing the most sincerity. Yet, perhaps, we should be reminded if reminders are necessary and they seem to be, that the liberals, conservatives and NDP are on the same page when it comes to words versus action. Addressing Parliament, Jagmeet Singh spoke of his outrage and the need for laws to combat hate, especially Islamophobia. At the London vigil, June 2, he spoke out against the “Heinous act of terrorism” and spoke of the need for Muslims to be proud of who they were, of combating on-line hate, of the need for political parties to stop using “Islam for political games”, a clear reference to the 2015 campaign in which the Harper conservatives announced their intent to create a Barbaric Cultural Practices snitch line targeting, you guessed it, Muslims. But Singh’s words were there, the rage real. Or so it seemed. Erin O’Toole who spoke before Singh and after Trudeau, had been a member of Harper’s regime at the time of the snitch line debacle. On that matter, he had been silent as have been all those conservatives reelected until this devastating event. O’Toole’s London address noted the “rise of Islamophobia is the pandemic of darkness” and the need to “repel evil with goodness.” Fine words. But that night, he did not own up to the role his party and he and his colleagues played in that “rise of Islamophobia”. Since then, conservatives O’Toole, Michelle Rempel and others started falling over themselves to apologize for their failures in not speaking out when colleagues Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, departed but unlamented MPs, breathlessly announced the promise of the snitch line. Fine words at the vigil, but too late by far and by close to six years. And then we have Trudeau, self-declared feminist and equal rights supporter with his own history of hypocrisy of groping and blackface partying declaring the murders of the London family, a hate crime and act of terrorism. He was and is right on that. But wait.
So, there we have them, the three party leaders on the same page regarding this murderous May 30th event in London, Ontario. And yet, and yet, turning another page, they, Trudeau, O’Toole, and Singh, also appear in agreement that seems to deny their own fine words and sentiments expressed during the vigil for the Afzaal family. On this page, there is no moral outrage, no denunciations of hatred, of racism and of white supremacy. Not a word or, if a word, barely heard, a whisper perhaps. When offered the opportunity to back their words of the Afzaal vigil with deeds, they are peculiarly dumb.
Quebec’s premier Francois Legault has passed into law, Bill-21. It bans religious symbols being displayed in public buildings and on public servants while at work. Quebec aspires to nationhood and calls itself a nation. It is not. Yet not one Federal political leader is willing to say this. Quebec not only aspires to nationhood but aspires also to secularism. But this aspiration has less to do with religion than it has to do with one particular segment of society. You’ve got it. Bill-21 targets Muslims. Again, not one federal leader has challenged this law. You see, they all want to be elected and to do that they need the Quebec vote and Bill-21 is wildly popular in Quebec and politicians, as you know, are nothing if not cheap, sleazy pandering, opportunistic whores. Quebec has Canada in a stranglehold and our leaders cravenly standby, putting their political fortunes over that of Canada. Their silence on Quebec as a “nation” is divisive and may embolden the malcontent whiney premiers like Jason Kenney, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Doug Ford and their supporters to boast the same and act accordingly. On the matter of Islamophobia or any form of hatred and violence, there is even greater, more immediate need for concern.
Shortly following the vigil for the murdered family where politicians of all stripes said their fine words, a reporter asked Trudeau if he, Trudeau, believed Quebec’s Bill-21 to be racist. Without looking at the reporter or camera, staring fixedly ahead at nothing, Trudeau, his face tight and expressionless, gave his succinct one-word verdict: “No”! It appears that O’Toole and Singh agree.
That’s about all I need to know about these people.
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