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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

 

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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

 

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

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