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Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy. — George Carlin 

Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defence. — Steve Landesberg

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Whenever Pierre Poilievre, Candice Bergen, Cheryl Gallant, Leslyn Lewis, Andrew Scheer, Jason Kenney, Scott Moe, Doug Ford, or any gathering of Conservatives numbering more than one, appear in the same room, observers can be assured tedium, often the product of the shrill whine of white noise issuing from relentlessly flapping lips, is the main course.

The recent Conservative “unofficial” leadership debate of May 7, from which Patrick Brown wisely kept clear, perhaps an indicator of acute foresight and leadership credentials, gave a pretty clear picture of what I mean particularly of three of the contenders who are exemplars of windage, though it must be stated in all fairness that the perceived leader for the top position, outdid all the contenders in both windage and gas. That was Pierre Poilievre. The other two considered as possible contenders, Jean Charest and Leslyn Lewis didn’t stand a chance though Lewis gave a pretty good accounting of herself in the areas of pandering and fulminating noise slugging it out with Poilievre to see who could out-pander the other in trying to win the hearts, minds and votes of the same thugs, bullies, whiners and wallowers in victimhood who occupied Ottawa under the banner of freedom while denying such to the locals. 

Leslyn Lewis took Pierre Poilievre to task for not showing enough support for the so-called “Freedom Convoy” which, of course, Poilievre would have none of saying his was “the loudest voice” of support. When has his ever not been the loudest, most obstreperous voice? Jean Charest struggled for attention, finally achieving it when booed by an ignorant and noisy audience for saying Poilievre supported an illegal protest which was true but also understated because many of those thugs were seditionists calling for the overthrow of an elected government which, apparently appears to be the side Poilievre and Lewis have opted for, each trying to outdo the other in supporting folks who not only whine about non-existent losses of freedom, but also consider democracy fair game adding salt on the wounds of real victims of lost freedoms, some with losses that were absolute, as in Ukraine, victims of the Russian midget butcher, Putin. 

“Freedom Convoy”? Bullies, thugs, ignorant, gathered to convey some vague message of discontent and anger while others, in the background, pull their strings. Ask them exactly what it is that angers and what it is they have lost, they’ll give you the finger accompanied by a few expletives and spittle. 

Look at Poilievre, loud, arrogant and, unbelievably, proud that cheapness and ugliness is all that he has to offer, such is the dearth of ideas and shamelessness of his pursuit of winning conspiracists wallowing in their miserable fetishism of victims of a tyrannical government and a world arrayed against them.

Leslyn Lewis puzzles me somewhat. She’s pro-life. That’s fine. But, in competing with Poilievre for the race to the bottom of the sewer, she too seeks the hearts, minds and votes of folks who, not that long ago, if not still, would not have allowed her to use the same lavatory let alone dine in the same restaurant. What disturbs me is the both Lewis and Poilievre seem incapable of a vision that emboldens and ennobles. They apparently are content to seek the support of bottom feeders.

The official debate of May 11, while a quieter affair because of the format which led Poilievre to unwittingly silence himself somewhat because of his eagerness to speak on every issue. As a consequence, to six questions, contenders were allowed to challenge others up to five times by raising a paddle. Lewis and Poilievre quickly used up their challenges and were thus relatively silent while the others were allowed to offer their thoughts. While the fireworks may not have been there, I did get to learn more about the others. Again, for me, Poilievre came across as particularly odious, when, to a question regarding the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, he seized the opportunity to attack the moderator and media because they concentrated on “truckers who lost their jobs because of an unfair vaccine mandate imposed on them by the Prime Minister, who was targeting them without any scientific basis, than you were about holding accountable people who’ve actually done violence”. The tirade is untrue. The fiction of one who misrepresents, distorts and bends truth into something unrecognizable particularly to Ottawa residents, I am certain, who endured weeks of honking horns and torturous sleepless nights. 

Poilievre was and is by far the worst of the lot. We learned Roman Babar would open the north to mining. This is a highly sensitive region and is already threatened by climate change. Interestingly, while the debate was taking place, the feed at the bottom of the screen was of Nunavut hunters wanting to put a stop to a mine’s ice breakers because of the threat to Narwhales. Charest insisted he would cut taxes. Well, that’s not new. Every Conservative promises that and look what it gets us, infrastructures neglected and Healthcare and Education used as political footballs. Too, he expressed a desire to have more involvement of the private sector in public healthcare wherein taxpayers who will save money on taxes so that they can spend the saving plus even more on healthcare because, remember folks, private health thrives on PROFIT. Well, let’s face it, many politicos, when they leave office, often find work in the private sector, so why not help Big Business further feather the nest with government contracts before they leave or are forced out? That’s the sum of Charest’s vision. That’s some vision. Why not just put the money directly into Healthcare, hire more healthcare workers and cut out the middle men? Not for these folks. Oh, it’s fine to declare you wish to serve Canada, but really, come on, we all look after number one, right? 

Question Period in the House should be required viewing. None of the sides come out well but Conservatives have a penchant for demonstrating how truly ugly they are always on the lookout for the “gottcha” moment, asking questions with answers they already know allowing for no response, whether honest or not, that they will accept. It’s ritual, a game in which none of the players seriously play, an indecent, noisy gong show of insincerity and one-upmanship played on a seemingly endless loop. Loud, shrill and totally without decorum, the Conservatives seem particularly adept in creating the hysterical tone, in acting the wounded, outraged and wronged opposition members fighting mightily to do the job, not for which they were elected, but for seeking power and keeping it by fanning the flames of discontent and fear and untruths feeding the rabble what it wants to hear: they are victims of a inept, corrupt, unheeding governing party. Everyone’s agin ‘em. 

Sick, childish, disgusting. Only a masochist can watch and be inspired.  

Yet, here we are, expected to believe that they are fit to lead a country. Is this truly the best the Conservatives have to offer? Or the Liberals? Is this what we really seek? If so, then we are truly lost, deservedly so because we want it to happen finding it easier to embrace only that which conforms to what we want to believe. 

Conservatives, simply put, with Poilievre and his ilk, have sold themselves for the vilest of reasons and none of them have anything to do with serving Canada and Canadians. It began with Harper and Peter MacKay and the betrayal of the progressives in the party, such as they were, when they turned their backs on a handshake with David Orchard. It’s been downhill since. Look at the list and ask yourselves: Are these people good for Canada? Are the all we have? Do they really have vision, ideas, solutions? Jason Kenney, Stephen Harper, Scott Moe, Doug Ford, Derrick Sloan (booted from caucus), Michael Cooper, Melissa Lantsman, Candice Bergen, and every Conservative MP and MPP holding office today. They are preoccupied by the concept of Power: winning power by any means at any price for as long as possible. If that means stoking the fires of fear, conspiracy, intolerance, and superstition intermixed with a thick larding of revisionist history, so be it.

The Liberals are likely a bit more palatable. If just by a hair. They are probably nicer in handing out their poison but just as deadly. They suffer from a complacency and arrogance that is intolerable with a leader who is not only shallow but also dishonest, deceitful and weak with a propensity for a smug, loudly declarative style when making grandiose promises which he then undermines (as with electoral reform) or quietly walks away from or, when confronted, will lay at the feet of others. For a long while during his first term as Prime Minister, he was also fond of boasting of his feminism until exposure, time, and events laid bare the hollowness of that claim. Saying is not being. Revelations showed him to be less than he seemed and is. Wisely, these days you don’t hear him brag all that much about his feminism.

While it is true I have no fondness for the Liberals, it is the Conservative Party, in its present state, with its paucity of ideas and slate of representatives I find repellent for their meanness, anger, bigotry and parochialism. Just days ago, there was news of Ontario Conservative MPPs, eight thus far, receiving “expenses” from their own riding associations. Earning $165K+ salaries from the public purse, these honourable members were also willing to dip into donor contributions for these generous and quietly offered bonuses. Hopefully “honourable” members and the leadership of the riding associations made it appoint to inform all donors as to how their contributions were being used. I suspect not. It’s not illegal but can this really be ethical? According to Global News, here are the amounts donors directly, if unwittingly, gave to four MPPs on top of their salaries: Lisa Macleod, $56K+; Vincent Ke, $54K+; Kaleed Rasheed $23K and,; Greg Rickford, $14K+. And some people have the nerve to call them “cheap politicians”. With Conservatives, there is no such thing. Doug Ford refused to take questions regarding the matter and went into hiding for a day, perhaps enjoying his “buck-a-beer”. It’s likely donors to eight ridings might reconsider next time they get a begging call to “give”.

Still, while this practice may upset some Conservatives, particularly in the ridings of these members, I suspect this will not be enough to cause supporters to vote for an alternative party other than Liberals. It is almost a certainty that come next election, regardless of who leads the parties, the government of Canada will be Conservative or Liberal.

People often claim they want change but they don’t really mean it. If they did, they would look at the Green or, more realistically, at the NDP with its progressive agendas on health, housing, education and care for the aging and homeless populations while focusing on jobs and wages of those men and women, the real contributors to society, who actually keep the country humming. 

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is not a perfect man. I never heard him claim to be. But I also know I have never heard him appeal to the worst in us nor heard of him exploiting any situation to enhance his own interests at the expense of others. Look at what we have now with the Liberals and Conservatives. I believe Jagmeet Singh honest, intelligent and more than capable. He is young enough to see and embrace opportunities that will work for Canada and its citizens and yet mature enough to learn from mistakes and own up to them. But even he has made mistakes. I am thinking of his treatment of Erin Weir. I did not like it. But, as I said, he is not a perfect man.

I believe in the hopes and dreams of the NDP. I support them when I can and am able. I believe in the Party’s integrity and ambitious goals and I continue to hope. But, I have seen enough to know that it is doubtful I will live to see the NDP allowed through the revolving Federal electoral door that allows only Conservatives and Liberals to govern, regardless of how coldly, mean-spiritedly or ineptly because the guardians at the door cannot, will not, embrace change. No one owes me that. I would love to see the NDP govern federally but accept I likely will not. But you do owe it to yourself to be smarter, to examine all the platforms of all parties and be open and willing to listen to all sides and to embrace change you believe in even if there may be a risk. Since when should fighting for a decent, just and noble vision be easy. Easy makes me wary. Taking the path of least resistance as we have federally since we became a nation has not allowed us to be the best we can. In fact, we have the flavour of Pablum, have become smug, and are viewed with amused tolerance as “nice people”. But, clearly not all are nice. While visiting the campaign office of Jen Deck in Peterborough, ON, NDP leader was greeted outside by group of thugs, loud, foul-mouthed and cowardly, hurling racist epithets and death threats. These are the types to which Poilievre and his type seek to woo. Bottom-feeding lowlifes. This has happened to Singh before. Again he proved himself calm, poised, adroit and clearly capable of keeping his nerve. That’s not just nerve under threat, but signs of a leader able to react coolly while under fire.

I have heard too often folks saying they want change yet, given the opportunity, do nothing to make the change possible. I have even heard them say, “My heart’s with the NDP but they can’t win” and then go on to ensure they don’t.

That sort of voting is astounding in its simplicity and stupidity. How is it possible for some to be so obtuse and willfully self-harming? Instead of trying something that’s been on standby, and ready, for decades, they are too timid to take the test; so, with a chagrined shrug, perhaps even saying, “What can I do?”, they opt for the easy choice, the “safer” choice, preferring what they have experienced time-and-again, the mean-spiritedness and opportunism exemplified by the Conservatives of today and the complacency and arrogance of a regime too corrupt and tired to really care about offering, let alone making, a real difference. 

Now, when I hear someone say to me, “I want to vote NDP but they can’t win,” I just mouth, “FU” and walk away.

Malcolm X said: If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. He was right.

Canada will lose again and again every time we opt for the same ol’ same ol’. We will convince ourselves we made the right choice but we never will because we could not bring ourselves to take that small step towards change. Voters need to shrug off that apathy, rid themselves of their doubts and fears and sense of victimhood and accept some responsibility for their own choices. Until we do, Canada will be the worst for it.

 And that’s on you.


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

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