I have said this before: Politics is a filthy game.
It is a world not particularly noted for being overly populated by necessarily sensitive, bright, articulate, ethical, decent, or even capable folk. In that world, there is a substratum of politico denizens who inhabit a dark, dank world of putrefaction that would shock even the most jaded and unshakable who, while never really part of that corrupt aspect would, nevertheless, still be stunned by what passes for political discourse. Idealism is for fools and fools are quickly and easily ground up and spat aside. Ideas, too, are of little value. This is about winning after all, and it’s the stories and the promises that most entice and assures that will determine the outcome. Thus truth and sincerity are less important than grandiose promises of shiny trinkets and inflaming passions, rousing hostility, blaming others for the travails we experience. It is never our fault but theirs. There is no need to concern oneself with opposing ideas…disagree with me you are the enemy. There is an absence of tolerance, a surfeit of blame, a jungle of fear, and a mania for belligerence and meanness that masks as patriotism. It is not.
It is, instead, a vile mockery by opportunists who care little about serving or giving back. They are winners and takers who will win and take by any means. Too often, too many are willing to take the role of bottom feeder and sewer rat; it appears for some, the role comes naturally.
It is unfortunate that the Conservative party seems to be home to so many of them. They were prominent under Stephen Harper, quickly and eagerly revealing themselves for what they were. During the last campaign, Canadians were treated to the most odious aspects of the Conservative party as it sought to win re-election through a campaign of racial and religious intolerance. Now, the Conservative Party defeated, Harper gone and many of the old vile gang still MPs and running for the Conservative top spot, the ordure of the Harper era is as strong and vile as ever. I am thinking of three in particular: Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander and Steven Blaney.
Blaney’s most notable achievement apart from his mediocrity and dullness is his role as Harper’s “yes” man; as minister of public safety, he introduced C-51, the anti-terrorist bill, that scholars, jurists, lawyers, activists, and citizens have condemned as sweeping, likely illegal in many areas, punitive and of failing to provide adequate oversight to prevent abuse by Canadian security agencies. Even peaceful protests could be considered economic acts of terrorism. Blaney would be easily dismissed as a nonentity except that his leadership hopes, as is that of his colleague Kellie Leitch, is based on fear and blame directed against the Muslim community. That is the only reason he merits notice. It is the other two that should concern us more, not because they will likely be leaders but because of what they represent. It is ugly. It is real. And it poses a real threat.
Scapegoating in politics is a familiar game and Leitch and Alexander are experienced practitioners of the art. Shortly before the October 19, 2015 election, the two, standing side by side and playing the roles of all three stooges, Leitch and Alexander proudly announced the Conservative promise to create a snitch line devoted exclusively to the reporting of “Barbaric Cultural Practices” perpetrated by you-know-who. Evidently Leitch’s supporters liked that; she was re-elected. Alexander’s? Not so much, he lost his seat. However, both are back and running for the Conservative leadership, not so funny this time either. Leitch, evidently inspired by the Trump victory, has doubled down on a campaign of shame, blame and racial and religious intolerance. Alexander has distanced himself from that preferring to stick to the role of just plain nastiness without ideas. Sadly, for Leitch, the worst of the bottom feeders, there seems to be some support; that is a comment not only of her, but also of her supporters. What kind of people are these? Not ones I would sit with for stimulating conversation; the wait would be too long.
As troubling as Leitch’s efforts and her methods are, there is something equally disturbing and it signifies a change in Canadian politics. Leitch has tapped into something particularly dark and nasty and it seems to be an element that appears to have gained impetus following the Trump victory. There is also a component of blind rage, an import of anger and stupidity that is rootless and extremely dangerous because so wildly undirected. And it was her cohort of the last election, Alexander, who was to witness, and encouraged, the first rearing of that ugly aspect.
On Saturday, December 3, Chris Alexander appeared before an anti-carbon tax rally on the steps of the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. The rally was hosted by Rebel Media, the Ezra Levant effort that propagates the extreme views of the right. Levant is the fellow who coined the oxymoronic “ethical oil” label. He was also a lobbyist for Rothman’s. If you don’t believe cigarettes kill or that climate change and global warming are a threat and man-made, he is likely your kind of man, which means you may have attended the rally where literacy for Levant events is likely not a requirement and probably treated with the same degree of contempt and dismissal as “experts” and “science”.
At the anti-carbon tax rally, as Alexander spoke, he offered up the premier’s name. Unsurprisingly, this elicited from the Levant supporters a chorus of boos, the boos quickly transformed into cries of “Lock her up, lock her up.” The her, of course, refers to Rachel Notley, democratically elected NDP premier of Alberta. Now, observers may believe that this was just a spontaneous outburst by enthusiastic anti-carbon protestors. They are of a type and they are predictable. They are also malleable and easily led. It is doubtful the outpouring was spontaneous but rather an orchestrated happening by provocateurs seeing an opportunity and running with it. As they chanted this charming refrain, “Lock her up, lock her up”, imported from the Trump campaign, Alexander grinned broadly, his hands and head bobbing to the enchanting noise (those Albertan Rebel Media stooges are really, really original, witty, and smart, yes, they are, and musical to boot). If Alexander expected otherwise, he must have been disappointed by the harsh, swift and pointed condemnation by all parties, including the Wild Rose and his own Conservatives. Later, he would deny that he supported the sentiment expressed by the crowd. He was grinning like an idiot not only because he is but also because he was “shocked” he claims. He was moving his hand and head to the rhythm of the chant not because he wanted to encourage the crowd but because he wanted to find the moment he could interject and say, “Vote her out, vote her out”.
Alexander is not credible or creditable. Neither is Leitch or Blaney. There is too much baggage as a result of feeding from a rotting carcass of vindictiveness, pettiness, and failure of ideas: it is easier to hate, to poison, to destroy than to create and come up with something meaningful, hopeful and promising. Better and easier to appeal to a mass of folk who prefer to blame and to accept the lies and myths of huckster politicos than to exert the effort to inform and to look at themselves.
“Lock her up, lock her up” was the chant of the ignorant Alberta mob. Had any of them been approached and asked, “Lock her up for what?” what would the answer have been? Probably Duh? What?
These are stupid, malleable folk, easily led, assured by the manipulators that they are good, decent people, that their incoherent rage is justified and that they really are the victims of them.. They are all the more dangerous because so incoherent in their anger. It is as if they are unaware that the market has failed them, that forty years of Conservative misrule and pillaging of the Heritage Fund had never been. The bottom feeders know this and they feed and feed.
It is easy to point the finger and blame others. Leitch and her ilk are there to help you do it.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.
They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin