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JUSTIN TRUDEAU, ERIN O’TOOLE, JAGMEET SINGH: HOSTAGES TO QUEBEC; DOUBLE STANDARDS IN THE FACE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA

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.

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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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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

BLACKMAILING CANADA TO SUBMISSION: JASON KENNEY’S WESTERN SEPARATIST CARD

One of the greatest distinguishing marks of false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear, he will never rain on your parade; he will get you clapping, he will get you jumping, he will make you dizzy, he will keep you entertained, and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like six flags over Jesus. – Paul Washer

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta says he is a proud Canadian. But I ask, how can that be true when he foments western alienation squealing victimhood of a cabal made up of a federal government aligned with eastern provinces to rob Alberta blind, to suck it dry, to grind it down and to spit it out. While such claims that Albertans are targets of a vast conspiracy for whatever reason by envious other provinces and a federal government with a hatred for Alberta in particular may strike some as exaggerated and puzzling, there is a belief in some quarters, mostly justified, that Quebec has been conferred a uniquely favoured status above all other provinces by every federal government since confederation, all forty-three under conservative and liberal banners. If there is envy, there is also anger. Alberta feels as if the unloved child neglected and ignored. But it is the east, that is, every province east of Manitoba, and the federal government which resides in Ottawa, that is the source of most of their anger. Albertans feel they are not viewed and treated as legitimate offspring and, of course, they have the likes of Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe to whip up the fires of western discontent confirming such while rabid conspiracists, like Peter Downing, the co-founder of the so-called Wexit movement (get it, nudge, nudge?) act as stooges shouting hysterically, “We are going to do for Western Canada, and Alberta in particular, what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec. The only difference is that we are cutting the parasite of Eastern Canada off from our necks. We are cutting this parasite off from your wallets” (Maclean’s, Jen Gerson, Nov. 7, 2019).

 

Hyperbolic and disturbing as is the language, what is equally troubling is the anger fuelled by folks seemingly with agendas of their own that appear poorly formed and ill-conceived. For most westerners, even Albertans, I suspect, if asked, they would not be able to offer a satisfactorily coherent picture of what it is they are angry about. Yes, they would be able to talk of jobs lost, of companies moving elsewhere, of people really suffering through hard times. But is that all the fault of the rest of Canada, an indifferent federal government and an indifferent populace? Do those crying Wexit not accept that the times and world is changing and they must also change or lose out? Do they not understand that much of their problems are of their own making and limited focus?

It’s true, we cannot just suddenly shut off the taps to those provinces reliant on oil and gas. But those provinces must also understand that change must take place, is inevitable, if this troubled planet is to survive. If we do not look for other sources of energy, if we do not look towards new models for success, growth and sustainability, if we as a community do not do more towards saving this precious world, all discussion will be meaningless and the end not too far off from now. Turning away from a bad situation solves nothing. Not working towards change but sticking to what we have and know is surrender and suicidal. Blaming others for most of the problems of our own making does little to resolve the fix we are in. Peter Downing and his ilk contribute nothing meaningful nor worthwhile to the dialogue. They feed anger but offer no solution; how does that work for anyone?

For Albertans and Saskatchewanians, most notably with the leadership they have, playing the role of victim is daily fare they wake to and sleep by. That is not an affirming approach to life that adds meaning or hope. Instead of whining, there must be concerted effort to work together to make change that is constructive and rehabilitative. The planet is dying and we must contribute towards its healing. From the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there must be more than the whine that they have and do contribute more to Canada and yet their share of the pie is less than that of the others. That is not helpful. We must work to ensure that everyone, everyone, gets a slice of the pie. We have too much of the Kenney, Moe and Doug Ford types who are bundles of festering resentment concerned only with their tiny fiefdoms and feathering their nests rather than genuine leaders willing and eager to work towards a whole, better, more effective nation. We do not need these types with their mean-spirited tax-cutting public-servant-chopping ways and we don’t need citizens whining about paying taxes yet demanding more and more of the services we demand and need. We want it all but too many do not wish to pay their share. We are in it together and it’s time we recognize and accept that. That’s how we survive.

Those who talk of walking away from Canada are contemptible. They have no loyalty except to their imagined martyrdom or despotic yearnings. If Albertans did break away, what then? How long before they once again are moved by that vague discontent but now with their own new found nation, Albertastan? Would there then be an endless succession of fragmentation into newer, ever greater numbers of separatist groups wanting to abandon their ever diminishing newly minted nations with each self-rendering until sundered to microscopic independent cantons eventually reduced to nothing but a vast empty wasteland? One wonders how much of their anger has been thought through. It’s one thing to be angry but it’s another to walk away enraged without a plan. What guarantees will there be that you will be satisfied with your slice of the pie? And what if you get no slice or there is no pie; what then? Empty promises by false prophets lead nowhere.

There are those who decry that Quebec’s Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, a party whose very raison d’etre is separation, seems to get an easier ride than Alberta’s Kenney. There is evidence that may be true, as we see with Quebec’s Bill-21 and its vile racist and religious message and with Trudeau’s efforts to intervene with the rule of law in an effort to have the Director of Public Prosecutions offer the Quebec engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin, a deferred prosecution agreement rather than face trial and a possible criminal conviction for corruption and bribery. Clearly Quebec does appear to receive preferential treatment to save Quebec jobs. For that, the blame rest squarely with weak federal leaders (conservatives and liberals) who continue to pander to the worst in Quebec society and do not condemn that piece of legislation while also hoping to win electoral support by demonstrating a williness to do almost anything, including pervert justice, to save Quebec jobs. Those who have lost jobs elsewhere are understandably enraged with the perception of Quebec’s much favoured status. However, those waving the cudgel of separation, whether in Quebec or the western provinces, to blackmail Canada into acquiescence to demands that are unreasonable and divisive seem guided not by intelligence or belief but by motives absolutely indecently selfish and parochial. While I would prefer the unruly children act like adults to resolve their problems with federation, there is little accommodation that can be achieved if they insist on having their way in everything and are willing to risk independent economic suicide. You can’t force a wayward child to love its parents.

And that’s how I see those folks talking of walking out: Kenney and Moe have no business acting the role of parents when their behaviour is clearly that of petulant children who believe everyone is out to get them.

So, what is Kenney’s plan, really, or even Moe’s, though it seems Kenney is doing the most whining, excuse me, talking? Does he have one or is he just a bag of chinook wind spewing gas that his supporters insist on inhaling as some eternal truth: Albertan’s are getting screwed, the federal carbon plan is a hoax just like climate change, the equalization programme benefits other provinces particularly Quebec at the expense of Albertans who pay more than their share and pulls more than their weight.

Break away from Canada to where and what? Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are landlocked. With whom would they trade and what incentive would the rest of Canada have to deal with the new found State? Absolutely no incentive. How would Alberta, led by a silly little man with no ideas, pay for their share of the national debt before being allowed to leave? Would Kenney and his fellow separatists find the wherewithal to set up its own government, currency, pension plan, and programmes such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, interprovincial transportation, policing, border security? It’s feasible that this newly independent State might be welcomed with open arms with all the baggage of discontent its citizens bring rather than just for its oil resources before Albertans realize that things might not have changed all that much after all. They will not know until too late when there is no possibility of turning back. How long would it be before they begin whining over the same things that caused them to leave in the first place: not getting a larger slice and paying more than their fair share?

Kenney is not a man or leader anyone can trust. He is a man uncomfortable in the presence of truth or speaking it. This is the man who, while in Harper’s cabinet as Minister of Employment and Social Development, oversaw the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) which encouraged Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers at below rates paid to Canadian workers! This until forced to make changes when the news became public. All this to say that Kenney is no friend or ally to Canadian workers or Albertan workers but rather friend and ally to Big Business and self-promotion and self-interest. He certainly is no friend to Canada or even Albertans except as a stepping stone to a creation of his own little fiefdom where everyone will love the man until they wake up and wonder what they had done to themselves.

Kenney is the pied piper to ruin. He is a little narcissist with whine and a fiddle and it’s the people of Alberta getting played.

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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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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

 

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