Panelists Ethan Cox, Josh Davidson and Jerry Gabriel discuss student tribunals at Concordia, the US Primary Season and Justin Trudeau’s statement that pipelines will pay for green energy. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!
Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That’s something Canadians had better get used to hearing for at least the next four years, maybe longer.
I’ll be the first, and certainly not the last, to admit that it has a much better ring to it than Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Then again so would Prime Minister Elizabeth May or Prime Minister Tom Mulcair, hell, I could even live with Prime Minister Ben Mulroney or Prime Minister that guy who works at the dep near my house and lets me use Interac for under $5 (not the strongest on the economy, but a real man of the people).
After close to a decade of destroying everything it means to be Canadian and a few months of trying to get us to hate our neighbours, Stephen Harper had to go. And now he’s gone as both Prime Minister and apparently (though not officially yet) as leader of the Conservative Party as well.
If you went on social media at all yesterday, you were most certainly greeted with jubilation in the form of celebratory status updates and memes like this one:
And this wasn’t just from your usual cast of politically-fixated characters, either. It seems everyone was jumping on either the Harper’s Gone bandwagon, they Yay Trudeau bandwagon, or both.
Globally, this is playing as a great victory for progressives. While Democracy Now hosted a cautiously optimistic discussion, most of the international coverage has been celebratory. The UK’s Daily Mirror even asked if Trudeau was the sexiest politician in the world, comparing him to the likes of shirtless Putin and Obama.
Come to think about it, style-wise, Trudeau is Canada’s Obama as much as Stephen Harper was our George W. Bush and our Dick Cheney rolled into one. He’s a young, charismatic politician who talks a very good game. He even used “Real Change” as his campaign slogan and comes across as a real man of the people.
Just look at him shaking hands at Jarry Metro hours after winning:
A lot of what Trudeau said during the campaign sounded great, so did quite a bit of what Obama said back in 2008. But just how much of what he promised or seemed to promise did Obama actually accomplish? And, now more importantly, just how much of what Justin Trudeau said that he would do or implied that he would do will he actually do?
It’s Not About the Leader, It’s About the Party
Unlike American politics, in Canada it isn’t all about the name at the top of the ticket. In fact, only voters in the Papineau riding actually got to vote for the name at the top of the winning ticket this time. Despite Harper’s attempt to turn the Prime Minister’s Office into a sort of Oval Office and muzzle MPs who disagreed with him, that’s really not how it works here.
If you want to know if Justin Trudeau will bring the change he is promising or if he will simply take advantage of all the Omnibus bills Harper passed without being blamed for them (he already ruled out repealing the horrific and completely unneeded C-51) you have to look beyond him and his charm to the party he represents.
After almost a decade of Harper rule, it’s easy to forget that the Liberals are actually regarded as Canada’s natural governing party. One thing they are known for is campaigning to the left and then, once in power, making a sharp right turn.
They are populists who promise what they think most people want to hear. They keep only the promises they want to (or the ones their financial backers want to) and those they can’t avoid. This is in contrast to both the Conservatives and the NDP, who are ideologically-driven parties of principle.
Generally, this means they will get their progressive social policies through. We got marriage equality under Chretien, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms under Pierre Trudeau and we will probably get pot legalization under his son, even though that was bound to happen anyways.
When it comes to economic issues, that’s another story. Sure, Trudeau will probably run deficits as he promised, but I would be really (and pleasantly) surprised if they were actually used to combat austerity.
One of the saddest things to happen in this election is the defeat of several prominent and very progressive NDP MPs, including two former leadership candidates, Jack Layton’s replacement in Tortonto-Danforth and a huge chunk of the Orange Wave. Some were experienced MPs, others had found themselves working their first job in politics. All were committed, in one way or another, to social justice.
Trudeau, on the other hand, is bringing more conventional political types with him to Ottawa. He’s also bringing Bill Blair. Yes, the same Bill Blair that was Toronto Police Chief, Harper’s police chief, during the massive police repression at the G20 summit. He is now a newly elected Liberal MP. Is this guy really what passes for “real change” these days?
Sure, Trudeau is likable, but his MPs, for the most part, pale in comparison to those who are out of work or never got the chance.
Back to Where We Were
Stephen Harper was an aberration in Canadian politics. Canada is a centre-left country. The fact that such a regressive administration could hold power for so long is abhorrent.
Ten years ago we had lived through over a decade of Liberal rule and were ready for the next step in our evolution. A step that would have seen Canada become a real progressive nation, a social democracy with the size and scope that would make us unparalleled in the western world, but instead of moving forward with the NDP we jumped back, way back, with the Conservatives.
A Liberal Majority government is not progress. We have simply returned to where we were before Stephen Harper took power. Progress is ahead of us, I know it, I feel it, but we will have to wait at least four years for it to happen.
All that said, Stephen Harper is gone and we should rejoice. Justin Trudeau is our Prime Minister and we have to accept that. Who knows, maybe he’ll prove me and all the skeptics wrong, I sincerely hope so.
Until then, we should be vigilant and make sure that he sticks to what he promised and push him to do more. It’s all about social movements now. Sure, he’s not as easy a target for progressives as Harper was, but that shouldn’t make a difference.
If Justin Trudeau thinks that people on the political left wouldn’t dare hold his feet to the fire given his newfound popularity and the fact that he isn’t Harper, I have three words for him: just watch us.
For ten years, Stephen Harper has used the same electoral strategy:
1. Campaign from the centre, hold a kitten, don’t say much
2. Let opponents destroy each other
3. Govern from the far right
It was a strategy that served him well and even gave him a majority government. He had no reason to change it, until a few weeks ago.
For the first time in a long time, it looked like the Conservatives were going to lose, badly. Harper’s own efforts to scare his opponents into accepting Bill C-51 had made this possible.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau took the bait. NDP leader Tom Mulcair didn’t and fought hard against it. This encouraged many progressives to abandon the Liberal brand and get behind the next Orange Wave.
A mostly united left in a country that is predominantly centre-left is a real threat to Harper. He recognized it and decided to send his campaign manager back to Ottawa and bring in Lynton Crosby, known to many as the Australian Karl Rove.
Crosby didn’t waste too much time:
Canada is now getting a federal George Bush-style campaign of fear.
It stayed in the public eye for about a week and then most people forgot about it. The Bloc changed leaders and started attacking the NDP from the left on pipelines.
Fast forward to the week leading up to the first French language debate. The Bloc, reeling in the polls, brought the non-issue back up and in the debate, Harper pounced on it.
In a heated debate, Mulcair got off a great one-liner: “Stephen Harper is trying to hide his failed economic policy behind a Niqab.” Elizabeth May echoed that statement. Bottom line, this is a distraction pure and simple.
Mulcair is right. Very few women actually wear the Niqab in Canada. I have seen maybe three people wearing Niqabs in my life and I live in Montreal. Only one woman fought for the right to wear one during a citizenship ceremony. Also, during the French debate, “What is a Niqab?” was the top Goolge search in Canada.
But yet, this non-issue is somehow THE issue for the moment.
You’re Either With Us or You’re With the Guy Who’s Already Serving a Life Sentence
When the Conservatives brought in Bill C-24, making it possible to strip citizenship from anyone convicted of “terrorism” or “treason” who could be considered the citizen of another country as well, most people, to put it mildly, weren’t impressed. Harper had just created second-class citizens and seeing as C-51 made it possible to define anyone the government didn’t like as a terrorist or terrorist promoter, it was now possible to have political opponents deported.
C-24 fell to the backburner quickly, but now that Crosby’s in charge of the campaign, the government decided to apply the law. They picked Zakaria Amara, one of two leaders of the so-called Toronto 18, a group of home-grown terrorists who planned to detonate several bombs in Toronto.
A dual citizen of Canada and Jordan, Amara was stripped of his Canadian citizenship on Friday. He was informed of this via a letter sent to the prison in Quebec where he is currently serving a life sentence. That’s right; our government boldly declared that someone serving life is no longer a citizen, though he will be staying here as long as his sentence lasts.
For him, that punishment means, wait for it, absolutely nothing. He’s still behind bars and will be for a while. Sure, if he gets paroled while he is still alive, he could be deported to Jordan, or, theoretically, Jordan could ask for his extradition before his sentence is up. After all, we are now holding a Jordanian citizen in one of our prisons. It was so much simpler when he was just a Canadian arrested and convicted under Canadian law.
It was a purely symbolic move. One designed to bring support to C-24 and the Harper government. Forget “sure it restricts freedoms, but it gets the bad guys,” this is more like “sure it restricts freedoms, but it allows us to turn the bad guys we’ve already caught into a political prop.”
Will It Work?
So, the big question is: will a right-wing wedge issue and fear-based campaign actually work federally in Canada? I don’t think so and seriously hope not.
I hope that the predominance of the Niqab debate is just spin from a mainstream media desperate for divisive issues. While I trust the Bloc’s statistic that 90% of Quebecers they surveyed are against permitting the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies (for now), I wonder how many of those people care enough about the issue to make it a primary voting concern.
If voters consider all the facts including the amount of women who actually wear the niqab in Canada, the fact that there are procedures in place at citizenship ceremonies to ensure proper identification and the fact that denying someone citizenship does nothing to protect them against coercion (in fact, it has the opposite effect), then the only way they can vote for a niqab ban is if their own cultural prejudices trump everything else. I seriously hope that’s not the case with my fellow Canadians.
I also hope that we can all see through the charade of picking someone who is already doing life and making him the poster child for an ill-conceived law that does not affect the guilty and harms honest Canadians who only want their voices heard.
I don’t think my countrymen and women are that fucking dumb. I don’t think Canadians will fall for a Karl Rove strategy. But I guess we’ll all find out on October 19th.
Bill C-51, the Harper Government’s so-called anti-terror legislation, is now the law of the land in Canada. It passed the House of Commons last month and yesterday it passed the Senate. While supporters of the bill argued that it will make Canadians safer, this Canadian felt a whole lot safer before this thing was law.
Now Anyone Can Be Labelled A Terrorist
One of the most jarring elements of this legislation is that it makes what it calls the “promotion of terrorism” punishable by five years in prison and websites being taken down. The problem is that it doesn’t define what is and what isn’t terrorism.
This is really frightening to anyone who expresses an opinion or advocates actions that are contrary to the interests of the current or future governments. Supporters of Idle No More and environmental activists whom the Harper regime has already tried to affix the terrorist label to have a reason to be scared, but they’re not the only ones.
While it does say that “lawful protest” is not terrorism, anyone ticketed under Montreal’s Municipal Bylaw P-6 knows that what’s lawful can be redefined in defiance of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a moment’s notice by pretty much any level of government.
Civil disobedience is our right as Canadians. It’s also a good way to keep the pressure on until unconstitutional laws get overturned in court. That could be considerably more difficult with the prospect of being labelled a terrorist or promoting terrorism hanging over your head.
Another chilling part of C-51 is how it labels threats to the economic interests of Canada, or another country, acts of terrorism. This might make you think of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at Israel. Given that the Harper regime is already letting it leak that they may use hate speech laws against BDS activists, the prospect of going after them with C-51 isn’t that much of a stretch.
But, as one surprisingly honest RCMP officer admitted, the law could be used to target anyone who uses economic pressure tactics like boycotts:
Economic protest is not only one of the most effective tools out there, it is also a non-violent tactic which is everyone’s right to use. When you equate boycotting a company or a country with doing physical harm to actual humans, you are taking the personification of corporations to a whole new level which it should never be at.
No Need Except Political
The saddest thing about this Bill is that there is no need for it to begin with. The Ottawa shooting was not an act of terrorism.
So when you hear Justin Trudeau argue that the bill is flawed but needed, you can deduce that he only means it is needed for political purposes, to help him secure votes on the right. When he promises to make changes to C-51 if elected, it’s simply a ploy to keep some votes on the left.
It was a clever plan that seems to have backfired on him and the Liberals. There are even protesters at his rallies now saying that he’s the same as Harper because of his stance on C-51.
This is working out very well for the NDP. The anti-Harper vote is starting to galvanize behind them. Admittedly, at one point, leader Tom Mulcair was quoted saying that the party opposes the bill but he would only make changes to it if elected. That has changed, rather dramatically, with the NDP and its leader emphatically saying they will repeal it completely if they form government:
Mulcair is now listening to his party’s base and the Canadian left in general. He knows he needs to do so to become Prime Minister. But this is going beyond the left-right axis. Even Conservative supporters have realized that this law is bad news and needs to be done away with.
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t carry over to any Conservative senators. It also escaped some of the now former Liberal senators, though most of the ex-Liberal Senate Caucus did vote against the bill to their credit. The Canadian Senate had one chance to prove itself useful and it failed miserably.
Honestly, if they had stopped C-51 from becoming law, all the Mike Duffys in the world wouldn’t be able to stop my appreciation. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
228 People On My Shit List
Between the House of Commons and the Senate, 227 people voted in favour of C-51. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, interestingly enough, was out of the country at the time of the vote in the HOC, so he wasn’t counted, but I’m going to count him anyway, because I’m sure how he would have voted.
So 228 people, 228 elected officials, for whatever reason, decided to vote to enact a needless law that stripped away some of our basic rights and freedoms. 228 people voted to put their own political interests ahead of the rights of the people they were elected to represent.
It’s never a good idea to take things personally. But, in this case, I can’t avoid it. As someone who enjoys expressing my opinion which at times conflicts with the aspirations of the current government and may promote causes which are potentially damaging to the economic interests of the friends of the powers that be, I am horrified that 228 people think it’s okay to label me as a terrorist or terrorist promoter.
This is beyond politics. This is beyond what is acceptable in a democratic society. This is one of the most un-Canadian things I have ever encountered.
C-51 doesn’t need to be amended. It needs to be repealed immediately. Thrown away, spat on, stomped on and otherwise abused until it is no longer part of our present or history.
For those not frothing at the mouth like I am, or those who want to do something positive to get rid of this monstrosity (I’ll join you soon enough, promise), OpenMedia.ca has a helpful guide of potential next steps for those opposed to C-51.
For those 228 fellow Canadians who supported a law which scares me to the core, I have two words: FUCK YOU!
The other shoe has dropped. Barely a few days after Harper’s Conservatives, with the help of the Liberals, pushed Bill C-51 through the House of Commons, we get more proof that this government is, in fact, all about silencing dissent by any means necessary.
Top government officials indicated that they would enforce their zero-tolerance policy towards criticism of the State of Israel by treating the promotion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as hate speech.
Government Policy is Not a Person
Canada’s hate speech laws are a very good thing. They prevent promoting discrimination based on gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the way Harper now plans to use them is an insult to those who are actually victims of hate speech.
Last year, national origin was added to the list, presumably to make it easier for the government to follow the approach they are now following. Previously, they would have had to prove a correlation between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, which may be possible when talking to their base, but not in a court of law. Also try calling Jewish people who support BDS anti-Semites and you’ll be in for quite the argument, to say the least.
Harper and company have opted instead for the dubious route, but they still don’t have any real footing. Encouraging economic boycott of Israeli products is not a criticism of or discrimination against the people who produce those products based on national origin or anything else.
Those people could produce the same products in a different country and not be under boycott. In fact, if they voted out the current government and replaced them with one that eliminated the policies the BDS movement is protesting, or if the current government went that route, the people could produce the same products in Israel and not be under boycott.
The boycott is against goods produced under the current government policy in the State of Israel and government policy is not a person and therefore cannot be the victim of hate speech.
Double-Standard for Israel
One thing staunch supporters of the current Israeli regime’s policies love to bring up is the notion of a double-standard. In fact, a few years ago, the Harper Government was trying to get everyone who criticized Israel to also criticize another country at the same time, otherwise be labelled an anti-Semite.
Well, when it comes to double-standards, this could turn out to be a whopper. If it’s hate speech to urge boycott of Israel, presumably because the country’s population is majority Jewish, even though their government has some horrible policies, does that mean it would also be hate speech to boycott the products of a country whose population is largely Muslim whose government has some ethical issues to account for?
Let’s take Saudi Arabia as an example and imagine people in Canada urging a boycott based on ethical grounds. Wait, we don’t have to imagine such a scenario, thanks to Ezra Levant.
Wouldn’t the former Sun News, now independent, pundit’s Ethical Oil campaign be considered hate speech under this new definition? He is urging us to boycott Saudi oil, after all. Come to think of it, wouldn’t any Buy Canadian campaigns be considered hate speech against the country we are buying from instead of Canada?
I really don’t think so, because, after all, this isn’t actually about right and wrong or hate speech. It’s about using the law to silence political opponents of our government at home or allies abroad.
The Politics of BDS
Since this is an election year, it’s important to remember that the only type of discrimination Stephen Harper cares about is discrimination against his party at the ballot box. This new approach didn’t become public knowledge at this time by accident.
Harper is playing to his base, that much is clear. But this is also an attempt to derail one of his opponents. C-51 took care of Trudeau (plus Trudeau is in lockstep on BDS), now all but hardcore Liberals will admit his is pretty much just Harper with better hair. This plan is aimed at Mulcair.
The NDP leader has garnered quite a bit of support for his principled, logical and, at some points passionate opposition to C-51. I sincerely hope that he doesn’t take Harper’s bait on this one.
Personally, Mulcair is a strong supporter of Israel. This nearly cost him the support of the NDP base a few months ago when his response to Israel’s assault on Gaza came very close to the one-sided approach both Mulcair and Trudeau were espousing. Fortunately for the party and for him, he changed his tune in an op-ed in the Toronto Star.
That only came after the party faithful occupied NDP offices and forced his hand. This time around, he doesn’t have the luxury of time to realize he has to support what his party wants.
If some reporter asks Mulcair for a comment on the CPC plan to use hate speech laws against BDS supporters, I sincerely hope that his response doesn’t focus on his personal views on BDS which, as far as I know have not been declared, but one can guess.
Instead, I hope he uses his logical and constitutional mind and attacks the gross misinterpretation of a law meant to help the real victims of hate speech. He can even admit his views on the actual subject, just not dwell on them.
To do otherwise would waste a good chunk of the unity fostered by the NDP being the only party (with a chance of winning) strongly against C-51. With all three parties appearing as basically the same to some, many on the left will stay home and Harper will win.
I also hope that those critical of the BDS movement realize that Harper is trying to use you. Even if you don’t agree with boycotting Israel, arguing that those who do support it are uttering hate speech is a stretch that defies all logic.
Economic boycott is one of the most peaceful and accepted methods of dissent. Now, Harper is trying to take that away in order to earn a few cheap political points. Don’t let him.
On Wednesday, as most Canadian politicos were either basking in the afterglow of the Orange Wave which swept Alberta or nursing their hangovers, the House of Commons passed Bill C-51, the Harper Government’s so-called anti-terror legislation. This wasn’t a surprise by a longshot, but it is, nonetheless extremely unfortunate.
All the major parties voted as the said they would. The Conservatives voted for it, the NDP and Greens against, and the Liberals, living up to half of their promise to help make it law and then change it if they come to power, voted yea.
Much has been said about how this Bill is fundamentally flawed and over-reaching. Many pundits, including myself, have raised concerns that C-51’s definition of terrorism was left vague so the bill could be used as a weapon against the government’s political opponents such as environmentalists, First Nations, BDS supporters and others.
One thing that really hasn’t been talked about, though, is that even if C-51 was on-target and not a typical Harper Omnibus distraction, there still wouldn’t be need for it at all.
A Tale of Two Tragedies
I will never forget the Dawson shooting. My old CEGEP turned into a crime scene. Anastasia DeSouza was gunned down, an innocent, random victim of one man’s violent delusion. Her murderer, Kimveer Gill, killed himself after being shot in the arm by police, though this is one of those rare times when I think deadly force by police would have been justified.
At the end of the day, two people were dead, one an innocent victim, one very much the exact opposite. Several people were injured and survivors were left traumatized.
It was a terrible tragedy. In the aftermath people were calling for tighter firearms regulations and improved services for people suffering from mental illness. No one, though, was screaming terrorism, because it wasn’t. It was the act of one man.
What happened last October in Ottawa was also a tragedy. Corporal Nathan Frank Cirillo died senselessly, the victim of one man’s delusion. His killer, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was justifiably killed by Parliament Hill Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers.
At the end of the day, two people were dead, one innocent, one guilty. Others were injured and survivors were traumatized. I don’t laugh at Prime Minister Harper hiding in a broom closet (though I do question the RCMP’s exit strategy for a head of state), he’s human and was a victim of this event, too.
Despite its similarities to the Dawson shooting and other horrific attacks carried out by troubled lone gunmen, the reaction to the Parliament Hill shooting was different. It was instantly labelled as a terrorist attack.
A few thousand people, or even just a few people, killed by a coordinated assault planned by a group is a terrorist attack. It doesn’t justify something like the Patriot Act, in my opinion, but at least the shoe fits. A lone gunman going on a spree is a spree killing, even if the spree is cut short after one or a few victims.
While Zehaf-Bibeau may have had thoughts of jihad in his head and chose targets based on his take on world politics, he was still just a disturbed man acting without outside coordination. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was as much a member of ISIS as Kimveer Gill was the Angel of Death he claimed to be on a website.
Political Reasons Only
Justin Trudeau was interviewed on Vice News a few weeks ago. Shane Smith asked him about his party’s confusing position on C-51. Trudeau said that despite C-51’s faults, “there are a number of things in that legislation that increase security for Canadians, that do make us safer at a time when people are worried about terrorism.”
I’d honestly like to know what those things are. How does anything in a bill, inspired by an event that is not terrorism, but the act of a disturbed individual, protect Canadians against the bogeyman of terrorism?
It can’t, but that’s not the point. The point, at least for Trudeau, is “at a time when people are worried about terrorism.”
It’s politics, pure and simple. Polls, albeit sketchy polls, showed support for the bill at the time. He went for it. So did the Bloc Quebecois. When C-51 came up for a vote, though, the Bloc voted against it. I guess they saw that the bill was now opposed by many. If there ever was a time for the Liberals to flip-flop and not suffer for it, it was Wednesday.
There are so many ways Trudeau could have sold a reversal on this that even the cleverest Dipper wouldn’t be able to use it to hurt his party. While I’m not a Liberal supporter by any stretch of the imagination, I would have welcomed it. The more voices against this bill, the better. I even wrote to Marc Garneau, my current MP, asking him to convince his boss to change his tune.
Being the anti-Harper candidate doesn’t just mean looking younger and fresher and having somewhat more progressive social policies. It means opposing crap bills with no purpose like C-51.
Instead, Trudeau stuck to his badly aimed guns. The opposition to this monstrosity of a piece of legislation now clearly belongs to Tom Mulcair. The NDP leader is a moderate centrist at best, but, thanks to a little bit of rain on his hair and some serious Liberal bungling, he has the chance to come across as a street fighter, standing on a soapbox railing against oppression and invoking the War Measures Act and Duplessis’ Padlock Laws. He’s Angry Tom who’s angry for a very good reason.
C-51 may have cost Justin Trudeau any chance he had in the upcoming election. That is, if people remember a few months from now that he sided with Harper on a bill which has no purpose but potentially horrible repercussions. If they do, he can forget about the left. As for the right, why would they vote for Harper Light when the real deal is also on the ballot?
This colossal miscalculation on the part of the Liberals doesn’t necessarily mean a new era, though. Stephen Harper is still one of the craftiest politicians out there. Even if the anti-Harper vote crystallizes into a shade of orange, some of what once was red may turn blue and join their right-wing brethren to fight the feared wave.
The real trick is convincing all, or most, Canadians, whether they lean right, left, stay in the centre or don’t really care about politics at all, that taking away our basic rights to express ourselves for manufactured purposes is just plain wrong.