Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday January 19, 2021
Canadian politicians have been scared straight by Donald Trump’s raging exit. Will it last?
Racism is definitely not a good trait for a politician. Nor is an inability to read the room.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has been accused of both after his drive-by smear of new federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
The most harsh condemnation came from Justin Trudeau on Friday, pronouncing himself incredulous that a party leader would wade into “insinuations” about Alghabra, who is a Muslim, after what everyone witnessed in Washington last week.
Blanchet, the prime minister said, was “playing dangerous games around intolerance and hate” when purporting to be asking mere questions about Alghabra and Islamic political activism.
Trudeau’s link to events in Washington reflects a larger phenomenon rattling through Canadian politics since the Jan. 6 siege of Capitol Hill.
How long it lasts is anyone’s guess, but that mob scene south of the border has prompted some soul-searching among political types in Canada too.
Many of the ingredients of Donald Trump’s toxic political brand are now being vigorously disowned in Canada — almost at the same speed with which many Republicans are turning their back on the president in the U.S.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has revived a policy of refusal to deal with the Rebel News outlet, which traffics in the same kind of far-right disinformation that feeds Trump’s angry base in the United States. The reassertion of this rule came after a dust-up over O’Toole’s office emailing answers to Rebel questions, which were touted as an exclusive interview.
Two prominent Calgary women, meanwhile, both from the right of the political spectrum, have publicly denounced Twitter this week — slightly after Trump was banned from the medium, mind you, but in protest against the mob mentality it helps create.
Danielle Smith, the former leader of Alberta’s Wild Rose party, declared she was walking away from her radio-host job and Twitter, saying: “I’ve had enough of the mob.”
Meanwhile, Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner penned her own takedown of Twitter, describing it as the “biggest culprit of weaponized misinformation, hate, and the death of rational argument.” Rempel’s piece appeared in an online publication called The Line.
Two other MPs, in that exact cross-partisan spirit, also wrote bluntly this week about how the poisonous politics around the Capitol Hill assault required active resistance in Canada. Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and Conservative MP Scott Aitchison collaborated on a National Post article headlined: “As Canadian MPs, we know our opponents are not our enemies. Let’s not become the U.S.”
Now, it should be pointed out that a week is a long time in politics and the road to partisan hell is paved with good intentions to be collegial. All of these resolutions to absorb the lessons of Jan. 6 in the U.S. capital could vanish like other New Year’s resolutions — most likely within the first five minutes of Question Period when Parliament resumes later this month.
Right now, it looks like some Canadian politicians have been scared straight by Trump’s fiery exit in the U.S. But it’s not enough to denounce their rivals or Twitter or even Trump — the test of any new resolve will be in whether they’re willing to call out toxic politics when it happens in their own ranks. (Toronto Star)