Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 14, 2022
The high cost of pandering to extremists
It didn’t take long for new Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to do a swan dive into the murky waters of delusion and political pandering.
Shortly after being sworn in Tuesday to replace Jason Kenney, Smith called those who refused vaccination against COVID-19 “the most discriminated against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime.”
That she could say so demonstrated to everyone who has faced true discrimination either a profound ignorance of both history and current realities or a bottomless capacity for pandering to the misplaced sense of victimhood in her right-wing base.
On Wednesday, Smith issued a statement saying she had wanted to highlight the “mistreatment” of those who chose not to get vaccinated and that she had not intended to “trivialize” the discrimination faced by minority communities.
Still, words have consequences. Words can console or wound, inspire or enrage. They can bring out what’s best in us, or what’s worst.
Hate-mongering and character assassination in Canada — however much we fancy our political discourse more civil than in the United States — has already seen in Ontario communities stones being flung at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh assaulted with hatred and racism.
Those with political pulpits and media soap boxes must remember that along with that power and influence they assume great responsibility.
Kenney acknowledged in his final words as premier that the conservative movement in Canada is giving succour to disturbing elements. He warned federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre about keeping company with extremists whose chief interest is in “tearing things down and blowing things up.
“I think a Conservative party that is focused on a campaign of recrimination over COVID, politicizing science, entertaining conspiracy theories and campaigning with QAnon is a party that can’t form a government and shouldn’t,” he told Global News’ “The West Block.”
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney agreed, telling CTV’s “Question Period” after a private dinner with Poilievre “that you can’t get elected with that kind of stuff.”
Among other things, it was recently found that YouTube videos produced for Poilievre contained a hidden tag appealing to an online anti-women movement — #mgtow, Men Going Their Own Way — that Canadian security agencies view as a danger.
Trudeau told Poilievre in the Commons that “in reaching out to extremist online groups and pulling in anti-women, misogynistic groups for his own political gain” is something for which he will have to answer to Canadian women.
But it should not be left just to women to object. All rational citizens should be on guard against the kind of rhetoric and messaging aimed at courting the tear-things-down and blow-things-up elements in Canada.
As has been seen around the world, there is political opportunity for leaders cynical and self-interested enough to tap into pools of rage. It is not as if Canadians, living where we do, lack for horrifying recent evidence of the damage recklessness leaders can incite. There is a direct line from “some very fine people on both sides” and “stand back and stand by” to the deadly attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
American scholar Larry Diamond wrote in his 2019 book “Ill Winds” that “a culture of democracy is also a culture of moderation.
“Democracy can’t function when politics is dominated by opposing camps of ‘true believers’ who view compromise as betrayal and dismiss discordant evidence as fake,” Diamond wrote.
Premier Smith seems not to have read his book.
What we need from our leaders is the serious work to understand the social fragmentation and political polarization that got us here and a resolve to mend these rifts, not to exploit them for political gain.
Complicity by political leaders with the extreme fringes will provide fuel for social conflict and chaos. But it is complacency on the part of a moderate majority that will provide the opportunity. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro …