07.24.2017 08:16 AM

This week’s column: when abroad, behave

Dear Famous Canadians:

Canadians behaving badly in the United States: you could practically write a book about the subject, couldn’t you?

On the Right side of the spectrum, there was the time that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford was arrested in Miami, mugshot and all. Ford told a Miami police officer to “go ahead take me to jail,” and the officer happily did so. Ford had been arrested for drunk driving and marijuana possession. 

He became mayor of Canada’s largest city anyway.

On the Centre-Left (but not entirely-Left) side of the spectrum, there were those many times Michael Ignateff offered commentaries that would follow him around, like a persistent bad smell. So, Ignatieff told an American magazine that we would all “pay a price” if we banned torture. Or, that time he was again at home in Boston, and he wrote an essay about the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq, and allowed that “I think they are right on the issue.” Or, that famously unhelpful CSPAN interview, where he said America was “your country, just as much as it is mine.”

Ignatieff still went on to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

So, we’re rather forgiving of Canadians who behave badly when south of the 49th parallel, aren’t we? We are. You can still behave badly and go on to be a big success when back home. A psychologist could have a field day with what this says about us, but we digress.

Just this past week, we were provided with yet more alleged-and-otherwise examples of Canadians doing bad things while in America.

There was our Liberal government’s Governor-General-to-be, Julie Payette, found to have been charged with assault when she lived in the US in 2012. The court files documenting the case, the Liberal-friendly Toronto Star reported, were gone. “The entire case record has been ‘expunged’,” the Star reported. Odd, that.

It also reported that Payette, while behind the wheel of a car, hit a pedestrian in Maryland in 2011, where she then lived. The woman, Theresa Potts, was killed. An eight-month-long investigation by Maryland police eventually found that Payette was not at fault.

The Trudeau government, who can fairly be presumed to have known about Payette’s assault charge and the fatal collision, appointed Payette to the vice-regal post anyway. “She is perfectly aligned with the image that we want to project,” a senior Liberal official said to the Globe and Mail. “It’s such a nice nomination.”

Theresa Potts might disagree, but she’s not around to ask anymore, is she? No, she’s not.

Just this past week, too, there was Conservative MP Peter Kent, writing in the august pages of the Wall Street Journal, calling the settlement with Omar Khadr a “cynical subversion of Canadian principles.” It wasn’t even the first time a Tory MP had written an op-ed in the Journal, condemning on his own country: back around the time of the aforementioned Iraq War, Stephen Harper excoriated my former boss, Jean Chretien, for declining to join George W. Bush’s insane misadventure. He even called Canadians who opposed the Iraq war “cowards.” That’s a quote.

Oh, and he went on to become Prime Minister for nearly a decade. It was in all the papers.

The Conservatives’ Khadr-related fundraising initiative also saw Conservative MP Michelle Rempel on Fox News, no less, declaring that “Canadians are absolutely outraged about [the $10.5 million settlement and apology Khadr received].” That may be true. But when Tucker Carlson, her crypto-racist Fox News host, asked Rempel if the settlement was “a way of giving the finger to the United States,” Rempel apparently didn’t say it wasn’t. 

How nice.

Of this Conservative strategy, Ipsos Reid tells us, more than 70 per cent of Canadians are onside. They’re mad, too, and presumably okay with the likes of Kent and Rempel – and before that, Harper – crapping on their own country when in the United States.

They shouldn’t be. 

It’s regrettable that it needs to be said, but we’ll say it nonetheless: Canadians who behave badly when abroad – driving drunk, or advocating for torture, or allegedly getting in altercations, or simply going on American TV to malign one’s own country – just, you know, shouldn’t. 

It’s unfortunate, too, that this also merits saying, but we’ll do so anyhow: prominent Canadians who act like jackasses – or who allegedly commit crimes, or who do unhelpful things whilst in other countries – shouldn’t be rewarded when they come home. They shouldn’t get a collective shrug.

You represent Canada when you aren’t in Canada, famous folks. Stop acting like jerks.










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    John Verdon says:

    Fair enough to include Ford, Ignatieff, Kent and Rempel. Julie Payette’s 2nd degree domestic assault charge was a dropped (a fight with her husband)

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      Matt says:

      A P.I friend of mine tells me there is more about Payette to be found.

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        Warren says:

        Yep. Been told the same thing by folks who would know.

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    Doug Brown says:

    Criticizing one’s country while abroad is not even in the same ball park as arrest for DUI or alleged assault. Maybe it is a sign that the Canadian media does not provide voice, so diverse opinions have to seek the far less concentrated and unregulated outlets south of the border.

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    Matt says:

    Re the CPC talking about Khadr in the US:

    He has no issue going into foreign countries and talking about “domestic” policies/issues that stroke his ego and get adulation and praise heaped upon him by adoring media and UN progressives, the Syrian refugee intake as an example, but throws a hissy when the CPC go down to the US and talk about a “domestic” policy/issue that shows him in a negative light? Suck it up buttercup.

    If Kent or Rempel had gone to say, France or Germany and did what they did, Trudeau MIGHT have had a reason to bitch. But they didn’t. They went to the US. Khadr killed a US medic. He was captured by the US and pled guilty in the US, is currently appealing his conviction in the US and has a $134 million wrongful death judgement against him from a US court.

    There is one person to blame for the Khadr deal. Trudeau see’s him every time he looks in the mirror.

    And refresh my memory: When Trudeau was leader of the third party in the HOC, did he not go to the US and bitch about Harper’s “inaction” on climate change?

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      Richard says:

      Syrian refugees are not domestic policy. Climate change is not domestic policy. These are global and foreign policy issues that affect all countries; while many states have differing policies on these issues, they are not in the same discussion area as the Supreme Court of Canada and its judgments on how a Canadian citizen’s rights were abused by the government of Canada.

      The ongoing personalization of the Khadr settlement as solely the work of Trudeau is odd and, well, false. This is a decision made by the Government of Canada. The Prime Minister is not handing Khadr a bag of money. He is not sitting across from a table negotiating with Khadr about the dollar figure. It’s the work of many lawyers, human rights experts, and officials. I know some right-wing types are trying to get back at all those times progressives made things solely about Harper, but this isn’t one of those instances where it hits the mark.

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        Matt says:

        I’m told Sacha Trudeau was instrumental in pushing for the settlement with Khadr, and both he and Justin believed they would be praised by all for doing it.

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          Tim Sullivan says:

          By whom were you told?

          If Sasha was so instrumental, he only shared the same opinion of about most lawyers in Canada who know what the Supreme Court said, what the facts were, how expensive it can be to go to court, and what risks there are for litigants.

          We’ll never know who told you, will we?

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      David Ray says:

      Oh ye who are without sin…

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      Steve T says:

      Exactly. There are countless examples of where left-ish lobby groups and politicians have gone abroad to gripe about the situation here in Canada. They are attempting to sway global public opinion against their perceived opponent domestically, to gain a strategic advantage and negotiating leverage back here at home. Either that is fair game, or it’s not.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:



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      Ted H says:

      Well said.

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      Matt says:

      The SCC rulings never recommended or even hinted at financial compensation for Khadr. So this Liberal talking point about Trudeau saving taxpayers money by settling is nonsense. There was no guarantee if Khadr won the courts would have awarded him anywhere near what he was asking for.

      As for repatriation, the SCC also ruled, when Harper was refusing to repatriate, that repatriation was a matter of foreign relations/foreign policy and as such the Harper government was well within their rights to refuse to repatriate.

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        doconnor says:

        Financial compensation is the standard remedy for rights violations. The victim has the option to ask for something else.

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        Tim Sullivan says:

        The violation of a right requires a remedy.

        The question of a remedy was not before the Supreme Court to answer, so it didn’t. A food would think its silence on a dollar amount is good enough to ignore the violation or to think there is no remedy for the violation.

        BTW, allowing Khadr back into Canada is not a remedy. It is a right under the Charter.

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      Vancouverois says:

      As Matt points out below, you’re wrong about the basic facts of the case. The Supreme Court simply didn’t order what you say they did.

      They did NOT order the government to repatriate Khadr. That is in fact the exact opposite of the truth: they explicitly overturned a lower court ruling to that effect.

      Your post is nothing more than a regurgitation of Liberal party talking points. And dishonest ones, at that.

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    Luke says:

    I don’t think it is fair to presume or imply guilt of Payette for a dropped charge whose circumstances we know little about and a driving accident in which she wasn’t at fault.

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      Tim Sullivan says:

      Since when is a dropped charge/no charge laid evidence of having done something wrong, illegal, or shows fault?

      Over to you, Hillary.

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    Danny says:

    And listing Canadians that behaved badly, and shouldn’t be rewarded, you forgot to call out Omar Kadr. I think. Sort of.

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    Charlie says:

    This Payatte “thing” is such a niche story; honest to god, I don’t even know what you guys are talking about and I’m pretty plugged into the bubble.

    On the Rempel matter:

    I was actually going to ask how you (Warren) felt about it, but didn’t know how to ask without sounding like a complete asshole and not using a plethora of expletives.

    I think there’s a difference between offering an opinion or commentary on an issue in a way that is true to your own perspective versus launching a coordinated political/partisan campaign to shit on your own government on networks that are unambiguous in their objectives.

    I thought Rempel was a thoughtful and forward thinking centre-right Canadian politician, but she’s proven herself to be just as craven as a Kellyanne Conway with this stunt. She knows full well the audience she is catering to by appearing on Fox, she knows full well how her message would be received. Above and beyond the fact that Conservative MPs are using the conservative media in the US to heap scorn on their own government, engaging Fox News (especially at this point in time) is nothing short of an insidious act to produce a very specific reaction.

    Up until this point, I was proud of the CPC for trying at least to support the Canadian government in outreach to Americans through this Trump era. But it appears that Andrew Scheer’s unbelievably fucking stupid strategy is to try and sabotage Canadian relations on the back of a poll and pin it on Trudeau.

    This calculation is about as hair-brained as Barbaric Cultural Practices.

    80% Canadians could be uncomfortable with the Khadr settlement, but Conservatives are so insanely obtuse in their thinking that they go right to exploiting an issue that is so blatantly transparent. I can’t even fathom what the 2019 election is going to look like if they are going to follow the same game plan as 2015, with a clone of the previous leader.

    If one Conservative could explain (cogently) the logic as to why pursuing the conservative American media is the best way to challenge the Trudeau government on spending Canadian taxpayer dollars on the settlement and voicing the concern of Canadians to its government, we could go from there.

    I was already pretty stunned by Harper reaching out to the Speer family to chastise the Canadian government, but this Fox News shit is like a whole new level of shamelessness. The willingness of the CPC to go down this road is yet again another disappointing reminder that this party has not and will not move beyond the reformism of 06-15.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      We were only two, in my riding, that voted against the merger. Wonder why?

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Vandenberg said that “[P]olitics [i.e. foreign policy] stops at the water’s edge.” (Dream on.)

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    Charlie says:

    I posted a long comment above.

    The picture linked here could be a sufficient enough summation of what I alluding to:


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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I like to tick boxes and keep it simple: was there a Charter violation?Tick Yes, then pay.

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