Politics, 2023 style

The people who complained that Ottawa wouldn’t release details about China’s wrongdoing in Canada are the same people now complaining that Ottawa released details about India’s wrongdoing in Canada.

Go figure.

Kinsellas Truth

Apparently I said this 11 years ago. Someone on Facebook found it. Sounds like me.

“If you must know, Star Trek is really the best politics series: fly in, convert the locals (by force, guile or good looks), dress it up as “values,” and then fly away. That’s politics.” – Warren Kinsella

My latest: murder is murder

You’re on the Internet.

You express opinions. You write a letter. You show up at a meeting.

If you’re Irish and Catholic, let’s say, you express sympathy for those who want to unite Ireland, and leave the United Kingdom.

Or, let’s say you’re Italian, and you’ve passionately expressed support on Facebook for any one of the many separatist movements that have been active in Italy for a long time.

Or, you’re of German ancestry, and you’ve written letters to the editor about making Bavaria or Saxony a separate country.

Or you’ve publicly expressed support for the Basques in France. Or the ones in Spain. Or any of the currently – current, not historic – active separatist movements in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Switzerland. (And that’s just Europe.)

That’s not an exhaustive list, of course. In just about every country in the world, there is a constituency who wants to break away and form their own homeland. Here in Canada, we’ve had people like that in Quebec and Western Canada for a long, long time. Some of them even have seats in our Parliament. They won them, fair and square.

We may not like it when nationalists express a desire to separate. It makes people pretty upset. (In this writer’s case, our family literally left our longtime home of Quebec to get away from separatist xenophobia and prejudice. We moved to Alberta, which welcomed us.)

That’s generally how we do it here in Canada: peacefully. Most of us don’t like the Bloc Québecois or the Parti Québecois or things like the Western Canada Concept. At all.

We oppose them with our words, as my former boss Jean Chretien successfully did for 40 years. Or we oppose them, too, with our actions – rallying against their referendum, or defeating them at the ballot box.

What we don’t do is kill them.

As someone did to Hardeep Singh Nijjar. He was a 45-year-old plumber, and he was active in his Sikh temple in Surrey BC. He was married and had two kids, and he drove a gray Ram 1500 pick up.

At around 8:30 p.m. on June 18 of this year, Nijjar was in his truck at the Sikh temple where he and his family worshipped. Two men wearing masks stepped up to his truck, and fired shots through the window, killing him. They then ran to a car, where a third man was waiting for them, and drove away.

Three months later, no one knows who killed Nijjar. No one has been caught.

His family and friends figure they know. As the indefatigable Stewart Bell has reported, local gang members had told Nijjar that Indian intelligence agencies had put a bounty on his head. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, too, reportedly told Nijjar that he was under threat from professional assassins.

He was scared, his family was scared. He’s been scared for a long time, in fact. Because Nijjar wanted a separate state for Sikh in India.

That’s why he came to Canada for the first time in 1997, as a refugee. He said he feared for his life, and that he had been detained and tortured at the police station in the city of Phillaur. Canadian officials didn’t believe him.

He got married to a Canadian. Canadian officials didn’t believe him about that, either. But he eventually got to stay here.

He never gave up on a separate Sikh state.  One time, Nijjar even went to Geneva to ask the UN Human Rights Council to accept that anti-Sikh violence was genocide. He wrote a letter asking for support to the United Nations in New York, too.

And then, just a few months after Nijjar did those things, India issued a warrant for his arrest. They said he was “mastermind/active member” of something called “Tiger Force.” Which was it? The “mastermind,” or just a “member?”

Didn’t matter. India kept after him. They issued another notice via Interpol. They put out a reward for him, because they wanted him captured. They wanted an end to his advocacy.

Three months ago, in a parking lot at a place of worship, they allegedly did. Canada’s government says they have information implicating India in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India’s government, predictably, has denied it.

There’s been a lot of commentary about whether Justin Trudeau can be trusted. There’s been commentary about Nijjar being a bad guy. There’s been commentary about how inadvisable it is to pick a fight with a big country like India. And so on.

I don’t give a sweet damn. I don’t care if Hardeep Singh Nijjar agitated for Sikhs, or if he was dislikable, or what this will do to trade with India.

Ours is a country of laws. No one – no person, no country – is allowed to come here and murder one of our citizens, on Canadian soil, in cold blood. No one.

If we allow that to go unpunished, we cease to be a country of laws.

Oh, and this: any of you out there, writing letters to the editor about some separatist ambitions in your ancestral home lands?

You can become a target, too.

My take on this week’s big story

Look, sorry to be a lawyer and all that, but if another country murdered a citizen of this country who was in this country, I don’t give a sweet shit about the geopolitical implications or the impact on trade.

It’s a homicide and needs to be investigated and prosecuted. If we don’t, we basically cease to be a country of laws.

India is no ally

Trudeau reaching out to Poilievre and Singh on the Indian-ordered assassination is how Parliament is supposed to work. Looks good on all of them.

My latest: hero to zero

Hero to zero.

That’s the transformation that takes place in politics, if you overstay your welcome. And it happens pretty fast, too.

That’s why they say a week is a long time in politics. Because it is.

One day you’re on the cover of Rolling Stone, being touted as the literal personification of wokefulness — and the next day you’re miserable and cooling your heels in India, because your plane broke down and no one wants to shake your hand anymore. Boom. From hero to zero, just like that.

Politics is weird in that way, and unforgiving. Brian Mulroney won two big majorities, and ended his tenure with the support of 12% of Canadians. Paul Martin was supposed to be a juggernaut, a Toronto Star columnist decreed, and then went from juggernaut to after-thought.

Story continues below

Stephen Harper was supposed to be Mr. Economics, started fretting about niqabs and “barbaric practices,” and thereby got clobbered by no less than hopey-wokey Justin Trudeau. (That barbaric practices nonsense, by the by, was cooked up by Pierre Poilievre’s brain trust. Hero to zero can happen to anyone, and does.)

And so on and so on. One minute everyone wants a selfie with you, applauding when you hijack a plane. And, the next minute, they’re looking at the tops of their shoes when you enter the room.

Trudeau has experienced metamorphosis in reverse. He started off as a beautiful and delicate butterfly, flitting from one social justice flower to the next. And now he’s turned into a caterpillar, chewing away at leaves and detritus in the dark. He is in profound danger of being stepped on by voters.

Story continues below

Fifteen points! Young people! Liberal strongholds! Those are the things he’s lost, in his devolution into something less than he was. Without them, he’s hooped.

How did it happen? Lots of reasons. Serial scandals, over-promise and underdeliver, circumstances and events. But, mainly, it’s because he’s become the party guest who won’t leave.

The hosts are sweeping the floors and putting away the silverware, but Justin still sits over in a corner, loudly recalling past glories and the time Melania Trump gave him a look you could pour on a stack of waffles. He won’t leave.

He doesn’t listen to many, ever, but he was indeed advised by a few smart folks to start inching towards the exits. One majority and two minorities is plenty, he’s been told, something about which to be proud. That’s a decade. As good as it gets.

Story continues below

But he demurred. He declined. He deferred. And, now, it feels like it is too late to install a fresh new Liberal face, and rescue the brand of the Liberal Party of Canada. Smart Liberals know that another victory is impossible. They just want to save the furniture, now.

Trudeau, the caterpillar who thinks he’s still a butterfly, doesn’t get it — or he doesn’t care.

This writer’s working theory is that — like many men — his father’s shadow looms large over Justin’s path through life. He wants to equal, or surpass, his father’s record. (It happens. Ask George W. Bush about it.)

Whatever the reason, he is just about out of time. If he doesn’t leave — and for the love of God, Justin, please leave — he’s done like dinner. He’s got to Christmas to rescue the party. Maybe.

Hero to zero. It’s a political cliché, sure.

But it’s also Justin Trudeau.