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My latest: Poilievre’s good week

Pierre Poilievre had a good week. Nay, a very good week.

And he didn’t even have to do anything to get it.

The application of the Emergencies Act. The rise in interest rates. And a trip to London.

Events, dear boy, events: long-ago British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was asked by a journalist about his biggest political challenges. “Events, dear boy, events,” was Macmillan’s pithy reply.

Events cut both ways, however. What’s bad for Liberal Justin Trudeau is, most days, good for Conservative Pierre Poilievre. And those three events have arguably nudged the freshly-minted Tory leader closer to power.

Let’s look at each.  First, the Bank Canada.

On Wednesday, Canada’s central bankers stepped back from the abyss, somewhat, and raised key interest rates by 0.5 percentage points.  That’s better than what some had been expecting, which was .75 per cent.

But, still.  It’s the sixth interest rate hike in 2022.  The so-called policy rate is now 3.75 per cent – the highest it’s been since 2008.  And the Bank of Canada is all but promising that more interest rate hikes are coming – their size to be determined by “how inflation and inflation expectations are responding.”

For most Canadians, that sounds decidedly ominous.  It means that, if inflation isn’t presently hurting you, interest rates will.  Because the cost of borrowing for anything – to buy a house or a car, to use a credit card – is going up and up.

Inflation, and rising interest rates, both help Pierre Poilievre.  For months, he’s been hammering away at the Bank of Canada’s fiscal policy.  At the start, his rhetoric was overheated – and his swipes at Bank of Canada officials, who can’t defend themselves, was unfair.

Now, Poilievre looks prescient.  If the central bankers don’t do enough, the cost of living will get worse.  If they do too much, we could be pushed into a recession. Either way, the Tory leader can’t lose.

The second “event” that assists Poilievre is the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act, presided over by Justice Paul Rouleau.

Rouleau has ruled the inquiry with professionalism and restraint.  But the inquiry is more likely to be remembered as a lot of blame-shifting by the people who let the Ottawa occupation go on for weeks.

Police agencies, in particular, look terrible.  After previously nudging the government into applying the Emergencies Act, the police – from the RCMP to the OPP – are now claiming they didn’t.  The record suggests otherwise.

For Poilievre, this also amounts to a win.  While he got far too close to the “freedom convoy” types – whose leaders are now facing criminal prosecution for multiple serious charges – Poilievre’s earlier insistence that the Act was overkill may end up being seen as true.

The inquiry may well find that the Trudeau government used a legislative sledgehammer to kill a housefly.  And Poilievre, again, would be vindicated.

The third event happened in the pages of this newspaper: my colleague Brian Lilley’s revelation that taxpayers shelled out $6,000 a night for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – or Governor-General Mary Simon, we’re not sure who – to stay at London’s Corinthia Hotel.

Trudeau and Simon were in London for the funeral of the Queen, as they should have been.  But, by any reasonable standard, $6,000 a night is outrageous. Given that U.S. President Joe Biden stayed at his country’s embassy for the funeral – costing American taxpayers little to nothing – makes Trudeau and Simon’s profligacy completely unacceptable.

At a time of surging inflation, and rising cost of borrowing, $6,000 a night looks very, very bad.  As Tory ethics critic Michael Barrett told Lilley:

“At a time when Canadians are being forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families, this type of excess is shocking. Prime Minister Trudeau should explain to Canadians why he is living a lifestyle of luxury at their expense.”

Three recent events, all unhelpful to Justin Trudeau.  And therefore all quite helpful to Pierre Poilievre.

Sometimes, in politics, you don’t need to do anything – just stand there and reap the rewards.

For Pierre Poilievre, this has been one of those weeks.

My latest: the new Neville Chamberlains

Remember the good old days – you know, when conservatives unambiguously opposed Russian aggression and tyranny?

And, for that matter, remember when progressives deeply cared about the fate of the oppressed people of the world?

Ronald Reagan, who conservatives used to venerate, once said that Russia was “the focus of evil in the modern world” – and that Russia “runs against the tide of human history by denying human freedom and human dignity.”

Remember those days? And then, remember the time that Reagan stood at the Berlin wall, and demanded that Russia’s leader tear it down – and how, not long afterwards, it actually was torn down? Remember that?

Even progressive champion Pierre Trudeau, who was too cozy with the former Soviet Union for too much of his life, in 1980 ordered Canada’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics – to protest precisely the tyranny and expansionism about which Reagan had warned the world.

Announcing the boycott, Pierre Trudeau said it was “the clearest and most effective way available” to condemn the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Anyway. That was then, this is now. Nowadays, Russian warmongering and human rights abuse are met with a shrug by too many on the Right – and, still, some on the Left.

Just this week, video of unelected Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was discovered online, in which Smith falsely claims Ukraine possesses nuclear weapons – and that it should be “neutral,” even after Russia invades it and rapes and murders its citizens.

Smith also seemingly suggests, in a now-deleted post, that Ukrane and NATO are to blame for the war. Said she: “I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.”

Smith’s extraordinary statements – which are deeply cowardly and wholly immoral – were immediately condemned by pretty much everybody, including the Alberta branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Said Orysia Boychuk to Global News: “[Smith’s] comments were misinformed. Russia invaded Ukraine, not because of NATO and what Ukraine did or didn’t do…Russia invaded Ukraine because it seeks the destruction of the Ukrainian state and the annihilation of the Ukrainian people.”

But Smith is not alone in her craven Neville Chamberlain-like servility. Around the same time Smith’s video was discovered, the People’s Party of Canada issued a fundraising appeal – and demanded the end to any support for Ukraine.

Wrote the PPC leader, Maxime Bernier: “We must stop sending money and weapons to [Ukrainian president Volodomyr] Zelenskyy.” Bernier went on to describe support for Ukraine as “crazy,” quote unquote, and “virtue signalling.”

When this writer tweeted that the PPC position was disgraceful, I was bombarded for days with suspiciously-similar bot attacks on Twitter, calling Zelenskyy a Nazi (he is Jewish) and calling the war a money-laundering front (tell that to the 15,000 Ukrainians who have been killed, tortured or wounded by Russia).

This appalling indifference to Russian tyranny and expansionism would have never been tolerated by Ronald Reagan or any U.S. president – until 2016, that is. In 2016, however, Donald Trump came to power – and his victory only came after “multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” the Mueller Report found.

Thereafter, the talking heads on Fox News and other Republicans took up Trump’s pro-Russia refrain. As the New York Times reported in front-page story on Sunday, Republican candidates “are embracing anti-interventionist military and foreign policies that…have been associated more with the Democratic Left.”

And, yes, there are still some on the Left who sound like Smith, Bernier and Trump. The leader of the Quebec Green Party has called Putin’s demands “reasonable” and – like Bernier – demanded the end to Western support for Ukraine. Similarly, progressive Toronto-area municipal candidate Alejandra Bravo has said she is “terrified” Canada is “training neo-Nazis in Ukraine” (we aren’t) – and that everyone should “stand against the war” (sorry, not until Putin is defeated).

So, yes, some on the Left continue to be unmoved by Russia’s war against the Ukrainian people, and the destruction and death that has attended it. But, increasingly, it is some Trumpist-style conservatives who are the ones who are most visibly unsympathetic to the documented carnage and murder.

Graham Greene once wrote that we must sometimes choose sides. Said the great British author: “Sooner or later, one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.”

Ukraine is the side of democracy and decency. Those who choose the other side risk losing much – their humanity, for starters.

Were he still with us, Ronald Reagan would agree.

My latest: hockey blight in Canada

Three hockey truths.

One, our kids are never going to play in the NHL.

Two, it’s just a game.

Three, our kids are never ever going to play in the NHL.

I’ve got four kids, three boys and a girl. All of them played hockey. I spent a lot of time in cold hockey rinks over the years. Those three points above were my motto.

I was one of those hockey Dads who wouldn’t say much. If the kids scored a goal, I’d clap. If the team needed a sponsor, I’d be it.  If someone needed a ride, on either team, I’d give it.

Every once in a while, I’d be standing beside a Dad, or a Mom, who was not setting a good example. You know: the parents who would scream at the kids, or the officials, or the coaches. The ones who thought their little angel was going to play in the NHL. The jerks.

So, I’d sidle up beside the loud parents – I stand 6’5” in my Doc Martens, and I usually was wearing a biker jacket and a punk rock T-shirt with an offensive band name on it – and I’d quietly remind them of the three points above. They’d look a bit uneasy. Then I’d move on.

The people who ran Hockey Canada – now blessedly gone – remind me of those parents. Hanging out in rinks, bossing people around, clueless about the harm they were causing: that was the leadership at Hockey Canada.

The loud parents and the ex-execs at Hockey Canada share one other character flaw, too: they were apparently always willing to excuse, and cover up, any and all sorts of misconduct. Because, they thought, they were sending the kids to the big show.

Except they weren’t. Instead, they were teaching the kids – young males, almost entirely – that any type of wrongdoing, even criminal, was fine. As long as they were devoted to the game.

As noted, however: it’s just a dumb game. Hell, it’s not even Canada’s game anymore.  No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993. So much for the national pride exemption.

It’s a game, Mom and Dad. It’s a game, Hockey Canada white-washers. It’s a game mainly for kids. Chasing a lump of vulcanized rubber across frozen ponds with some wooden sticks.

The bad parents, and the bad Hockey Canada execs, lost sight of that. They believe and believed they are/were on some higher mission. That they were in pursuit of some higher divine purpose, all truth and decency be damned.

But, but. When the boy-men start to get charged criminally with sexual assault and assault and gang rape, will the bad parents and the bad Hockey Canada people wake up from their infantile fantasy on skates? Probably not.

If you are willing to overlook rape, and gang rape, you’ll probably forgive anything. But at that point, you’re not just a hockey Mom or Dad or more. You’re not just an executive who has selflessly devoted yourself to the national game.

You’re beneath contempt, and you don’t belong near any hockey rink, hurting some kids who are just trying to have fun – chasing a but of vulcanized rubber and a dream of new friends and laughter.

My latest: renounce and denounce. It’s easy.

When a bad person supports you, what should you do?

Well, if you’re a normal human, you say you don’t want or need the support of the bad person, and you denounce and renounce them.

If you’re a politician, apparently, it’s more complicated. Apparently.

When Barack Obama’s pastor was caught saying that America was a terrorist state, and that the Sept. 11 attacks were self-inflicted, Obama dithered. The future president took weeks to renounce and denounce the pastor. When it became apparent the controversy wasn’t going away, Obama finally quit the pastor’s Chicago church, calling his words an “outrage.” He went on to become president.

A few years later, the one-time Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions. At first, Trump told media he’d repudiate Duke “if it made you feel better” – and that he “knows nothing about white supremacists.” As with Obama, when the controversy grew too big to ignore, Trump repeatedly and angrily disavowed Duke. He went on to become president, too.

Up here in Canada, there are similar examples. In 2004, former Conservative MP Randy White complained that the Charter of Rights was being “used as a crutch” by certain people – assumedly, non-whites, women and gays – and that a Conservative government would put up “checks and balances” to stop that. “To heck with the courts,” White said.

White’s comments happened just days before that year’s election, and Harper did not denounce them quickly or clearly enough. The Paul Martin Liberals would win, and Harper would not go on to be Prime Minister until much later – and after White was no longer a Conservative candidate.

In 2018, Justin Trudeau had his National Lampoon-like trip to India, which was a total fiasco. Among other things, Trudeau brought along a man who had been previously convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister. When the Indian media started shouting questions at him about it at cartoonish photo-ops, Trudeau eventually realized the extent of the damage, and said “this person should never have been invited in the first place.”

But the damage was done. Trudeau would go on to lose his Parliamentary majority, and the disastrous India trip would be widely cited as one of the reasons.

Which brings us, in a circuitous route, to Pierre Poilievre.

Like many other politicians (see above), the newly-minted Conservative leader has been endorsed by – or gotten too close to – bad people. Unlike those politicians, however, Poilievre has been slow to renounce and denounce. In some cases, he’s adamantly refused.

So, there was James Topp, a Canadian Armed Forces member who – in uniform – urged his fellow soldiers to disobey orders, and never get vaccinated against COVID-19. Topp would go on to lend support to Diagolon, a white supremacist group whose members are among those arrested in February for allegedly conspiring to murder police at the Coutts, Alta. border crossing.

Not only did Poilievre not renounce and denounce Topp, he marched with him in Ottawa at the end of June, in full view of media cameras.

Shortly after that, a smiling Poilievre was photographed with a happy-looking Jeremy MacKenzie, the leader of the aforementioned white supremacist group, Diagolon. MacKenzie, who is a racist and thug, would later be arrested on a Canada-wide warrant for weapons and assault charges.

Poilievre didn’t denounce MacKenzie for the Diagolon stuff – he actually claimed he didn’t know what Diagolon was, even though the media had been asking him about it for months. Instead, he (appropriately) denounced MacKenzie for making a disgusting, despicable comment about his wife.

Then, this week, Poilievre was embraced by Alex Jones of InfoWars. On his Sept. 30 broadcast, Jones said: “We got the new Canadian leader who’s set to beat Trudeau – who is totally anti-New World Order. You look all over the world, we are rising right now.”

Jones is a bit better known. He has done so many evil, hateful things, we literally don’t have room to catalogue them all. Recently, however, he has been in the news for saying that the mass murder of children in Sandy Hook, Conn. in 2012 was “staged,” and urging his deranged followers to attack the parents of the dead children. A jury in Texas said Jones needed to pay $45 million in damages for that.

And now, Jones is singing the praises of Poilievre.

I don’t believe, not for a moment, that Poilievre supports Jones in any way. I believe he will denounce and renounce these bad people. Eventually.

The question for Pierre Poilievre isn’t what he believes, or what he thinks about these bad people, or about renouncing or denouncing the bad people.

The question is this: Why do the bad people keep coming back?