Categories for Musings

Is Trump right on NATO?

Donald Trump has said – and this week, in Brussels he will say yet again – that Canada and other nations don’t pay our way in NATO.  He will say we need to pay more.

There are 28 members of NATO. Its budget is is hundreds of billions, annually. The United States of America contributes most of that. The United Kingdom, France and Germany are also big contributors. Canada?

Canada is in the bottom third of NATO members, alongside Slovenia and Luxembourg, and others with bankrupt and/or struggling economies. By agreement reached in 2014, NATO members are supposed to be devoting two per cent of their nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to defence. Canada doesn’t, and consistently hasn’t.

During the Republican primaries and during the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump would be asked often about defence by journalists looking for some crazy new Trump statement to report. Trump wouldn’t disappoint.

So: “We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them. And we’re paying the majority of the costs.”

And: “We’re spending a tremendous — billions and billions of dollars on NATO. We’re paying too much! You have countries in NATO, I think it’s 28 countries – you have countries in NATO that are getting a free ride and it’s unfair, it’s very unfair.”

And, this gem, which gave plenty of Western leaders heartburn, and which transformed Donald Trump’s presidency from something that was mildly amusing to something that was deeply terrifying: NATO was “obsolete,” he said.

And: “The U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.

That statement about NATO’s obsolesence, uttered during an interview with a German newspaper, was a shock. “[NATO is] obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said. Secondly, he said, it’s obsolete because “countries aren’t paying what they should.”

His first point, like so much that Trump says, was certifiably insane. With Trump’s boss Vladimir Putin massing troops and guns on the border of assorted Baltic states, NATO is needed more now than perhaps ever before. But on his second assertion, that NATO is compromised because many countries aren’t paying what they should?

On that, Donald Trump is not entirely wrong.

This week, Justin Trudeau has attempted to curry favour with Trump – by deploying more Canadian Forces troops in Latvia, and by keeping them for another four years.  It is unlikely to sway Trump, however.  There are two reasons for that.

One, Trump – as noted – is arguably right that Canada needs to devote more of its GDP to NATO.  Not two per cent, necessarily, but more.

Two, Trump isn’t going to Brussels to praise NATO – he is going there to bury it.  That’s what his benefactor Vladimir Putin wants; Trump will comply.  And complaining about the funding of NATO is a clever ruse – it undermines the military alliance indirectly.

And, you know? It just might work.


The Hypocrite-in-Chief

“I strongly deny the groping allegation that I already admitted to and apologized for.”

That is Justin Trudeau’s defence in the ongoing groping scandal, basically. And it is so truly pathetic, so fucking ludicrous, satirical news show The Beaverton ridiculed it with that very headline. The shifting, shifty prevarications of the Prime Minister of Canada have become a global punchline.

So, on Saturday, assorted trolls sent me super-mean messages.  All of them seemed to have less than 50 followers, all of them had fake names, and all of them used fake portrait photos.  Not a few of them went after my wife when they couldn’t get a rise out of me; one even seemed to suggest my wife should get raped to teach her a lesson.

Here’s representative sample of the barrage of hate:

Nice, eh?

Abruptly, the nastiness stopped on Sunday.  Perhaps the 22-year-old who was overseeing the astroturfing – in a windowless, basement office at Langevin Block, under a photo of her boss jogging shirtless at Toronto’s Cherry Beach, on the very day that his judgment was being questioned from coast to coast to coast – went home to rest up before spending another few million on social media “outreach.”  I anticipate she’ll be back at it this week, once again circulating pleadings from my divorce because, you know, it’s 2018.

Before I blocked them, I observed that the trolls were accusing Yours Truly, and not a few other commentators, of “doxxing” Trudeau’s groping victim.  This is a shitty little lie, of course.  I thought the CBC’s Robyn Urback dealt with it rather well in a column that appeared Sunday night:

“…this is not a situation where an incident was dug up out of nowhere and put on the public record without the woman’s permission. For better or worse, this encounter was already on the public record in the form of a published, public editorial. The suggestion that we put the genie back in the bottle now is moot.

Ironically, there is at least one recent occasion when a private allegation was put on the public record without the complainants’ express permission: That is, in late 2014 when Trudeau went public with allegations against MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, without telling the women involved — two NDP MPs — in advance. The women felt blindsided, according to the NDP whip at the time.

Trudeau is himself therefore guilty of publicizing a misconduct allegation without the complainants’ permission, which makes the suggestion that we now drop the matter concerning the prime minister’s conduct — conduct that was already put on the public record — rather rich. It’s that conspicuous double-standard, rearing its head again.”

Anyway.  A nice reporter contacted me on Sunday, when I was in the middle of the woods with one of my sons, to simply ask me why I thought the editorial Rose Knight wrote in the Creston Valley Advance came up at all – and why, presumably, someone sent it to me.  I told her I didn’t want to speak on the record, because the threats and abuse were getting to be a bit much.

But I did tell her this:

“[Rose Knight’s editorial] was sent to me on the same afternoon the Hehr judgment came down (the decision, not the report – that’s regrettably still secret). I asked my source if there was a connection – ie., if Hehr is out of cabinet for long-ago inappropriate conduct out West, but Trudeau isn’t for the same thing – and the source said yes.”

The reporter suggested to me that some Ottawa Liberals were behind the effort to shine a spotlight on Trudeau’s misconduct.  I specifically did not answer that.

But I added this:

“Whoever sent it to me was waiting for the Hehr decision. And I presume they chose me because I had been very active in helping [one of Hehr’s targets,] Kristin Raworth.”

Did my source(s) send the now-world-famous editorial to me because I am no fan of Justin Trudeau?  Well, duh.  Obviously.  But I suspect my small connection to the Kent Hehr scandal was part of it, too.

(And, I would also hope, she/they know(s) that I have received information about a similarly hypocritical Conservative leader, too.  But that information will not become public until the woman in question goes public, as Rose Knight did with her August 2000 editorial.  These stories belong to the victims, as I’ve written many times.  Not anyone else.)

Anyway.  As of Friday night – when (a) Rose Knight issued a statement re-affirming that Justin Trudeau groped her and (b) put her name to it – the issue is no longer if Justin groped Rose: he did.  It was the issue, but now the issue has become something else entirely. It’s that Justin Trudeau is now inarguably, irreducibly this:

The Hypocrite-in-Chief.

Column: Trudeau is losing

Could Justin Trudeau lose the next election?

Well, sure he could. In strictly existential terms, you are always facing political death. The distance from hero to zero is very slight. Ask Kathleen Wynne.

After Trudeau won big in 2015 – after he came from a remote and distant perch in the House of Commons, from third place, to a first-place finish and a majority government – shell-shocked Tories could be seen walking around the Hill, muttering to themselves: “He’s good for eight years.”

I even heard that from rabid Trudeau-haters, people who had previously been cabinet ministers: eight years. The Opposition parties were leaderless, rudderless, hopeless. They’d been consigned to the political wilderness for a decade, possibly more.

Well, that was then, this is now. And, nowadays, Mr. Chewbacca Socks doesn’t look so invincible anymore, does he? The Force, not so strong with him.

A poll, in and of itself, is meaningless. The pollsters get stuff wrong all the time. But when you put a bunch of them together, they start to tell a tale. And the tale they tell should keep the Liberal leader up at night.

Case in point: CBC’s Calculator Boy is Eric Grenier. CBC calls him a “polls analyst,” but really what Grenier does is add up the poll numbers, and then divide. That sort of tells him, and us, where things are at.

For Trudeau, they’re not necessarily pointing towards oblivion. But some sort of a defeat, increasingly, looks possible. Ask Grenier.

“The Trudeau Liberals have a lot less to celebrate than they did in previous summers,” Grenier wrote just before Canada Day. “With little more than a year to go before the 2019 federal election campaign kicks off, the Liberals are facing a closer race than a first-term majority government might expect. The party’s lead in the polls has disappeared and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing pressure from both the Conservatives in Quebec and the New Democrats in Ontario.”

Way back when, at the commencement of the Dauphin’s Sunny Ways Dynasty, he held a nearly 20-point lead over his opponents. His approval ratings were stratospheric.

Now, not so much.

The governing Grits are now locked in a statistical death match with the Tories – and, on some days, said Tories have even been ahead. The Conservatives – led by the remarkably unremarkable Blandy Scheer – have been kicking Trudeau’s keester in the fundraising department, and recently humiliated him in a Liberal-held riding in Quebec, Trudeau’s last provincial stronghold.

The reasons for the less-than-sunny days are myriad and manifold. Apart from cannabis – which hurts them in the aforementioned Quebec and among minority communities – Trudeau has not had a single major legislative victory in three years. Not one. His go-soft strategy for handling Donald Trump has contributed to the demise of the TPP, the Paris Accord, and has NAFTA edging its way towards the morgue.

Other causes, in Trudeau’s Summer of Discontent: he overpromised and under-delivered – with indigenous communities, and with the mythic middle class. He seemed more preoccupied with selfies and baby-balancing than he was with stuff like the dimensions of the deficit (big), or the dimensions of business confidence (small).

And: the India trip. And: the Aga Khan. And: he groped a journalist.

All of it has produced a confluence of conundrums: Justin Trudeau is now arguably treading in his father’s footsteps. From a big Trudeaumania victory (for his Dad in 1968, for him in 2015) to a big come-down (majority to minority for his Dad in 1972, from a majority to minority and possibly worse for the son in 2019). Could it happen?

Sure it could. His father’s first term was a veritable flood of legislative and political achievements: Pierre Trudeau promoted and protected NATO, advocated for bilingualism and multiculturalism, transformed Parliament, boosted francophones in the public service and the military, reformed and expanded Unemployment Insurance, rewrote tax laws, and increased the family allowance for the first time since 1945. In comparative terms, the younger Trudeau’s policy achievements have been a tiny trickle.

Voters know it, too. And that is why they have been discreetly edging away from Justin Trudeau, and embracing a decidedly lackluster alternative, in the form of Blandy Scheer. They have measured Justin Trudeau, and found him wanting. More sizzle than steak, etc.

Can he turn it around? As noted at the outset, of course. Nowadays, per Ferris Bueller, political life moves pretty fast. One day, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is mired in a massive #MeToo scandal, and self-destructing. Just 134 days later, the same political party won a huge majority in the Ontario election race.

Justin Trudeau, similarly, can surprise us all. He still possesses charm and likeability in abundance. As handsy as he is, he is not unintelligent. His party has a formidable team of organizers and fundraisers in every region. He regularly benefits from being underestimated. And his two main opponents lack his political skillset, to say the least.

That all said, Justin Trudeau could still lose. And, at the moment, he is losing.

Not by much, but enough.

Publishers Weekly: Recipe for Hate “riveting…an unflinching page-turner”!

Publisher’s Weekly is the book trade publication in the United States.  As Wikipedia notes, it is the “American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents. Published continuously since 1872, it has carried the tagline, “The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling”.

And I have never had one of my books mentioned in it.  Like, ever.

But here’s what they have said about my new one, Recipe for Hate:

“Riveting…Tension starts high and stays there in this unflinching page-turner, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the early punk scene and a moving testament to the power of friendship.”

Link is here.

Quill and Quire, now Publisher’s Weekly.  If you are so inclined, feel free to order your copy (or copies!) here and here!