Sometimes political war rooms get way, way too cute. Sometimes, even, they do something that ends up hurting them a lot more than it hurts their opponent. Sometimes, they’re idiots.
Case in point: Justin Trudeau’s 2011 visit to one of the mosques in his riding. The Tory war room saw it, seized on it, attacked it.
You can almost picture it happening. The neatly-barbered youngsters who comprise the Tory election brain trust are deep within the bowels of some non-descript Ottawa government building, peering at their glowing computer screens. Looking for something, anything, with which to hurt the one adversary they fear the most – Justin Trudeau.
One of the kids is suddenly excited. He has found a clip in which Trudeau says that he has visited every mosque in his Montreal Papineau riding, including the Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque. Trudeau was there in March 2011.
The Conservative kids in their dark suits are all ecstatic. After Trudeau visited the mosque – note that word, AFTER – a U.S. intelligence report came out, and said that some men had passed through the mosque a decade earlier. The mosque was a place “known al-Qaeda members were recruited, facilitated or trained,” said the report.
The Tory war room swung into action. They leaked their find to the media, including Sun News. They then instructed Steven Blaney, who is apparently the minister of something called “Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness,” to issue a public statement excoriating Trudeau.
“It is completely unacceptable that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau would associate with a group that allegedly radicalizes Canadians to join al-Qaeda and engage in acts of unspeakable violent extremism,” said Blaney, who nobody has ever heard of before, and likely never will again.
“Now he is pandering for votes amongst religious extremists in our own communities. It is clear that Justin Trudeau cannot be trusted to keep Canadians safe.”
Get all that? Radicals! Extremists! Unsafe! “Unspeakable violent extremism,” even!
Except…there’s a problem, Conservative war roomers. Three of them, in fact. We’ll lay them out in point form, and use small words, so you’ll perhaps understand.
1. In March 2011, as now, Justin Trudeau was a garden-variety MP. He was not the Minister of “Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness,” or the “Prime Minister,” either.
2. As such, he did not have, and does not have, the power to pick up the phone and call CSIS or the RCMP, and demand that they turn over their Top Secret file on the Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque. If they have such a file, they sure as Hell wouldn’t be sharing it with Justin Trudeau, Private Citizen.
3. If, however, such a file existed at CSIS or the RCMP, or anywhere else, only two MPs would have access to it. Their names are “Stephen Harper” and “Steven Blaney.”
See the problem you have created for yourselves and your bosses, Con war roomers? Are you getting the point? If “unspeakable violent extremism” is associated with that mosque, why have Messrs. Harper and Blaney DONE NOTHING ABOUT IT?
One is the Prime Minister of all that is Canada, the other is ostensibly the Minister of “Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness,” whatever that is. They knew what was happening at that mosque, they were in discussion with American intelligence folks about it, and THEY DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.
And, as I told my flummoxed Sun News colleague Brian Lilley on-air, THEY COULD HAVE DONE PLENTY – including taking away its charitable status. (God knows they are doing that with plenty of environmental and church charities the Conservative war room distrusts.)
Anyway, apologies for the all-caps, there, Conservative war room kiddies.
I think you’re all IDIOTS, this week, and I figured that was the only way to penetrate your TINY SKULLS.
There are so many things you can (and you guys likely will) say about this page on their web site. Personally, I’m not sure how that creepy-looking guy got into the last spot.
In the mornings, I listen to CBC Radio. Always have. But when they start playing “music,” I turn them off. Calling the “music” on CBC Radio “music” is inaccurate. It is more accurate to call it “coma-inducing droning that is worse than elevator Muzak.”
So, increasingly, I flip over to newcomer Indie 88. I could do without some of their Happy Talk, but their musical taste is awesome. This morn, then, they played The National’s ‘Bloodbuzz, Ohio,’ which is a bit of God-like genius. I tweeted about it, and lots of folks replied, and now they know about The National and that song. Which is a good thing.
So, I say, check out Indie 88. They’re the best place for good music. And, also, give me my own show, Indie 88. I know Diddley about politics, but my musical taste is without equal.
Is Marc Emery a secret agent for the Conservative Party of Canada? It sure looks that way.
It’s impossible that you have not heard of the World’s Most Famous Pothead. But, in the event that you have been in a coma for the past while, consider this a primer, gratis.
Marc Emery is from B.C. Presently, he is a guest of the U.S. prison system. He got himself there by selling drug stuff in the U.S. His business was called Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds, which pretty accurately describes what he does for a living.
Emery is also an advocate, however. Most of the time, he is an advocate only for himself. He has therefore run for Mayor of Vancouver three times, and lost each time. He has run for the Libertarian Party, federally, and received 197 votes. He has also help start up no less than four political parties – the Freedom Party, the Marijuana Party of Canada, the B.C. Marijuana Party, and something called the Unparty.
He’s been in jail plenty of times before being imprisoned in the U.S. He’s been jailed for selling obscene stuff, for drug trafficking, and even for breaking Sunday shopping laws.
He’s also an idiot. For instance, after he was arrested, Emery called then-Justice Minister Irwin Cotler – one of the greatest Parliamentarians this country has ever had – a “Nazi Jew” and a “Jewish Nazi.” Those are quotes. He said that Cotler, who is indeed Jewish, is “identical intellectually” to the Nazis.
Oh, and he likened marijuana prohibition to the Holocaust. He actually said that. When a reporter suggested to Emery that comparing pot laws to the Holocaust is hurtful to Jews and gays and others, Emery sniffed: “[Some] people like to think they have the monopoly on pain.”
So, he’s a jerk. But he’s a liar, too.
Emery used to say he’d smoked marijuana with Justin Trudeau. Here’s a quote: “[He’s] smoked with me four or five times, so it really pisses me off when I see Justin Trudeau, who took big gaggers with me, is in Parliament actually voting for [a bill which would have imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, including marijuana].”
Emery didn’t qualify that statement; that’s what he said. When Trudeau heard about it, and said that Emery was lying – and when Sun News confronted him with it – Emery finally admitted he was, in fact, a liar.
Said he: “I am indeed recorded telling a falsehood that until now, I was unaware was out there. I’m totally embarrassed about it. I take my reputation very seriously, as of course, does Mr. Trudeau, and I’m really saddened that I have caused him some grief by this clear misrepresentation.”
Catch that first part? It was a lie, and he was prepared to let the lie stand, until someone – Trudeau, Sun News – challenged him on it.
Now, as noted at the outset, the Conservative Party loves Marc Emery. He has said he wants to run for the Liberals. So has his wife – who has even claimed unnamed Liberals approached her to do so.
Liberal spokesman Dave Sommers – a great guy who, full disclosure, used to work with us at Sun News – had this to say about Emerys: “The Liberal Party does not endorse the Emerys’ plans in any way. They are not affiliated with the party.”
Personally, if I’d been Dave, I would have been a tougher. I would have said this: “Marc Emery is a proven liar. He is also a disgrace – for what he has said about Jews, and the Holocaust, and a great, great man like Irwin Cotler. He’s unfit to be in the same room as Irwin Cotler. Moreover, Marc Emery doesn’t belong in the Liberal Party.
“He belongs in jail in the U.S., for life, for being an asshole.”
Capricious, unstructured and even dangerous: That’s what American political thinker Walter Lippmann once wrote about the public’s views on foreign policy.
“The unhappy truth,” he wrote in 1955, “is that the prevailing public opinion has been destructively wrong at critical junctures. [The people] have compelled governments to be too late with too little, too long with too much, too pacifist in peace or bellicose in war.”
Not very nice, Lippmann’s view, but he isn’t alone. Many politicians privately feel likewise. And no less than the Athenian democrats restricted participation in democracy to those who were adult, male and not a slave.
Lippmann, the Athenians and the like-minded friends are wrong, however. The electorate is entirely capable of understanding foreign policy. A quick glance at social media these days will make clear that foreign policy can and does frequently capture the attention of regular folks.
On Facebook, for instance, photographs of pets and favourite meals have given way to angry posts about the war now raging in Gaza. On Twitter, armchair generals are doing likewise.
Some members of the commentariat, therefore, are suggesting that foreign policy, if done right, can be a sure-fire vote winner. Some are even opining that Stephen Harper’s path to re-election, and another majority, is to be seen as the foreign policy muse of the G8.
On the much-read National Newswatch Thursday morning, then, a column on Harper and foreign policy was the top headlined item. In it, the Public Policy Forum’s Dr. Don Lenihan wrote that Harper’s approach to foreign policy “just might pay off at the ballot box.”
Writes Lenihan, who is influential in Ottawa: “Harper has positioned himself as a champion of democracy and is using his place on the world stage to stand up to tyrants and terrorists.”
Politically, “[Harper’s foreign policy moves are] starting to look like a very smart. By contrast with Vladimir Putin or Hamas, Harper can’t help but look good. Standing up to them looks even better. While he’s been criticized for being too one-sided, and even of shooting from the lip, lots of people agree with his hard line.”
Indeed they do. This assistant to a former Liberal prime minister is one of them. Harper’s willingness to be tough with the likes of Putin and Hamas – in effect, punching above Canada’s foreign policy weight class – is something to be admired, whether you agree with him or not.
But will it pay electoral dividends? Can Harper actually win an election against the surging Trudeau Liberals with foreign policy?
Not a chance.
Ask George H. W. Bush. The 41st U.S. president was similarly preoccupied with foreign affairs. During his tenure, from 1988 to 1992, Bush was a blur of foreign policy movement – on Panama, on the Somali civil war, on the Gulf War, on the then-Soviet Union, on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Bush was the foreign policy president, to the point that Saturday Night Live’s Dana Carvey regularly lampooned him for it. “We’re on track,” said Carvey in one sketch, a dead ringer for Bush. “We’re getting the job done. Stay on course. A thousand points of light.”
Bill Clinton, meanwhile, had a different strategy. “It’s the economy, stupid,” Clinton’s war-room boss, James Carville, pithily wrote on a sign on the wall of the campaign headquarters in Little Rock.
And, as history records, Clinton won, Bush lost.
Foreign policy is important, sure. But if Harper seriously thinks it’s a way back to 24 Sussex, he should give George Bush Sr. a shout.
Or even Dana Carvey.