Brampton mayoral candidate Patrick Brown in pictures

The collage is worth a thousand words, as they say.

There’s more of this sort of thing out there, I’m told.

After revelations like that blockbuster Globe and Mail story – which suggested he had schemed to get a big payment from a man who would get a coveted PC nomination shortly thereafter – I don’t know why he persists in running for anything. It makes no sense.

Brampton, I would expect, is about to remind him why.


Two essays on Trump, populism and fascism

These two essays landed in my mailbox on the same cold and dark Fall morning. Both are lengthy, but worth your time. They mirror my mood.

Former Prime Minister Harper’s is the more optimistic take. He acknowledges that Trump’s rise has been “disruptive and dysfunctional,” but he calls it all “benign and constructive,” which is absolutely ridiculous. He suggests we need to proffer policy which mollifies and manages populism. Personally, I think that is highly naïve. You don’t offer sugar cubes to a rampaging bull: you kill it. My book New Dark Ages, out in a few days, certainly takes that position.

Here’s a bit of Harper’s essay:

The manifestation of this unease is a series of new and unorthodox political movements in most of the democratic world. From Brexit to Donald Trump and the “populist” parties of Europe, their success has hit establishment institutions with successive surprises that are provoking reactions leading from confusion to alarm and to outrage.

…These trends represent real costs to real people. Why should we be surprised when, ignored by traditional conservatives and derided by traditional liberals, these citizens start seeking alternative political choices? If policy does not seem to be working out for the public, in a democracy, you are supposed to fix the policy, not denounce the public. But, if you listen to some leaders and much of the media, you would not know it.

Their response is wrong, frustrating and dangerous. Wrong, because most of today’s political upheaval has readily identifiable causes. Frustrating, because it stands in the way of credible, pragmatic solutions that do exist. Dangerous, because the current populist upheaval is actually benign and constructive compared with what will follow if it is not addressed.

He’s a traditional conservative, standing on a shrinking patch of political real estate, and he’s responding to the crisis like traditional conservatives do: by suggesting that the likes of Trump can somehow be accommodated and managed. If the past two years have shown us anything, they’ve shown us how profoundly wrong that view is.

Closer to reality, and closer to my view, is this deeply disturbing essay in The New York Review of Books by Christopher R. Browning. Unlike Harper, Browning does not suggest that Trump and his ilk can be appeased and assuaged. They can’t be.

His view, and mine, is that conservative populism – the polished twin brother of fascism – is fully upon us, destroying every democratic and societal norm we took for granted in the post-WW2 period. His essay is worth your time.

I’ll conclude with this passage from it, which is depressing on a depressing day, but is also no less true for that.

Today, President Trump seems intent on withdrawing the US from the entire post–World War II structure of interlocking diplomatic, military, and economic agreements and organizations that have preserved peace, stability, and prosperity since 1945. His preference for bilateral relations, conceived as zero-sum rivalries in which he is the dominant player and “wins,” overlaps with the ideological preference of Steve Bannon and the so-called alt-right for the unfettered self-assertion of autonomous, xenophobic nation-states—in short, the pre-1914 international system. That “international anarchy” produced World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Great Depression, the fascist dictatorships, World War II, and the Holocaust, precisely the sort of disasters that the post–World War II international system has for seven decades remarkably avoided.

In threatening trade wars with allies and adversaries alike, Trump justifies increased tariffs on our allies on the specious pretext that countries like Canada are a threat to our national security. He combines his constant disparagement of our democratic allies with open admiration of authoritarians. His naive and narcissistic confidence in his own powers of personal diplomacy and his faith in a handshake with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un recall the hapless Neville Chamberlain (a man in every other regard different from Trump). Fortunately the US is so embedded in the international order it created after 1945, and the Republican Party and its business supporters are sufficiently alarmed over the threat to free trade, that Trump has not yet completed his agenda of withdrawal, though he has made astounding progress in a very short time.


A new Patrick Brown scandal? The $10,000 payoff

Huge story from Canadaland:

Diana Davison is an internet personality who has described herself as an anti-feminist, a journalist, and a men’s “civil rights activist.” She is a popular YouTuber, currently with over 83,000 subscribers, who previously vlogged under the handle “Feminism LOL.” Each of those old videos began with her making fun of a stat about the frequency of rape in the United States — “Hey everyone, it’s been over two minutes, and I haven’t been raped yet.” Two years ago, she rebranded her channel eponymously and created a non-profit, The Lighthouse Project, raising funds from her supporters through Patreon and PayPal. Many of her videos are “investigations” into women who have accused men of sexual misconduct. Between the end of January and April, she produced a series of seven videos about the allegations against former Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PCPO) leader Patrick Brown. In those videos, the Vancouver-based Davison called the allegations a “hit job,” a “political coup,” and the mainstream media “fucking” with the public.

CANADALAND has learned that in March, Davison received a $10,000 cheque, of which she would keep just under half, from lawyer Joseph Villeneuve, a longtime friend of Brown and member of his inner circle. Both Davison and Villeneuve say the payment was supposed to be in exchange for reading over and analyzing voluminous documents — that never materialized — related to an alleged political coup against Brown. Davison was subcontracted by a political operative named David Wallace, who arranged for her to pick up the $10,000 cheque from Villeneuve that would then be split between the two of them.


Premier Hypocrite

From next week’s Hill Times:

During one of the more-recent debates, last Fall – when controversy was raging about “Liberal” government’s bill that would force women to remove veils when getting on a city bus, or going to see their doctor – Francois Legault, the leader of the CAQ, was asked about the decidedly-unsecular symbol hanging above his head in his workplace.  Legault shrugged.  He said the crucifix should stay. “We have a Christian heritage in Quebec and we cannot decide tomorrow that we can change our past,” said the leader whose very party name is about Quebec’s future.  “I don’t seen any problem keeping it.”

“A Christian heritage.”

Therein lies a problem, of course.  Legault is no longer a mere member of the opposition in the provincial legislature.  In a few days’ time, he will be Premier of Quebec, presiding over a massive majority in the National Assembly.

At his very first press conference after the election, then, Legault dispensed with any notion that he would be the Premier of all Quebecois.  To the Muslims (with their headscarves), and the Jews (with their kippahs), and the Mennonites and the Amish (with their traditional styles of dress), and the Hindus (with their tilaka markings on their faces), Legault’s message was plain: I don’t represent you.  I don’t care about you.  You are second-class citizens – or worse.

Here’s what he said, at that first press encounter: “The vast majority of Quebeckers would like to have a framework where people in authority positions must not wear religious signs.”  And then, knowing what he wants is wholly contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and every human rights code extant, he went even further: “If we have to use the notwithstanding clause to apply what we want, the majority of Quebeckers will agree.”

From the man who said he would march newcomers to the border who lack the ability to properly conjugate verbs, and expel them – to…where? Cornwall? Vermont? Newfoundland and Labrador? – we shouldn’t be surprised, one supposes.  Francois Legault has already revealed himself to be another petty, pitiful aspirant to Maurice Duplessis’ throne. 

He’s a hypocrite.


You’d think the “chief planner” would know something like this

Ouch.

“Self-described affordable housing champion Jennifer Keesmaat did not appear to know that private condos in the province are now covered by rent control…Ontario’s former Liberal government extended rent control to all private rental units across the province in May 2017 — a move that responded to complaints of skyrocketing rents but which critics say came at the cost of more rental construction. Keesmaat did not seem familiar with this legislation, Whelan said.”


A candidates’ debate should be as diverse as the city those candidates hope to lead (updated)

…this is so basic, and so fundamental, I can’t believe it actually needs to be said.  But apparently it does.

This was released weeks ago.  It bears repeating.

UPDATE: And here’s what one of those candidates had to say about this “controversy.”