Friday, July 28, 2017


Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I find myself thinking about the sad state of the world today, a state infinitely exacerbated by the current politics of the failed American Empire. Indeed, I had planned this morning to discuss at some length some of its spillover effects into our own country, not least of which is evident in the current incompetent and decidedly demagogic direction of the Conservative Party under Andrew Scheer. To suggest that Trump is responsible for this would be inaccurate and facile, but the permission the Orange Ogre has granted to the bigoted and the simple-minded to trumpet and revel in their ignorance is undeniable.

Although I am not really developing that theme today, I want to take a moment to make the following observation before getting to my purpose. That there was plenty of gutter politics under the old Harper regime is unquestionable, but I was initially a bit surprised that the Con Party under its new leader, Andrew Scheer, has embraced such a robust continuation of the same divisive themes; currently, the Omar Khadr compensation is the subject of his demonization. But then I realized that the kind of political 'narrowcasting,' the playing to the base at the expense of any pretense of representing Canadians in general, has gotten new life, given that Trump is making an art of it in the U.S.: Galvanize the base, ensure their blind, reflexive loyalty by appealing to their worst instincts, and make certain their hatreds and prejudices are so stoked that they vote.

What is, however, missing from the cynical calculations of Team Trump and the Scheer Stooges is the assumption that other people on both sides of the border, people of sanity, deliberation and a highly-developed sense of fair play, will sleep while the rabble have their way.

The following letters from today's Star give me hope for that quieter, but very potent, segment of our respective populations:
Re: Justin Trudeau had a choice on Khadr settlement, Opinion, July 26

In answer to federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s emotionally overwrought attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to make a payment to Omar Khadr in respect of the heinous behaviour of several Canadian governments responsible for his illegal incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, I can find agreement with one statement: “Principles are worth fighting for.”

Principles set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to all Canadians. That is indeed a principle worth fighting for.

Sadly, Mr. Scheer and his like-minded followers believe they have a right to apply those Charter rights selectively. This emotional response is the same as that exhibited by the government of the day’s delegitimization/incarceration of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, and the denial of entry to Jewish refugees prior to the war, to name just two examples of demonizing, hate-mongering behaviour of Canadian governments.

Nevertheless, there are many Canadians, I believe a majority, who reject that past behaviour and agree with the current government’s payment to Mr. Khadr.

Indeed, the former Conservative government led by Stephen Harper approved a similar payment to Maher Arar. I do not recall Mr. Scheer sanctioning interviews to discredit the Harper government with U.S. news outlets or writing columns to the Star to evoke hatred against Maher or Harper.

That he engages in this behaviour now reveals his need to mimic the political rants so disgraceful south of the border. It demonstrates that he will make self-serving political decisions that benefit only some Canadians, but not all. Who is next to lose their Charter rights? Be careful, it could be you.

Liz Iwata, Pickering

Andrew Scheer says the Supreme Court ruled that Omar Khadr’s rights were violated and that the Conservatives recognized and accepted that finding.

His inconvenient truth is that the Supreme Court issued its finding in January 2010, and Khadr was repatriated in September 2012. It appears to have taken the Conservatives 2-1/2 years to accept the finding. Khadr then spent a further 2-1/2 years in prison before being finally released on bail in May 2015, after the government failed in a last-ditch attempt to deny bail.

Yes, the settlement was a Liberal decision. But the actions of the Conservative government were a large part of the decision.

Cheryl Adams, Toronto

Although Andrew Scheer has some counterpoints to the Omar Khadr debate worth discussing, he unfortunately leaves out one pressing detail to his entire argument: Khadr was a child soldier and his rights as a Canadian were violated, period.

No matter how much the Conservative Party spins this debate, it’s a strong and valid point that will always rise to the surface.

Bobby Leeson, Brampton


  1. It's comforting to know that some folks know gobbledegoook when they see it, Lorne.

    1. I really do think it is time for more people to make known how they view these reprehensible strategies, Owen.

  2. .. dancing around the facts.. dosey do your partner..
    Somewhere, there's a trail. What comes out the mouth of Andrew Scheer is hardly accidental or thoughts 'in the moment'. This is contrived and rehearsed talking point strategy to bulwark votes or enhance donations.

    Canadians would be fools to believe there is not a serious intensive mass of ReformerTory war room staff grinding away at this dogma. That's one of Scheer's qualifications! He's more than capable of reflecting it, embracing it, living it. Do we believe Jenny Byrne just toodled off to the private sector forever n ever amen? How about the infamous lawyer, Arthur 'last breath' Hamilton? Do we think that his stunningly distorted Harper evangelism just evaporated? How about Ken Boessenkool? Kouvalis? Van Loan?

    No the strange cameraderie of these distorted 'senior party members' lives on.. thriven even. Its akin to a coven. A club of sorts. Some bizarre sort of 'fight club' with weird 'rules' or membership rites. What's funny to me though, is that much of the doctrine or practice or uttering simply go against common sense. See Rempel or Peter Kent ranting on Khadr. Its like some sort of obstinate contrariness is stuck in their heads. A willingness to make idiots of themselves in public. Its a nakedness actually. A willingness to be bare ass stupid with the mainstream media, in question period & forget they are or were 'public servants' .. not lords a leapin or princesses.. but plain ordinary public servants, bureaucrats even...

    The fundamental facts of the Khadr Scandal are what they are. But to tawdry political animal minds, they are festive fiction wedge issues waiting to be repackaged for consumption.. Scheer is simply a purveyor of such rancid product. I have yet to hear a truly coherent though emitted from him.

    1. Your solid indictment of the gang of usual suspects offers cogent reasons they are not, and likely never will be, fit for prime-time politics, Sal. You refer to their camaraderie as akin t a coven or a club of sorts. I will go further and compare it to a cult, one complete with code words that only the true believers can fully appreciate.

      In the 21st century, it is time to totally disavow such arcane, medieval behavior. Somehow, I doubt the Con Party will be getting that message anytime soon.

  3. The house that Harper built Lorne will last as long as their is a reform/alliance party, they are conservatives in name only. This cult base is what got Harper elected. Without it, he would have faded into the background , never to be seen, let alone become PM. When ever Harper spoke, it was to his base that he spoke . Main stream Canadians who did not possess the dogmatic beliefs of Harpers base were excluded.

    Harpers neoliberal policies and decisions were implemented to satisfy his base, not to satisfy all Canadians. Scheer is just carrying on where Harper left off. He knows that without his base, he won't even get close to being elected.

    What Scheer and his base share is a profound desire for power. Scheer could care less what Canadians outside of his base think.They are not the ones who will vote for him.

    What Canadians are witnessing when Scheer speaks is a leader who wants to create a country in the image of his base. It is a corrupt process that favors those few who want to repeal abortion, repeal same sex marriage, create a strong military and whose anti-intellectualism is supported by their fundamental evangelical beliefs.

    The liberals who share all of the neoliberal policies of this group including the corporate and military globalism, I think look at Scheer with envy, for having a group of Canadians in place that will always vote for him. Maybe that's why the liberals are now looking to create their own base.

    1. Thirty-two years after it was first published, Pamela, I am finally reading The Handmaid's Tale. The dystopian society that Margaret Atwood depicts would, I suspect, find great favour with people like Scheer and his base. It is eerily like the one you describe in the last sentence of your fourth paragraph.