Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Poisoned Political Culture

Whether true or not, Canadians can, I think, be forgiven for wondering, quite seriously, whether the Harper cabal was somehow involved in the ominous break-in at Justin Trudeau's home while his family was asleep. A destabilizing and disturbing crime for anyone who has experienced such a violation, it is clearly weighing heavily on the Liberal leader, who must be away from his family for extended periods of time. That may be the intended effect.

Perhaps Harper and his acolytes had nothing to do with it, but entertaining such suspicions is surely not unwarranted owing to the pernicious and poisonous political culture that has been so avidly cultivated by a Prime Minister whose only purpose seems to be the perpetuation of his party's power. Assaulting character, instilling fear in critics of his neoliberal agenda, presenting the world in absolutist terms are all of a piece in a scorched earth policy that amply demonstrates Harper's unfitness for public office.

Unfortunately, we all become the victims when public policy is designed only to benefit a select few.

Writing yesterday in The Edmonton Journal, Michael Den Tandt offered this headline:

Reaction to Justin Trudeau break-in a symptom of debased debate

Den Tandt observes that the Twitter reaction to the break-in was often cruel and insensitive:

On Twitter – home to all important Canadian political debate now that Question Period in the Commons has become a set piece – some revelled in the news. Hug-a-terrorist Justin Trudeau, targeted by home-invading thugs; what fun! There were Tweets mockingly tying the break-in to Trudeau’s stance on marijuana. Maybe the burglars were after pot! Ho ho. Others tried, clumsily and with the hackneyed spelling so common in Twitter’s nether parts, to be sardonic.

And to be fair, the writer also castigates the Harper-haters for their own frequent vileness which, he says, neither the Liberal nor the NDP Party has done anything to quell.

Yet he lays the primary responsibility for the devolution in political discourse squarely at Harper's feet:

The Conservative party has since April of 2013 indulged in organized mockery and vilification, aimed at Trudeau personally. The intent of this messaging is to belittle and demean. That is not something the Conservative party can disavow. Nor can they deny that their attack ads – against Trudeau, and predecessors Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion — have contributed to a debasing of Canadian political dialogue. Debasement is the whole point of the ads.

Den Tandt offers some remedial suggestions:

To begin, the prime minister, to whom all Canadians look for leadership, could ditch the stupidest of his party’s attack ads and begin speaking positively, regularly and publicly about how he hopes to build a better country.

[A]ll the parties, their MPs and officials could aggressively block their own partisans who engage in personal debasement in social media. The standard should be the law against defamation.

[O]nline anonymity, in social media and news comment streams, should be abolished. That is a step that publishers can take.

These are all good suggestion, but given the extent of the rot that has set in and accelerated in recent years, I think we can realistically expect nothing to change.


  1. Lorne:
    Something feels hinky about the alleged break-in at Trudeau's house. A person or persons get into his house while his wife and children are asleep. They steal nothing but leave a number of knives with a note on top of them saying that he should keep his doors locked, then they leave. I am not a cop,but my truth radar is flashing. something about the whole thing feels contrived. I wonder what the RCMP and city cops really think.

    1. A good question, Pamela. The fact that Trudeau is now considering curbing some of his travel is telling, isn't it, if there was indeed a political motivation behind the break-in.

  2. .. 'the Prime Minister, to whom all Canadians look to for leadership..

    One is left wondering if Mr Den Tandt was speaking of the position, or a PM in a vague alternative universe. Surely he doesn't really think that leadership resides in Stephen Harper.. for ordinary Canadian citizens ? ?

    That would require attributes of an exemplar.. which of course Stephen Harper is not. Who ever heard of a carpetbagger as a leader ?

    And why on earth would Harper withdraw campaign items, cancel tactics or tone down tone deafness or shrill hysterical pronouncements, that he encouraged, suggested or approved without reservation?

    Belittle and demean.. of course that has become the dull witless tactic condoned from above. As well as the pedantic pleas for donations. All viewed, reviewed & approved by Stephen Harper, Ray Novak or Jenni Byrne.. with some legal oversight one assumes by an Arthur Hamilton or similar functionary.

    This is not an enlightened age of governance.. far far from it.. and further every day. This is thuggery.. vicious attacks up environment, citizens and opponents. Election Fraud and vote suppression. Obstruction of Justice. Duplicity and Deceit.. Deflection and Denial.

    We will soon see either a tactical medical withdrawal by Stephen Harper, or a bizarre tactical prorogue to extend Parliament indefinitely without sitting, or election.. probably by proclaiming Canada involved in some sort of 'shooting war'. We are being played for fools... Thomas Mulcair said it well..

    1. Until Canadians in general feel the outrage that people like us feel, Salamander, I expect little to change. A resurrection of citizen self-respect is sorely needed after years of oppression by this regime.

  3. I cannot accuse Conservative miscreants of this for lack of evidence. That said, this sort of thing is consistent with the anger stoked by the practitioners of wedge politics of which Stephen Harper is the high priest. Deviants like Harper quite deliberately work to divide us and thereby exploit us to their personal advantage at the expense of the country and public. To his credit, it's a venom that young Trudeau has sought to counter rather than emulate.

    1. Even after he is gone, I suspect it will take a long time for the country as a whole to recover from the divisive and hateful tactics so loved by Harper et al, Mound.

    2. .. I would argue that MoS is being awfully kindly & far too fair. True.. accusations without any evidence or witness are dangerous & flawed. However, here in Canada we have a Prime Minister and his close companions and political cadre that have been proven to believe they are above the law.

      Under the Harper facade thrives a disturbed reckless political culture, blended with corporatist elitism and very odd christian or rapture evangelism. Harper maintains a firewall while fostering and approving essentially everything executed by his Government, his party and the faction that supports him.

      I don't believe for one second that the Ottawa police and RCMP are not looking very hard at Harper extremist supporters being the perpetrators of the Trudeau home invasion. Its essentially undeniable that Harper loyalists perpetrated the criminal act of vast election fraud involving some 240 ridings, the CIMS database & login deletions, and live and robo calls. Bribery, Fraud, Assault, Abuse of Trust, DUI, Negligence, Contempt, Slander, Scandal .. The Harper Government, Party & Senate & following are no strangers to the police or courtrooms

      I can easily portray a scenario where similar vicious, reckless but clever political extremists could execute an illegal entry to a private home or campaign office. Has nobody noted that just a few weeks ago, a key opponent of fracking in BC had his home broken into and all his files, data and records removed? The RCMP are investigating .......

    3. As you indicate here, Salamander, any suspicions being directed at the Conservatives have been well-earned by their past (and likely ongoing) reprehensible conduct.

    4. .. riddle me this .. If a person or persons successfully executed a vast election fraud without being caught.. how would similar political extremists execute a break-in of a private home, office or campaign office and either avoid being caught.. or ensure the crime could not be proved in court?

      If recorded or identified via any neighborhood video surveillance cameras, how do one or more of these criminals defend being near or on the property? Or defy or deny any proof of entry? Did they expect to enter easily or simply wanted to deliver a frightening threat, perhaps taped to a door or window, then vanish.. perhaps having taken pictures as souvenirs?

      Easy.. Having planned & scouted the illegal trespass, arrive on bicycles wearing dark cycling outfits under nondescript dark disposable sweatpants & hoodies and hidden cycling gloves and headlamps. One remains off property but very close as lookout, the other steps onto & enters the property as if to urinate.. parks the bike discreetly in deep shadow, then moves further.. out of sight from the street, even trying the doors.

      If alarms go off, leave the threatening note behind, strip off the sweats and hoodie & immediately ride away. If stopped by responding police its essentially impossible to prove anything. No fingerprints & no provable match re clothing. Its likely the criminals did a successful trial run to establish alarms & potential response as well as type of locks on doors and windows.

      Burner cel phones would provide lookout communications, can take/transmit photos, provide low key illumination of backyard patio, doors/windows/locks or interior and be dropped on the property, thrown over a fence as required.

      To think a competent, arrogant extremist can't 'fix' a lock or recognize a vulnerable entry point is ridiculous. Establishing in advance whether the occupants have a dog is simple.. as is knowing whereabouts of Justin Trudeau.. Nothing smart, brave or intelligent here.. just extremely disturbed, arrogant & threatening.. incredibly narcissistic & frightening omnipotence acted out..

      Extreme pro-life ? Extreme right wingnut Harper advocate? Or very disturbed political pro-PMO pranker? .. All three ? Smarter people than me will interpret the meaning and message.. but whomever arrived at the Trudeau home knew they would appear on video cameras enroute.. & possibly onsite & minimized their exposure and set up very effective cloaking & deniability. Otherwise we would already be seeing public and identifiable images of the perps

    5. Your scenario is all too plausible, Salamander. The mystery deepens.