Events on Sunday in Quebec City served as a reminder, if we needed one, that Canada is not immune to madness.
Last Sunday, a sad loser walked into a Quebec City mosque and opened fire on people who were praying. Yes, praying. He killed six, injuring many others; it could have been so much worse. The gunman was the cliched loner who kept to himself, except in this day and age when your online presence can be tracked, and it was revealed that he was a fan of the far-right, and anti-Muslim.
Canadians, as is our way, united in shows of support. Tens of thousands turned out for candlelight vigils across the cold country on Monday in a heartening display of unity and compassion. But the sad fact is that there is a strain of Islamophobia in this country that no amount of candlelight vigils and overt displays of affection can hide. And it is especially true in Quebec, which has a sometimes tense relationship with newcomers, particularly Muslims. (I haven’t heard them, but I have read that Quebec City has a number of popular right-wing open line hosts who regularly target Muslims.) To be sure, Canada is remarkably open to immigrants, particularly so in this time when our nearest neighbour is going in the opposite direction. But Sunday’s tragedy tells us that not everything is not peace and love in Canada. We are, after all, no different than anyone else.
Trudeau in trouble
Justin Trudeau messed up royally this week, something that has become a fairly regular event.
You may remember (but probably don’t) that Trudeau promised, repeatedly, that we would have a new way of voting next election that eliminated the ‘first past the post’ way we’ve been electing MPs since time began. The existing system, the opinion goes, favours the big, mainline parties and disenfranchises millions of people who vote for someone other than the Liberals and Conservatives. Trudeau promised – on the campaign trail, and in his first speech from the throne, and up to just a few days ago – to have a new system in place by the next election.
Well, uh … forget that. This week, the Liberals said that despite a parliamentary report outlining a way forward, despite coast-to-coast consultations, despite thousands of online submissions, no “consensus” has emerged, so they’re not going to change the way we vote after all. Just too much work, apparently. The real reason has nothing to do with consensus, of course; this government, and all governments, make hundreds of decisions without consensus (pipelines, assisted dying, legalized pot, etc.). The real reason was that the system preferred in the parliamentary report was not the one the Liberals wanted. The New Democrats and Greens, who had the most to gain from changes, were in high dungeon, practically spitting with rage and invective (one NDP MP called Trudeau a liar). Trudeau was also taken to task for giving the duty of making the announcement to a rookie minister who was just handed the portfolio (and who apparently handled it very badly), instead of taking the heat himself. That’s pretty gutless.
So it’s a great, big broken promise from Trudeau, handled in an especially artless manner. We won’t know until the next election the impact of broken promises (this wasn’t his first) will have on the Liberal fortunes. My guess is that the general public isn’t that hot and bothered about electoral reform; it’s just too much of an ‘inside baseball’ thing to annoy too many people. But any more of this, and it will be very easy to paint Trudeau as a shameless promise breaker … yes, even a liar. It’s a self-inflicted wound, but not a fatal one. But a lot of self-inflicted wounds can become infected, and ultimately fatal.
Meanwhile in Tory land …
Remember last week, when I took Conservative leadership candidate Kelly Leitch’s campaign manager to task for spreading lies? No? Oh, well, I did. Take my word for it. Anyway, the idiot, Nick Kouvalis, resigned this week for finally going too far. He called a political science professor a “cuck,” short for cuckold, an insult used by some Donald Trump supporters in the U.S. to attack supporters of Hillary Clinton. The insult has an even more offensive meaning among members of the alt-right. Also this week, Kevin O’Leary, seen by many as the front runner, stepped in it big time. On the day that three of the victims of the Quebec mosque massacre were laid to rest, O’Leary posted a video of himself firing high-powered automatic weapons. Why? Who knows. The one thing for sure is that his timing was terrible. On Saturday, O’Leary made his first appearance at a Tory leadership debate. He was, of course, immediately the target of many well-rehearsed barbs about his part-time Canadian residency, his weak links to the Conservative party, his reality show fame. From what I saw (and I couldn’t watch it all; 14 people makes for a brutal debate format), he didn’t respond, simply answering the questions the way he wanted to answer them. He actually came off pretty well, I thought, although his comment earlier in the week that we will eventually “hail King Trump” was at the very least off-putting. O’Leary is a seasoned performer, and supremely confident. The worst performer by far was Kelly Leitch, who literally talks out of one side of her mouth in a grating, nasal drone, and says stuff about arming all women with pepper spray so they can defend themselves. I don’t see any of the candidates giving Justin Trudeau any sleepless nights.
Our long Super Bowl nightmare is over
Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last … to watch American Super Bowl commercials.
For years, the CRTC mandated that only the Canadian feed of the Stupor Bowl, from CTV, would be shown in Canada, depriving millions of Canadians of the one thing really worth watching on Stupor Bowl Sunday – the commercials. The reason was to ensure that all Canadians had to watch Canadian ads, essentially ensuring that CTV could make a tidy profit on the most watched event on TV. This year, however, the CRTC said, screw it – the American feed (this year on Fox) could be aired into Canadian homes, giving us the chance to see the Super Bowl of Advertising in all its creative glory. (With most of the commercials already available online, this isn’t the big deal it used to be. Here’s one for Kia that’s really quite funny, and a killer from Mexico avocados.) CTV and even the NFL protested vigorously, but to no avail. So instead of watching commercials for Phil’s House of Shag Carpeting Warehouse or whatever, we can now watch the best of American advertising talent. CTV is fighting back with a contest offering prizes of $50,000 and $100,000, but you can only enter if you watch the CTV broadcast for on-air information on how to enter.
Meanwhile, in Donald Trump’s America, chaos reigns
Immediately after his ban on immigration or even visitation from eight mostly-Muslim countries, stories emerged of families being split apart and would-be immigrants who have waited years to become American having their hopes dashed.
At Dulles Airport in Washington, a five-year-old Iranian boy was detained (apparently in handcuffs for some time) for five hours away from his mother because he was considered a potential security risk. Trump’s press spokesman, the pitiful Sean Spicer, told the incredulous media: “To assume that just because of someone’s age and gender that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.” He’s correct, of course. History is rife with examples of five year old terrorists.
Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in furious protest over Trump’s actions. It’s safe to say that in two weeks of Trump, more people have taken to the streets to protest than in Barack Obama’s entire eight years as president. Two weeks into the Trump era, and I am exhausted. I can’t stand to read or hear another word about this megalomaniac, but there is no escaping him. I would move to Australia, but he’s even making news there by dissing the Aussie PM. God help us all.
Brunhilde Pomsel, who worked as the private secretary of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, has died. She was 106 years old. Though Pomsel worked closely with Goebbels and his family—she spent three years transcribing his reflections and taking his dictation—she maintained until her death that she knew nothing about Hitler’s Final Solution.