Generally speaking, Canadians take pride when their fellow countrymen and women make it big in America. And few have made it bigger than one Rafael (Ted) Cruz, the junior senator from Texas who played a key role in the failed coup against his own government. Last week, while a gang of fired-up Trump supporters was in the midst of storming the U.S. Capitol building and occupying the Senate floor and various congressional offices, Cruz was texting his own base, telling them he was “leading the fight” to overturn the election results.
Ironically, Canadians were also involved the last time anyone occupied the capital of the United States, when British soldiers burned the White House and other buildings to the ground in 1814 after the Americans destroyed Port Dover in Upper Canada. But while Canadians like to brag about that historical footnote, few should be celebrating Cruz’s role in the revolutionary cosplay that left five Americans dead and millions utterly humiliated. And although it might be tempting to think that Cruz’s willingness to trade in far-right fantasies is a uniquely American phenomenon, conservatives here in Canada do it almost every day.
Not all of them, of course. In a recent piece for The Line, conservative strategist and former Harper staffer Ken Boessenkool noted that “American politics is sick. That sickness has many causes, with acceptance of bad character being near the top. If we don’t recognize that, and do something about it, it could infect us as well.”
But with all due respect to Mr. Boessenkool, the movement and party that he’s spent the better part of his adult life in already has a full-blown case of Trumpism. The real question that people like him need to answer is whether it’s terminal or not.
Take his own political backyard of Alberta, where the current government has both staffers and elected officials — including one cabinet minister — who have proudly worn the red MAGA hat in the past. Devin Dreeshen, the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and the minister of agriculture and forestry, even worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. And while he released a statement last week condemning “all forms of political violence,” he has yet to apologize for his decision to associate with the Trump universe — or explain why he found it so attractive.
Dreeshen isn’t alone. At the federal level, a photo of MP Candice Bergen wearing a camo-style MAGA hat emerged recently, one she has so far declined to explain. On Monday, Bergen’s office told the Globe and Mail that the photo was taken at an event a few years ago when someone handed her the hat and asked for a picture, but the influence of Trumpism on Canada’s conservative movement goes much deeper than their occasionally questionable choices in hats.
The rhetoric coming from conservatives in both Alberta and Ottawa, for example, is inescapably Trumpy. There’s the constant fear-mongering about Canada’s borders and the threats posed by illegal immigrants, which was Trump’s North Star during the 2016 election campaign. There’s the talk about “taking Canada back,” which Erin O’Toole used repeatedly during the course of the recent leadership campaign.
What people are reading
And, like Trump, Canadian conservatives are more than happy to demonize the media. Indeed, in his final speech as outgoing leader, Andrew Scheer encouraged conservatives to “challenge the mainstream media” and “check out smart, independent, objective organizations like the Post Millennial, or True North.” These “independent” and “objective” organizations happened to be run by conservative partisans, including Jeff Ballingall, the founder of the Ontario Proud and Canada Proud Facebook pages and O’Toole’s digital campaign director. However, this somehow escaped mention.
And then, of course, there’s the Rebel News Network. Rebel personalities were present at Jason Kenney’s victory celebration in 2019 and have done interviews with numerous federal conservatives, including O’Toole. But he disavowed them in a 2019 tweet, noting that “I stopped appearing on Rebel when they veered from journalism to divisive and dangerous theatrics and innuendo.”
Those theatrics have only continued since then, and the Rebel has been at the forefront of Canadian efforts to discredit the U.S. election — including sending correspondent Keean Bexte to the failed coup. But for some reason, O’Toole’s office decided it was a good idea to participate in an interview with none other than the Rebel’s Ezra Levant. They've since announced that they won't work with the Rebel in the future, but the Conservative Party of Canada's history with that organization suggests the breakup won't last for long.
It’s not hard to see why they’re doing this. After all, Derek Sloan — someone whose values and beliefs would be right at home in a Trump rally — received nearly 15 per cent of the first-place votes in the first round of the Conservative Party of Canada’s recent leadership race, and played a key role in ultimately handing the crown to O’Toole. And while O’Toole has since made noises about moderating the approach that Scheer took to issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, he’s done nothing to curb the party’s fascination with Trumpist thinking.
Despite his fondness for far-right conspiracy theories, Sloan remains a member of O’Toole’s caucus, and Pierre Poilievre, the party’s shadow minister of finance, continues to trade in half-baked theories, whether it’s about the federal Liberals planning on taxing the equity in people’s homes or their apparently nefarious intentions associated with the so-called “great reset.”
And so far, at least, the failed coup on Jan. 6 doesn’t seem to have prompted anything in the way of soul-searching. Despite the obvious similarities to the “stop the steal” rhetoric that’s been coming from Trump supporters ever since they lost on November 3, the Conservative Party of Canada left a post from 2019 featuring a grainy photo of the Prime Minister next to a suggestion that he was “rigging the next election in his favour" up on their website until finally pulling it down a few days ago in the face of public pressure.
There is, of course, no way that the prime minister can “rig” an election in Canada, just as there was no way the Biden campaign rigged it in the United States. But truth and reality don’t appear to be important priorities for the Trumpist movement, either in its original incarnation down south or the branch plant that’s been set up north of the border.
And while it might have once been possible for conservative politicians to deceive themselves into thinking that this was all a harmless flirtation, the events of the last year have proven that notion dead wrong. In addition to America’s failed coup, there was the incident last summer in Ottawa where a Canadian Armed Forces member named Corey Hurren — a man with a well-documented fascination with far-right conspiracy theories — drove onto the grounds of Rideau Hall with a bunch of loaded weapons and the intention of arresting the prime minister for, among other things, his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That no bloodshed occurred was fortunate, and far from guaranteed. But there is one guarantee here: if conservatives insist on continuing to trade in their own brand of Trumpism, there will be more Corey Hurrens in the future. That’s why it’s long past time for people like O’Toole, Doug Ford and Kenney to disavow the radicals in their midst. Yes, it will probably cost them a few votes. But as Ted Cruz inadvertently showed the world recently, playing for those votes can come at a very high price.
This story was corrected to amend the date the Conservative Party of Canada posted an allegation that the Prime Minister was “rigging the next election in his favour" on the party's official website.
Totally agree. Conservatives
Totally agree. Conservatives in Canada have a base of around 20% who are extremists by any measure. They have another group, probably 30% who are silent enablers of the extremists. Both of these groups vote every time in block form. The rest of the populace certainly has some conservative representation, but it is uncomfortable being associated with this base. As long as the Conservatives continue to sell their souls to the extreme right end of the spectrum in Canada, they really are not much different from Trump.
Far right values begin with
Far right values begin with the desire to seek hegemony over the masses. People who are addicted to power for power's sake destroy peaceful civil societies. Be careful of thinking that gaining power without integrity is the only way to win.
I point to the Reagan era as
I point to the Reagan era as the start of the current brand of conservatism, especially in North America. While I and many others like to say Canada is no USA we consistently end up reflecting their politics. How can we not considering our geographical proximity and language etc. But, we are decidedly not Americans of course.
We have more right wing extremists than most people realize. Their end game is...well, not sure to be honest but I think just being in power and control of social direction is more than likely it. That and creating more money for those on the top of the corporate food chain. I mean, it used to be about smaller government and fiscal responsibility but that is no longer true for some time now.
The constant strain of
The constant strain of conservative extremism in North America can be traced back to its colonization by disaffected Europeans looking to get rich quick through rapacious versions of capitalism that thought (and continue to think) nothing of destroying species, ecosystems and leaving in their destructive wake devastation that may never be repaired. All the yearning for "freedom" and "liberty" had at its roots the quest for opportunity, advancement, and wealth. Everywhere the European nations explored and colonized the underlying impetus was the exploitation of other "inferior" peoples - including, if necessary, the literal enslavement of populations and or the extinction of indigenous people who could not be turned into slaves.
All of our governmental organization in the New World was built on the "superiority" of the European and a great deal of money and energy was devoted to the removal, extermination of native civilizations. The original policing in the U.S. derived from the slave patrols established throughout the South - and by the looks of it, that origin has never been erased from the white man's racial memory. In Canada the British army was the model for the RCMP and such local constabulary personnel as existed were closely tied to the militia structure up to and including the days of Confederation. Policing around the world, as we know it now has uncomfortable historical connections to militarization and the caste system that descends from royalty and aristocracy. Even the most cursory reading of history leads inescapably to the ties between wealth and policing. Capitalism is so deeply enmeshed in this systemic control of the unruly population that it is impossible to disentangle it.
Conservatism is utterly mired, embedded in this plague of hierarchy and caste; all of which revolves around the control of resources and wealth. Conservatism has thrown in its lot with the greedy, the accumulators, the autocrats, the dictators, the tyrants. Conservatism has decided that humanity has already reached its peak, it knows that we are exceeding the earth's capacity to sustain us and it is ruthlessly rushing to ensure it's control of what remains of the planet's resources and wealth.
Canada's conservatives - at least the would be leaders, are slavishly following the playbook.
One does not have to be a Marxist to know this.
Everything you say is part of
Everything you say is part of the historical record. It doesn't reflect well on any of us settler types, but for sure it is the conservative rump around the world that is determined to persevere, even in the face of the climate emergency, to the end of the world..............if possible.
We minimize those 'values'.........and ambitions at our peril.
What is this you are trying
What is this you are trying to say? And just what is a "settler type" ?
Trumpism is a logical, if
Trumpism is a logical, if extreme, extension of the "conservative movement" which is a cynical, reactionary branch of conservatism. Psychologists tell us that conservative-minded people tend to put loyalty over principle and find it difficult to question authority. That makes the very concept of democracy a problem to them. When Stephen Harper formed the CPC I fear that he basically bought a franchise from American right-wing think tanks and I think the party needs to put the "progressive" back into the mix otherwise the only way to victory is by inflaming the credulous.
The courting of so-called "social conservatives" is because they tend to be gullible and obedient. This has become a poisoned chalice in the US as we see Trumpies who think that accepting everything Trump says is a test of loyalty. He has become their personal Jesus. Belief trumps reason and violence is the usual end.
I was shocked to read this quote from US Sen. Barry Goldwater who used to be thought of as an extreme right-winger: "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)
The CPC must tread very carefully. Anyone who will not denounce Trump after the attack on the Capitol is an enemy of democracy. The USA has let this fester for far too long and is now facing the likelihood of serious bloodshed. We must not allow this in Canada.
This shouldn't be news to
This shouldn't be news to anyone who follows Canadian politics, even sporadically. Canadians are more like Americans than we like to think, right down to the imperialism that allowed us to designate Indian land, empty, and bring in large numbers of settlers to fill the rhetorical void. Colonialism depends on a dominant class, and a much larger underclass: a division maintained by assumptions of merit/superiority on the one hand and shiftlessness/inferiority on the other.
As that binary starts to break down, as human rights and liberation movements gain ground, the subgroup that has been led to believe in its inherent rights to just about everything, feels threatened. Fear and resentment bring new fuel to old racist and sexist assumptions......losing ground can only mean one thing.
The natives, the women, the workers, the lower orders in general are cheating, winning by unfair means, violating the will of God, creating educational curricula that is socialist, humanist, or whatever scapegoat of the day serves as a label.
Conservative values??? I'd be interested in knowing what those are....a quick visit to the Rebel Media provides some clues. But its a stretch to call ignorance, name calling, finger pointing and hate speech values.
Is it terminal? Most likely. Infectious? That should be our fear. We've enough to do fighting the corona virus....which extreme right wingers don't believe in...or minimize as 'just the flu', while applauding when O'Toole swears no one incarcerated will be vaccinated. So add a mean spirit to that basket of 'values', and consider that those most inclined to believe in 'rigged elections' are the ones most inclined to rig them.
Anyone who follows US politics even slightly should know how much work Republicans have put into gerrymandering and suppressing the vote over the last decades.......and wasn't Jason's leadership victory fraught with similar dirty tricks?
Conservative values....that needle in the haystack showing its bald face yet again. But let's all be good progressive Canadians, and choose not to look.
Nothing was so prescient of
Nothing was so prescient of the current CPC, as when the "Progressive Conservatives" ditched "Progressive". My dad was a conservative but in the "old fashioned" sense that included the value that if you did better financially, it was part of your end of the social contract to give back and proportionately contribute to society at large, such as through progressive taxation, where earning more income meant paying more taxes than those with lower incomes. They can call themselves "conservatives" but they conserve nothing but white privilege and colonialism. Canada's march toward flattening of the progressive taxation curve started with Brian Mulroney, but the Liberals in the '90s and '00s also actively participated in this course shift, and Harper took Canada to more regressive taxation. The other truck I have with CPC calling themselves conservative is the fact that there is no conservation, some of Canada's biggest deficits were run under Conservative governments who just kept handing out tax breaks to the wealthy and reallocation of our social safety net funding to subsidize extractive fossil fuel production and distribution; and any other large corporations and their CEOs on their big donors list. (Does this sound familiar in terms of a playbook?) They are libertarians and American wannabes, and Canada's wealthy are just as motivated by greed as those to the south. The Liberals have proved that they can play this same game very well, TMX being a case in point. Back when Ed Broadbent was leader of the NDP, he coined the term "corporate welfare bums" - we have more and more of those in Canada. Thanks to the Regressive Conservative party and the not-so-progressive "Liberals".
Until political donations by individuals are capped to say, $5000 or less per annum and large donations from any corporation are banned with required annual reporting on all donations and their sources, Canada will be vulnerable to the same right wing money manipulation, their propaganda and misinformation promulgated by the CPC and their mouth pieces. And of the CPC is following the Republauthoritarian path because they have been since Harper brought GOP 'advisors' into his fold over a decade ago. And with O'Toole being Harper's 'boy', well, enough said. Harper also was very good at gerrymandering riding boundaries, and made it easy for provincial CP governments to be "efficient" and use those same lines, The Conservatives like the existing electoral system which has locked in a formula that is nowhere near "rep by pop". Instead, urban votes are not worth the same as rural and suburban votes (due to the # of voters between urban and rural in a riding having such huge gaps), even though large cities should have more representation. I find it ridiculous that having moved in 2019 from Toronto to rural NL, my vote here counts for so much more. And the fed Liberals didn't bother fixing that either.
Canada also needs to deal with the Big Tech propaganda machines and also the reach of so much American mis/disinformation that we are exposed to that is invading our media space. (Thankful we have the National Observer) As well, civic literacy is vital as there are far too many Canadians that do not understand some of the fundamental differences between the US Constitution and its Amendments and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. CPC and right wing extremists love this blurring and foster and foment this confusion in hopes of duplicating the divide and conquer and nasty politics of the US. We don't need this kind of politics in Canada. We have enough complex issues dealing with our own human rights violations related to the First Nations that were here and thriving before the Europeans arrived and the colonialism that still thrives today. The last thing this country needs is to feed populism. Is it a coincidence that the provinces right now that are doing the worst re Covid-19 have Con Party governments? I think not.
14 years ago I came to Canada
14 years ago I came to Canada .A breath of fresh air. I'm now proud to be a Canadian citizen!!. We need to move forward. Donald Trump and the Ted Cruz's are a disgrace to the world. Canada is a ray of hope for the future of the world. Please continue to move forward. The XL Pipeline. does not prepare us for the future. Leave the Tar sand in the ground. There is no market for the Crude oil anymore. Electric cars are the future . Canada always lead!! The conservatives are moving in the wrong directions if they follow the Ted Cruz's of the world. He is part of the Insurrection of the U S capital. He is TOXIC!!.