There’s an old Irish saying: ‘you can watch a thief, but you can’t watch a liar’. It’s a phrase that keeps coming to mind as we inch closer to another federal election. It wasn’t so long ago that talk of ‘sunny ways’ had many Canadians feeling the warm and fuzzies all over. Four years later, many of those same Canadians are feeling something – but it ain’t warm, or fuzzy.
The 2015 federal election was a resounding rejection of the Harper Conservatives just as much as it was an endorsement of the Trudeau Liberals. Canadians were sick of being lied to. With Harper, it wasn’t so much that he said anything that was a total lie, it was more that he just didn’t say anything at all. Lie by omission, if you like. The Harper government was notorious for skirting journalist’s questions, and slipping unpopular legislation into massive omnibus bills. Instead of addressing climate change, Stephen Harper just silenced the scientists. You get the picture.
The same tactics cannot be applied to the Trudeau Liberals. Justin Trudeau and his marry band of sycophants prefer Trump-like lies. Big, steaming piles of bullshit. In fact, the problem with Justin Trudeau isn’t that he does not say anything – it’s that he says too much. For example: electoral reform.
The phrase ‘electoral reform’ isn’t something you would hear coming out of the Conservative party. Largely, this is because the Conservatives have never wanted it. First-past-the-post suits them just fine. However, electoral reform is something many Canadians would like to see implemented. Knowing this, Justin Trudeau promised it in 2015. Once in power, with a majority government no less, the Grits began back-pedalling for the exact same reasons the Conservatives have never wanted it in the first place – it runs against the grain of partisan party politics.
I don’t think anyone is naive enough to think that a politician will keep every promise they make on the campaign trail. However, when that promise is a critical piece of the party’s overall platform, and one of the reasons they get elected – then yeah, expectations are different. It’s at this point the Liberals closed ranks and started with the lies. They made two entirely false statements to justify not following through on electoral reform: there wasn’t a consensus, and it could reduce local representation.
In 2017, local MP Chris Bittle made the case for the government’s retreat from electoral reform, even citing Fair Vote Canada. I knew it was bullshit, so I reached out to Réal Lavergne, the President of Fair Vote Canada, to find out if Mr. Bittle was accurately representing their conversations in his arguments. He wasn’t.
As Mr. Lavergne explained to me, it goes without saying that the nature of representation would change under PR (proportional representation). However, all the models of PR that have been proposed for Canada were regionally-based models that retained an important role for local representation. What can be said is that PR would have placed a greater burden on would-be MPs to gain support from a larger demographic of voters. Mr. Lavergne said he remembered meeting Mr. Bittle very well and that the issue of local representation had come up, but at no time was the possibility ever considered that St. Catharines would be left without a local representative.
The claim by the Prime Minister, echoed by Mr. Bittle, that there was no consensus for electoral reform, is a fabrication and pundits across the board were quick to denounce the self-serving nature of the government’s broken promise. Mr. Lavergne pointed out that Fair Vote Canada had been present in every session of expert testimony presented to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, and after reviewing the submissions found that 88 per cent of witnesses called before the committee recommended PR. The record of public consultations was equally clear. The tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in the public consultations were unequivocally and massively in favour of PR.
Electoral reform is an example of spreading ‘fake news’, essentially saying something that is categorically false to support your own narrative. However, the Trudeau Liberals have invented other ways of lying that are even more entertaining (or infuriating depending on your mood). One of the most inventive is the lie-by-contradiction tactic. Here, the best example is climate change.
Again, in 2015 Canadians were promised meaningful action on the issue of climate change. This would have been a relief after ten years of the Harper Conservatives pretending that it just wasn’t happening. So, in order to woo us, Justin Trudeau spoke often about how the Liberals would handle the climate file differently. They did. Just not the way environmentally minded voters were hoping they would.
Whereas Stephen Harper did nothing, Justin Trudeau did too much. The Liberals opted for the lie-by-contradiction method – implementing two policies that were in direct opposition to each other and so, cancelling out any meaningful change. They imposed carbon pricing while at the same time buying a pipeline. Given the fact that the Alberta Tar Sands are Canada’s most epic contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, passing carbon pricing, while simultaneously enabling much more oil to be pumped and transported, equates to handing out bailing buckets on the Titanic.
The lie-by-contradiction also figured in our foreign policy. In August 2018, Minister Chrystia Freeland set off a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia. Canadians felt about two minutes of pride seeing our government standing up for human rights. Then, we quickly remembered that that same government was also selling military hardware to the Saudis.
On both climate change and foreign policy, the Trudeau Government displayed a jaw-dropping ability to speak out of both sides of it’s mouth. Selling Albertans on a new pipeline, while at the same time selling the rest of Canada on carbon pricing. Tweeting about human rights in Saudi Arabia, while at the same time NOT cancelling an arms deal with the regime.
Finally, the piece de resistance. The ultimate dirty lie: just blame the other guy. In January 2019, ‘the other guy’, was Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR). This tactic backfired spectacularly, as JWR wasn’t willing to play the part of scapegoat. The fallout was glorious, and I say glorious only because the whole SNC ordeal, and Wilson-Raybould’s response gave Canadians a glimpse of what integrity looks like.
Wanting to protect a major corporation in his home riding from criminal prosecution, Justin Trudeau interfered with the rule of law, breaking codes of ethics in an attempt to influence the Attorney General’s decision. I can say this because in August 2019 the Ethics Commissionaire confirmed it in a report. This tactic could have worked if Jody had been willing to play ball – but she wasn’t.
The Prime Minister was made to look the ass day after day as the lies he tried to spin continually ran up against a wall of truth. First, he claimed the accusations were false. Then he said it could not be so because Raybould’s presence in cabinet said differently. The next day JWR quit cabinet. Trudeau was gobsmacked, and looked it. How dare a member of his rank and file not fall on the sword when called upon?
Even now, despite hours of testimony, recorded phone calls and even a report saying he did wrong, Trudeau still refuses to accept any responsibility. Actually wait, he accepted the Ethics Commissionaire’s report, but then denied he was responsible for that report found? I think that’s right. At least Gerald Butts is gone, that little Machiavellian turd. Actually, wait – he’s on Trudeau’s campaign team. Shit, these guys really don’t learn do they?
It is also worth noting that the Liberal double-speak, and SNC affair, has even further complicated our position on the international stage. At the same time the Prime Minister was interfering with the rule of law in the SNC case, he was using the principal to stand the moral high-ground against the Chinese government’s arguments regarding Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou – something that hasn’t gone unnoticed in Bejing. So that makes two cases where two of the world’s most repressive regimes, Beijing and Riyadh, appear more principled then Ottawa. Thanks Justin.
The sad reality is, we voters have few alternatives to Justin Trudeau. In next month’s issue, I’ll discuss some options on how I am considering facing this election. For now, all I know is that I can’t vote Liberal. I didn’t like Harper, and I don’t like Scheer, but at least I knew where they stood/stand. Trying to figure that out with the Liberals is like trying to nail jello to the wall – infuriating and pointless. I can watch a thief, but I can’t watch Justin Trudeau.