Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Testing Our Common Courtesy

Andrea Mandel-Campbell wonders if Pierre Poilievre will be devoured by the tiger he has unleashed:

Like the dwarves who dug too deep for riches in the mines of Moria, Poilievre has plumbed the depths of social media for conspiracy theories and grievance rhetoric, coming up with campaign gold by embracing the freedom convoy and anti-vaxxers. It has earned him a ton cash for party coffers and a record number of new memberships.

The question now is whether Poilievre can contain the populist beast he has unleashed by channelling his inner Stephen Harper, or whether he’d rather hop on its back, ring firmly embedded, and burn the place down.

Poilievre is the political offspring of former prime minister Harper and has copped shamelessly from his playbook, demanding the ouster of the Bank of Canada governor — much like Harper launched an all-out assault on the Parliamentary Budget Officer and canned the head of Statistics Canada.

But Harper, while keen to anti-establishment grievance, was surprisingly moderate. He leaned into the bread and butter Conservative brand of lower taxes and balanced budgets. He had no big, bold endeavour or signature achievement, so much as he avoided the pitfalls of national unity crises or political scandal.

Indeed, there was no so-called “secret agenda,” just the skewering of the odd sacred cow. He went to Davos and partnered with the Gates Foundation to vaccinate children in developing countries — all QAnon code words now.

It appears, though, that the word "moderate" is not in Poilievre's dictionary:

Poilievre will need to decide who his constituents are; that is, if he still has a choice. As one long-time Conservative MP recently told me, “he’s caught a tiger by the tail and he may not be able to control what he has created.”

If he can’t, Canada will be the worse for it. While we are far from perfect, we have managed to retain a degree of common courtesy, civility and respect in our public discourse that is in increasingly short supply these days.

Most certainly, Poilievre is testing our sense of common courtesy.

Image: YouTube


Lorne said...

Canada will also be the poorer for it, Owen, by not having a viable alternative to the Liberals, who have been showing many signs of slipping into the complacency that has traditionally plagued them. Poilievre's extremism will only lengthen what promises to be an increasingly bloated regime.

Owen Gray said...

Poilievre is all about opposition, Lorne. But his kind of opposition is not good for the country.

John B. said...

Of course there was no Harper "secret agenda". It was a strawman that he repetitively exploited by continuing to go on about the accusation long after some or other critic might have used the term. He was happy to take the electoral support of right-wing crackpots, but he didn't care one bit about their crazy concerns. His agenda was pure market-libertarianism and self interest.

Anonymous said...

Not having a viable alternative to the Liberals may be a good thing. Harper's charming personality and appealing policies didn't win him three terms as PM. We all know that vote splitting did. Poilievre is counting on the same.

The real problem is that none of the political parties offer the average voter anything of substance, leaving voters to decide on the basis of whose position on stupid cultural issues they hate the most. It's all political theatre that lets the oligarchs running the show off the hook for destroying our environment and sense of common purpose to satisfy their greed.


Owen Gray said...

Harper welcomed the support of social conservatives, John. But he did nothing for them. You're right. He saw everything through the lens of economics.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Cap. Political theatre these days is the key to electoral success.

John B. said...

Cap's reference to "stupid cultural wars" put me in mind of this.

I never acquired much of understanding of Marxism, but I knew some hard-ass Marxist-Leninist-MZT guys back in the early 70s. One thing that I got in a very strong way from all these guys was that they regarded the culture wars as distractions that were often promoted by the capitalist and political classes to take public attention away from what they regarded as the main barriers to human progress. Yet, over the last few years a lot of right-wing propagandists have been associating some of the extremes of what they identify as the "left" as "Marxist" in nature. Who's distracting whom from what this time?

Owen Gray said...

Good question, John. You find echoes of this in Trump's complaints about the "radical left."

Trailblazer said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Not having a viable alternative to the Liberals may be a good thing. Harper's charming personality and appealing policies didn't win him three terms as PM. We all know that vote splitting did. Poilievre is counting on the same.

With Singh as the NDP leader! it's almost a forgone conclusion we will be saddled with Trudeau for another term.
We need a strong NDP to balance the power of the ineffective big two!
I worry that we could be destined to two powerhouses as seen in the US; both controlled by big donors.


Trailblazer said...

Trump's complaints about the "radical left."

Sadly radical is the theme of the day; be it right or left.
I put it down to information and dis information overload since the advent of the internet and social media.
Information overload in an age of distraction and sub critical thinking education , possibly due to teachers pre occupation with compensation rather than education , has lead us to the point of confusion; well many of us anyway.


Trailblazer said...

@ john B
never acquired much of understanding of Marxism,

Got to give Marx his due when he said capitalism will destroy itself.
The winner take all of modern capitalism is not what was envisaged.


Owen Gray said...

It's absolutely essential that we don't devolve into a two-party nation, TB.

Owen Gray said...

Social media have no gatekeepers, TB. Quite literally, anything goes.

Owen Gray said...

Unfettered capitalism leads to a war of all against all, TB. Marx knew that.