Tuesday, March 07, 2023

We Know Who He Is

Pierre Poilievre is following what by now is a well-worn path. He's attacking the experts. Max Fawcett writes:

Take his most recent attempt to portray experts as some sort of enemy of the people, a view he deliberately highlighted in a tweet over the weekend. “Liberals say common people should shut up and do what the ‘experts’ tell them,” he said. “Here’s the thing: the common people are the experts.”

This is a pretty obvious nod at the more conspiratorial elements in his coalition, who would love nothing more than to re-litigate the science around the COVID-19 pandemic and commiserate about the evils of the World Economic Forum. It’s also self-evident nonsense, given that experts are by definition uncommon, at least in their specific area of expertise. Then there’s the reality that, by and large, we probably should do what the experts tell us. I mean, yes, you could fix that plumbing or electrical problem in your house yourself, and I suppose you could try performing the surgery you need if you’re really feeling brave. But there, as with most things, it’s probably best to just let the experts handle it.

That's because the experts are not impressed by what he presents as solutions:

Poilievre’s personal animus towards experts is somewhat understandable, given how often they clap back at his policies and proposals. His attacks on the Bank of Canada and deliberate misrepresentation of the carbon tax’s role in driving inflation have been criticized by any number of economists and academics, while his poorly timed promotion of cryptocurrency remains a popular source of mockery for people who actually understand financial markets. His ongoing campaign against safe injection sites has been rejected by any number of actual experts in the field, including Benjamin Perrin, the former justice and public safety adviser to Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

But Poilievre's disdain for experts is an obvious red flag:

As the leader of the official Opposition and the person most likely to become Canada’s next prime minister, his disdain for experts — and let’s be clear: he means the highly educated ones — is a problem. It’s the same anti-intellectual pablum that populists around the world, from Donald Trump (“I love the poorly educated”) to Boris Johnson, have been feeding their supporters for years. Indeed, as American historian (and former adviser to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush) Bruce Bartlett wrote back in 2020, it’s been getting served up by conservative politicians for decades now. “Since time immemorial, pseudo-populist demagogues and right-wingers have pandered to the uneducated and least sophisticated members of society. They know that a quality education will tend to make people dismiss the wrong-headedness and excessive simplicity of the conservative worldview, because education encourages critical thinking, open-mindedness, and truth-seeking.”

If we want to know where this might lead, we need only look across the Atlantic to Great Britain. In an interview a few weeks before the fateful Brexit vote in 2016, then-secretary of state for justice and lord chancellor Michael Gove told Sky News: “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts with organizations with acronyms saying they know what is best.” And in some respects, he was right. The British people narrowly voted in favour of leaving the European Union, a decision cheered on by Canadian conservatives like Poilievre, former Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer and former Alberta premier Jason Kenney.

We know who Poilievre is.

Image: The National Observer


lungta said...

Four out of ten conservatives suffer from willful ignorance.
The other six enjoy it.
Trite, stupid political joke.
Unfortunately also true.
... Observation over 70 years of a person living in a 8/10 conservative voting district. There are no more teaching moments.

Owen Gray said...

I tend to agree with you, lungta. Progress seems far off.

the salamander said...

Does Poilievre include Jordan Peterson & himself
in the Expert or common person cohort ? 🦎

Owen Gray said...

Good question, sal. I suppose Poilievre only deals with those who are as expert as he believes himself to be.

John B. said...

When he was Stephen Harper’s advisor on courting the low information voter, Patrick Muttart put it this way. He said the party wasn’t interested in expanding its appeal to voters who tried to be well informed. Go for the ones who want easy answers to complex issues. Get them excited about something that will tie their brains in a knot and they’ll let you do their thinking for them, as long as you can keep it spiced up. The bonus is that they’re generally the type that will never admit they’ve been wrong.

Ben Burd said...

Well I hope he isn't a Pol Pot sycophant - we all know what he did - executed the experts. Probably not a Canadian thing but is worth mentioning!

jrkrideau said...

Shouldn't Poilievre be wearing a hat or hairnet?

Owen Gray said...

They understand their base, John. It doesn't appear to be expanding. On the other hand, it's not shrinking.

Owen Gray said...

An interesting question jrk. Something tells me he hasn't spent a long time with the common people who work in restaurant kitchens.

Owen Gray said...

I doubt he'd go that far, Ben. But he obviously has no regard for them.