When the Truckers Convoy arrived in Ottawa, the Conservative Party of Canada hopped on its bandwagon. Michael Harris writes:
The Conservative party lurched to the populist right in the very first days of dysfunction in Ottawa. It abruptly changed leaders, championed the truckers, and came after Justin Trudeau personally. They were betting that with the help of evangelicals, angry blue collar workers and the usual fatigue with any three-term government, the truckers would chauffeur them back into power.
Pierre Poilievre took his inspiration from Donald Trump:
He’s employed many Trumpian tactics, including attacking the media and a nebulous class of “gatekeepers,” exploiting social media’s honeycomb of echo chambers, darkly characterizing the nation as “broken” and demonizing Trudeau the way the MAGA wing of the GOP villainized Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.
A year later, the hazards of MAGA emulation daily become more manifest, as a wildly unhinged Trump threatens “death and destruction” for being indicted and lionizes the seditionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol building. As the MAGA faithful feed on crazy conspiracies and big lies, Republican leaders afraid to draw their wrath genuflect to Trump’s cult of personality.
It’s an extremely dangerous game, but Canada’s Conservatives were tempted to believe they could manage the risks for a simple reason: desperation. The Liberals had won a minority government in September 2021, their third consecutive victory under Trudeau’s leadership. Although the Conservatives won the popular vote, they took just 119 seats, compared to 160 for the Liberals and 25 for the NDP. The Conservative party lost seats in key regions despite leading in the early polls, and they ended up with fewer seats than ousted leader Andrew Scheer had won.
The Convoy brought out the crazies:
On Feb. 3, 2022, far-right Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski travelled to Coutts to address the blockade: “They have waged a war against our way of life, against freedoms that were given to us by our God.” While hinting ominously that bloodshed might be required, Pawlowski urged the protesters to not lose their momentum and not give up their power.
Arrested five days later at his home and charged with mischief for inciting people to commit criminal acts, the preacher awaits a May verdict in what he somewhat grandly referred to as “the trial of the century.” In the meantime Pawlowski has managed to be the story of the moment in Alberta for recording his startling conversation with Premier Danielle Smith in which she pledged sympathy and admiration and said she’d been regularly checking on his case with the province’s justice officials.
There was an unmistakable evangelical Christian undercurrent to the protests across Canada. Biblical references were visible everywhere, and there were curbside sermons from preachers in Ottawa. One sign read, “We must obey God rather than men.”
These were -- and are -- Pierre Poilievre's people. Canadians should treat what happened yesterday in Manhattan as an early warning.
Image: Cole Burston