Roundup: A northern populism

Every time I see someone writing about Canadian populist movements and the dismissive concerns that it could never happen here, I always shake my head because it does happen. To an extent, we are living through it right now. The Canadian Press has been doing some surveys to try and discover what the “northern populism” might look like, and while it’s not quite the same as the forces that brought Donald Trump into power, it nevertheless exists here.

Part of the difference we see is that in Canada, those populist forces are less white than they are in the States or in Europe, but the focus remains the same, which are the perceived ills of the liberal (big or small L, take your pick) “elites.” It’s not a secret that the way that Conservatives like Jason Kenney targeted ethno-cultural minority communities was by focusing on socially conservative issues, whether it was their reticence to embrace same-sex marriage, or things like marijuana, those were cues that helped them tap into those communities the ways that other populist movements haven’t, who are too busy dog-whistling to appeal to the more blatant racists. And while there are those undercurrents in Canadian populist movements, for which things like immigration remains a bugaboo, Canadian conservatives have managed to tap into a particular vein of “it’s not our immigrant community that’s the problem, it’s those other immigrants that are,” and that set up a kind of justification that “hey, we can’t be racists because these immigrants don’t approve of that immigration policy,” never mind that yes, immigrants can be intolerant of other racial or ethno-cultural minority groups that aren’t their own.

But populism is not a spent force in Canada. We saw how it operated with Rob Ford, and it’s alive and well in Alberta as they try to harness it into an anti-NDP political party. To an extent, the federal Conservatives and NDP have largely abandoned their own ideological underpinnings to be right or left-flavoured populists, and yes, there is a great deal of populist rhetoric underpinning the Liberal electoral platform, with appeals to this nebulous middle class that has no data to back up their claims (like stagnant wages for one spectacular example). Was Justin Trudeau able to harness it more effectively than his opponents? Yes. Does that mean that the scourge of populism that gave the Americans the Trumpocalypse is absent here? Not at all. That the composition is slightly different is an academic difference, but not reassuring in the least.

Good reads:

  • Not only was Justin Trudeau marching in Toronto’s Pride parade yesterday, but so was AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
  • More duties may be levied against Canadian softwood lumber today.
  • Senior government sources say no shuffle this summer, which makes a lot of sense considering the previous shuffle.
  • Ralph Goodale says a new RCMP commissioner may mean it’s time to change the Force’s governance structure.
  • CRA is looking to tighten up their tax amnesty program for voluntary disclosures.
  • The House of Commons shut down their email systems as a precaution yesterday after the attack on the UK Parliament’s servers over the weekend.
  • A Canadian soldier will be the first woman to command the Queens’ Guard at Buckingham Palace today.
  • Andrew Scheer has named rookie MP Alain Rayes as his new Quebec lieutenant.
  • Scheer also (finally) distanced himself from Kellie Leitch’s tweets about Syrian refugees as domestic abusers, and says no free trade deal with China.
  • Historian Matthew Hayday takes a second look at the legacy of Hector-Louis Langevin, and finds that the primary sources lacking for his accusers.
  • Craig Forcese digs into C-59 yet again, and has new observations including on issues that he didn’t appreciate were suffering under the old laws.
  • Stephen Saideman points out why Thomas Mulcair is right and wrong to question the record-breaking sniper shot, and the broader question it raises.
  • Chantal Hébert says that Quebec sovereignty is now an issue in the deep freeze.
  • Andrew Potter notes the effect of not having an existential conflict for our country’s existence has on our sense of national self.

Odds and ends:

Here’s some cool drone shots of national landmarks in Ottawa.

Here is a look at the life of Lady Aberdeen, wife of a Governor General and early Canadian feminist.

2 thoughts on “Roundup: A northern populism

  1. On the Langevin question, I wonder if activists and the media will now go after Sir John A. and demand his statue on the Hill be taken down and all buildings and places bearing his name be re-named. Then we have Mackenzie King and the Jewish Boat People of WWII he turned them down and his Cabinet supported him. Should they to be attacked and denounced? There is no end to the list. We could start with Jacques Cartier etc. But I doubt it, activists are only interested in political capital of the moment. Trudeau understands that all too well.

  2. Re: the “northern populism”. It would have been nice of Canadian Press or Ekos to provide some basic data about their survey. Couldn’t find anything anywhere.

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