Roundup: Provocation theatre

I have been giving a good deal of thought to this whole situation with Rachael Harder and the Status of Women committee, and it wasn’t until Andrew Scheer went on CTV’s Your Morning yesterday to decry the “intolerance” of Liberal MPs for a “strong, competent, dynamic young woman” that it started to click. “The Liberals are trying to politicize this. I actually find it disgusting that the Liberals would treat a young, female Member of Parliament in this way, and it just shows the intolerance of the Liberal party,” Scheer went on to say, which is hilarious because he’s the one who made the very political move of putting his critic into the role of committee chair, which is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of the rules and to facilitate discussion, and who isn’t supposed to vote other than to break a tie.

It was then that I finally understood what was going on. Andrew Scheer is trying to be a Dollarama knock-off Ann Coulter/Milo Yiannopoulos provocateur.

The signs were all there, from his preoccupation with free speech on campus, to his appropriation of the kinds of alt-right language being used to weaponize free speech across North America, and this move with Harder fits that bill entirely. I’m pretty sure that Scheer knew exactly what he was doing when he put someone who was avowedly pro-life into the Status of Women portfolio as a poke in the eye to the Liberals (for whom there are still some unhealed wounds over Trudeau’s dictate that the party is a pro-choice, full-stop), and it was an even bigger deliberate provocation to try and put her into the chair position of that committee, no matter how inappropriate it was to put a critic into that role. Of course, this is Scheer, so his timing has been inept enough that he created his own distraction from the tax proposal issue that he has been all sound and fury over (then tried to blame the Liberals for creating the distraction). It was also his way of provoking another round of discussion about the abortion issue without his having to deliberately raise it – he just ensured that the Liberals and NDP would do it for him, and he could stand back and accuse them of “politicizing” the issue, and then getting Harder to play victim.

Of course, some of the pundit class is trying to brand this as the Liberals being “in contempt of Parliament” (which is a specific Thing, and this is not it – and when you point that out, the correction is “having contempt for Parliament.”) Which is ridiculous. Walking out on votes is as much a parliamentary tradition as filibusters and any other procedural protest. And when it’s being done because someone wants to play provocateur in order to virtue signal to a portion of their base that they want to solidify, it’s all the more eye-roll inducing.

Good reads:

  • Bill Morneau faced angry Canadians at a town hall session in Oakville, but assured them that they would make amendments to the proposals.
  • There are concerns that Canadian NAFTA negotiators aren’t taking issues of data localization (which affects Canadians’ privacy rights) seriously in the talks.
  • CBC offers four potential fixes for the tax change proposals.
  • A New Brunswick judge found the RCMP guilty on three out of four violations of the Labour Code with respect to the Moncton shootings in 2014.
  • Senators may push back if the bill on Access to Information reform tries to meddle in their disclosure, as it would be considered an overreach by government.
  • Candice Bergen complains that she was denied a visa for a visit to China when she didn’t want to fill out all of the details on their form.
  • Hunter Tootoo says that allocation of funds based on population instead of need severely disadvantages regions like the North.
  • The government spent $110,000 to fight an appeal for a $6000 procedure for a First Nations girl. The Federal Court said the government was in the right.
  • The Canadian Space Agency is part of the planning stages for a new lunar space station.
  • More post-TPP consultations are taking place on an agreement sans-America.
  • The Lobbying Commissioner’s office could exhaust its budget thanks to a lawsuit involved against Apotex, which Apotex is trying to dismiss as a fishing expedition.
  • Jason Markusoff looks at the Jason Kenney/Brian Jean leadership bids in Alberta as a kind of Parti Albertois endeavour.
  • The outgoing Thomas Mulcair talks about how he’s left the NPD in good shape and solidified as a national party.
  • Chantal Hébert explains why the Netflix deal has generated outrage in Quebec.
  • Susan Delacourt notes that much of the government’s social media ad spending is directed abroad rather than to Canadians.
  • My weekend column looks at how the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer are becoming an omnishambles.

Odds and ends:

The premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna, won’t seek re-election.