PHOTOS: Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau during a visit to Edmonton last year. Below: NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It should have been natural for the leader of the NDP to finally be the one who clearly called out Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his unprincipled and unpatriotic campaign of dog-whistle bigotry.

It should also have been Thomas Mulcair who spoke up unequivocally for the tens of thousands of Canadians who have watched in horror as our country’s life-saving regime of gun-control legislation was gutted piece by piece by Mr. Harper in a cynical game of wedge politics.

But this week it was Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, who did both those things without equivocation and who, it is predicted here, will benefit from the fact that, sometimes, fortune favours the brave, as opposed to the studiously cautious.

Yes, Mr. Mulcair expressed his carefully worded disapproval of the prime minister’s sneaky campaign of distraction, which is a fair description of Mr. Harper’s un-Christian effort to use the image of a niqab to appeal to the basest instincts among some of our neighbours by promising to protect us from a piece of cloth precisely no one will ever seek the right to wear in a civil service office.

This whole niqab scam reminds me of the deplorable effort I covered during the 1980s by the buffoons of the Royal Canadian Legion to prevent observant Sikhs from wearing turbans in their beer parlours. The sodden Legionnaires were apparently unaware religious Sikhs don’t drink alcohol. As Mr. Harper’s advisors well know, the likelihood is even smaller any observant monotheist woman of any faith inclined to cover her face would be clamouring to work in a co-ed government office!

But it was Mr. Trudeau – and former Progressive Conservative Newfoundland premier Danny Williams – who called Mr. Harper’s manipulation what it is: a dangerous and ugly game of pitting Canadian against Canadian for electoral gain that is unworthy of the office of prime minister.

“We have had women attacked in the streets for wearing hijabs and niqabs,” Mr. Trudeau stated. “This is not Canada, and the kind of leadership and divisive politics that he’s playing is dangerous and irresponsible.”

Or, as Mr. Williams remarked: “To try and use those kinds of tactics to pit people against people in the country so that they end up voting for his party and he gets re-elected, I just think that’s quite shameful.”

It may or may not be too late to turn the tide of bigotry Mr. Harper has tried to unleash, but it is said here that making the effort, even at this late date, will do Mr. Trudeau no harm.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals were even bolder on the issue of gun control, which the Conservatives may have forgotten is a wedge issue that has the potential to cut both ways.

After all, the members of Conservative Party base who have singled out Muslim Canadians as their biggest obsession and the creepy cadre of gun nuts who dream of turning Canada into a Wild West firearms bazaar like the United States are for the most part the same angry group of wedge voters. So it’s not as if the sensible safety measures suggested in the Liberal platform on firearms are going to drive any more Conservative gun nuts to the polling stations, or deprive other parties of their support.

The gun nuts, insensitive as ever to the fact the death of another young woman at the hands of a former boyfriend with access to firearms is still fresh in the minds of Canadians, rushed screeching to attack the Liberal leader for demanding a few modest and sensible limits to their anti-social hobby.

Count on it, they will be out there posting their 12,000-word ripostes to the Liberal policy – and thereby reminding everyone just how obsessive and dangerous their lobby has become since being discovered by Mr. Harper as way to wedge votes away from other parties in rural communities.

The NDP, alas, was being circumspect again yesterday about that issue too, notwithstanding the fact it is a natural for the Opposition party’s base. According to media accounts, NDP spokespeople were gingerly hesitating to respond to requests for comments on the party’s gun-control policy.

Well, it may or may not be too late for Angry Tom – the leader many of us New Democrats supported because he seems to have what it takes to take on Mr. Harper – to put in an appearance and turn things around for the NDP.

Personally, I never thought Canadians minded Mr. Mulcair’s once-evident anger. God knows, there’s enough in this country to be angry about! But ever since some brainiac had the inspiration to dress Mr. Mulcair up in an Angry Bird costume last Halloween, the possibility of expressing that real and justified anger seems to have spooked the NDP’s strategic brain trust.

One thing is increasingly clear, the NDP’s mild-mannered, over-cautious, Adrian-Dix-style campaign is clearly not working.

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Still no response on St. Albert Conservative’s position on reproductive rights

Oddly, there’s been no response from Richard Plain, campaign manager for the Conservative candidate here in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding, about Michael Cooper’s views on women’s reproductive rights.

Alert readers will recall that Dr. Plain asserted earlier this week that Mr. Cooper’s endorsement by the Campaign Life Coalition – an extreme anti-abortion group that deleted a page from its website stating Mr. Cooper had indicated he opposed women’s right to an abortion in all circumstances – was a mistake, and the candidate had never filled out the group’s questionnaire.

But Dr. Plain did not answer emails asking what, then, Mr. Cooper truly believes on the issue, which is an important one to many voters.

St. Albert residents will have the opportunity, presumably, to ask Mr. Cooper themselves at tonight’s Chamber of Commerce all-candidates’ forum, which is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at the St. Albert Inn and Suites, 156 St. Albert Trail.

Join the Conversation


  1. The Chrétien Liberals’ incompetent implementation of the long-gun registry screwed the pooch for any reasonable gun control for the foreseeable future. While IMHO the concept was based on a valid public policy purpose, the reality of the thing was a billion-dollar boondoggle.

    A sensible policy on firearms would allow legitimate sport and subsistence hunters to own and transport appropriate firearms to engage in that activity to, but restrict or even ban weapons whose only credible use is to kill other people. Registration of sporting firearms should be simple, seamless, and at a reasonable cost, but it should be required in order that society, in the form of the police, can remove firearms from a home in cases where there has been domestic violence. (You can’t seize weapons that you don’t know exist, after all).

    As for “then only criminals will have guns”: double the sentence of anyone with a criminal conviction or record caught with a
    firearm. Rob a convenience store or steal a car with a gun? Serve double the time. Carry a gun while on parole? Go back to finish your original sentence, and then serve the entire sentence again. I think we would see a dramatic reduction in criminals with guns.

    Finally, let Donald Trump have his wall along the Medicine Line; maybe that will keep illegal US guns out of Canada ;-).

  2. Good analysis, as usual, David. However, what many appear to forget is that this illogical, intemperate suggestion of banning the niquab – “….a piece of cloth precisely no one will ever seek the right to wear in a civil service office” – was orginally proposed by Quebec’s Liberal goverrment (Harper’s orginal point).

    1. sorry but analysis was way off, first off our gun control measures are absurd. i get a daily background check as does 1.9 million other canadians so the whole background check is already in place, the only thing harper was able to accomplish was getting rid of the long gun registry thankfully, and made it so i didn’t need to ask permission to transport my pistol to and from the range or gunsmith, im still not allowed at all to make any side trips with it in my vehicle it just removed the polices power to make decisions which is not their job. also he made it so any new laws the RCMP made about firearms could be repealed by the government. the liberals want the police to be able to make laws which is illegal but they dont care.

      1. I agree. No un-elected law enforcement body should have the right to decide which firearms are suddenly re-classified as restricted or prohibited with a single stroke of a pen. In doing so, they not only turn law abiding gun owners into criminals overnight, but increasingly restrictive gun laws which affect only the law abiding, will not get the criminals off the streets with their (illegal acquired) handguns.

        The Liberal know next to nothing about firearms, and rely on the RCMP to make up the rules for them. In doing so, law abiding gun owners become second class citizens, viewed with suspicion in an ever oppressive society that will still be no safer.

  3. The NDP are like that reformed alcoholic you invited along to your party, aren’t they?

    You’ll spend half of the evening admiring how responsible they are, dressed in their shiny new suits, and engaging their fellow-party-goers with quick-witted yet polite observations. You may even be patting yourself on the back for the small part you played in turning them away from the demon drink.

    Until you realize how dull and boring your party really is. The truth is these guys were a lot more fun when they had a few drinks in them and were filling the room with their wild-eyed crazy talk about nationalizing industries and stringing bankers up by their gonads. Those were the days.

  4. For some of us though, the Liberal Party of Canada is really good at the social democrat double speak during election campaigns, but once in power, have been as right wing as the Conservatives.
    So, traditionally, what they say during campaigns and what happens when they form government, have been different things.
    So, in the big picture, we definitely listen to anything the Liberals say (as well as the Conservatives, of course) with a jaundiced eye.
    And, there have been too many of the 90s Liberal guys involved in the Liberal campaign for our liking.,,,,the guys that were around during the Adscam Scandal, the robbing of $ billions from the EI fund, the slashing of social programs to balance the budget/deal with the deficit, etc.
    Have we heard Trudeau come down hard on Harper for the years of unnecessary $billion dollar corporate tax cuts and the amassing of the $600 billion or so that is being sat on and not being trickled down?
    For us, it’s still the ‘mouseland’ black cats, white cats and mice scenario with regard to the Liberals, and the Conservatives and those of us mice who are not the fat cats nor vote for them.
    “Susan on the soapbox” did a blog last year on ‘mouseland’ and “why people vote against their self interest.”
    It is an apt read.

    1. While I agree with you regarding the Liberals’ and Conservatives’ history of relative congruency on economic policy, and your observation that the Liberals have long tended to campaign from the left but govern from the right; on human rights, social and “values” issues there has been a much sharper line drawn between the Liberals and the HarperCons since the hostile takeover of the federal PC Party by the Reform Party (inaccurately labelled as a “merger”), Mr Trudeau’s incoherent position on C-51 notwithstanding. The Liberal Party is, after all, the party that brought us the Charter of Rights, a piece of constitutional law that infuriates the HarperCons. I can’t see either a PM Trudeau or a PM Mulcair actively and openly challenging the Supreme Court’s authority to make case law and interpret the Charter’s application to laws passed by Parliament. And yet, we have seen multiple iterations of this sort of behaviour from Harper and his minions, to the point where I am mildly surprised they have never been cited by the Supremes for contempt of court.

      So, while the Mouseland metaphor truly does hold in matters related to economic activity, such as work and labour, banking and finance, taxes and benefits, I do not feel it is as useful in considering the other axis of the political compass, that related to the level of government control over individuals’ personal behaviour.

      Thank you.

  5. Excellent comments so far this morning. I am quite aware, as Anonymous points out, that you can’t really trust the Liberals to keep their promises … or at least all of their promises. In fairness, I’m not sure you can trust any party to stick with everything promised in the heat of an election campaign. But, that said, we DO know what PM Harper will do, and it is certainly worse than any of the alternatives.

    I am also quite aware of the inspiration for the PM’s hate-based sleight of hand – it was deplorable when the PQ did it and it’s deplorable now. It demeans the office of the PM, but what does that man care?

    I don’t think the problem – even metaphorically speaking – is that the NDP are less fun now than when they were less polished. It’s that under Mr. Mulcair they seem to be drifting away from fundamental social democratic principles (what are us real New Democrats to do?) and running a terrible election campaign to boot. It’s all the worse for the fact its a style of campaign that Adrian Dix proved in 2013 doesn’t work.

    Finally, Jerry is clearly right about the harm done to the cause of sensible gun legislation by the scandalous implementation of the long-gun registry by the Chretien Government. That does not make the Harper Government’s policy – which is tantamount to manslaughter for political gain – any less scandalous. On the whole, most of us would rather be robbed than murdered by a “law abiding gun owner.”

    1. “…and running a terrible election campaign to boot. It’s all the worse for the fact it’s a style of campaign that Adrian Dix proved in 2013 doesn’t work.”

      No less a personage than Brian Mulroney called Thomas Mulcair “the best Opposition Leader since John Diefenbaker.” After October 19 the NDP standard bearer may have to prove he’s the best third party leader since David Lewis.

  6. First of all, thanks David for providing an excellent blog of political events both provincially and federally. Just recently made this marvelous discovery. Having said that I have been a political junkie long enough to know how the ‘big L’ liberals roll. Campaign as progressive then rule as Tory light.
    Not saying that Justin Trudeau doesn’t feel the pull of his moral compass it’s just that you may be pumping up his tires prematurely given his support to the Harper governments Bill C-15 and qualified support of C-24.
    And before you throw Thomas Mulcair under the bus in total Adrian Dix fashion, give the NDP leader some credit for his consistency in supporting our civil liberties. After all he is the one paying most of the political cost from Harpers disgusting use of this wedge issue.

    1. Believe me, I am not attacking Mr. Mulcair’s performance as Opposition leader, which has been exemplary. The campaign, however, seems to have been very bad, very passing and far too far to the right, at the expense of the NDP’s base. Well, perhaps I’ll be proved wrong in the final few hours. One can hope. But I see the polls too, and it doesn’t have that feel.

  7. “…a Wild West firearms bazar…”

    Sorry to sound so niggly, David, but I believe that should be “bazaar”.

    1. Not at all. Thank you for pointing this out. It’s a typo, and I hate typos. I rely on readers to be the editor I don’t have.

  8. And it is conveniently ignored for anti-gun ideological reasons that if the woman had a firearm she’d be alive today. The more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens the safer we all are.

    1. My, the Harper bashers are out in force here, aren’t they? There is no “dog whistle bigotry” with Harper. Either we allow the Niqab under the disguise of “diversity,” knowing full well that it is not a requirement under Islam (it is a purely a cultural requirement), or we ban it. Sorry, did I just offend someone’s politically correct views? Or should we go along with Trudeau’s shrill accusation that Harper is pitting Canadians against “Canadians.” Indeed, Zunera Ishaq is not a Canadian. She is a Muslim Pakistani woman with Canadian citizenship. The same goes for Mohamed Fahmy, the “Canadian” journalist. Fahmy has spent 28 of his 41 years outside Canada. he entered Egypt as an Egyptian citizen under his Egyptian passport. But as soon as he is thrown in jail, he suddenly declares himself to be a “Canadian.” How convenient, and the CBC continued to brainwash the masses about this poor, beleaguered “Canadian” journalist until he came “home” to Canada, blaming Harper for his suffering.

      During the 2010 shooting match between Hezbollah terrorists on the Lebanese border and Israeli defense forces, Hundreds of Lebanese with Canadian passports who had not lived in the Great White North for years, suddenly demanded that the Canadian government bring them “home.” Our politicians are simply too stupid, or too afraid, to stop the mass flow of “immigrants” coming here for a free ride, easy access to Canadian passports, and with no desire to foster any real loyalty to the country. It’s time to stop calling them “new Canadians,” cut down on the insane number of people flooding into this country (one million every four years), and put the Multicultural Act through the shredder.

      I was born and raised in Scotland, and have lived here for well over 20 years. Am I a Canadian? No, I am a
      Canadian citizen, but with no loyalty to any other country except Canada. My children are Canadians and my grandchildren will cement the roots we have put down here. Even Canadian comedian, Russell Peters calls “real Canadians,” the ones who have been here for at least three generations. And he wasn’t joking at the time, either,

      Now, as for the ‘creepy cadre of gun nuts,” please show me when the last mass shooting happened at a gun club or a gun show, here? I mean, all those “creepy” duck hunters just can’t be trusted, can they? If Trudeau wins, he will introduce a new slew of gun control measures to keep us all “safe”, eh junior? Yet Trudeau accuses Harper of targeting Muslims, but thinks nothing of targeting law abiding gun owners as a vote grabber. yet the lefties never
      seriously consider going after the real culprits – the criminals. Law abiding gun owners submit to a safety training program, a police background check, acquire a firearms license, abide by the strict storage rules for their firearms, and are subject to police inspections at any time. The criminals, on the other hand, smuggle guns (including “banned types” into Canada from the USA, sell them on the street to other criminals, who then use them in targeted hits, robberies, and will, if necessary, shoot down any one in close proximity to the crime who may be a potential witness. Guns are used in Canada over 60,000 times a year for self-defense, mainly against wildlife, and sometimes to scare off violent criminals who threaten rural property owners, as the nearest RCMP detachment can be 30-45 minutes away. However, one only has to listen to the recorded 911 calls made by terrified women in the USA, as an estranged spouse, an ex-boyfriend, a burglar or even a convicted rapist is busy breaking into their homes while the police were too far away to get their in time . Barking dogs did not stop them, burglar alarms did not stop them, locked doors did not stop them and the 911 operator did not stop them. The only thing that stopped those intruders, was the gun in the house that the potential victims had access to and were able to use it. The insane lefty-feminist notion that a Canadian woman who is raped in a dark alleyway then strangled to death with her own panties, is somehow “morally superior” to an American women who is able to shoot her attacker, simply beggars belief. Liberalism is a mental disorder, and Canada is full of loons who welcome the “hug-a-thug” philosophy will make us a safer country. Trudeau’s idea that placing ever more restrictions on law abiding gun owners will somehow protect us from armed criminals is lunacy, and he knows it. But why bother going after the criminals and their unregistered handguns, when squeezing law abiding gun owners with more regulations makes him look good, while achieving precisely nothing?

      As for me and my house, we will vote Conservative this day!

  9. It’s fascinating to read these discussions seven years on. Who was right? Who made predictions that were the most salient in retrospect? Very interesting.

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