PHOTOS: Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, a hard-working and talented former Edmonton Transit bus driver. Below: Alberta Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason, a hard-working and talented former Edmonton Transit bus driver. Mr. Sohi, a Liberal, and Mr. Mason, a New Democrat, are both used to cheap conservative shots about their former job. Also, federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly (La Presse photo); Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership front-runner Jason Kenney; and Mississauga-Erin Mills Liberal MP Iqra Khalid.

The refusal by Conservative MPs to agree to an anti-Islamophobia motion and their mockery of an Edmonton Liberal MP for having once worked as a bus driver are both additional evidence their once-great national party, like its Republican counterpart in the United States, is increasingly controlled by an extremist, offensive fringe.

Not that additional proof was really needed. The blowhards and bigots crowding the Conservative Party of Canada’s interminable leadership race should be evidence enough.

Of course they’re inspired by the unlikely success of Donald Trump south of the 49th Parallel. Indeed, candidate Chris Alexander, the “lock ’er up” guy, tried to go full-Trump at a rally Wednesday organized by Rebel Media to attack the Liberals’ anti-Islamophobia motion. So you have to ask, was Stephen Harper the only thing holding these clowns back from making utter fools of themselves?

We have just had a terrorist massacre in this country in which six people were shot in the back, murdered while they worshipped, apparently by an alt-right anti-immigration fanatic of the type courted by several Conservative leadership candidates. Yet the party’s federal caucus has decided the House of Commons mustn’t name the religion of the victims in a motion condemning religious violence because …

Because what? Because the facts don’t go to their extremist wing’s constant narrative that if you’re not a Christian, you’re an outsider, and outsiders cause trouble? Because they want Canadians to forget what happened in Quebec City as quickly as possible so they can get back to pandering to bigots and thugs like the trolls calling for Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP who tabled the anti-Islamophobia motion, to be murdered?

“What are they scared of? They’re scared of denouncing Islamophobia and by not denouncing Islamophobia they are actually contributing to the problem,” said Liberal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly of the Opposition MPs. She nailed it.

Meanwhile, the mockery in the House of Commons by Conservative MPs of Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi’s former career as a bus driver, which he had the temerity to mention in response to the murder of a transit driver in Winnipeg, certainly gives the lie to the party’s claim to speak for working class Canadians.

Presumably they reckon you have to have an MBA or a law degree, or run a business, to be worth listening to.

You could just dismiss this as garden-variety boorishness, I guess, or pretend the Tory MPs were laughing at something else – which seems to be what Conservative spokespeople were doing today. But the attitude it expresses strongly suggests the highly ideological “boys in short pants” from the previous PM’s office remain in charge of the party, but without any of Mr. Harper’s strategic savvy.

Being an elected official from Alberta, of course, this treatment is unlikely to shock the hard-working and talented Mr. Sohi. The provincial wing of the same group of people have for many years mocked former Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason for having done the same job.

Like Mr. Sohi, Mr. Mason, now the minister of infrastructure in Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP Government, is one of Alberta’s most thoughtful and capable elected officials. Also like Mr. Sohi, Mr. Mason was a strong union supporter in the days he drove an Edmonton Transit bus. So I imagine there was a bit of anti-union animus built into the Cons’ offensive guffaws too.

If there’s an obvious lesson from this, it’s that you’re almost guaranteed better representation if you vote for a bus driver than, say, whatever it is that populates the Conservative benches nowadays.

A few Alberta voters are likely to have an opportunity soon to demonstrate whether or not they’ve been paying attention. Two federal by-elections in Calgary will be announced very soon – one in the Calgary-Heritage riding to replace Mr. Harper, and one in Calgary-Midnapore to replace his once and future lieutenant, Jason Kenney.

Mr. Kenney is the principal actor in another Conservative gong show, the “race” to lead Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party.

With plenty of help from Wildrose infiltrators, Mr. Kenney has successfully campaigned on a platform to close the party down and merge it with the more extreme Wildrose Party, then expel the few “Red Tories” remaining in provincial politics.

Mr. Kenney’s rooting gallery at Postmedia is quite open about this aspect of their candidate’s planned double reverse hostile takeover of the PC and Wildrose parties. One repeats a claim the PC Party was full of “socialists and liberals.” Another compares socially progressive fiscal conservatives trying quixotically to save their doomed party to “terrorist bomb-makers who blow themselves up while attempting to plant their explosives.”

For all intents and purposes, Mr. Kenney has already won the leadership race. He will win on March 18 on the first ballot. His goons have already taken care of the problem presented by credible candidates with socially inclusive tendencies by driving three of them out of the contest.

Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid yesterday described the scene in the PC Party as the party’s board brushed aside the latest challenge to Mr. Kenney’s candidacy, then stood back to let the Kenney juggernaut crush any remaining opponents in its path, as being like “chaos theory on the hoof.”

“The party that ruled Alberta for 43 years now faces the end of days,” Mr. Braid wrote, truthfully.

There’s not much sensible conservatively minded voters can do about this in the short term, but since the federal and provincial parties are dominated by the same people anyway, they could help send a message in the upcoming Calgary by-elections.

A progressive – and at the federal level, that means Liberal – victory in Mr. Kenney’s and Mr. Harper’s old ridings seems highly unlikely. Still, there is always hope. After all, anything can happen in a by-election!

This post also appears on

Join the Conversation


    1. “They reckon…” If that’s the case, it should disqualify Kenney for sure since he has no post secondary education diploma or degree.

      So I guess their real message is everyone else needs that level of education except for Kenney.

  1. Hopefully the trend will pass. The vast majority of voters are either slightly right or slightly left of center

    There was a reason why the Reform Party collapsed their tent and merged with the conservative Party. They were an unelectable too far to the right party many of whose members seemed more concerned with social conservatism rather than good public policy.

    A party led by Jason Kenney and his followers may find the same in Alberta. Changing demographics and shifting loyalties..

    Plus, the bogey man threat is no longer valid in Alberta. The Notley Government is proving to perform much like the former Loughheed Conservatives, this is a threat to Kenney’s team. Many voters simply won’t buy that rabid socialism nonsense any more. Albertans are smarter than that.

        1. Having suffered the indignity of being bitten by a squirrel I can tell you that squirrels and other rodents seldom are infected by rabies. Now skunks on the other hand are frequently rabid, but it is more likely that a conservative would hang out with skunks, and I think your example of Kevin O’Leary would fit the defining characteristics of a skunk quite nicely. Luckily, Socialists don’t seem to hang out with the likes of Mr O’Leary, so are rendered relatively immune through lack of exposure.

      1. Would being an NDP cabinet minister whose first important act as Minister is to sign a Public Private Partnership (P3) agreement to build part of the Calgary ring road after spending years in opposition proclaiming the evils of P3s be considered a ‘rabid socialist’? — just asking — it’s still no reason to disrespect his previous work.

      2. When I say rabid socialism I mean the scare mongering nonsense that people like Jason Kenney peddle day in and day out about the NDP.

        It is classic FUD, fear, uncertainty, and doubt spread about the forward thinking policies of the center and slightly left of center folks like Rachael Notley.

        Kenney et al insult the voting public by pushing this tripe instead of enunciating clear policy alternatives.

      1. Have you not listened to the rhetoric used by Jason Kenney during the entire length of his campaign so far? His Facebook videos and speeches are littered with classic red-baiting techniques like talking about private property rights, referencing “ideology” and framing his campaign platform as pro-free market. This works and people buy in to it, yet somehow at the same time these goons chastise the federal government for not distributing more EI payments and for not “bailing” out the Alberta oil sector. They want it both ways, but when in doubt, red-scare it out.

        1. I know where you are coming from. What I meant is that I wouldn’t be offended being called a socialist… in other words, like our LGBTQ friends re-taking the term ‘queer’, we should all do the same with ‘socialist’; wear it with pride.

          Besides, now that the right-wing is openly flirting with fascism, all bets are off regarding being shy about the ‘socialist’ label.

    1. The meaning of the term “rabid socialism” depends on who utters it.

      For right-wing fascists it means anyone who believes in helping one’s neighbour and sharing one’s wealth for the betterment of society. This is stuff of nightmare for them.

      For us socialists, it’s code for burning man type free-for- all where no one gets shot or harassed and everyone enjoys themselves – oh, and lots of sex and weed too. Remember Woodstock?

  2. Myself, as a centrist moderate fiscal conservative, ok a “Red Tory ” I am shaking my head in disbelief and in some ways, sadend that the modern conservative parties in both Canada and the United States have taken a hard right, burn the bridges, turn toward lunancy and self destruction. One only had to witness President Trump at the press conference on Thursday at how incompetent he is to lead the United States of America.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the Conservative Part of Canada and the Progressive Conservative in Alberta are heading down the same path.

    In today’s federal conservative party, people like Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Don Mazankowski, Harve Andre, Michael Wilson, John Crosbie , Jean Charest, and Pat Carney, would be shunned and chased out because they are not right enough. Instead we have a bunch of kooks and clowns such as Kevin O’Leary, another mini Trump, Kellie Leitch, an annoying Chipmunk, and Chris Alexander, a out of touch goof wanting to be leaders.

    Meanwhile, in Alberta we have what be best described as two men with “small penis syndrome” wanting to lead a united extreme right wing party in the next election. To bad if you don’t fit their idea of being a “white straight born again Christian male with a stepford wife and 2.5 kids enclosed by a picket fence”.

    1. Except we don’t know if Mr Kenney is actually straight, he being allegedly celibate and all … we do know he isn’t married and has no (known) children, and so no Stepford wife to serve him. Yet another case of someone who doesn’t play the game, but still wants to make the rules …

  3. As an educated, thinking socialist, I agree with yur assessment. Here in the US, it has become apparent that education promoting critical thinking is sadly deficient. I fear a lemming-like tendency to follow the emotional 8-year-old who now leads this corporate entity will lead us over the cliff, and consumed by other predators (the Koch corporations, Russia, and China?) How so many American voters could buy Trump’s bunk truly astounds me!

    I was going to seek asylum in Canada, but David’s articles give me pause. At least the PM appeaes to have a soul…p

  4. “…the highly ideological “boys in short pants” from the previous PM’s office remain in charge of the party, but without any of Mr. Harper’s strategic savvy.”

    Mr. Harper’s strategic savvy? What’s all this, then? Is someone trying to rehabilitate Mr. Harper’s political reputation? I must say, though, his veiled attempts to stir up Islamophobia during the 2015 election campaign was a kinda brilliant vote winning strategy.

    1. Mr. Harper always had the strategic savvy to disguise his government’s worst messages with dog whistles, then to pretend the opposite when caught. Jason Kenney, who learned at his feet, does the same thing. He also took his time leading us down the road to dystopia. This was known to the mainstream media as “incrementalism.” So it is true he worked hard to suppress the instinct of his dumbest supporters to say what they were actually thinking. Recognizing this reality hardly amounts to rehabilitating the man’s reputation. DJC

    2. Even if (or perhaps particularly if) you disagree with Harper, no one who wants to be taken credibly can deny he was an amazingly talented politician. His policies were in many ways an ongoing slow motion disaster, but he ran a very successful operation.

      1. “…no one who wants to be taken credibly can deny [Harper] was an amazingly talented politician.”

        That’s funny.

        “…but [Harper] ran a very successful operation.”

        Not unlike the successful operation of the Piranha brothers.

  5. The Conservatives for a while seemed to learn something from their disastrous flirtation with the “barbaric cultural practices hotline” during the last election. I had hoped the lesson might stick, but I am beginning to have my doubts.

    First, Kelly Leitch seemed to have learned nothing from it and seems to be as they say “doubling down”. She seems to still believe this type of message plays to enough in “the base”.

    Second, the Federal government’s recent motion condemning Islamophobia should have been an easy one for everyone to just agree and say it is bad, especially considering what recently happened in Quebec. I realize our governments can not solve all the problems of the world, but here was a case where our MP’s could easily provide a bit of moral leadership – on that count the Conservatives failed.

    Lastly, the Conservatives treatment of of MP Sohi from Edmonton was an embarrassment, yet the Conservative leadership could not even bring themselves to mildly chastise their own MP’s who were acting like badly behaved school kids – laughing inappropriately. What exactly did they find funny – that a bus driver in Winnipeg was killed, an Edmonton MP was a former bus driver or that an immigrant bus driver could become an MP? He was speaking very sincerely on a serious issue and talking about his own experience on what was a very profound and solemn moment. I suppose the Conservatives take people of colour seriously, as George Jefferson said on the 1970’s TV sitcom show, only if “they have enough green to cover their black” or whatever other colour is applicable.

    It has been a very bad week for the Federal Conservatives, they certainly come across as elitist and unsupportive to anyone who is not white, Christian, Canadian.

    1. perhaps you’ve underestimated the “silent support”, if that can be called so, majority of canadians, for whom endless stream of demands for exceptions and special privileges from minority groups has become bothered issue. after all those white and christian are ones, who had established this country and all the beneficial and advanced options of the life here, which like magnet, attracts all those minorities to move here.
      can’t justify conservative approach and attitude but also see what kind of “time bomb” liberal puts in motion.

      1. That only works if you ignore the fact that white Christians took land from indigenous Canadians and, in the case of Macdonald’s railroad venture, intentionally starved the indigenous population of the west by shooting the Bison so they (the indigenous) would get off the land. Same for the U.S. but there they both enslaved Africans and massacred the indigenous population. Just sayin’.

        1. if to follow your logic, then some sort of tribunal world wide must be set up to review this past trend of conquests and annexations, because at some historical points one tribe took by force the territories from another tribe and eventually have established there own national state.
          so, what is your suggestion? to load all descendants of white christians on the ships and send them back to Old World? then again, i’m curious what to do with non christian immigrants? would you let them stay and can you assure indigenous canadians that they won’t be shortly after, forcefully converted to islam and live their life according to sharia?

          hypocrisy of so called “progressives” sometimes have no limit no lesser, than traditionalists. for them it’s all good to be critical about christianity or western values but it’s an extremism to express critical thoughts about other religions and social values, even if they are antagonistic in their nature for the West. for God sake, would you take a chance to make driver license or appear in the court with covered face without negative for you consequences? or would be you brave enough to go into public place with exposed feet long knife, without risking to be shot on spot by (most likely white) cops?
          and what sort of positiveness from in such way accented “diversification”, comes for our country at all?

          looking at all these “debates” and proposed in parliament “motions”, general public left only to scratch their heads and ask questions with no any hope for answers.

          1. So, go to the debates, put a bug in your MPs’ ears, organize with like-minded folks, and do something. Better yet, get to know some people from the groups that so frighten you and gain some understanding of how they live and what they believe. You don’t have to agree with them to have a dialogue.

            Understanding helps subvert fear, leading to peace with one’s neighbors.

  6. I would never vote for anyone who has a list of letters like these behind their name: P.C., O.Ont., M.D., M.B.A., F.R.C.S.(C). Especially M.B.A., which automatically disqualifies any candidate in my opinion, because no group of people than those with those letters has done more damage to modern Canada, or presents more of a clear and present threat. By contrast, the following letters indicate sticktoitiveness, common sense, the ability to deal with stressful situations and cool-headedness: F.O.R.M.E.R.B.U.S.D.R.I.V.E.R. Just for one thing, the possessor of such letters behind her or his name is much more likely to count them correctly!

    1. An MBA is nothing more than a seal of approval from corporatists. It signals to everyone that he/she has been thoroughly brainwashed to accept and promote a RW pro-business ideology at the expense of compassion for others.

      I can’t think of single graduate degree that is more offensive or antisocial. Although, an MA in economics comes close too.

  7. So where are all the so-called red Tories or former Progressive Conservatives that keep getting thrown out, marginalized, sidelined and silenced if they’re allowed to remain a (silent) part of the Conservative party? I keep hearing about them, but I never hear from them. When are they going to speak up, disassociate themselves from the extremists, and form their own party? They should then start clamoring for PR or MMP as a voting process, because as I understand it either of those methods will favor smaller parties, and give them a say. You know, like they don’t have now.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.