We’re all “cultural Marxists” now, I guess.
Consider Jason Kenney and the Legislative caucus of the ephemerally named political entity known as the United Conservative Party. (By which I mean, like a bad homebuilder, whenever Alberta Conservatives are caught doing stuff voters don’t approve of, they adopt a new name and continue doing the same thing. It seems to work.)
When I first heard of the UCP’s cowardly refusal to debate the NDP Government’s Bill 9, popularly known as the abortion clinic “bubble zone” bill, I wondered if this tactic was sui generis in the history of Canadian Parliamentary debate.
I mean, who ever heard of an Opposition Party simply refusing to debate or be seen voting on legislation it opposes, not to mention ignoring an issue its leader has made his life’s work opposing and parts of its base opposes with a passion bordering on fury?
This is a caucus that has conniption fits if the government doesn’t spell out in explicit detail before an election any policy the UCP doesn’t like, as is illustrated by its caterwauling about the NDP’s job-creating carbon levy.
Yet here is a group of people prepared to scream “free speech” and “political correctness” at any attempt to protect the targets of social conservatives’ abuse, that nevertheless literally runs from the legislative chamber and hides when the topic of protecting vulnerable women and medical staff from harassment comes up.
Of course, Mr. Kenney’s social conservative pals and likely future candidates are prepared to continue saying exactly what he once would have said about the Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act, but all we get from the boy in the self-imposed bubble himself and his UCP Caucus is … crickets.
All political parties practice a little campaign “low bridging” now and again, but this is unheard of. It goes way beyond normal plausible political deniability. What about those free votes on matters of conscience Conservatives are always promising until they get into power? So much for principles, I guess, when an autocrat is at the helm of your political party!
Well, Mr. Kenney may not have anything to say about this in the Legislature, where he’s paid to speak up on behalf of his supporters and constituents, but he did slip a few days ago and speak about it in front of some reporters.
In response to a plea for the swift passage of the legislation from the director of a Calgary clinic whose clients and staff have been subjected to decades of harassment, Mr. Kenney adopted a smarmy tone to advise the media that if the clinic has a problem, it should get an injunction.
This is the legal equivalent, readers presumably understand, of wondering why people suffering from a shortage of bread don’t just eat cake. That observation would be true, by the way, even if Mr. Kenney didn’t have a history of praising protesters who broke court injunctions as if such an act defended free speech.
Beyond that, the Calgary Herald’s reporter intoned, rather piously himself, “Kenney, who is personally opposed to abortion but has promised to make no changes to abortion access if he becomes premier, has accused the NDP of introducing the legislation as a cynical political ploy.”
And how would you characterize refusing to debate such “cynical” legislation in the chamber of the Legislature then?
That’s when it occurred to me that what Mr. Kenney is doing is pure Mao Zedong.
It was the Chinese Communist leader who explained, famously, “the enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”
When an issue that works for his party like the pipeline comes up, Mr. Kenney advances. When an issue that doesn’t work for the party, say like Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, he retreats. And when safe zones around clinics are the topic … he and his entire caucus disappear into thin air!
This is a tactic worthy of the Great Helmsman himself!
Now, Mr. Kenney is a man who knows his commies.
Back in July 2016, still nominally the Member of Parliament for Calgary Midnapore, he warned of the grave dangers of young people wearing Mao caps with red stars on them.
Speaking at a Calgary fundraiser for a group pushing for a Victims of Communism Memorial in the nation’s capital, the old cultural McCarthyist raised the spectre haunting Canada of “bohemian” young people wearing communistic symbols on their upper bodies.
“It is essential for us to ensure that those young people now and in the future understand that if they walk down the street with a Mao cap, with a red star emblazoned on their T-shirt, with an image of Che Guevara or Lenin or Karl Marx or the hammer and sickle, that this isn’t some charming, sophisticated, bohemian image of counterculture…”
Well, yes, it was long ago evident that Mr. Kenney was a man old before his time – living proof of the late, great Vancouver celebrity columnist Jack Wasserman’s adage that, in conservative circles, there’s “no shirt too young to stuff.”
Somebody probably needs to break it to Mr. Kenney that nowadays bohemians call themselves hipsters and a red star is what adorns bottles of Heineken beer.
Frankly, getting worked up about Che Guevara T-shirts is an example of the all-purpose “cultural Marxism” trope, used by English-speaking right-wingers to disparage anything they disapprove of, run amok.
Still, in the bubble zone non-debate, you’ve got to give Mr. Kenney credit for being up on his Marxist tactics. It’s almost as if he’d memorized Mao’s Little Red Book. I ask you, deep cover?