Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looking like he might be about to deal with a heckler (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Hmmmmmmm …

Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives appear to have picked defending a racist heckler who tried to sandbag Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a string of tendentious questions about immigration and refugees as the hill they want to die on!

I wonder how this will work out for them? Not well, I imagine.

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer (Photo: Marcos Oliveira, Wikimedia Commons).

The Conservatives apparently realized too late the middle-aged “questioner” they’d leaped to defend was in fact an agitator associated with several far right, anti-immigration groups, at least one of which also appears to favour Quebec separation.

Consequently, they were trying desperately yesterday to spin the questioner as “elderly” (she looked like a robust specimen in her middle years), her racist connections as mere allegations (the case seems to be watertight), and her repeated interruptions as an entirely legitimate question.

And the prime minister was so rude, they whined, although “OK, Madame, this intolerance towards immigrants has no room in Canada,” politely repeated several times, would sound like a pretty reasonable retort under the circumstances to most of us.

Most Canadians, whether they speak English or French at home, just aren’t going to get their pantaloons in a twist if the PM is a little sharp in either official language with a well-organized effort by the loony right to disrupt his speech. Indeed, they’d probably enjoy a little “just watch me” from the younger Trudeau, if not an outright Jean-Chretien-style chokehold.

This is what happens to Tories when they hand their election strategizing over to a former Rebel Media director, I suppose. Either that, or they’ll get advice to call a fall holiday in India an effort to “repair” the PM’s “disastrous” state visit last February.   

The FLQ guy.

Oh, please! Mr. Scheer’s planned October trip is bound to be embarrassing – in an entirely different way from the PM’s. At least the Conservatives are wisely determined to avoid photo-ops, presumably because no one very recognizable is likely to be willing pose with a gaggle of visiting Canadian Cons.

It was ironic that yesterday members of the Conservative Party’s own anti-immigrant base were paying little attention to Mr. Scheer’s desperate effort to spin Mr. Trudeau’s remarks as inappropriate. Instead, they were in a swivet that their beloved Rebel Media hasn’t been invited to the party’s bunfest in Halifax tomorrow.

This presumes, of course, that the multitudinous Tweets demanding talking heads from Ezra Levant’s offensive video-blog site be made welcome were being posted by actual conservatives and not just Rebel bots. Perhaps Hamish Marshall, the former Rebel sub-commandante now commanding Mr. Scheer’s campaign, has some insight into the provenance of those messages.

The FPQ guy.

Apparently the same party that thinks it’s reasonable to protest the elevation of a defence lawyer to the bench because he once defended someone they don’t approve of also believes racing to the rhetorical defence of racist separatists is just fine. What does this tell you?

Speaking of the Front Patriotique du Québec, one of the groups involved in heckling Mr. Trudeau in rural Sainte-Anne-de-Sabrevois, has anyone else noticed the resemblance of that group’s branding to that of the violently separatist Front de libération du Québec of the 1970s?

Yes, the man on the FPQ flag is marching to the right, and the fellow on the FLQ Manifesto is going the other direction, but the tribute seems obvious, and is presumably intentional.

Conservatives in 1970 may not have had much time for prime minister Pierre Trudeau, but they certainly wouldn’t have climbed into bed with the separatists he was tangling with.

The message for Mr. Scheer and his party needs to be that you’re going to be judged by the people you defend … unless you happen to be a defence lawyer.

A bad day for Donald Trump … and maybe Postmedia too

Yesterday can’t have been a good day for U.S. President Donald Trump, with his former campaign director found guilty of eight counts of financial crime, and his former legal counsel pleading guilty in another court to eight criminal counts related to the 2016 presidential election campaign.

David Pecker (Photo: American Media Inc.).

The president’s former campaign director, Paul Manafort, pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty of the eight counts by a jury in Virginia. His prosecution was being described by media last night as a “major victory” for Mr. Trump’s nemesis, Special Counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller. As a result, the “witch hunt,” as Mr. Trump describes Mr. Mueller’s efforts, will likely continue.

The president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in New York, presumably to escape a worse fate. Court documents show he admitted to working “in co-ordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” to violate campaign finance laws. That would be Mr. Trump.

The media was having a field day, of course. But what about Postmedia? Was it a good day or bad day for them?

I ask because court documents filed in Mr. Cohen’s case kept mentioning one David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., the publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer. According to CNN, the documents showed Mr. Cohen worked with Mr. Pecker “to suppress potentially damaging claims against the now-president.”

Mr. Pecker, if course, is one of the eight members of Postmedia’s Board of Directors. According to his potted Postmedia biography, one of his major accomplishments, other than helping to prop up President Trump in questionable ways, was that “since 2005, he has led over $5 billion of bank and high leverage financing.”

It will be interesting to observe how the failing Canadian newspaper corporation covers the fact one of its directors is now making news, instead of just suppressing it.

Join the Conversation


  1. Many of today’s conservative political leaders affiliate with the most vile and the most vile agendas:

    “Storm Alliance’s Blain was the right choice to whip up hate at the Justin Trudeau event, too. She is a member of another anti-immigrant group, the Front Patriotique du Quebec, and is a separatist. A few months ago, a Front Patriotique admin opined on Facebook the need for a “terrorist attack to wake up people.”‎’

    Jason Kenney should be asked whether the UCP is with that woman and her groups.

    1. Here is one short list of some conservative political leaders leveraging their politics off of Canada’s extreme right… Scheer, Rempel, Blaney, Berthold, Frum re the so-called random ‘elderly woman’.

      Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer Defends Heckler Affiliated With Far-Right Anti-Immigrant Groups

      Monday night, Scheer’s official account referenced the heckling incident when it issued several tweets criticizing Trudeau for “demonizing his critics.”

      Except by all indications, the heckler not only holds racist views – she’s actually a far-right activist connected to a number of anti-immigrant groups.

      Blain previously made headlines in 2015 when she refused to be seen by a Muslim woman at a dental clinic at the Université de Montréal.
      According to her social media activity, Blain not only appears to hold racist views but is connected with a number of far-right extremist groups, including groups called the Front Patriotique du Québec and Storm Alliance

      Storm Alliance is an offshoot of the Soldiers of Odin, an “extremist vigilante group” designated as an “anti-Muslim hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

      For over the last year, Storm Alliance, along with another group called La Meute (or “the wolfpack”), have been a presence at the Canada-US border, holding vigilante patrols looking for terrified refugees fleeing Donald Trump’s United States.

      Despite her clear extremist connections, multiple Conservative MPs and Senators have actually spoken out in defence of the far-right activist.
      Conservative MP Michelle Rempel rushed to the defence of Blain, criticizing the Prime Minister for calling the far-right extremist “intolerant” and “dismissing the concerns of Canadians.”

      Meanwhile, Conservative MP Tony Clement mocked the idea of using the “R word” to describe a member of an anti-immigrant vigilante group.

      Steven Blaney, former Public Safety Minister under Stephen Harper and the main spokesperson defending Bill C-51, expressed concern for the “lack of respect” shown to a far-right extremist who merely asked “a legitimate question about migrants”:

      Conservative MP Luc Berthold said the “hatred” expressed to a member of a far-right anti-immigrant group was “pathetic.”

      And there was Conservative Senator Linda Frum, who took issue with the “elderly woman” being called “intolerant and racist,” despite being a far-right extremist.

      That’s nice. Truly. Now how about a hit on his interaction with the elderly woman in Quebec whom he attacked as “intolerant” and racist because of her questions about uncontrolled, illegal immigration?
      — Senator Linda Frum (@LindaFrum) August 19, 2018

      However, Senator Frum later attempted to walk back her unqualified support for the far-right extremist.
      “If social media reports are true,” Frum tweeted, “the (Parti Québécois) woman who confronted Trudeau on illegal border crossings is poor spokesperson for any issue.”
      Frum went on to reiterate she still agrees with the far-right extremist’s facts.

      1. Even a notable RW radio host sees the problem.

        Charles Adler
        ‏Verified account @charlesadler

        Blain was clear. #Trudeau has no place in Quebec because as far she and her group are concerned Trudeau is a mix, a mongrel, impure, not “Quebecois de souche” not “pur laine” Now if anyone reading this still wants to have sympathy for her its your choice.


      1. FWIW…

        Chris Turner
        ‏Verified account @theturner

        Trudeau doesn’t mention racism until the heckler twice refers to “Quebecois de souche” (roughly “old stock”). I’m sure CPC leaders will be clarifying their accusations of the PM’s divisiveness accordingly

        Heather Hughson
        ‏ @HNHughson

        Heather Hughson Retweeted

        It is essential that, as this exchange gets recounted in Anglophone media, it gets translated correctly. The woman used an extremely racist term that excludes everyone whose family does not date back to *1759 or earlier* from ever being accepted as Quebecois. #cdnpoli


      Rempel won’t condemn the racism in the heckler’s comments. Dodges it… “if it gives offence”… Disgusting partisan politics by CPC leaders. She’s had lots of time to learn what that the ‘“Québécois de souche”’ term means.

      excerpt: ‘Asked whether she thought Blain was racist, Rempel referred back to the question about funding for Quebec, noting “people don’t like to have their concerns dismissed.”‘

      excerpt: ‘”I’m not Québécois so I don’t understand the term writ large. But if it holds offence to people…of course I don’t support that.”’

  2. Sad to say but Trump may be right when he says all this has become a “witch hunt”. What is the Mueller Invesigation, supposely charged with looking into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, doing looking into Trump’s relations with high-priced call girls? Hint: they must have come up empty in the Russian interference dept. Next thing you know they’ll be putting Trump’s grade 8 teacher on the stand asking if the Donald reallly cheated on his math exam.

    In fact, if you closely all these much ballyooed indictments have nothing to do with Russian interference -things like money laudering, tax evasion and lying to the FBI.

    Postmedia may be “suppressing” news about Trump’s troubles but turn on the CBC National and you won’t find a more eager group of cheerleaders, salavating over the lastest crumb in the Trumpian scandal. It’s usually the lead story every night. Then they bring on outside “experts” joyfully proclaiming how these latest relevations are the “beginning of the end” for the Trump presidency.

    1. Interesting take, it does appear that the number of people who see the witch hunt for what it is is growing. No matter your opinion of Trump he did win the election by all accounts fairly. Now you have an unelected unaccountable special prosecutor trying to remove him. Has any thought been give to what the roughly 50% of the US population would do if he is removed? A heavily armed 50% at that. It is sad to see the CBC go this way cheerleading another country into a civil war.

  3. To use a saying perhaps familiar to “old stock” Canadians, the Conservatives are skating on thin ice here. Yes, it is somewhat a strategy of political necessity, in order to beat the Liberals in the upcoming Federal election, the Conservatives must somehow bolster their support in Quebec. Appealing to nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiment in the more rural parts of the province might work, but it might also backfire spectacularly.

    We have already recently seen one Conservative ad briefly run on line and pulled due to racial overtones. Now, the Conservatives appear to be playing footsie with Quebec separatists and racists. One wonders how that will go over in other parts of Canada, in particular the ethnically diverse 905 region that the Conservatives also need to recapture if they want to govern again.

    The Conservatives spent a lot of time and energy several years ago courting various ethnic communities, with some success. However, Harper pretty much threw all that under the bus in the 2015 election. His his weak and insensitive response to Syrian refuges hurt him in that election along with other things, like attacks on the hijab and going on about barbaric cultural practices.

    Perhaps this sort of thing might play well to some of the base in say Estevan, but there are a lot of Canadians who are also troubled by the Conservatives debates on diversity and the company they keep on the issues of refugees and immigration. The Conservative Party that briefly seemed so welcoming a few years ago is very close to slipping into xenophobia or worse.

  4. Another take… essentially CPC leaders like Scheer leveraging their politics off of “hate speech”.

    excerpt: ‘…Bernie Farber, chair of a newly-formed non-profit organization the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, warned Scheer away from defending the rights of those linked to groups with neo-Nazi and white supremacist ties.

    “This has got nothing to do with free speech — she was engaging in hate speech, that’s what this is all about,” Farber said.

    “I think Mr. Scheer should be careful of who he chooses as a champion for free speech. You don’t want to choose the alt-right, you don’t want to choose white supremacists and white nationalists and anti-immigration racists as your flag-bearer for free speech.”

    Fringe anti-immigrant movements are on the rise in Canada, Farber warned — emboldened by divisive rhetoric and attitudes south of the border and evident in recent attacks in this country, most notably the Quebec City mosque shooting last year that killed six Muslims during their prayers.’

    “I think Canadians have to shake themselves out of their complacency that we’re not the United States, or that we’re better than the United States,” he said. “In many ways we are, but in many ways we have lots of responsibility in terms of ensuring an anti-racist milieu.”

  5. DC, great post as always, but I thought I should point out that the old patriot in the 2 images you used has only been appropriated by anti-immigrant groups. He was drawn in 1904 by Quebec political cartoonist Henri Julien, entitled “Le Vieux de ’37”. He represents the Lower Canada rebellion of 1837. Nothing too reactionary about that, I think. According to Wikipedia the image is in the public domain, so maybe Alberta Politics has a new logo?

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