Alt-right creep and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia Commons).

Want to know how to deal with the irresponsible refusal by the organizers of the so-called Munk Debate to cancel their invitation to former Trump election strategist Steve Bannon to come to Canada and spew his racist dreck around our country?

Follow the example of Jason Kenney!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In most circumstances, the last thing a sane commentator would do would be to advise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government in Ottawa to act like Mr. Kenney.

After all, Mr. Kenney used to be Conservative PM Stephen Harper’s chief henchman and nowadays he’s the leader of the right-wing Opposition in Alberta who, despite his protestations to the contrary, keeps having to make excuses for his party’s supporters’ bad habit of listening too closely to alt-right creeps like Mr. Bannon.

Still, to give the guy his due, back in 2009 when he and Mr. Harper decided they wanted to keep lefty British Member of Parliament George Galloway out of Canada, Mr. Kenney acted decisively.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

All it took was one email from a Kenney flunky – with the one-word subject line, “inadmissible” – to get the national security section of the Canadian Border Services Agency to slam the Canadian door in Mr. Galloway’s face on the dubious grounds he was a member of a terrorist organization. (What? The Mother of Parliaments?)

It only took 102 minutes from the instant Mr. Kenney’s communications director, Alykhan Velshi, pressed the send key to the moment the CBSA declared Mr. Galloway a threat to Canadian national security, inadmissible to our peaceable country.

According to the Globe and Mail a year later, this was “record speed” for banning an undesirable – or, rather, someone the PM and his chief lieutenant deemed to be undesirable because Mr. Galloway was sure to express opinions they disagreed with.

Mr. Galloway, who is no longer an MP, was on his way to a speaking engagement in Canada, by the way, and nobody in Mr. Harper’s government gave a hang about whether the organizers were going to have to cancel the event or pay anyone back for their tickets.

Fast-forward to the present and everyone in Canada knows perfectly well that letting the odious Mr. Bannon take part in the Munk Debate in Toronto provides him with a soapbox from which to proselytize his hateful ideology. (Mr. Bannon is supposed to be debating another right winger with White House connections, Canadian-born David Frum, who will represent the more moderate right-wing position. Apparently this is what passes for balance in Munk circles.)

Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Clearly, Mr. Bannon’s white-nationalist ideology presents considerably more of a threat to public order and safety in Canada than Mr. Galloway did – as events on January 27 last year in Quebec City and last Saturday in Pittsburgh strongly indicate.

The official excuse of the organizers of the Munk Debate for not cancelling seems to be that the show is sold out – and wouldn’t it be a shame if they had to reimburse their ticket holders? It’s reasonable to view that with scorn.

OK, so here’s what you do, Mr. Trudeau.

Borrow a page from Mr. Kenney’s book. Tell Ralph Goodale, your public safety minister, to get someone in his office to pick up the phone and call the CBSA right now and tell them to stop Mr. Bannon at the border.

And if the Munk Debate organizers have to reimburse the ticket holders? Well … tough! I mean it. Seriously, how unfortunate for them!

Former British MP George Galloway (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If someone complains you’re violating this unpleasant American citizen’s free speech rights, remind them of the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the United States Supreme Court: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre.”

If Mr. Bannon really wants to talk to Canadians, he can do as Mr. Galloway did, and take a bus to Niagara Falls, hold a news conference, and yell across the border. Maybe he can go to court and be admitted later if he posts a peace bond.

Mr. Kenney, characteristically, tried to claim that the idea of banning Mr. Galloway was the CBSA’s, not his, which turned out to be baloney. I wouldn’t advise the Liberals to fib like that. They’re the government of Canada. Their job is to ensure, peace, order and good government. Mr. Bannon presents an immediate threat to the first two. He can be declared inadmissible right now with a clear conscience.

There’s no excuse for anyone in Ottawa to say they don’t know what to do. Mr. Kenney showed the way.

Pick up the phone, Mr. Trudeau. You only have until Friday.

Calgary Winter Olympics 2026: a zombie in the streets

I’m sorry, I haven’t been paying attention. Who has? Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, in which a good time was said to have been had by all, with another Olympic bid for 2026 is the zombie idea that dominates Alberta. Nobody wants it, and it won’t die.

Whoever came up with the idea of having a plebiscite in which no one would vote except people dedicated to the proposition public use of money for anything expect beating up protesters and bombing foreigners is a bad idea must’ve wanted to kill it from the get-go.

Regardless, ever since, the Olympic bid has lurched from crisis to crisis, with various levels of government half-heartedly offering new funding formulas in hopes some other level of government would take the rap for rejecting the scheme. If that doesn’t work, that plebiscite should kill it.

Everyone, even people who normally support public intervention in the economy, knows in their heart the first time is always the best time. Like remarrying a spouse one divorced years ago, another Calgary Winter Games is guaranteed to be a big disappointment – and to cost piles more than any estimate anyone comes up with.

Here it is, though, Oct. 31, and it’s still lurching through the streets of Cowtown.

Happy Halloween!

Join the Conversation


  1. Or, you could take the high road and not follow the odious lead of the previous Government. Let Mr Bannon take part in the Munk Debate and then use your Ministers and MP’s to counter his arguments and perhaps the rest of the house and Senate might follow suit. How many would want to actually support Mr. Bannon’s world views and views on how to manipulate voters?

    Maybe go beyond the elected members of Federal Government and include Provincial government MLA’s , Church leaders, scholars etc.

    Just because something has been done by the CPC doesn’t mean that it is a good idea.

    1. This is hopelessly naive. It’s like arguing that if flag burning is a form of free speech, church-burning is too. Steve Bannon is a Nazi agitator. His goal is to inflame people to violence. The goal of the Munk Debate is to legitimize neoliberalism, just as the Munk family bankrolls the Fraser Institute and other far right propaganda.

    2. “Just because something has been done by the CPC doesn’t mean that it is a good idea.”

      Well, no. Quite the driest understatement I’ve seen in some time.

  2. Should the govt — Big Brother — decide whom we can listen to? Should government regulate which views and ideas citizens are exposed to?
    Infantilizing the population weakens our democracy.
    Banning Bannon legitimizes Harper’s despicable tactics to keep out left-wing British MP George Galloway in 2009. Tit for tat.
    Not something we should encourage. If anything, such arbitrary use of power polarizes the population even more.
    Anybody sympathetic to Steve Bannon’s views can already find them on any number of platforms.
    Politicians spin and lie to us day after day. But somehow we manage to survive.
    Let Canadians hear the debate. Let them make up our own minds. Treat them as adults.
    Because the alternatives are worse.

    1. Give government the power to regulate, limit, and control speech and thought, and we shall find ourselves in George Orwell’s 1984. Abdication of personal responsibility, sovereignty, and freedom.
      End of democracy.

      Calls for censorship betray a lack of confidence in our selves, our institutions, rational thinking, and public morals. A virtual admission of failure.

        1. The debate question: “Be it resolved, the future of western politics is populist, not liberal.”
          It should be possible to make the case for and against without straying into “racist, hateful” speech.
          If Bannon steps over the line of legal (protected) speech, by all means, arrest him.
          If we are truly committed to keeping racists out, that would mean depopulating much of Canada.

          Seems to me that the denialist rhetoric from politicians in praise of pipelines and oilsands (AB’s Premier comes to mind) is far more dangerous. But the response to that, as well, is more free speech, rather than less.

  3. Northern Loon may be striking the right note. We have to take on all the altright ugliness head on in the public arena. Suppression of Bannon has danger of making him more of a hero. Good catch, by the way, on the Kenny connection.

  4. Acutally I’m more offended by David Frum. This grifter has cashed in on the media-fed anti-Trump craze and rebranded himself as a “resistance warrior.” He is turning up everywhere offering his punditry.

    And there he was again on CBC the other night complaining about fake news and disininformation. This from the guy who during his capacity as George Bush’s speech writer, was one of the ring leaders in the Iraq WMD hoax. If there was any justice in this world this professional liar would be managing a Tim Hortons in Timmins, Ont.

  5. What’s the point in providing a forum to debate whether racism is valid point of view?

    Useful post here:

    EXCERPT: ‘When we choose to promote, validate, and normalize hate as just “another point a view” that someone in a suit on a stage can politely debate for the benefit of a paying audience, we are emboldening bigots and making the world that much more dangerous for marginalized communities. Who ultimately benefits from that other than people like Steve Bannon?’

    EXCERPT: ‘What exactly will they debate? Is humanity and people’s worth up for debate? Why do I need to wait until David Frum “annihilates” or “destroys” him on stage, as some have suggested, so we can collectively feel better about upholding some mistaken notion of freedom of speech?’

  6. They should have invited George Galloway to debate Steve Bannon, now that would be interesting to watch. They may agree on Brexit but not much else.

    Remember Dave come spring your views may be as equally distasteful to the government around these parts as Bannon’s are to you. Be careful what you wish for.

  7. It is an interesting idea and apparently with precedent – the Federal Government could just deem Mr. Bannon to be inadmissible. After all, Canada is a sovereign country with control over its own borders. I suspect if we did, it might come as a bit of a surprise to some Americans who look at crossing the northern border as more of a formality, than we do going the other way. We have long been subject to various threats and more controls at the US border mostly in the name of security and concern about terrorists. Therefore, wouldn’t it be ironic if we were to deem Mr. Bannon a threat to our security. The irony would be even more delicious in that one of the US proponents of more restrictions and controls at the border would be himself subject to them. I suppose the real feasibility of this all depends on where Mr. Bannon now stands with his former boss. I gather for a while he was on the outs with Mr. T, after his departure from the White House (a common scenario it seems), however it is hard to determine where one really stands in Trumpland – things seem to be always shifting and relations may be more amicable between them now. In any event, it is a very interesting idea to consider that Mr. Bannon, a very vocal nationalist, might get to experience the assertion of national power first hand.

    Oh yes, about those Calgary Olympics. I think it is exactly true, the original is usually better than the sequel. I get the sense that opinion in Calgary is quite divided on whether it is a good idea or not to attempt to recreate the glory of 88. The Olympics itself has somewhat become a victim of its own success and Calgary seems to be having a bit of an unusual crisis of confidence recently. Maybe the city does need to do something big, but perhaps new and different – the Winter Olympics, they have already been there done that and got the hat.

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