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!
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.
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.)
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!
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.