Whose truck are you riding in, Andrew Scheer? (Photo: Andrew Scheer Flickr).

What are we to make, fellow Canadians, of federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer’s now justly famous Louis Riel Day Tweet?

Bear with me while we ponder this. There is a troubling point. It will take us only a moment to get there.

Louis Riel, 19th Century Canadian revolutionary (Photo: Public Domain).

Mr. Scheer, who leads the Canadian political party most directly descended from the one responsible for hanging the man who was president of the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan for three months in 1885, tweeted on February 18 that, “as a Canadian politician of Métis background, Louis Riel was the driving force behind the creation of Manitoba as a new Canadian province.”

This is even sort of true, in a soaringly idiotic kind of way. If you didn’t know better, you might assume it was the work of someone who hadn’t read a lot of history – which can’t be reassuring if you’re a student contemplating pursuing a degree through the History Department of the University of Ottawa, where Mr. Scheer studied for a spell.

At any rate, Mr. Scheer’s tweeted observation, while unique, is paradoxically not unusual.

Former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leader Peter MacKay (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, Creative Commons).

Consider the televised commentary the very same day by Peter MacKay, briefly also leader of the same party, although while it was doing business under a slightly different name in the early Zeroes.

Speaking of the resignation that day of Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, Mr. MacKay similarly opined, “I don’t think there’s ever been this much power vested in a single non-elected person, certainly in my memory of political history. You have to go back, years and years, perhaps to the Tsar in Russia and Rasputin before you had somebody who wielded so much power, and we know that it didn’t end well there.”

This prompted a flurry of hilarious Tweets in response, many quoting the immortal Boney M hitRah, Rah, Rasputeen, lover of the Russian Queen, that was a cat who really was gone …” – which has a great beat and lines lame enough for a Conservative Party of Canada press release.

Neither Mr. Butts nor Henry Kissinger will likely bother to pick up the phone and complain directly to Mr. MacKay, but let’s just say he and Mr. Scheer demonstrate a similar grasp of political history.

Russian mystic and royal political advisor Grigori Rasputin (Photo: Public Domain).

Actually, as an aside, I suspect the Rasputin line was put in Mr. MacKay’s head a couple of years ago when Marci McDonald described how he was deftly outmanoeuvred by Stephen Harper in the hostile reverse takeover the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, comparing the former Conservative prime minister’s advisor Tom Flanagan to … yes, the Russian mystic and Tsar Nicholas’s BFF, Grigori Rasputin.

Be that as it may, as Mr. MacKay’s commentary illustrates, Mr. Sheer’s breathtaking Riel tweet is part of a pattern – which, at last, brings us to the point.

We are all familiar with the modern philosopher George Santayana’s observation that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

But what about those who can’t remember the past correctly? One shudders to think what they might be doomed to repeat!

This is a serious matter. After all, Mr. Scheer seems to be someone who doesn’t quite grasp the historical political antecedents of the folks he keeps telling us are just ordinary working Canadians who want a pipeline or two, are worried about sinister United Nations plots, and, by the way, happen to blame immigrants for all their economic troubles and want the prime minster tried for treason. He seems to be prepared to do this while posing for photographs in their trucks.

Either that, or he understands who they are perfectly well, as his recycled Rebel Media advisors certainly do, a possibility that is considerably more troubling.

As for the famous aphorism above, speaking of popular music as we were, one can only hope that Mr. Scheer thinks the speaker was Carlos Santana.

Join the Conversation


  1. If you look up Louis Riel on Wikipedia the first sentence reads in part “was a Metis politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and a political leader of the Metis people of the area that is now the Canadian Praires.” So I am afraid I don’t get your point on Andrew Scheer’s tweet. As for Peter MacKay his comment seems ill advised but there is certainly no doubt Gerald Butts was a very important part of the Justin Trudeau’s power structure! Enjoy your day.

    1. Farmer Brian. My class of grade nine students have studied your posts and have come up with an astounding conclusion! The only unanimity? Ditch the passive aggressive “enjoy your day”. According to my kids? Sorry, they say it makes you seem creepy! As a matter fact? 100%, said “it makes the author seem like a dick with an agenda”. My apologies! Maybe after privatizing education, people like you won’t need to tolerate the scorn of children!

      1. Out of touch. If you are a teacher, you probably should re-evaluate your career. Farmer Brian is correct and Climenhaga is a pompous failed politician.

        Instead of trying to be cool with your “students” which likely is creepy, maybe try to instill in them what it means to research and use facts. Maybe teach them useful skills in life.

  2. And another “foreign” oil company vacates Alberta. No one, no one, no one, has even mentioned to anyone else, that the number and frequency of oil company departures from Alberta might, just might, have something to do with the demise of the industry. Canadian banks seem to be bearing all the debt that has been amassed by the Canadian oil and gas companies that are buying up the assets left behind by those leaving. Someone within the confines of the 6 majors of Canadian banking might just be getting a tad nervous about all that debt and the continuing accumulation of such with the departure of Devon to greener pastures in the Permian. How can working stiffs continue to believe that their futures depend on an industry that is being vacated by the major investors around the world?

  3. Red Deer is a long way from Ottawa, both physically and in other aspects. At first glance this protest might get some sympathy from in Eastern Canada, thinking it is all about struggling or unemployed oil workers. However, this hagiography tends to fray when seen from more close up or scrutinized.

    First of all, the myth that Alberta is struggling so badly is an overstatement. We still have above average wages and while our unemployment rate is a bit above the national average now, our province’s rate is far from the highest. Second and more importantly, this protest does not seem to be just about building new pipelines, but seems to be a way to air a grab bag of collected grievances, some of which seem quite unrelated. It doesn’t seem to take too much for a diligent reporter to get the yellow vest crowd involved to start talking about things like banning immigration and how Trudeau should be tried for treason. Perhaps the latter is the Canadian version of “lock him up!”. If your goal is to meet with the Prime Minister, you might want to start by being less threatening and second try to focus on the issue supposedly at hand. Interestingly, the majority of Canadian political leaders did not choose to speak to this group.

    I think the Prime Minister has already figured out this is basically a partisan anti Trudeau crowd and there is little or nothing to be accomplished by talking to this crowd. It also seems to be a group of protest, without constructive ideas. Yes, apparently they want us to build pipelines now, but how will that happen? The Prime Minister can not just wave a magic wand and make court cases go away and judges rule in favour of these projects. It is left to Mr. Scheer to try to compete with Mr. Bernier to appeal to the more extreme elements in this group. I would say Mr. Bernier seems to have the lead in this, he is fairly open about being against immigration, while Mr. Scheer tries to play footsie with them. Scheer wants their support and hopes their presence might hurt the Liberals, but he also hopes they don’t linger too long or say something too embarrassing that might hurt his party, which still tries to officially maintain it is ok with immigration as it courts the votes of suburban immigrants in Ontario and BC.

    Unfortunately, our previous provincial governments never took diversification seriously, particularly during the recent long oil and gas booms. Perhaps the yellow jackets might get even more support from Mr. Scheer if they became dairy farmers. It seems to be a good career, but unfortunately is hard to get into. I have a feeling Mr. Bernier wouldn’t come to speak to them in that case, regardless of what they thought of immigrants, so then as a bonus Mr. Scheer might have the crowd all to himself.

  4. You don’t get the point of the quoted phrase “as a Canadian politician of Métis background, Louis Riel was the driving force behind the creation of Manitoba as a new Canadian province.”

    The only possible way one could miss the point is by being a disingenuous troll.

    Bless your heart.

  5. While the name Rasputin stirs up negative connotations today, the reality he lived a lifestyle that most of us secretly crave but have failed misearbly at. In short, he was a party animal extraordinaire. If somebody tells me that some Rasputin-like figure is dancing around the PMO, wieldly some sort of catatonic influence over the PM, I’d feel a lot better about our country.

  6. I am utterly baffled by your relocation of the Red River Rebellion and the Riel Provisional Government to Saskatchewan. The Red River doesn’t even flow through Saskatchewan. I am further baffled as to why you would be dismissive of his role in Manitoba becoming a province. Manitobans consider him a Father of Manitoba and the February holiday, which for Albertans is Family Day, in Manitoba is Louis Riel Day.

      1. David Climenhaga.

        You are dismissive of Scheer, and conservatives and people of moderate political leanings are skeptical and dismissive of you.

        You are a failed politician, a blogger with a chip on his shoulder. Most times your posts are full of inaccuracies and partisan spin.

        It appears you didn’t even know about Riel in Manitoba until someone else pointed it out. If you had, you likely wouldn’t have written the idiotic blog. Your link is further proof that you need to do actual research before you make a blog.

        I understand how you failed in politics.

        1. Like an earlier reader, Smarter Than You seems to be confused by my reference to a historical entity known as the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan when the Red River Rebellion is principally associated with what is now the province of Manitoba. Since it is evident this reader did not follow the link provided in response to the earlier comment, I will duplicate below the entry on this topic from the Canadian Encyclopedia. I am optimistic that since he is Smarter Than You, Dear Readers, as well as me, he will recognize the value of actually reading documents he sets out to criticize.

          The Provisional Government of Saskatchewan

          By 1885, the North-West Mounted Police had been established, and a railway to the West almost completed, so the impetus for the Canadian government to negotiate with Métis as it had in 1870 was no longer present. Tired of waiting on Canadian action, the Batoche Métis, at a meeting on 5 March 1885, proposed to take up arms in order to compel Canada to recognize their land rights. At a meeting on 8 March 1885, Riel put forth a motion to create a provisional government for Saskatchewan. While the motion did not pass at that meeting, a 10-point “Revolutionary Bill of Rights” was drafted. It asserted Métis rights of possession to their farms, among other demands, including, “That the Land Department of the Dominion Government be administered as far as practicable from Winnipeg, so that the settlers may not be compelled as heretofore to go to Ottawa for the settlement of questions in dispute between them and the land commissioner.” After word was received that the federal government was sending 500 soldiers to Batoche in answer to the Métis petitions, on 18 March the Métis seized the parish church at Batoche, formed a provisional government — of which Riel was president — and demanded the surrender of the HBC post at Fort Carlton. The ensuing fighting lasted two months (see North-West Resistance), and although the Métis won the first of two engagements, the Canadians ultimately overwhelmed Métis soldiers, and Riel surrendered himself to the Canadian militia.

          The Wikipedia, notwithstanding that institution’s limitations as an academic source, summarized the PGS as follows:

          The Provisional Government of Saskatchewan was an independent state declared during the North-West Rebellion of 1885 in the District of Saskatchewan of the Northwest Territories. It included parts of the present-day Canadian provinces of Alberta. Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The name was given by Louis Riel.

          Here endeth the lesson. DJC

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