Far from being a Trumpian import, the Conservative leadership contender Pierre Poilievre's strategy draws directly from Canada's own history of populist rhetoric
Not sure if I agree with the conclusion, but there are a series of thoughtful analogies to other moments in Canadian political history that more commentators should engage with. This is exactly the kind of content that I came to The Line to read.
This commentary is a little naive. The man wants to replace the Head of the Bank of Canada and explore Bitcoin as a legitimate source of currency. His disdain for dismantling our institutions rather than fix them is insane.
The main job as a Prime Minister is to unite the country. Nothing Poillievre has said or done can be construed as being the great unifier. He’s too divisive. Hard pass.
Allan, I believe you've got it right. That leftist inclinations are not thrilled with Poilievre (as you describe) doesn't mean they aren't potential supporters.
Canadians are angry...and they're going to vent it one way or another. Minor ideological compromise will very much be the order of the day when the Liberals are finally held to account.
It will be interesting to observe if Trudeau's wish--power until 2025--allows him to so degrade Liberal respect that he suffers a "Wynne implosion".
He is absolutely nothing like Trump. We need someone who can beat Trudeau. As I’ve said many times on various platforms, we chose to move to Canada. We came here just before PET became PM. His attitude and treatment of the west made me feel like we had come to some backward third world country. That might have been due to the provincial government but we are now a leader in many things. We have lost our fossil fuel jobs without first having an alternative and since JT has been PM I have been researching if it would be feasible to move bsck to the UK. I am no longer proud to be a Canadian. I worry for the future of Canada unless we dump JT and his Buddy Singh.
I don’t know if Poliviere is the guy to do it but he may well be. It’s ridiculous to say he’s akin to Trump.
The writer has identified a growing gap between the Liberal “consensus” and what ordinary, centrist voters think. The boring center is where gains can be made, and Poilevre is consolidating his position leaving little room for the Liberals to reorient their messaging to. All woke, 24/7 has run it’s course.
Poilievre has a good chance to win a general election because the country has had it with the Liberals , the leadership and the “can’t shoot straight gang “ in cabinet . Populism isn’t necessarily a bad thing when faced with elitism.
There's a lot worth unpacking in this piece. I agree that if the Liberals don't take Poilievre seriously they will regret it. What bothers me about him, though, is his cynicism. He knows those Ottawa protesters are gullible and naive but instead of helping them with that he will just use them for their votes. That is very Trumpian in the way Trump will never have a rally at Mar-A-Lago. He doesn't want those people anywhere near his home.
It's true that there are different kinds of populism because both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are populists. The difference is that one wants to help working people and the other wants to scam them. I'm afraid PP is on the Trump side of the scale. It looks very much like he admires the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation in the US. That's not good at all.
His attacks on the Bank of Canada mirror the American libertarian "Audit the Fed" nonsense.
Making a noise about the WEF and so-called "globalism" is also very popular with the American radical right. That keeps the pressure off the real problem which is neoliberal policies around the world promoted by the Koch network. Somehow George Soros is the most evil man in the world but Charles Koch is a good guy. Ok, sure.
I think the "woke" issues are something separate from any political party and need to be dealt with as such. I find it bizarre that such attitudes have taken hold with little pushback and that has as much to do with the lack of wisdom and spines of the generation in power everywhere now as the loonies that promulgate it.
Oh, yeah... Free Trade did cost us, especially Ontario, a whole lot of industrial jobs and Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadian still exist and are doing good work!
The moment somebody says "elites" these days, I smell bullshit.
They're never talking about the Irvings, the Shaws, the Rogers, or indeed, any billionaires. And they never do specify, in such articles, whom the hell they are actually talking about. Frequently it boils down to university professors, making classroom speech awkward for the 1% of Canada that spends its days in University classrooms.
Just be specific, man: Doug Ford is near the very top of any list of "governing elites". Name names, and name the specific offense, and how it harmed you. Allowance for putting an "X" on a passport for somebody else harms you, how? Did it harm you when they "focused on oppression narratives"? Awww...why not just ignore them? If you - or some "ineligible charity" found that their "human rights" had actually been abrogated, did you take it to a court? What did they say about your rights? The right to ignore vaccine mandates and put others in a bar to risk was explicitly denied by courts. Or are they part of your "governing elite" that somebody has to end?
If you aren't specific about terms like "governing elites" - the way Bernie Sanders screeds are absolutely specific about naming certain corporations and billionaires - then it sounds like you're peddling the vague, un-named "shadowy elites" of a typical conspiracy theory.
And nothing is more Trumpy than conspiracy theory.
I bow to Allan Stratton's half century of literary accomplishment in Canada. After all, who could ever challenge a writer who came up with "Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii"?
But seriously, Mr. Stratton is correct that a Polievre government is a real future possibility. (Liberal commentator Scott Reid has been ringing that bell loudly on Curse of Politics and calling for an immediate Liberal attack.)
I am reduced therefore to quibbling about some of Mr. Stratton's arguments.
Beginning with where he finishes, I question his reference to "the Liberal party and its Twitter cult". That seems a little hyperbolic to me considering Polievre's own Twitter proclivities.
At the top of his piece, Mr. Stratton suggests that "social conservative attacks on abortion ... seem off the table". How can this be true when Polievre refuses to confront the positions of his competitor Leslyn Lewis?
Mr. Stratton insists that "our governing elite has been captured by zero-sum, intersectional orthodoxy, at odds with the instincts of mainstream Canadians on both left and right", which is arguable I suppose but not by "violent male sex offenders have been moved into women’s prisons based on self-ID alone [and women] at women’s shelters have been forced to room with sexually aggressive transwomen, and have been told they are in violation of human rights law if they complain" which all strikes me as a bridge too far.
I accept Mr. Stratton's fundamental thesis that demagoguery holds appeal in today's Canadian society and that many are looking for sweeping and acceptable political change. I was distracted and put off, however, by the stridency of "private-school valedictorian", "the Laurentian Consensus on such cultural matters has itself become radically out of step with moderate opinion", and "a governing elite focused on oppression narratives based on immutable characteristics". Pejorative, yes, but convincing, no.
Even less convincing is the wordy notion that 'Wokespeak' is a bunch of "ever-changing linguistic codes [amounting to] a form of privileged secret handshake".
A fascinating read from an impressive source. I'd give it at least B+.
It provides an excellent platform for debate, as someone else pointed out, and is a very good example of why The Line is so worthy.
“The generosity of spirit” necessary for compromise in Canada the writer cited really hits home. I feel we have temporarily lost some of that generosity. It is not really surprising - we are living in a tumultuous time.
Poilivere is exactly who he derides so frequently -- an elite. Like Scheer before him, he has little or no work experience other than as a politician. Elected as an MP at 25, some 24 years ago, a great salary -- well above that of all the 'hard working Canadians' he loves to extol -- and a golden pension awaiting him when he shuffles off the political stage he occupies. If that isn't an elite, what is it?
His support of the Ottawa protest speaks volumes about his opportunism. Did he care much about the Ottawa residents whose lives were disrupted? Did he care about the local businesses that suffered thanks to the irresponsibility of the protestors?
PP is one more empty shell of a "leader" who loves the sound of his voice, promises the world to his followers (the vague "freedom" he tosses like red meat, which has no real meaning other than activating salivary glands among the mob) and has the "vision" to embrace the fantasy-ponzi scheme of crypto currency. And how is that working out?
He is another loud donkey, braying for attention and power for its own sake.
Just when I thought The Line had degenerated into an ongoing, mindless anti-Trudeau screed, I was pleased to read a thoughtful article. I question some of the examples set out & the endless western grievance plaint (I live in SK, it never ends) but was pleased to read this analysis.
Really, really? He’s playing right out of Trumps playbook. And, the lies are absurd.
A refreshing point of view with many beliefs which I, as a well-advanced senior, appreciate and remember. Perfect platform to get more viewpoints.
"In the 1988 free trade election, the left argued that free trade would gut our manufacturing base and put downward pressure on our social programs as working-class jobs would flee south to low-wage jurisdictions. In Liberal leader John Turner’s soaring rhetoric to Brian Mulroney (cue thunder sheets)"
Yeah, and guess what?
They. Were. Right.
Do you want to know why so many people are so pissed off? It's because they don't see any possibility of improving their futures, of owning their own homes, of creating better futures for their kids. And yet, any time someone suggests that "free trade", at least as it's been practiced in Canada for the last 35 years, and that our economic model needs a long, hard look, so many of the chattering classes in this country race for the smelling salts, fan themselves and go into fainting spells at something so utterly scandalous, as if it is a Thing That Is Not Done In Polite Society.
The whole idea of the Neoliberal Consensus was that, if governments got the hell out of the way and just let unregulated markets do their thing, everybody would prosper and dictatorships like China would become democracies. 35 years later, China is still a dictatorship, autocrats are gaining power in many parts of the world, people who see themselves at a dead end are angry and willing to listen to populists, and even institutions like the World Bank are sounding the alarm on the dangers of rising inequality.
Something's rotten in the state of Denmark, and the rot runs back decades. The likes of Poilievre and Trump are just the latest signs of it.
A very thoughtful and worthwhile column, and thanks to The Line we get to read it. There appears to be no national leader on the horizon who can unite Canadians and fix all the problems in this country. However, Trudeau, the Liberal government, and Singh's NDP have proven themselves unworthy of governing. In fact, with their authoritarian urges, divisive rhetoric, and their characterization of those who speak up against their policies as enemies of the state, they are downright dangerous. Poilievre may not be perfect, but to continue to vote for the current Liberal/NDP coalition is flat out foolish.