She-lection Bullshit Bulletin No. 1
Rounding up the really, really stupid stuff we're being forced to deal with. This week, we'd like to know what the hell Chrystia Freeland is trying to pull.
At The Line, we’ll be continuing to send out our weekly dispatches for the duration of the campaign. Columnist Jen Gerson will also be doing a weekly recap of major events. We’ll be running articles by other contributors as they come in — not all will be about the election, but many will. And we’re happy to do this. But we felt that something — something we couldn’t quite put our finger on — was missing from our plan. We felt there was more that we could do.
It was our friend over at The Hub, a new media startup, that set us on the right course. The Hub is going to be doing “Policy Pulse,” which they describe as “tracking all the policy announcements from the major parties, with instant analysis from our crew of experts.” Great idea! But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that, you know, that doesn’t quite catch it all. There’s something else that needs to be carefully tracked and analyzed. So we at The Line are proud to bring you our first Bullshit Bulletin, where we’ll note and mock all the incredibly dumb stuff that crops up along the way. This will be an evolving process, and we don’t pretend to see everything, so if you want to send us suggestions, tweet us at @the_lineca, and add #bullshitbulletin, or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, with Bullshit Bulletin in the subject field.
And to be clear, all you smart asses out there, no, don’t just tag the entire campaign or every statement made by every member of a party you’re not voting for and write it off as bullshit. There’s degrees of wiggle room and salesmanship and base-mobilizing in every election. We’re not going to worry about that. We’re looking for the egregious examples, and the really weird stuff that comes tumbling out of the partisan mind.
On that note, let’s get started.
First up is Robert Jago. We adore Robert. Honestly. He’s contributed here before, and we hope that (in spite of everything we’re about to say) he continues to. But, well, this … this is bullshit.
You see a lot of this stuff out there. And Jago, in later tweets, noted that he wasn’t implying that the CPC itself or that Erin O’Toole personally is some kind of closet Nazi, merely that some dudebro fratboy in the CPC comms shop amuses themselves by sending coded messages.
Because … reasons? The lulz?
How many active neo-Nazis do y’all think there are in this country? A few hundred? A few thousand? Do we really think that there is an actual voting bloc of Pepe-loving neo_Nazi 4Chan basement dwellers staying up at night to count the number of letters in CPC tweets? And if the CPC were run by crypto-Nazis, is this really how they’d be communicating with fellow travelers? Tweet code? We are not denying the existence of an extreme-right fringe in our politics, or the danger it could pose. We’re saying that going all Bible Code on CPC tweets is objectively nuts.
Alas, it ain’t just Jago.
And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those troublesome Tweeters!
Sigh. No, David.
What this tells you is that the general left and the Scooby gang of Twitter is actually more hyper aware of neo-Nazi language and symbols than most typical Conservatives. You’re finding “dog whistles,” and hidden messages in utterly banal campaign communications because that’s what you’re looking for. It’s no different than QAnon scrolling President Trump’s tweets for signs of the number 17 to prove that he was in on the plan to overthrow the Deep State. This is called apophenia, and it’s an early stage of delusional thinking, eventually progressing to a full-blown case of partisan crazy brain.
Seek help before it’s too late.
OK, moving on: here’s something else that’s bullshit — the NDP thinking this is a good idea.
Look, Sunday was the 10th anniversary of Jack Layton’s passing. We understand that anniversaries are hard for loved ones left behind. That’s not snark. We really mean it. And we know that Layton was loved by many friends and family.
But with all respect to our friends in the NDP, Jack Layton was an unusually popular Canadian politician … the end. Our Dipper friends, whom we love, have always had this bizarrely oversized impression of how beloved Layton was on a national level or how acutely he’s missed today. By all means, celebrate the man’s life and legacy. But at a moment in time when we are moving away from lauding politicians with public monuments, we want to name an entire riding after the guy? Yes, this has happened before … that doesn’t make it a good idea.
And it’s not even likely that the people who actually live in Toronto-Perfect-Jack-We-Never-Deserved-You-In-The-First-Place would welcome the change. Because, well, we hate to bring this up, but in three of his four election wins in Danforth-Layton-The-Infallible, Layton, uh, lost the overall popular vote. He was popular, we grant, usually winning with a support level in the high 40s. He only cracked 50 per cent in 2011, the Orange Crush election, with just over 60. After his passing, the party won a massive victory in the resulting byelection, but has since gone, um, Liberal. To a Liberal so anonymous that we have literally never heard of her, and one of your Line editors lives right next door to Toronto-Danforth. The lady’s Wiki page has precisely one line of additional personal detail: she’s Jewish.
And yet she’s now the twice-elected standard bearer in the riding the NDP wants to rename in the apparent belief that this is what the people there want.
Guys? Get a hold of yourselves. Aim to rename Dundas St. instead.
Oh, and of course, there’s the Conservatives. We don’t have a handy link for it, since we haven’t seen or heard the ad itself, but the Tories are apparently running TV and radio spots warning of an “Liberal-NDP-Green alliance.”
Guys, please, just … just stop. The best shot the CPC has in this election is to spend the next four weeks smiling and showing everyone how non-threatening and cheerful they are while letting the left-wing parties viciously savage each other. The greatest hatred in Canadian partisan politics isn’t between the Libs and the Tories. It’s on the left, between Liberals and the NDP. That vote split might just work for the Tories if they shut up and stay out of the way. Trying to whip up fear of a secret Liberal-NDP cabal isn’t just counterproductive. It’s bullshit. Don’t do that, CPC.
Two of our notes this week come courtesy of the Liberals. There was this brain fart, for instance, in response to tweet by journalist Stephen Maher (which we are also including, for clarity):
Look, we politely disagree with Maher. It might have been politically wise for the Liberals to pause their campaign, but in a practical sense, it’s not necessary — the failures on the ground are real, but we sadly suspect that Trudeau would make them worse by trying to interfere more. Our challenge in Afghanistan today isn’t because Trudeau isn’t there personally carrying refugees across minefields to hovering helicopters as bullets whiz around him. It’s because we’ve allowed our military and federal state capacities to wither and die of neglect.
But for God’s sake, Mendes, like, no. It’s not about what the PM can do, it’s about what Canada should be able to do, and if your reaction to this obvious failure is to get snippy with a reporter instead of acknowledge that the Government of Canada must do more to prevent people we are in debt to from getting literally murdered, this is a good moment to sit down and stop talking, because you’re not helping.
And further, while we’re at it, umm … he actually has dressed up as Superman before. Do the Liberals really want to be reminding the voters about Trudeau’s, ahem, admitted “enthusiasm for costumes”?
But the real whopper, the one that really blew up the bullshit counter in The Line’s command bunker, was this … by Chrystia Freeland!
That tweet was part of a multi-tweet thread, and we’ll get to the rest in a minute, but the first problem came up right away: the Liberals had edited the video.
Editing isn’t a problem in and of itself — O’Toole’s answer went on for a while, and it’s fine for the Liberals to cut it down to the point that they wanted to showcase. This is routine. But the Liberals deliberately cut out a section where O’Toole explicitly addressed the issue they were attacking him on. In his original, unedited comments, O’Toole had said that no matter what changes or efficiencies might be pursued, he would “make sure that universal access remains paramount.”
Leaving that out while attacking him for threatening universal access is wildly dishonest. It is, to be blunt, bullshit. Just a mountain’s worth of cow dung. And from Freeland. Isn’t she supposed to be the smart, reasonable, thoughtful one? Is she being set up to look bad in case the knives come out for Trudeau post election?
Anyway, the Tories were quick to jump on this. Michelle Rempel-Garner cheekily put out an edited version of her own, cut down to just the part the Liberals didn’t want you to hear O’Toole saying:
But the bullshit continued later in the thread!
This is just such wildly insane bullshit that we’re gonna have to resort to expressing our astonishment in GIF form, folks:
Like, yeah. It’s supposed to do that. But it doesn’t. There are massive known, proven inequities in access to care in Canada. White guys in downtown Toronto tend to have better access to care than Indigenous people in a fly-in only reserve, just to pick one glaringly obvious example. This is just next-level bullshit by the Liberals here, and it’s so epically bonkers that they’d try this especially after, just days ago, when they were trying to attack O’Toole as being anti-abortion, they were going out of their way to note that Canadians already don’t have equal access to abortion, depending on their geographic location. So, to anyone in the Liberal war room who’s reading, this, guys — can you pick a goddamn lane on this one? And, purely for our own amusement, can you please pick the: “Every single Canadian no matter where they live, where they were born, or how much money they have, has equal access to healthcare.” Because God almighty do we want to see you guys try to defend that for an entire campaign.
Just to add to how wildly dishonest this Liberal shot is, they … they know that Canadian health care is already absolutely riddled with examples of private delivery of public services, right? As the Tories were quick to note, when Trudeau himself got vaccinated, he got vaccinated by a pharmacist … in a Rexall. And Freeland? A Shoppers Drug Mart. Shoppers and Rexall, to the best of our knowledge, are not part of Canada’s public service. There are many services, from diagnostic tests right up to certain procedures like eye surgeries, that are delivered by private companies in this country … and that doesn’t even begin to touch on all the health-related services that should be covered in a truly public, universal system, but aren’t. (Vision and dental care, people? Hello?)
If you can believe it, though, the bullshit continues.
After the video editing was noted, the Liberal campaign war room began trying to defend it. Check out this tweet, for instance, to The Line’s Matt Gurney:
Yeah, that’s true. Here’s the thing, though. We can see, publicly, the view counters for both. The Liberals’ edited video clip on Twitter has, as of Monday morning, just over 210,000 views. The full, unedited video, up on YouTube, at the same time, has just over 4,000. So the Liberals are letting the bullshit version get 200k views and burying the unedited, accurate one on Youtube, where two per cent of that original number will click through.
Anyway, to get you all caught up, Twitter has now flagged both the English and French versions of the Liberals’ edited video as “manipulated content,” which is a really good look for the guys who want to regulate the internet and social media.
We know campaigns are wild times. That’s why we have have created the Bullshit Bulletin! But just on the basis of Freeland’s tweets alone, good gravy, are we ever off to one hell of a start.
The Line is Canada’s last, best hope for irreverent commentary. We reject bullshit. We love lively writing. Please consider supporting us by subscribing. Follow us on Twitter @the_lineca. Fight with us on Facebook. Pitch us something: email@example.com