Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows

Different take than national and provincial polling but interesting approach to riding-level analysis. Others better placed to comment on the methodology:

Canada is gearing up for a big election this fall and climate policy will likely be at the centre of debate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are trumpeting their carbon pricing policy, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives want to get rid of it. Meanwhile, Elizabeth May and her newly relevant Greens think Canada must do more to manage the climate crisis.

But where do Canadian voters stand on this issue?

Our research team, based at the Université de Montréal and the University of California Santa Barbara, has new public opinion data to answer this question. Using recent statistical and political science advances, we can estimate Canadian opinion in every single riding across the country (except for the less densely populated territories, where data collection is sparse). And we’ve released on online tool so anyone can see how their local riding compares to others across the country.

Canadians are concerned about climate change

Our results reinforce what is increasingly clear: climate change is on the minds of Canadians, and not just in urban or coastal communities. A majority of Canadians in every single riding believe the climate is changing. The highest beliefs are in Halifax, where 93 per cent of the public believe climate change is happening.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe climate change is happening. Author provided

And a majority of Canadians in all but three ridings think their province has already experienced the impacts of climate change. These beliefs are particularly high in Québec, where 79 per cent feel the impacts of climate change have already arrived.

Canadians also want to see the government take the climate threat seriously.

A majority of voters supports emissions trading. Carbon taxation is more divisive, yet more people support carbon taxation than don’t in 88 per cent of Canadian ridings.

And the handful of ridings that don’t support the Trudeau government’s carbon pricing policy — Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, for example — are already in Conservative hands.


In other words, the path to a majority government — or even a minority government — goes through many ridings where Canadians are worried about climate change and want the government to take aggressive action.

Compared to the United States, the Canadian public believes climate change is happening in far higher shares. Even Canadian ridings where belief in climate change is the lowest have comparable beliefs to liberal states like Vermont and Washington. Overall Canadian support for a carbon tax is higher than support for a carbon tax in California, often thought of as the most environmentally progressive U.S. state.

Percentage of Canadians, by riding, who believe their province has already been impacted by climate change. Author provided

Importantly, support for specific climate policies remains high in provinces that have already implemented climate laws. For instance, support for a carbon tax in British Columbia, where this policy was introduced in 2008, is the second highest in the country at 61 per cent (Prince Edward Island has the highest support). Similarly, support for emissions trading is second highest in Québec, again just behind P.E.I., where a carbon market was implemented in 2013.

Even Conservative ridings want action

We don’t find evidence of a backlash to carbon taxes or emissions trading — Canadians living in provinces with substantive climate policies continue to support them. Instead, we find substantial support for climate action in the ridings of Canadian politicians who have done the most to undermine Canada’s climate policy.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s provincial riding matches up with the federal riding of Etobicoke North, where 62 per cent of the public supports emissions trading. In other words, Ford ignored the majority will of his own constituents when he acted to repeal Ontario’s policy last year.

Riding-level public opinion estimates for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Qu’Apelle, currently represented by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Author provided

The same is true federally. In Scheer’s own riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle, support for carbon taxation is at 52 per cent. Only 41 per cent of Scheer’s own constituents oppose a carbon tax. He too is offside with the people he represents.

The political risks of opposing climate reforms

Our results emphasize how the media can sometimes misinterpret electoral mandates. In Ontario, Doug Ford promised to repeal the province’s emissions trading scheme — and won. But the former Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, supported carbon pricing while enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls.

There are lots of reasons why Canadians choose to change their government, but opposition to carbon pricing hasn’t been one of them.

Climate science is clear on the need to rapidly decrease greenhouse gas emissions to avert the most disastrous consequences of climate change. As a northern country, climate impacts in Canada are already larger than in other places.


Our research, which the public can explore, shows that Canadians everywhere — from the most Conservative to the most Liberal ridings — are united in understanding that climate change poses a major threat to the people and places they cherish. The coming election will provide an opportunity for Canadians have a say in the future of climate policy in their country — and all Canadian politicians should take note.

Source: Canadians in every riding support climate action, new research shows

‘Good rednecks’: PPC candidates to decide who attends debate by holding a shootout

One way to attract media attention:

Two People’s Party of Canada candidates in Saskatchewan are solving an impasse with a shootout at a gun range.

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce has invited one candidate from each party to a pre-election debate on Sept. 10 but when it came time to decide who would represent the PPC, Guto Penteado and Mark Friesen both thought they would represent the party well.

Penteado is PPC candidate for Saskatoon-University and Friesen is the candidate for Saskatoon-Grasswood.

Friesen said he and Penteado also considered a bean bag toss or a potato sack race but they got excited about the idea of a shootout at the range because it speaks to the PPC’s pro-gun policies.

“We’re both pro-gun advocates,” Friesen said. “We believe in responsible gun ownership and rightful gun ownership and we’re both hunters and we both have our own guns and we both have our licences.”

The shootout will take place on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on Facebook.

Whoever has the better score will be declared the winner and attend the debate.

Some commenters online joked about putting the faces of rival political party leaders on the targets, but Friesen said the gun range has strict rules about such behaviour. It’s not allowed.

“We’re responsible gun owners and with that comes responsibility at the gun range,” Friesen said.

‘Guns don’t kill people’

Penteado said his views are “totally aligned” with the PPC in terms of gun control.

“We want to simplify gun policies,” he said. “We also want more safety courses available around Saskatchewan, around Canada, and more promotion about the good side of guns as a sport because all we see is very bad news about mass shootings, and this is a very bad image for gun owners and the guns themselves.”

Penteado said the PPC is “totally against” gun violence. He firmly believes mass shootings are not about the guns.

“Guns don’t kill people; what kills people is people. We need somebody to pull the trigger,” he said.

“It’s just like cars. When we have a car accident, we never blame the car, we blame the driver. Why are we blaming the gun, the object, when we have a mass shooting?”

But Charles Smith, an associate professor of political studies at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, doesn’t find that argument persuasive.

“All the evidence and research would suggest that having guns available and accessible leads to more violence,” Smith said.

‘False divide between rural and urban’

Smith said he thinks the event is insensitive, especially in light of the recent mass shooting in Texas.

“Bringing it into the political realm and suggesting this is a way to settle disputes reinforces the message that guns and violence are normal,” he said. “That’s not a message that political parties should be sending in 2019 given all the gun violence we’re witnessing in our society.”

Smith also thinks the event is gendered and racialized, and creates a false divide between rural and urban people.

“It plays to a stereotype in a very reactionary way,” Smith said. “It’s very male . It doesn’t speak for the entire rural population.”

‘We’re proud to be rednecks’

Overall, Penteado said the reaction online has been positive, though there have been some people who have been mean-spirited and called them “rednecks.”

“We are rednecks, and we’re proud to be rednecks,” he said.

Penteado was born in Brazil and came to Canada 17 years ago. In Brazil, he was raised on a farm and learned hunting and target practice from his dad.

He found a similar culture in Saskatchewan.

“We live in the countryside, we love the nature, we love the interaction with animals and everything like that,” he said. “I’m referring to the good connotations about rednecks. We’re not stupid. We’re good rednecks.”

While Penteado said both he and Friesen would represent the party well at the debate, at the gun range, Friesen has the advantage.

Penteado had surgery on his right eye last month — the eye he uses for shooting — and while he does go hunting, he generally doesn’t do target practice. But he’s still looking forward to it.

“I think we’re going to have fun, and we’re going to decide in a very healthy way.”

Source: ‘Good rednecks’: PPC candidates to decide who attends debate by holding a shootout

Poll shows many Canadians disconnected from democracy, vulnerable to populism

Interesting and significant findings as Canadians prepare to go to the polls:

Canadians tend to prefer democracy over other systems of government, but nearly half aren’t happy with the way theirs is working, new survey data from Simon Fraser University suggests.

The national survey was led by SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and was intended to measure Canadians’ views of and commitment to democracy. Scattered among the results were indications that Canadians may be vulnerable to populist messaging.

For Daniel Savas, the lead researcher on the centre’s Strengthening Canadian Democracy initiative and a professor at SFU, some of the big findings brought to mind Winston Churchill’s take that “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms.”

While 77 per cent of respondents rejected rule by a strong leader and 91 per cent rejected rule by the military, many Canadians gave answers that suggested they felt disconnected from their democracy.

About 44 per cent of Canadians aren’t entirely convinced that voting gives them a say on how the country is run, and 56 per cent believe they can’t influence the government, according to the results. Meanwhile, 68 per cent believe elected officials don’t care what ordinary people think, and 61 per cent feel their interests are ignored in favour of the establishment.

To put the findings simply, “we’re not completely convinced that it’s working to its potential,” Savas said, speaking of our democracy. “I think that’s really not optimal at this point in time.”

Nearly 80 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who stood up for common people against the elite, one of a few results that suggested populists may appeal to many Canadians. But Savas did caution that populism itself isn’t “an ugly word.”

“It’s the anti-democratic form of populism where it starts undermining democratic values and principles that is the issue,” he said.

“I think that there’s this sense that if we don’t pay attention, if we start getting a little too complacent and we don’t pay attention to how invested Canadians are with respect to participating in the democratic process and what they get out of it … there’s a risk that people may fall over into the anti-democratic populist camp and start supporting things like a really strong nationalist view,” Savas said.

Savas said the results showed “an undercurrent of scapegoating minorities.” About a quarter of respondents said Canada has “too much” protection of minority rights, and about a third said Canadians born here should have a greater say in what the government does than those who came from another country before becoming citizens. Savas said he believed the undercurrent could strengthen if it wasn’t countered.

British Columbians are among the most democratically active Canadians, tending to attend public consultation meetings, volunteer, post comments online, sign petitions or answer government surveys more than others across the country, according to the findings.

Anglophones are more likely to participate in democratic activities than francophones, as are Canadians who hold a post-secondary degree, and those who believe their salary and household incomes are sufficient, the survey showed. While First Nations are among the most active people in the country when it comes to democratic activities, Canadians who identify as LGBTQS+ are most likely to believe there are too few opportunities for political participation.

Those who feel voting doesn’t matter or that they can’t influence government are less likely to prefer democracy over other forms of government, according to the findings.

Savas said the survey data was a signal to Canadians to consider the state of democracy and whether they should be concerned. It’s also a call for governments, political parties and government officials to reflect, he said.

“There’s definitely signals in here that are a call to action to do things to get more Canadians involved in a legitimate way so that they feel more engaged in political processes,” he said.

The survey sampled 3,500 Canadians and ran from July 5 to 15. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.7 per cent.

Source: Poll shows many Canadians disconnected from democracy, vulnerable to populism

Segal: Ten questions we should ask all party leaders in Canada’s federal election

Former Senator Segal is always worth reading as he tries to elevate political debate and discussion to more long-term perspectives. Unfortunately, politics has a short-term bias, particularly during election campaigns:

In the normal rhythm of election campaigns, coverage includes polls, the horse race and transient controversies of lasting or little significance. They occupy much media and narrative space.

The fact that shorter-term questions dominate the agenda is not a sign of weakness in our politics. It merely reflects the focus on the urgent and timely, rather than the long-term and more complex. But we should not minimize the longer term.

Here are 10 questions we should ask party leaders:

• With a population about the same as California and three per cent of the world’s capital, are you happy with our small population and economic capacity? Our population and modest capital markets do not enhance Canada’s clout in international negotiations with powers like China, the U.S. and the EU. Neither birth rates nor present immigration levels will change our population size or economic heft. Are leaders happy with the status quo? Are they content with our present approach to managing migration?

• Our able and well-trained military is under consistent pressure from international commitments and demands for civil aid at home. Can a country with our geography, neighbours and international commitments manage with a small armed force? Does Canada wish to be a global partner with allies who defend democracy, gender equality, human rights, freedom of the press, open navigation of international waters, diversity and freedom, or would we rather leave that to others? What should the projected strength of our Armed Forces be through the next decade?

• Under the present and most recent past government, Canada’s development investment to combat global poverty, human rights violations and promote economic opportunity among the least advantaged has been sharply reduced. We minimally assist our Commonwealth Caribbean, African and Central American partners. Yet many migration pressures facing Canada emanate from these regions. Is our continued withdrawal the right long-term course?

• The spectrum of reconciliation and partnership opportunities with First Nations is an amalgam of respect, economic rights recognition and commitment to economic rents and royalties for First Nations whose land is the source of economic profit for others.  Are our leaders satisfied with the slow progress on this file, evidenced by the continuation of the Indian Act and other colonizing and public policy practices?

• Setting aside the short-term debate about how best to price carbon, where are our leaders on the massive but economically productive investments necessary for adaptation to rising temperatures? Do leaders have a long-term view on scope and funding and are they prepared to share that with us?

• Gaps between our richest and poorest are increasing. Most provincial welfare plans keep poor Canadians trapped in poverty. Do any of our leaders care? And, if so, what are their long-term plans?

• If over-regulation is a detriment to economic productivity and investment, what about the impacts of under-regulation? From largely unregulated online platforms, to airline passenger rights, to digital privacy protections, to the private use of surveillance for profit-making, are leaders content with the status quo? If not, what is their long-term perspective?

• The Arctic remains an area where successive Canadian governments delivered far less than promised. The Chinese and Russians have made substantive investments in infrastructure, military and national capacity. Do leaders have a long-term strategy for protecting Canadian sovereignty and rights in that region – especially since climate change appears to be taking a toll on ice-field and glacier melting?

• With electoral reform on the sidelines, what do leaders feel are the priorities for strengthening Canadian democracy? Campaign finance, unregulated (allegedly) third-party coalitions with obvious partisan bias, invasive exploitation of social media, foreign intrusion in the voting process itself – all require updating. Do leaders have long-term priorities in this area?

Other valid questions will suggest themselves to many. The short-term is important. But in an election, the long-term should not be ignored.

Source: Segal: Ten questions for party leaders in Canada’s federal election

Le français est bafoué dans une communication du ministère de l’Immigration

Amusing (although I would not assume some of the written French of the federal government is above reproach):

Le ministère de l’Immigration ne prêche pas toujours par l’exemple dans son maniement de la langue française.

C’est ce qu’a pu récemment constater La Presse canadienne, à la lecture d’une communication écrite produite par un service du ministère de l’Immigration et rédigée dans un français très approximatif.

La courte missive d’une quarantaine de mots transmise à l’agence, document officiel affichant le logo du ministère dirigé par Simon Jolin-Barrette, était bourrée de fautes de français.

Pourtant, en cette matière, l’appareil gouvernemental n’a pas le choix : il doit donner l’exemple. La Politique gouvernementale relative à l’emploi et à la qualité du français dans l’administration, rédigée en 1996 et mise à jour en 2011, stipule clairement que les ministères doivent accorder « une attention constante à la qualité de la langue française ».

Dans ses communications écrites, l’appareil de l’État québécois doit utiliser en tout temps un français de qualité irréprochable, selon la politique en vigueur.

Or, le Service de l’accès à l’information et de la gestion des plaintes au ministère de l’Immigration a accompagné sa réponse à une demande d’accès d’une lettre de présentation visiblement rédigée par une employée de l’État maîtrisant mal la langue officielle du Québec.

La missive débutait par ces mots : « En lien avec vous demandes d’accès aux documents ».

« Veuillez, s’il vous plaît, trouvez ci-joint une copie des lettres décisions », écrit-on par la suite. On remarquera que le verbe « trouver » aurait dû être à l’infinitif, et que le style télégraphique des « lettres décisions » a de quoi surprendre le lecteur.

La fonctionnaire notait ensuite avec une ponctuation douteuse que « les lettres originales, sont également, envoyées par la poste » et elle concluait par une formule de politesse, « cordialemente ».

Fait cocasse, à la fin du message, le ministère responsable de la francisation des immigrants faisait la promotion de sa campagne « Apprendre le français, c’est gratuit et c’est gagnant ».

« Inacceptable »

Il n’a pas été possible de savoir si l’écart linguistique observé constituait un incident isolé ou non.

Impossible aussi de savoir dans quelle mesure le français créatif est toléré, voire s’il est devenu la norme dans les communications établies entre le ministère de l’Immigration et ses destinataires, clients ou autres.

Alerté au cours des derniers jours, le ministre Simon Jolin-Barrette a jugé la situation rapportée « inacceptable ». Par la voix de son porte-parole, il a affirmé avoir pris aussitôt les mesures nécessaires pour que les correctifs requis soient apportés, afin que ce genre de bavures ne se reproduise plus.

Source: Le français est bafoué dans une communication du ministère de l’Immigration

Canadians who hold strong links to political parties more likely to be misinformed about politics, study finds

Depressing but not surprising. Strong beliefs lead to more “automatic thinking,” to use Kahneman’s terminology rather than questioning a belief or being more open to different beliefs:

A new study found Canadians who hold strong partisan beliefs are more likely to be misinformed about key political issues than more politically neutral voters.

Data released Wednesday by the Digital Democracy Project found “strong partisan” Canadians were more often incorrect when answering a set of 10 basic questions about current political issues. Those who had no partisan affiliation, or weaker ties to a political party, were less likely to give an incorrect answer.

The study asked 10 questions that had relatively clear answers — like whether or not Canada is currently on track to meet climate change commitments under the Paris Accord (no), or whether the deficit was greater in 2018 than it was in 2015 (yes).

The results suggest the more partisan a voter is, the more likely they are to give an incorrect answer. But they also suggest — perhaps counterintuitively — that the more traditional news Canadians consume, and the more time they spend on social media, the more likely they were to give an incorrect answer.

“Media consumption is as often equipping partisans with arguments to support their position as it is correcting them on facts, because the facts on these things are actually kind of hard to pin down,” said University of Toronto Professor Peter Loewen, one of the academics behind the study, on Wednesday.

“Over the course of the (federal election) campaign I think you’re going to find that people are going to have different sets of facts depending on what their views are, and they’re going to find those informed by what they read in traditional media outlets.”

The Digital Democracy Project is a partnership between the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. In the weeks leading up to the federal election, the project is tracking Canadians’ media consumption, social media usage, and the digital discussion around Canadian politics to put together a picture of how political information flows through the electorate.

The initial report, released publicly Thursday, found most Canadians trust traditional media organizations to accurately report political news. The survey asked respondents to rank their trust on a scale of zero to 10.

“Canadians trust mainstream news organizations (5.8) at similar levels as their friends and family (6.0). Canadians are comparatively much less trusting of the information provided by major political parties (4.8), and in what they read on social media (3.3 for all respondents, 4.2 for respondents who indicated they used social media for political news in the past week),” the report stated.

And unlike American voters, Canadians don’t seem to choose where they get their news from based on their partisan leanings. Liberal, Conservative and NDP voters reported they get their news from roughly the same outlets, with CTV Online and CBC Online leading across partisan lines.

But the report also found a disconnect between what voters are concerned about and what political issues take up the most oxygen in the press.

Respondents to the survey listed the environment, health care and the economy as the three most pressing issues. Looking at the Twitter conversations of a sample of 300 journalists, the report found that while a lot of discussion was devoted to environmental issues, the journalists paid little attention to health care and almost no attention at all to the economy.

On the other hand, the journalists spent a lot of time talking about ethical issues (think: the SNC-Lavalin affair) and foreign affairs, the public listed both categories as much less important.

Source: Canadians who hold strong links to political parties more likely to be misinformed about politics, study finds

Trump’s Impact On Federal Courts: Judicial Nominees By The Numbers

Significant longer-term impact:

President Trump can be a master of distraction, but when it comes to judges, his administration has demonstrated steely discipline.

In the 2 1/2 years that Trump has been in office, his administration has appointed nearly 1 in 4 of the nation’s federal appeals court judges and 1 in 7 of its district court judges.

The president recently called filling those vacancies for lifetime appointments a big part of his legacy. Given the relative youth of some of his judicial picks, experts say, those judges could remain on the bench for 30 or even 40 years.

Legal observers say Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate have placed an unmistakable stamp on the federal judiciary, not only in ideology but in identity.

“What stands out to me is that President Trump is deliberately nominating the least diverse class of judicial nominees that we have seen in modern history,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It is stunning to me that 2 1/2 years in, he has not nominated a single African American or a single Latinx to the appellate courts.”

In all, around 70% of Trump’s judicial appointees are white men. Dozens of those nominees have refused to answer whether they support the Supreme Court’s holding in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 opinion that said racial segregation of public schools is unconstitutional.

Civil rights advocates say those nonanswers should be disqualifying. But with Republicans holding 53 seats in the Senate and on board with Trump’s program to confirm as many judges as possible, these nonanswers usually aren’t.

Conservative legal analyst Ed Whelan said there are good reasons why some judicial candidates balk at those questions.

“I think there’s a game being played here, and the critics are part of that game,” said Whelan, who leads the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “It’s quite clear that what Democratic senators aim to do with that questioning is say, ‘Well, if you can answer questions about Brown, why won’t you answer questions about Roe?”

Whelan was alluding to Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion.

Consequences of courts transformed

Abortion-rights groups worry that Roe is now in peril from the new generation of judges with ties to the conservative Federalist Society, whose leader has consulted with the White House to select two Supreme Court justices and many other candidates for the lower courts.

With all his judicial appointees, however, Trump has not transformed the courts as much as he could have, legal analysts say. If more Democratic vacancies had been open, Trump’s impact could have been even more dramatic.

Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Trump has mostly replaced judges appointed by Republican presidents with his own candidates, adding to conservative majorities in courts based in the South and narrowing the margin in the 9th Circuit in San Francisco — a frequent target of the president’s attacks.

All the same, Wheeler said, the new judges of the Trump era are generally more conservative than the older ones winding down their careers.

“When you replace a 70-year-old George W. Bush appointee who is slightly to the right of center with a 45-year-old movement conservative, obviously you’re not trading apples for apples,” Wheeler said.

A high-water mark?

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., may have reached a “high-water mark” on the federal appeals courts, Wheeler said.

They may have filled vacancies so quickly that there are unlikely to be many more openings on the circuit courts in the year ahead — unless judges appointed by Democrats decide to retire in large numbers.

That means attention is turning to the lower courts, which handle cases on civil rights, the environment, financial regulation and federal crimes.

On July 30 and 31, the Senate confirmed 13 district court judges before leaving the Capitol for its August recess. The Senate Judiciary Committee, run by Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is poised to pick up the district court judge process again this fall.

Whelan, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said evangelicals and other conservatives are delighted with that pace — and with the White House for delivering on its promises to prioritize the judiciary.

In a few cases, Republican senators have brought down the president’s own nominees, getting the candidates to withdraw sometimes because they’re not conservative enough.

For progressive activists, that only highlights the need for Democrats to take judicial appointments more seriously. The subject has so far not been a focus in any of the Democratic presidential debates, in which 2020 hopefuls are making the case for why they should be the Democratic Party’s nominee to take on Trump.

But as Brian Fallon of the group Demand Justice pointed out, the Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning on ambitious ideas — climate change policies, health care and financial regulation.

Those things, he said, will be disputed in court and will need to survive judicial review in front of judges — many of whom were appointed by Trump.

Fallon has this to say to Democrats vying for the White House: “They actually owe it to the voters to explain very clearly what they’re going to do to take back the courts and who they’ll nominate in order to do that.”

Source: Trump’s Impact On Federal Courts: Judicial Nominees By The Numbers

Stephens: The New Conservative Pyrite “National conservatism” is another road to serfdom

Good post by Stephens on the bankruptcy of contemporary American conservatives:

Friedrich Hayek, whose thoughts used to count for something among well-educated conservatives, made short work of nationalism as a guiding principle in politics. “It is this nationalistic bias which frequently provides the bridge from conservatism to collectivism,” he wrote in “The Constitution of Liberty.”

That point alone ought to have been enough to dim the right’s new enthusiasm for old-style nationalism. It hasn’t.

A three-day public conference this month on “national conservatism” featured some bold-faced right-wing names, including John Bolton, Tucker Carlson and Peter Thiel. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page published a piece from Christopher DeMuth, a former president of the American Enterprise Institute, on the “nationalist awakening.” Yoram Hazony, an Israeli political theorist, has gained wide attention among U.S. conservatives with his book, “The Virtue of Nationalism.

And, of course, Donald Trump: “You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned, it’s called a nationalist,” the president said last October. “And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am, I’m a nationalist.”

Egyptian minister’s laughing vow in Canada to ‘slice up’ anyone who criticizes her country alarms immigrant groups

Even if the expression was made only in jest, unacceptable:

Egyptian-Canadians are incensed over an Egyptian cabinet minister’s promise to “slice up” critics of her country, saying what might have been meant as a joke struck them as a serious threat from a repressive regime.

Those of both Coptic-Christian and Muslim backgrounds — who rarely see eye to eye otherwise — condemned Wednesday the comments made by Immigration Minister Nabila Makram on a visit to Mississauga, Ont.

They cite Cairo’s record of arbitrary detentions, violence against political opponents and other human-rights abuses since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power six years ago.

Some have complained to police, and the Peel Regional force in Mississauga says it is investigating the matter.

“No one in his or her right mind should take this — although it might be said in a joking manner — as a joke,” said Ehab Lotayef of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy. “It really represents the mindset of the current Egyptian government and is totally unacceptable by a minister in a country that respects itself.”

Lotayef urged Global Affairs Canada to make its displeasure known for what he said was at least a diplomatic affront.

Makram was near the end of a short speech to an Egyptian heritage dinner Sunday when she said in Arabic that anyone who criticized Egypt would be “sliced up,” accompanying the remark with a slashing motion across her throat.

She said it with a smile, after talking about Egyptians’ passion for their country, and earned laughter and applause from the audience.

But Egyptian ex-patriates cite evidence that critics of the Sisi government in Canada are already under watch, and note that a visiting Egyptian-Canadian businessman has been imprisoned in Cairo without charge for months.

Canadian-based “dissidents” have been mentioned in government-aligned Egyptian media in negative terms, said Lotayef.

“We are surely being followed and monitored,” he said.

Egypt’s ambassador to Canada routinely makes the trip from Ottawa to attend major events at Mississauga’s main Coptic-Christian church, said Maher Rizkalla, president of Canadian Coptic Association.

“The Egyptian government is always involved and keeps an eye on the churches in Canada,” he said. “I would be concerned to visit Egypt. I know they’re watching us, and they know who is active and inactive outside the country.”

Sisi’s government has been widely criticized for its abuses, with Human Rights Watch writing that “his security forces have escalated a campaign of intimidation, violence, and arrests against political opponents, civil society activists and many others who have simply voiced mild criticism of the government.”

Makram is on a Canadian tour organized in part by the Egyptian embassy.

“Our country is very grand and deserves that all of us work for it and fight for it, because we just have one county – Egypt,” she told the dinner audience. “This country is always inside us, inside our hearts. We cannot accept any word about it. Anyone who says a (bad) word about our country – what will happen to him? Will be sliced up.”

Not everyone interpreted the remarks in a completely negative fashion.

One audience member, who asked not to be named for fear of landing in the midst of a political fight, said the slicing-up expression is a common and usually genial one in Egyptian Arabic, not meant literally.

“Parents say that to their kids all the time,” the person said. “Usually … people say it as an endearing gesture.”

Still, the audience member said the comment was definitely inappropriate in the circumstances.

The Egyptian embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to a complaint from Rizkalla, Peel Regional Police are investigating the matter, and liaising with the department’s “equity and inclusion bureau,” said Const. Lori Murphy, a spokeswoman.

ANDREW COYNE: It’s time for old-school conservatism and liberalism to defend their common values

Good column:

Why would anyone describe himself as a conservative? While we’re at it, why describe yourself as a liberal? Or socialist? Or libertarian? The point is not that there is anything wrong with any of these — only that there is something right with all of them. Each of the traditions, that is, has something to teach us. Why limit yourself to just one?

Still, people do. The desire to belong to a tribe – or perhaps, to quarrel with another – is one of the deepest urges of humanity. But tribalism, ideological or other, is not just self-blinding. On occasion it leads to madness. Consider the present state of conservatism, a tribe that has, as the past week has illuminated, lost its way, if not its mind.

If it were just a matter of Donald Trump’s racist attacks on four racial-minority congresswomen – the latest in a long series, but arguably the worst — it might be put down to his own personal depravity. If it were just the chants (“send her home’’) of the people at his rally in Greenville, N.C., it might be written off as the ravings of a lunatic fringe.

But Trump, it is abundantly clear, stands atop a vast infrastructure: the Republican leaders who shrug off his abuses for the sake of party unity; the commentators who look the other way so long as he champions their pet causes; the base who are content with whatever he does so long as it annoys the liberal media; and underpinning all, a set of beliefs – superstitions, prejudices, call them what you will – that predate Trump, but which he has helped to make the credo of the conservative movement.

It was convenient that in the same week as Trump was issuing such crude appeals to hatred and bigotry, a group of academics, journalists and politicians were meeting at a hotel in Washington in an attempt to give a veneer of intellectual credibility to Trumpism. The “National Conservatism” conference underlined how completely conservatism, at least in the United States, has been turned on its head.

The conservatism of the post-war decades, a sometimes uneasy coalition of social conservatives, free marketers and hawkish internationalists, has been replaced by a populist-nationalist conservatism marked by hatred of “globalist” elites, hostility to immigration and fear of foreign trade, and by its enthusiasm for whichever strongman will protect America from these.

Where conservatives were traditionally advocates of limited government, wary of government intervention and worried about deficits, today’s conservatives embrace many of the same limitless-government approaches as the left – “collectivism rebranded for the right,” as the Republican-turned-independent Congressman Justin Amash calls it.

Where conservatives were skeptics of change, pragmatists seeking to reconcile the necessity of reform with the wisdom of tradition, the Trumpians are as reckless as they are reactionary, heedless to the social and institutional harm they have caused in the name of Making America Great Again.

And as the conference highlighted, the civic nationalism that American conservatives used to cherish – the nation to which anyone could belong so long as they subscribed to the basic ideals of the American political system, not least its reverence for the equality of every individual under the Constitution – has been replaced by a more culturally-specific, if not ethnic definition, majoritarian and monocultural rather than liberal and pluralist, that is not easily distinguished from xenophobia or indeed racism: identity politics for white people.

Canadians will be familiar with this from, for example, the Bill 21 debate. Still, few in this country would go so far as the University of Pennsylvania law professor who told the conference that, as people from certain cultures were more likely to fit into a “modern advanced society” like the United States, and as those people came mostly from Europe and the First World, and as those societies are “mostly white for now,” it followed that “our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.” But not, you know, in a racist way.

This is, as The Economist put it in a recent issue, “not an evolution of conservatism, but a repudiation of it.” The conservatism I grew up with was basically a species of liberalism, part of the same Western liberal inheritance but more alert to liberalism’s potential for overreach. Its mission was, if you like, to save liberalism from the liberals. As such it represented a continuous tradition that, even as it changed with the times, represented certain enduring ideals. How can the very opposite set of ideas also be called conservatism without doing violence to the language?

Perhaps, as others have suggested, this is naive. Maybe there are no permanent or defining principles of conservatism, independent of its practitioners. Perhaps conservatism is whatever self-described conservatives happen to believe at the time. Trump enjoys the approval of 90 per cent of Republicans; even in Canada, according to a recent Abacus Data poll, 46 per cent of Canadian Conservatives have either a positive or neutral impression of him. Maybe it’s time to concede the point.

If so, then perhaps it is time for a more fundamental political realignment. If conservatism is now to mean its opposite, perhaps it is time for conservatives of the old school to make their peace with liberalism – for the two estranged children of the Enlightenment to reunite in defence of its values. The differences between them that once seemed so great look trivial now, compared to what they have in common, and in light of what they both oppose.

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