Sears: Warning bells have rung for years over the risk of American money flowing into Canadian politics

Of note, and reinforcing the Marshall Fund analysis:

For decades now, Canadians have been proud at how effectively we have limited the influence of money in politics.

Arguably, there is not another G7 country with as clean a political culture as ours. It has been the hard work of two generations of campaign finance reformers. Those protections are now at serious risk, however, and our record on anti-money-laundering action has been frankly appalling. The issues are linked.

The attacks by small groups of truckers on several Canadian cities have revealed many things. That the Conservatives flirtation with anti-democratic militant groups continues. That our three orders of government are still dreadful at co-ordination. That Canadian intelligence and policing has not kept up with the “clear and present danger” represented by these well-funded groups of angry young men.

The most alarming revelation, though, is the large hole that has been blown in our walls of protection against foreign influence in Canadian political life. Conservative hysteria pre-pandemic about American environmental foundations’ funding of green groups here turned out to simply be that — hysteria.

In Alberta, the Kenney government spent millions of public dollars trying to find the secret bank accounts and found pennies. Conservatives’ reactions to the revelation that the militant truckers have access to millions of American dollars — with the promise of millions more from international neo-fascist allies — will be interesting. This flood of cash is a genuine threat to the sovereignty of Canadian democracy.

A chilling incident unfolded before my eyes this week, as I drove by the truckers’ Ottawa compound. Suddenly, two large black SUVs swept past me and turned into the protest command centre. They had New York state plates. Interestingly, they had no insignia, no flags and no slogans anywhere; they wanted to be invisible. It was an almost cinematic moment, with the bad guys surfacing at the scene of the crime.

We now need to reconsider how we prevent the flow of secret money from the U.S. into the hands of Canadian militants — or worse, from there into the war chests of the People’s Party of Canada, or even Conservative candidates. Our current election finance laws were not written to deal with this type of interference. Neither do we have the investigatory or prosecution expertise to track it being washed through third parties.

For years, experts have demonstrated our record on money laundering is embarrassing. Meanwhile, CSIS has been focused on Islamic terrorism for far too long, and only last year did Public Safety Canada recognize white supremacists as among the top 10 national security risks. Our police and intelligence agencies will need to pivot from their outdated focus to our actual reality: the growing power of these insurrectionists and their political allies.

Source: Warning bells have rung for years over the risk of American money flowing into Canadian politics

Delacourt: It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau

Good commentary. It may also be time to call out some of the enablers and fomenters, Rebel and “True” North, given their frequent invective (which at time of writing this Sunday afternoon, have not covered or commented on the rage). Both Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh strongly condemned the mob’s actions but did not see anything from the Greens or Bloc. PPC tweet:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Trudeau doesn’t respect democracy. He uses billions in taxpayer money to overtly buy votes. He violates the Constitution. He demonizes opponents. He curtails our rights. He’s a wannabe fascist tyrant. But yeah, protesters yelling at him are the problem. <a href=”https://t.co/uaUbTmP9gd”>https://t.co/uaUbTmP9gd</a></p>&mdash; Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MaximeBernier/status/1431986988765360133?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>August 29, 2021</a></blockquote>

It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau — not just the mob spectacles on the campaign trail, but all the toxic strains of that fury simmering through Canadian politics for some time now.

The incredible scene of Trudeau haters in Bolton, Ont., their faces contorted in gleeful rage, has elevated this phenomenon from an ugly undercurrent to a force that needs to be reckoned with in the current election campaign.

On one level, what was on display was deeply and intensely personal against the man who has been prime minister of Canada through six challenging years for the country. But as Trudeau himself suggested after the incident on Friday night, it is also a boiling cauldron of populist discontent, fuelled by a pandemic — and, I would add, stoked by the grievous state of the political culture.

“We all had a difficult year and those folks out protesting, they had a difficult year too, and I know and I hear the anger, the frustration, perhaps the fear, and I hear that,” Trudeau said after his campaign had to flee the mob.

There is a chance here, not just for Trudeau, but for all politicians and voters in Canada, to look this toxicity in the eye and take the full measure of it right now, in a way the United States has failed to do, even after the storming of the Capitol earlier this year. The disgrace in Bolton on Friday night wasn’t of the same magnitude, but it comes from a similar place — the point where political disruption crosses into all-out eruption.

All politicians rile up some segments of the population and the RCMP isn’t accompanying them just to err on the side of caution. No one should need reminding that in July 2020, a military reservist named Corey Hurren crashed his truck full of weapons through the gates of Rideau Hall, looking to do damage to Trudeau. This was a day after a rally on Parliament Hill calling for Trudeau’s arrest for treason.

The threats are real, and they have been for as long as I’ve been covering federal politics. One of my first out-of-town assignments after being posted to the capital, in fact, was a rally in New Brunswick where Mila Mulroney, wife of prime minister Brian Mulroney, was jabbed in the ribs by a protester’s sign.

But the poisonous rage that is directed toward Trudeau on a daily basis, churning through social media 24/7, landing as flaming parcels every day in reporters’ email inboxes, and now manifesting itself as a high-level security threat in small-town Ontario, is another order altogether. It is woven with threads of racism, xenophobia, sexism, conspiracy theorists and COVID/vaccine deniers. It has been emboldened by a small cottage industry of commentary that portrays a “woke” Trudeau as the destroyer of all that holds the old Canada together.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole couldn’t have been more clear on Saturday after the incident in Bolton, where some of his party’s supporters were participants in the cursing and howling throng. Those people, O’Toole said, ”will no longer be involved with our campaign, full stop. I expect professionalism, I expect respect. I respect my opponents.”

Yet on the very eve of the current election campaign, O’Toole’s own party put out a video depicting Trudeau as a spoiled, flouncing girl having a temper tantrum. This wasn’t some rogue partisan, cobbling together a video in his parents’ basement. It appeared (now revoked for copyright reasons) on the official Twitter account of the Conservative party.

And this business of feminizing Trudeau to demonize him has deep, enduring roots. (Note to email correspondents: calling him “Justine” is neither original nor witty.) For years, Trudeau haters have been spewing the same kind of bile they usually hurl at women politicians; mocking his hair, his family and casting any success as the product of smarter men around them.

There’s a direct line between that mockery and the taunting hordes on the campaign trail; the sneering contempt.

The immediate questions revolve around whether Bolton will help or hurt Trudeau — is this a turning point, when the Liberal leader gets to cast himself as the underdog/victim? Is it like the moment in 1993, when Jean Chrétien stood up to Conservatives’ mockery of his face?

There’s an old Jerry Seinfeld joke about those detergent ads you see on TV. “If you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem.” All the speculation about how the Bolton incident will affect the election campaign feels a bit to me like seeing the problem as laundry. It’s not just about politicians cleaning up their strategic act for this election, but what is causing the stain on the political fabric of this country.

The faces of those protesters, accompanied by children chanting foul-mouthed curses at a prime minister, is not a sight that can be bleached from the memory of this campaign.

To paraphrase that Seinfeld joke, if you have mobs of citizens openly threatening harm to Trudeau, the biggest problem isn’t Trudeau.

Source: It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau

Michael Den Tandt: The Conservatives have Canadians soaking in fear

Funny and pointed commentary by Den Tandt:

Despite the psychological edge conferred on ISIS militants by illiteracy, innumeracy, zealotry and plain old stupidity, they really are not able to defeat the combined militaries of the whole world, led by the U.S. Air Force, which owns the sky and space. Yet here we are, locked in a stalemate, a token war in which Canada is participating with half-a-dozen old fighter jets, transport planes and a single company of soldiers. If the threat to our nation were pervasive, we’d have more invested — no disrespect to the Canadians serving valiantly over there now. But the fear certainly feels pervasive.

Next on the list of Things of Which We Should be Terrified comes the home-grown ISIS militant: Would-be Che Guevaras, misfits, drop-outs, rebellious teens and pot-heads fleeing the oppressive yoke of mom and dad, now fifth columnists for the jihadist horde. With Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as their poster child, this legion of highly-trained, lethal … but no, wait — they’re mainly witless incompetents, witness the Via Rail terror trial chronicled by my colleague, Christie Blatchford.

Ottawa is not under siege, nor does it feel itself to be: Any third-rate guest house in Kabul has more rigorous security screening than did last week’s Manning Centre conference, where the nation’s most powerful conservatives mixed and mingled. Hmm.

…The political question is simply this: Why so much distemper, now? It looks like nothing so much as an effort to shore up the Conservative base, comprising no more than 30% of the electorate and perhaps less. These are moves to harden the core, not win the centre — or persuade a plurality. If this is truly the game plan for Election 2015, then the governing party may be in worse shape than public polls indicate. The prospect of loss, they say, brings a fear all its own.

Michael Den Tandt: The Conservatives have Canadians soaking in fear