Gurney: All these truckers, and no one at the wheel

One of the better commentaries on the failure of political and bureaucratic foresight and leadership (although Friday federal and Ontario government showed some):

At time of writing — and, gosh, things have been moving fast today — Ottawa remains the site of a major protest, in several locations. The Ambassador Bridge, linking Windsor and Detroit, has been blockaded. Two other U.S-Canada border crossings have also been shut. The federal public-safety minister has said that the RCMP is sending reinforcements to the closed border crossings. We’ll see what we run out of first: Mounties or blockades. Or, given the threat to our supply lines, critical supplies.

I think the most important thing to understand about the convoy-protest crises now unfolding in this country is that many of our leaders are overwhelmed and confused by a situation that they were not prepared for. It has echoes of the beginning of the pandemic, right? In early 2020, we had weeks or even months of notice that something was happening in China, and then in the Middle East, and then in Europe, and then in North America, and then here. And right up until the moment we dropped the hammer for the first lockdown, the official position remained that the risk to Canada was low.

The protests now rocking Canada aren’t a virus. But it’s the same leaders — in many cases, literally the exact same people in the same roles in the same institutions — who yet again had early warning that something was brewing, had a pretty good idea of what was planned, and then were still stunned to find it happening in Ottawa. In conversations all this week with sources at both the provincial and federal level, I got the overwhelming sense that, while a full understanding that we are in a crisis is now taking firm root across our governments, there’s still a lot of confusion and denial among senior bureaucrats and elected officials. The information is there. They just can’t accept it yet. And, until they do, there’s no chance of action. 

Canada has been a blessed country for generations. There haven’t been major consequences, on a societal level, for a degree of unseriousness among our political leaders. As a country, we are rich, well-fed, militarily secure, and well-tended to by a health-care system that, at least pre-COVID-19, could have been a lot better but wasn’t terrible, overall. It was solidly decent. 

The problem with a degree of unseriousness is that the world can be a pretty serious place. Future historians will probably marvel at the complacency and mediocrity we tolerated and eventually grew to expect and accept as normal amid our political class and in the functions of government. But whatever conclusions they draw after all this, we’re stuck in it now. This is where we are, these are the problems we have, and you’ve all met the leaders we’re living with. So what do we do?

We have to accept their limitations. Most of our politicians today never imagined they’d be living through times like this. They wanted a bit of power and status in a happy, stable, wealthy peacetime country. Now they’re being asked to lead that country during an emergency. Not only is this not what they signed up for, but it’s also something they probably never even thought about before putting their name on a ballot. They probably aren’t the right people for this moment. Those who may have it within them are going to have to learn on the job and won’t have much help doing it. I don’t think most of our bureaucracy or political staffers are more up to speed on these compounding challenges than most of the elected leaders.

So all I can ask of them, all I can advise (beg?) them to do, is to try to remember that the public is looking to them to make the best decisions they can in the public interest. The public doesn’t care about partisanship right now — well, okay, fine, some of them do, because they want to make sure the blame lands on the other guy. But most of us just want to see our governments working together. Most of us don’t care about the mistakes that brought us here (or are at least willing to postpone the blame game and focus on solutions). And we really don’t want to see people buck-passing or hiding from hard decisions behind jurisdictional fig leaves. 

On Thursday, reports emerged that the Ontario government wasn’t sitting down with federal and municipal counterparts regarding the Ottawa situation, because the meetings “don’t accomplish anything.” Then show up, dammit, and pound the table and throw your shoes around the room and toss chairs through the window until something is accomplished. If the feds and Ottawa are too stunned to make a call, someone from Queen’s Park needs to take the wheel.

Or from Ottawa! Or from the federal government! Who cares?! Lock them in a room until someone discovers a spine and starts leading the effort. This is literally the least they could do — and the least they owe the people.

We need leaders now, not politicians content to avoid any action and let someone else take the blame. I’m not sure we have any. And it looks as if the so-called leaders at Queen’s Park won’t even show up. History is watching. Hell, the present is watching. You are all failing this latest challenge. Avoiding the meetings and shunting your calls right to voicemail isn’t politically savvy, guys. It’s just gutless. 

Source: All these truckers, and no one at the wheel

Matt Gurney: We know who the PPC voters are. Here’s what they believe

Interesting polling data on PPC supporters:

Poll after poll has shown that the People’s Party of Canada, led by former Conservative Maxime Bernier, is surging in popular support. The party, which captured only 1.6 per cent of the vote in 2019, electing zero candidates, is now polling at closer to five or six per cent, or higher. These gains have not come at any obvious loss to any major party (the hapless Green party may be an exception, but there were only so many Green voters in the first place). While there is no doubt that some voters are bolting to the PPC from traditional parties, it seems certain — and polling suggests — that they are also drawing support from the nine million Canadians who were eligible to vote in 2019 but did not. 

This is, to put it very mildly, worth watching. In a recent column here, drawing on polling information provided by John Wright, the executive vice president of Maru Public Opinion, we tried to establish what we could about a PPC supporter. They are not particularly remarkable; as noted last week, a typical PPC voter is a typical Canadian. They are fairly evenly distributed across all demographic segments and found in generally similar numbers in the various provinces. The earlier numbers were based on a fairly small sample size — the PPC’s low support on a national level has limited their numbers in any typical national-level poll. Last week, I said that more polling was necessary, to firm up the profile of who a PPC voter is and where they live. Wright has been doing that polling — the sample sizes are still modest, but a representative profile is beginning to emerge …  not just of who a PPC voter is, but what they believe.

There is a degree of background context that must be established before we can move onto the numbers. When he presented me with his latest results on Tuesday, Wright noted that polling PPC voters is a particular challenge for his industry. The very concept of “the typical PPC voter” is rapidly shifting. The PPC base of even five weeks ago was a small fringe of grumpy people loosely assembled around a handful of vaguely libertarian policies, some anti-immigration blather and a disillusionment with the political status quo. (A typical PPC billboard encapsulates this unfocused dissatisfaction: “The Other Options Suck.”) Many polling companies track the attitudes of partisans of various affiliations by creating a panel of those partisans and then polling them over and over. Polling companies trying to track the PPC’s sudden rise, if they rely on such an identified panel of PPC voters that will be repeatedly surveyed, are capturing the PPC as it existed before the mid-August influx of new supporters. This is undoubtedly skewing our understanding of what the PPC voter, as they exist right now, believes. Wright has done four waves of polling in the last 10 days to update, as best as possible, our understanding of what the PPC voter believes today. He will continue to poll several times a week for the foreseeable future. 

As to that August surge, as discussed in my column here last week, the best way to explain it is to look for something that recently changed — and something has: there are millions of Canadians who are adamantly anti-vax and anti-vaccine mandate/passport. The PPC surge began at the precise moment that vaccine mandates became a major issue in the federal campaign, and provinces began discussing their plans for certificates to verify vaccination status for domestic purposes. Pollsters needed a few weeks to notice the surge and verify it was real. 

Back to the numbers.

First, let’s briefly deal with the “who” of the PPC: the latest numbers with the larger survey generally conform with what I reported last week and is being reported elsewhere. PPC support is fairly uniform across the country, in the mid-to-high single digits; the only notable outlier is Quebec, which is below the national average of six, with four per cent. PPC support is generally stable across income groups and, in one of the only notable divergences from the earlier, smaller sample, fairly uniform across the genders, as well. PPC support is roughly double among those under age 55 relative to those over 55. The party is about half as popular among those with a university degree compared to those without. This profile is generally similar to what other pollsters are seeing in their own data 

Now let’s look at what they believe.

Wright had previously run an attitudinal survey of the Canadian electorate, polling their level of agreement with a variety of statements. The PPC voters gave answers that were wildly offside with the rest of the electorate. Wright has now run that survey again with a much larger sample of PPC voters (and will run it again for a yet larger sample) and the numbers didn’t change much. Other pollsters have been able to report in general terms the kinds of things a PPC voter might believe, or at least what they believed six weeks ago, but we can now put some actual meat on the bones of what they believe now, after the surge in support. And folks, it’s pretty eye-opening stuff.

Take immigration, something the PPC openly spoken against. The typical Canadian has about an even chance of thinking Canada is letting in too many immigrants — 47 per cent of the country feels that way, and that includes three in five Conservatives, half of Bloc voters, a third of Liberal and NPD voters — but a whopping 83 per cent of PPC voters. PPC voters are way more likely than the rest to favour a very hands-off approach to gun control and regulation; the typical Conservative is a lot closer to a Liberal or NDP voter on this issue than they are a PPC voter. 

But that’s about what you’d expect for a vaguely libertarian party that has been publicly critical of immigration. It gets weirder from here.

Roughly a third of Canadians (35 per cent) agree that the government is stripping away personal liberties; with Conservative and Green voters answering in the affirmative more often than NDP and Liberals. By comparison, 89 per cent of PPC voters believe the government is stripping away their liberty. Almost 90 per cent of PPC voters further agree that their governments are creating “tyranny” over the population. To put that in context, only about 40 per cent of Conservatives feel that way, with the other major parties way behind.

Oh, and here’s a cheerful one to chew over: Wright asked Canadians if they’d agree that “we are on the verge of a revolution in our society to take our freedom back from governments who are limiting it.” That question received 32 per cent support nationally — but an incredible 84 per cent from PPC supporters.

This sounds like the kind of thing we maybe ought to be paying attention to, eh?

It’s the attitudes on vaccination and measures to promote vaccination that show the wildest disparities between PPCers and the rest, though. Wright asked if Canadians would agree that “regardless of what society says, I will not be vaccinated.” Only 16 per cent of his national respondents agreed; this number is generally similar to what other pollsters have been tracking as their “anti-vax” hard core. 

About 20 per cent of Greens are hardcore anti-vaxxers. The mainstream parties are all within the margin of error with each other, and in the very low double or high single digits. But 60 per cent of PPCers say they will not be vaccinated.

Wright also polled party supporters on this question: “I am against vaccine passports because they exclude people from participating in society.” That view was held by only 29 per cent of Canadians. But 88 per cent of PPC voters agreed. 

This is big: fully half of PPC voters fear they will lose their jobs due to opposition to vaccines. That’s significantly greater than the national average: only a fifth of Canadians claimed to have this worry. 

There are limits to the available polling. I can’t tell you what issues PPC voters agree with the majority on. There undoubtedly are some — remember, the typical PPC voter is a fairly typical Canadian. These people are your friends, co-workers and neighbours. I also can’t tell you much about their ethnic composition — there is an assumption among many pundits that they’ll be lopsidedly white, and I confess that wouldn’t shock me, but the PPC’s age profile skewing younger rather than older might complicate that. 

The PPC vote is vastly more alarmed at the prospect of tyranny and an erosion of liberty and personal freedom than most Canadians, and that PPC supporters are wildly divergent from the typical Canadian on all issues around vaccination and efforts to boost vaccination rates. Also, the stereotype of the typical PPC voter simply being a the looniest subsection of the Conservatives doesn’t really seem to hold up. For all the criticism Erin O’Toole has faced over vaccination and related issues, Conservative voters are actually quite closely aligned with the majority; indeed, the average Conservative voter is less adamantly opposed to vaccination than the average Canadian. Tyler Dawson @tylerrdawsonMaxime Bernier has arrived at Borden Park, and a spontaneous singing of O Canada has broken out. Unsurprisingly, they’ve used the old lyrics. September 11th 20214 Retweets24 Likes

If any party other than the PPC is weirdly offside the consensus on the vaccine-related questions, it’s the Greens. Anyone who’s ever met a Green voter probably isn’t shocked by that, the party was always populated by a strange mix of genuinely smart policy wonks and cranks. The cranks have another option now.

None of this is predictive. PPC support might evaporate on election day. Broader societal support doesn’t automatically confer upon it a meaningful electoral ground game and functional get-out-the-vote effort. I believe that the polls showing surging PPC support are capturing something real, but a bunch of typically non-voting citizens falling in with a proto-party with no real organizational strength will almost certainly result in said proto-party underperforming its polling at the ballot box. 

As noted in my last column, though, the PPC surge began right as talk about vaccine passports and mandates heated up. It’s heated up more since. Half of PPC voters fear their livelihoods are in danger. Ninety per cent of them believe they’re having tyranny imposed upon them. The more vaccine mandates and passports are advocated by the major political parties and loudly and aggressively championed by prominent voices in the mainstream, the more juiced up this contingent is likely to become. Remember: Wright has PPC support at six per cent nationally, but almost a fifth of Canadians fear they’ll lose their job for opposing vaccines. The gap between those numbers is Bernier’s pool of accessible new supporters. It’s a big pool.

You don’t have to agree with the PPC and its supporters. This doubly-vaxed writer certainly does not. But these polls just aren’t another dataset for the horserace number crunchers. These are warning signs of what could possibly be a very real, persistent problem to Canadian social and political stability. Anyone who thinks that alarmist should imagine how alarmist they’d sound trying to explain the last five years to their younger selves, circa 2016. 

More polls to come. Stay tuned.


Matt Gurney: We could not have saved all Afghan evacuees. But we could have saved more

One of the better critical pieces with appropriate balance and nuance:

Developments have been coming so fast that this column risks going obsolete before it can be published. But as of this time, early Friday morning, Canada has largely discontinued its military operations in Afghanistan. The bulk of our forces withdrew the day before, leaving only a few soldiers and staff to co-ordinate with our allies on the ground. There were two bomb attacks near the airfield Thursday that killed at least a dozen American military personnel, injured 15 others, and killed dozens of local Afghans; the exact number is hard to come by, but reports Friday put it at over 100. 

As the mission ends on this bitter note, it’s important for us to separate the reasonable criticisms of our federal government’s response from the unreasonable. 

Partisan opponents of the Liberals, sensing opportunity, have been levelling some wildly unfair accusations of Liberal responsibility. Partisan Liberals for their part, are attacking strawmen erected for the purpose of deflecting all criticism, fair or otherwise.

We have to cut through the fanatics on both sides and be very clear about this: the evacuation was always going to be messy. We were never going to get everyone out. But it is obvious that we did not get out as many people as we should have. It’s clear that we made major errors, including failing to work with veterans and aid groups on the ground; we did not lift bureaucratic hurdles quickly enough. We lost time dithering. That is our shameful failure.

It is not the Canadian government’s fault that our American allies decided to pull out of the conflict. Frankly, I still can’t entirely blame either the Trump or Biden administrations for that decision, although the execution of that decision has been catastrophic. 

This was not a decision made in Ottawa, but in Washington, and for entirely American reasons. Further, the Liberals are not to blame for the U.S. government’s massive intelligence failure. We were caught totally flatfooted by the rapid and total collapse of the former Afghan government — what had been expected to take months took days. Canada, a member of both NATO and the Five Eyes, relies heavily on the intelligence gathered by our larger, more powerful ally. I do not fault Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau or his government for being caught unprepared. 

So let’s dispense with that nonsense right away. In the big picture, there is not a whole hell of a lot Canadian governments could have done to avoid this crisis.

But we could’ve managed the crisis much better.

Over the last 10 days, we’ve had repeated reports of bottlenecks caused by over-restrictive paperwork requirements. We’ve seen other allies flying helicopters into Kabul to allow them to retrieve their people from sites around the city; Canada has helicopters and the ability to deploy them (see photo above), but we didn’t follow suit. 

Reports indicate that there was a gap of several days in any meaningful Canadian Armed Forces presence on the ground — and that gap set us back in terms of intelligence and planning. Canadian officials reportedly worried about the number of seatbelts on our transport planes even as other allies were loading their aircraft up with as many people as they could (we eventually began cramming evacuees into ours, as well). In several recent pieces here at The Line, Kevin Newman has described the struggle faced by those those trying to escape — people to whom we had had promised safe haven as their lives were now in peril due time they spent helping us during our missions in Afghanistan. There are numerous reports of our government telling these people to show up at gas stations and hotels — only to ghost them. 

Facts beyond our control limited how effective we were ever going to be at getting people out, but we did not max out our effectiveness within those constraints. As a result, people will die who did not have to. The gap between the best-possible Canadian response and the actual Canadian response is a gap measured in lives.

Lauren Dobson-Hughes wrote about this in her piece in The Line yesterday: the Canadian government is bad at managing crisis. “Our foreign policy and development work has suffered from a lack of long-term, strategic planning and coherence,” she wrote. “Canada tends to hyper-focus on the minute details at the tactical level (no, the text on a roundtable invite does not need to be reviewed by an assistant deputy minister), but has much less ability to anticipate broader trends and challenges.”

Read her piece in full, if you haven’t — it’s worth your time. But it strikes me as perhaps simpler to say that the Canadian federal government cannot transition to an emergency mindset. Our leaders can stab the big red button until their fingers bleed — but nothing happens. 

I’m not honestly sure if the problem is isolated pockets of bureaucratic dysfunction within a workforce that is mostly energized, nimble and effective, or the reverse: a generally sluggish series of inefficient institutions that smother to death the rare pockets of success that may accidentally spring to life within the hostile environment of our federal government. It would be good to know this, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter: whether we failed by a little or failed by a lot is of entirely academic interest to the people who’ll face Taliban bullets because of said failure. There are moments in life where you can’t grade on a spectrum of success, when it is a binary choice between success and failure. We failed thousands of our friends in Afghanistan, and for them, that failure is total.

Our armed forces seem to have responded to the challenge with their usual courage and professionalism. But of course they did — these are the people who live in a world where a split-second decision can mean the difference between survival and death. We train them for that kind of crisis management, and that training, combined with their understanding of the harsh nature of reality, allows them to work wonders despite chronic underfunding. 

However, for most Canadian officials, products as they are of a rich, peaceful country far from danger — “a boat in safe harbour,” as Dobson-Hughes aptly described it — there’s one way of doing things: the usual way. And if the usual way means only letting people onto the plane if their paperwork is perfect, and even then, only until the limit set by how many seatbelts are aboard the plane, that’s what they’re going to do. 

We saw this play out during the early phase of the pandemic, when even as countries all over the world where falling into the grips of raging, deadly outbreaks, the official line in Ottawa remained, essentially, “Sa’ll good!” The government was insisting that “the risk to Canada is low” weeks after most of us began loading up on toilet paper and canned soup. There was something in our government, as an institution, that prevented it from seeing what was coming, accepting it for what it was, and then shifting itself into high gear. 

And when it finally came, we watched absurd moments; of federal officials insisting all was being appropriately managed at the airports, even as Canadians actually in the airports — myself included — were shouting that that wasn’t true. Provincial and local leaders finally sent their own people in to compensate for the federal government’s obvious inability not just to respond to the emergency, but really, to even comprehend it.

The government did eventually shift into crisis mode, and Ottawa did have some successes, including a vaccine procurement that beat expectations and fiscal support programs that were rushed into service with admirable speed. Andrew Potter, a contributor here, wrote wisely in the National Post early this year that governments specialize, and if there’s anything the federal government knows how to do, it’s send people money. It’s not that we can’t get anything right; millions of Canadians benefit from capably delivered government services (federal, provincial and local) every day. The failure is in our ability to respond quickly to the unexpected. Adapting on the fly requires a degree of flexibility that we simply do not have.

Some of this can be fixed with time and energy and money — I’ve been writing about the need for a larger, more capable Canadian military for years, and a few more C-17s certainly would have come in handy this week (alas, they’re no longer being built). Indeed, one of the side stories that didn’t get enough attention this week is a perfect example of how our institutional lethargy has real consequences on the ground: Canada has five C-17 transport aircraft, and the C-17 is designed to be refuelled in mid-flight by an aerial tanker. But Canadian evacuation efforts in Kabul faced fuel constraints because while our planes are capable in midair refuelling, our crews are not trained for it. Canada does have refuelling tanker aircraft, but our tankers aren’t compatible with our C-17s, and we haven’t trained our C-17 pilots to refuel from allied (mainly American) tankers. Canada is working to replace its current tanker aircraft, but until we pick a next-generation fighter — something we’ve been working on for literally decades, with successive governments refusing to close a deal due to the high cost of the program — we don’t know which type of refuelling system we’ll need. So this critical capacity remains absent from our military.

Of course, even the best-trained and equipped military cannot help us until we develop the ability to skip the shock and denial phase that seems to mark our automatic response to any crisis, and ram emergency action through a resisting bureaucracy. The ongoing election campaign no doubt hindered our response to the crisis in Kabul, but we shouldn’t overestimate by how much. COVID-19 caught us with our pants down and we had literally months of warning that that was likely to reach our shores.

Trudeau and the Liberals didn’t bring down Afghanistan or screw up the intelligence estimates. But they are the ones at the wheel of a government that has, yet again, failed to respond in real-time to a fast-moving crisis. Tens of thousands of Canadians died of COVID, and thousands of our friends abroad may now die at the hands of the Taliban. Some of those deaths were probably unavoidable, but not all of them. We could have saved more people here and in Kabul. That we didn’t is something we should be deeply ashamed of, and determined to never let happen again.


Matt Gurney: If deportation is appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists?

Matt Gurney is unsatisfied with the principle, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” as an explanation why we revoke citizenship for fraud and misrepresentation but not for terrorism:

After the Second World War, thousands of citizens of defeated enemy nations — Germany, Italy, Japan — moved to Canada. These immigrants included many who had served in the armed forces of those nations, and perhaps had even fought against Canadians. Mere military service in a once-hostile nation was not, and should not have been, found to be sufficient cause to deny them citizenship once the war was over. In some rare cases, however, Canada later discovered (or was told) that people living here as naturalized Canadians had been involved, for instance, in the Holocaust. These individuals, once convicted of their war crimes, had their citizenship taken away and were returned to their original countries of origin to face justice.

If that’s appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists?

The legal answer would be, of course, that these individuals weren’t stripped of their passports because they were terrible people who had done awful things, but because they’d lied about having done those terrible things. But while perhaps legally valid, the argument is morally and pragmatically absurd. We don’t exile liars, nor should fraud be somehow treated as a crime worse than, say, genocide. The legal circumstances provided an excuse to what’s really, and rightly, an exercise in morality — denying the honour of Canadian citizenship to those who do not deserve it.

If the Liberals wish to reverse parts of C-24, they of course have that right. They are the government. But concerned Canadians are owed more than slogans. The government should be clear why war criminals can be deported, but terrorists with dual nationalities can keep their passport forever. They may have an answer for it. If so, let’s hear it.

If I were writing the talking points:

  • There is a difference between one’s behaviour before one becomes a citizen and after one becomes Canadian
  • Before, all applicants must meet requirements (residency, language, knowledge etc) in order to take the oath and become citizens
  • Integrity is central to this process
  • Any misrepresentation or fraud, like any government program, means one loses the benefits of the particular program
  • After, all citizens must be treated equally before the law, whether Canadian-born or foreign-born, whether Canadian citizen only or dual-national
  • Current and past cases involve all of these variations, and should be subject to the same punishment. One should not have different punishments for the same crime

Responsive (if asked what about those lying when they take the oath)

  • There is no reliable way to test the sincerity of those taking the oath unlike the other, more easily verifiable, requirements

Comments or suggestions welcome …

Source: Matt Gurney: If deportation is appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists? | National Post

More Ottawa Shooting Commentary

Further to yesterday’s round-up of the recent shootings, more of the better commentary or more interesting commentary that has crossed my eye.

Wesley Wark: Reducing the risk of terrorism provides a sober assessment of the ongoing risks and the need neither to over or under act, but learn the lessons from any failures and gaps in security.

In the theme of let’s not get carried away, André Pratte in La réponse and Stephen Maher Time to reflect on the courage of our ancestors remind us to have balance and perspective. Doug Saunders notes how the public space around parliaments the world over has been whittled down by successive security threats in Don’t let the seat of government become a fortress.

On the other side, Journal de Montréal’s Richard Martineau is characteristically alarmist in Terrorisme: appelons les choses par leur nom.

More on the common elements to the two most recent cases of radicalization, Martin Couture-Rouleau  and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau:

Martin Couture-Rouleau et Michael Zehaf-Bibeau partagent plusieurs points en commun : ils étaient jeunes (25 ans et 32 ans), ils s’étaient récemment convertis à l’islam radical, la GRC avait confisqué leur passeport par crainte qu’ils rejoignent le groupe État islamique, et ils auraient agi tels des « loups solitaires ».

Pour les autorités policières, c’est le cauchemar. Les deux jeunes ont agi de leur propre chef, sans même avoir été initiés au combat par des groupes extrémistes à l’étranger. Ils sont difficiles à repérer et à neutraliser.

Un loup solitaire aux motivations inconnues

And further details about the troubled life of the shooter, Zehaf-Bibeau in the Globe in Drugs and religion key themes in Ottawa shooter’s troubled life and in the Post in Details of Zehaf-Bibeau’s life paint picture of a man derailed by homelessness, crime and addiction, detailing his drug addiction, quarrelsome personality and his failed efforts to use his faith to control both.

Canadian Muslims are quick to respond and express outrage in Canadian Muslims denounce recent attacks, fear backlash.

Matt Gurney challenges the military’s decision in Canadian soldiers don’t hide in their own damn country — rescind the order to not wear uniforms in public.

Barbara Kay covers a different angle in The unique anguish of a terrorist’s mother:

If it is inevitable, why feel guilty about these “bad seeds”? And yet, inevitably, parents do. Our sympathetic embrace for the real victims should therefore be wide enough to include their murderers’ collateral damage.

A great deal of favourable commentary on Parliament yesterday, how each leader struck the right tone, the hugs of support, and the deserved standing ovation for Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers starting with Jeffrey Simpson in Tribute, solidarity and back to politics (with some barbs at the difference between Government rhetoric and funding).

Jonathan Kay noted the contrast between this time and 30 years ago, when the then Sergeant-at-Arms was able to talk armed Denis Lortie into surrendering in Two Sergeants-at-Arms, two kinds of heroism.

Rick Salutin, similarly praises Kevin Vickers, but provocatively, and accurately, rubbishes the idea of Canadian innocence in We didn’t lose our innocence. We never had it.

Andrew Coyne, perceptively noted the nuances in the various positions and how that hopefully portended more serious political dialogue and debate in Politics weren’t put aside during the Ottawa hug-out, they were just made over for the occasion:

For Mr. Harper, it was “to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” as well as “to work with our allies” in the fight against “the terrorist organizations” abroad who hope “to bring their savagery to our shores.” For Mr. Mulcair, it was “our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world.” For Mr. Trudeau, it was “staying true to our values” of “fairness, justice and the rule of law.”

“We will not be intimidated,” Mr. Harper vowed. “That is not going to happen,” Mr. Mulcair seconded. “We will not be intimidated into changing that,” Mr. Trudeau agreed. But they meant very different things.

And the still and video images of the citizens of Ottawa paying their tribute to fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo (as well as the accounts of those who tried to save him in ‘You’re breathing — keep breathing’), as well as to democratic values, were moving.


Kenney defends job bank despite outdated postings

Yet another headache for the government in the context of Temporary Foreign Workers and the introduction of the “Express Entry” new immigration approach which will also use the Job Bank. To be fair, keeping such sites up-to-date is always a challenge:

The federal government will soon make enhancements to its online job bank amid revelations that hundreds of positions posted on the site have long since been filled, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said Monday.

“We are making improvements to the Canada Job Bank … we will be using new technological developments in the near future to ensure an even better matching of unemployed Canadians with available jobs,” Kenney said in the House of Commons.

The government will work with “private-sector web platforms” when provinces fail to send their own postings to the job bank, he added. Currently, most provinces and territories do so automatically.

The job bank is a critical component of Ottawa’s controversial temporary foreign worker program. Employers are required to post ads on the site seeking Canadian workers for four weeks before they’re able to apply to hire temporary foreign workers.

The government also relies in part on job bank data to determine what regions of the country are clamouring for labour.

But from customer service representatives in New Brunswick to food service supervisors in B.C. and RCMP clerks in Saskatchewan, many of the 110,000 jobs listed on the job bank are no longer available. A litany of postings are several months old; some have been on the site for more than a year.

Kenney defends job bank despite outdated postings.

In related Temporary Foreign Workers news, Minister Kenney’s refuses Quebec’s request for an exemption for the moratorium, and Minister Alexander makes one of his few public comments:

Kenney told the Commons the moratorium was imposed to protect Canadians who are looking for work.

The federal minister pointed out that 14 per cent of Quebec youth are unemployed as are 20 per cent of new arrivals to the province.

Ottawa announced the moratorium in late April after reports suggested the program was being abused by the food-service industry.

A spokesman for Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said on the weekend the province has no problem with the program and that restaurants need temporary foreign workers to keep operating, especially in summer.

The moratorium has been widely criticized by industry groups, with Quebec’s restaurant association calling it “exaggerated and unreasonable.”

Earlier on Monday, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said the moratorium was imposed for “very good reasons.”

“There was abuse and we are absolutely committed to completing the review and the reform we have underway,” he said at an unrelated event in Montreal.

“And I can assure you and her (Weil) and Canadians across the country that when this program is relaunched, it will not be subject to abuse.”

He said the hiring of foreign temporary workers should be a “last resort.”

“There are young people across Canada…who are looking for permanent jobs and summer jobs and our first obligation as employers is to look to the domestic market.”

Temporary foreign worker ban: Kenney tells Quebec to hire unemployed youth

Lastly, commentary by Matt Gurney on the irony of the Quebec request:

But restaurant workers? It’s harder to make that case. If Canadians aren’t taking those jobs, the jobs probably aren’t paying enough. I’m sympathetic to the restaurant owners — the restaurant business is highly competitive, with razor-thin margins — but this is how capitalism works. Long-term jobs won’t adjust their prices to appropriate market-driven levels if there’s a gigantic foreign-worker-fed short circuit built into the process. Foreign workers when necessary to sustain and grow the economy, sure, but not foreign workers handing out the dessert menus as the default option.

Quebec is in an odd position here, and an ironic one. Despite the recent election of the Liberal party, and the attendant crushing defeat of the oft-xenophobic Parti Quebecois, the province still has a warranted reputation of being one of the less welcoming places in Canada with which to move. Even Canadian citizens, of the generically white ethnic background, can run into trouble for what language they speak. There are recent signs that this sad trend may slowly be moderating, but there’s still a very long way to go.

And while Quebec sorts out its discomfort with outsiders, it’s also insisting that it wants to retain access to a vast pool of foreigners to work in an industry in which they probably ought not to be working in the first place. “Send us some foreigners so we can hire them for service-sector jobs!” isn’t really something anyone would have expected to hear coming out of the province that was recently in an uproar about what civil servants could wear on their head or around their necks without getting binned, but here we are.

Quebec government really wants more foreigners. OK, then