Douglas Todd: ‘Get real’ estate! Five reasons to doubt Trudeau’s housing promises

Of note. Leave it to the housing experts for a comparative assessment of party housing promises and their electoral positioning:

Justin Trudeau has abruptly switched into the role of housing-affordability radical.

But it remains to be seen how many Canadians will buy the Liberals’ brazen new wave of promises — including a ban on foreign purchases, a tax on property flipping and restrictions on exploitive real-estate agents — since there is much cause for skepticism.

Weighing the party’s credibility is crucial since polls are suddenly showing housing affordability (not COVID) is one of the electorates’ top concerns. That’s like the B.C. election in 2017, which saw provincial Liberal leader Christy Clark, who relied heavily on developer donations, turfed in favour of the NDP.

All federal parties’ housing platforms require scrutiny, but here are five reasons voters are justified in feeling suspicious about the prime minister’s sudden conversion to housing activist, a persona he adopted last week to profess: “You shouldn’t lose a bidding war on your home to speculators. It’s time for things to change.”

1. Trudeau has done remarkably little to address an expanding housing crisis

Housing prices across the country have jumped more than 50 per cent cent on average under Trudeau’s watch.

This glaring reality was captured in a recent devastating sound bite, when a heckler at a Trudeau rally in Ontario bellowed: “You had six years to do something. You’ve done nothing. These houses are worth $1.5 million. Are you going to help us pay $1.5 million? Are you, buddy?”

While in power, Liberal promises to address soaring prices have added up to zero. Take, for instance, the commitment Trudeau made in B.C. during the 2019 campaign, to bring in a one-per-cent tax on purchases by “non-resident, non-Canadians.” Nothing happened.

Similar vacuous pledges came to mind last week when the Trudeau stole the Conservatives’ idea to place a two-year ban on all foreign property purchases. Only two months earlier, the Liberals had voted against a Conservative opposition-day motion to do just that.

Many Liberals, federal and provincial, have long claimed it’s xenophobic to restrict foreign buyers in Canada. They’re only now toning down their race-baiting.

The Liberals have long failed to address foreign capital flooding into real estate — as revealed, yet again, this week. A South China Morning Post article by Ian Young showed Ottawa spent five years covering up an old Canada Revenue report detailing how “rich migrants made more than 90 per cent of luxury purchases” in Burnaby and Coquitlam “while declaring refugee-level incomes.”

It also became even harder in the past few days to accept Trudeau’s authenticity on taxing house flipping when it was uncovered the Liberals’ star candidate in Vancouver-Granville had flipped 21 properties. Liberals’ coziness with real-estate insiders runs deep (as it does for many politicians).

2. The Liberals have purposely increased ‘demand’ for housing

It was more than odd when Trudeau came to Vancouver in August and said “you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy … You’ll understand that I think about families.”

It’s impossible to believe the prime minister doesn’t comprehend that monetary policy — in the form of extremely low interest rates and his government’s rapid printing of money in response to the pandemic — have helped jack up prices.

While the Liberals are joining the Conservatives and NDP in making big pledges to increase the construction of housing, many analysts are shocked that some promises Trudeau is making will further inflate prices.

Trudeau’s talk about tax-free housing accounts for first-time buyers, along with other credits, will super-charge demand even more, particularly among young people who can’t afford to stretch further. The size of new mortgages in Canada are soaring far into the danger zone.

It looks, however, like many millennials aren’t buying the new Liberal rhetoric; Leger polling has found the party has been losing support among young adults.

3. Ottawa has done little to combat money laundering via real estate

Prominent housing analyst Stephen Punwasi says former Vancouver Sun reporter Sam Cooper’s book, Wilful Blindness: How A Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated The West, is “the most important book on Canadian real estate you’ll read this year.”

Wilful Blindness describes how transnational multi-millionaires and criminals, rooted in China, Mexico and elsewhere, have exploited the country’s real estate, which is “Canada’s soft spot for economic infiltration.” Cooper’s book describes many egregious examples of how “dirty” offshore money has been transformed into “clean” money through Canadian housing, especially via property flipping.

What have the Liberals done to crack down on money laundering in urban real estate? Though the Liberals said they would gradually direct $69 million into strengthening RCMP investigation of money laundering, B.C. Attorney General David Eby and others have urged Ottawa to go much further — and institute U.S.-style racketeering laws, which are credited with dismantling Mafia families.

4. The Liberals keep hiking immigration levels

Economists — from banks, universities and developers’ organizations — have in recent years acknowledged one of the biggest factors affecting Canadian housing and prices is population growth through immigration.

Despite, or because of, this, Trudeau has steadily increased Canada’s immigration target since being elected in 2015, hiking it from 250,000 to 400,000 a year, with B.C. an especially popular destination.

UBC geographer Dan Hiebert has found the typical value of a detached Metro Vancouver home owned by a new immigrant in 2017 was $2.3 million, $800,000 higher than a dwelling owned by a Canadian-born person.

An SFU study found “hidden foreign ownership,” particularly through satellite families in which breadwinners make their money offshore, is a significant reason prices have no connection to local wages. It all adds up to help cut into the hopes of both domestic Canadians and newcomers with modest resources.

Source: Steve Saretsky, Vancouver housing analyst

5. It’s worse than ironic Trudeau now says, ‘The deck is stacked against you’

In light of the prime minister showing almost no interest in protecting the young from soaring prices, it was more than perplexing to last week see him act like a white knight taking on an out-of-control real-estate system.

Who knows if the identity switch will get votes? But Trudeau’s latest self-image echoes that of the Liberals’ talkative housing secretary, Adam Vaughan, who in April let slip that Canada is “a very safe market for foreign investment, but not a great market for Canadians looking for choices around housing.”

While Vaughan revealed the Liberals’ strategy has been to support “a very good system of foreign investment creating a lot of new housing in Canada as we add immigrants and grow the population,” he cautioned it would be terrible to bring in any policy that could cause  homeowners to see “10 per cent of the equity in their home suddenly disappear overnight.”

There it is. Two months ago the Liberals were firmly on the side of homeowners wanting to profit. Last week Trudeau suddenly became a champion of those frozen out of ownership.

You’re forgiven for thinking you are witnessing pure electoral posturing.

Source: Douglas Todd: ‘Get real’ estate! Five reasons to doubt Trudeau’s housing promises

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

Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

For those interested in the government political messaging, largely the same as last year:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“Today, we celebrate a pillar of our national character, and recognize the many contributions that people of all backgrounds have made, and continue to make, to our society.

Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism is an example to the world, and at the heart of our success as a country. For generations, Canadians have known we are stronger when we recognize and honour our differences and diverse roots, and work together to build a more inclusive future for all.

“This year, we mark an important anniversary. Fifty years ago this fall, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism, which was later enshrined in law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. While we have made important progress toward a more inclusive and equitable society since then, much work remains to be done. Every day, far too many racialized Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and religious minorities continue to face systemic racism, discrimination, and a lack of resources and opportunity.

“Sadly, over the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and deepened social, health, and economic disparities, and seen a rise in threats and violence against many of these communities. The tragic events of the past several weeks are painful reminders that Canada has not always lived up to its ideals, and that many Canadians continue to feel fear and insecurity simply because of the colour of their skin, their background, or their faith.

“This is unacceptable and must change. That is why the Government of Canada must and will continue to take meaningful action to right past wrongs, fight racism and discrimination, and foster a fairer, more equitable society.

“As individuals, we all have a role to play in building a more inclusive and resilient country. The values of openness, compassion, and respect have the power to bring us together, but they are only meaningful if we embody them. When we choose to put them into practice, we choose to shape a better tomorrow for everyone.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite Canadians to celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day by taking part in online events and in-person activities, and recognizing the invaluable contributions that Canadians of all backgrounds continue to make to our country. Together, we can make Canada a stronger, more welcoming, and inclusive place.”

Source: Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

No statement by Conservative leader Erin O’Toole but this tweet:

Multiculturalism and inclusion are pillars of Canada. Canada’s Conservatives will always fight to protect our diversity and ensure equal treatment for all that respects and celebrates that diversity. Today we are wishing all Canadians a happy Multiculturalism Day.
Nothing from NDP leader Singh, Green leader Paul or Bloc leader Blanchet.

Delacourt: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia

Unfortunate. Perspective of former CPC candidate Jeff Bennett revealing:

Justin Trudeau has made his clearest statement yet on what he will and will not do to stand up against Islamophobia in Canada.

The prime minister says he will call out anti-Muslim crime, using the strongest words possible — “terrorism” — to condemn the killing of a family in London, Ont.

Trudeau will not, however, call out Quebec for the secularism law that has made Muslims feel unwelcome in that province — Bill 21, which forces Muslims to relinquish any religious clothing if they want to work in public professions.

“No,” Trudeau said bluntly on Tuesday when asked whether Bill 21 bred intolerance of Muslims. He talked of how Quebec had a right to make its own laws, how people in Quebec might be having “conversations” and “reflecting” on the law in days ahead, and said his government would be “watching” and “following.”

In other words, not leading.

So, to recap: anti-Muslim sentiment is wrong. Anti-Muslim crime is terrorism. Legislation that denies religious expression to Muslims is something to be discussed, but not by this prime minister or other political leaders.

None of the fine-sounding speeches in the House of Commons on Monday came anywhere near mention of the legislation in Quebec.

“Right now, people are talking to their families and saying maybe they should not go for a walk,” New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said in an emotional speech. “There are people literally thinking about whether they should walk out their front door in our country.”

Singh was not talking about Bill 21.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke from the heart about the nine-year-old child who survived the attack, and what kind of Canada he should be allowed to grow up in.

“He deserves a Canada where Muslim women of faith can wear a hijab without fear of being accosted or harassed in public,” O’Toole said.

He wasn’t talking about Bill 21 either, or his own Conservative party’s dog-whistle record on everything from “veiled voting” to “barbaric cultural practices” in the 2015 election.

What makes the silence so breathtaking is that all of Canada’s political leaders have just emerged from two weeks of hard talk about how governments in the past did too little about racism toward Indigenous people.

They are all collectively, retrospectively sorry that an entire culture suffered at the hands of successive politicians who were not courageous enough to stand up to the widespread racism at the time.

Would Canada’s blotted history be improved if we unearthed a speech of John A. Macdonald saying he was following events closely at residential schools and hoped Canadians were having conversations about them?

The contrast between Trudeau’s strong words in the Commons on Tuesday and his tiptoeing around Bill 21 was striking, and the latter may cancel out the former. The prime minister did allow that he has long opposed Bill 21, but he clearly doesn’t intend to use the weight of his office or his words to change the reality of it.

For real political bravery on Tuesday, one had to look in more out-of-the way places — to London, in fact, where a former candidate for the provincial Progressive Conservative party decided to tell the difficult-to-hear truth of racism in politics.

Jeff Bennett, who ran for the PCs in the 2014 election, recounted in a Facebook post how people in his riding were happy to see that he had replaced the former candidate, a man named Ali Chahbar. Loyal Conservatives in London told Bennett they were relieved that “his name was English and his skin was white.” Bennett remembered how Chahbar had been smeared on local talk radio with talk of sharia law and other nonsense.

Bennett wrote that he was tired of people saying London was better than what happened on Sunday. “Bullshit. I knocked on thousands of doors in the very neighbourhood this atrocity occurred. This terrorist may have been alone in that truck on that day, but he was not acting alone. He was raised in a racist city that pretends it isn’t.”

Bennett came in second in London West in 2014 and has likely abandoned any aspirations to be elected again, given his willingness to tell voters what they don’t want to hear about themselves.

This of course explains the silence on Bill 21 on Tuesday, even as the political leaders are making bold proclamations about intolerance towards Muslims. An election looms, Quebec is a crucial battleground and Bill 21 is popular.

Canadian history has been on trial, rightly, for the past two weeks, and Bill 21 is indeed making its own way through the courts. One wonders how history will judge the failure of political leaders to speak up against that legislation when they could have seized the moment.

Source: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia

Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Of note and legitimate call-out given that criticism of the Chinese regime’s repression and other practices is not racist, just as criticism of Israeli government policies is not anti-semitic. But, as always, one has to be careful in wording to ensure the distinction is made clear:

Witnesses who appeared before the Commons special committee on Canada-China relations this week said they were troubled by comments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made about racism — comments that left Conservatives fuming.

During a debate last Wednesday about the dismissal of two Chinese scientists from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Trudeau appeared to suggest that Conservative MPs were feeding anti-Asian sentiments by asking questions.

“I hope that my Conservative Party colleagues are not raising fears about Asian Canadians,” Trudeau told the Commons.

Three women appeared before the committee as representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur and Hong Kong pro-democracy groups. Two of the three said they had personally experienced hostility and abuse during a year that has seen a well-documented wave of anti-Asian racist violence across North America.

All three also warned against soft-pedalling criticism of the Chinese government, or throttling back on efforts to block Chinese state espionage, out of a fear of appearing racist.

“Folks who claim to be standing up against anti-Asian hatred and racism, please, listen to your constituents and Asian voices,” said Tibetan activist Chemi Lhamo, whose run for student president at the University of Toronto provoked hostility and threats from Chinese nationalists.

“As an Asian woman, there is a bigger target on my back, and conflating the idea of anti-CCP [Communist Party of China] with anti-Asian is actually a much bigger disrespect.”

“I think our prime minister is really confused,” said witness Rukiye Turdush of the Uyghur Research Institute. “If we’re against the CCP, it doesn’t mean we’re against the Chinese people. It has nothing to do with anti-Asian racism. I really didn’t get why he said that.”

Biosecurity, not diversity

The government has refused to explain in detail why Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were fired, and why Qiu in 2019 sent samples of Ebola and Henipah virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Source: Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Ibbitson: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

Agree:

Last week, Conservative MP Candice Bergen asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why scientists at the Winnipeg infectious-diseases laboratory had been collaborating with Chinese military scientists. Two Canadian scientists have been fired from the lab, so Ms. Bergen’s question was reasonable. Mr. Trudeau’s response was not.

“The rise in anti-Asian racism we have been seeing over the past number of months should be of concern to everyone,” Mr. Trudeau replied, from left field. “I would recommend that the members of the Conservative Party, in their zeal to make personal attacks, not start to push too far into intolerance toward Canadians of diverse origins.”

What a foolish thing to say.

No one can deny that Canada has a long and unhappy history of discriminating against immigrants from countries in conflict with ours. On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau extended a formal apology on behalf of the government and people of Canada for persecuting Italian Canadians during the Second World War. German Canadians endured discrimination as well. Worst of all, more than 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forced into internment camps, one of the darkest stains on this country’s history, for which Brian Mulroney apologized when he was prime minister.

Asian Canadians today are suffering racist insults and worse in the wake of a virus that spread from Wuhan, China, to Canada and the rest of the world. A report released in March detailed more than a thousand incidents of harassment and physical assault against Asian Canadians between March, 2020, and February, 2021.

But while we need to protect Asian minorities from hate, we also need to question this government’s willingness to co-operate with China despite its misdeeds. It is irresponsible to slander the opposition for doing its job in asking why scientists at the Winnipeg lab were co-operating with Chinese scientists, just as it was irresponsible for the government to allege racism back in the winter of 2020, when Conservatives asked why Ottawa had not imposed a travel ban on China amid reports of a dangerous new virus emanating from Wuhan.

“One of the interesting elements of the coronavirus outbreak has been the spread of misinformation and fear across Canadian society,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu warned on Feb. 3. The best way to prevent that spread, she added “might be if the opposition does not sensationalize the risk to Canadians.”

As late as March 5, as countries around the world imposed travel restrictions, Mr. Trudeau accused his critics of intolerance for questioning Canada’s wide-open borders. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe,” Mr. Trudeau said on March 5. “That is having real, challenging impacts on communities, on community safety.” Days later, Canada closed its borders to the world.

Some commentators allege that even suggesting the virus might have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan is a racist conspiracy theory. But President Joe Biden last week ordered the intelligence services to redouble their efforts to determine whether that happened.

We all need to fight racial intolerance toward Asian Canadians. But it is not racism to ask why this Liberal government still hasn’t banned, as other countries have, the use of Huawei technology in Canada’s 5G network, why it launched a failed effort to co-produce a COVID-19 vaccine with China, or why the Winnipeg lab was co-operating with the Chinese military.

China is a major power and economy. Dealing with that reality while also condemning its persecution of the Uyghur minority, its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, its arbitrary imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig over an extradition dispute, its aggressive actions in the South China Sea and its threatening actions toward Taiwan is one of the biggest challenges in Canadian foreign policy. It’s the job of the opposition parties to scrutinize the government’s conduct as it executes that policy. Accusing the Conservatives of fomenting racism every time they ask a legitimate question about China does more to encourage intolerance than any question the Conservatives might ask.

“The Prime Minister conflated our legitimate concerns about national security with racism against Asian Canadians,” Conservative MP Nelly Shin told the House. “He spun an inflammatory narrative that implies Conservatives are stoking intolerance. By using this false narrative, he has cheapened and undermined the ongoing efforts to combat the rise of anti-Asian racism.”

Hear, hear.

Source: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

Delacourt: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

Of note:

Justin Trudeau issued no statements on Thursday to mark the 41st anniversary of Quebec’s first referendum on sovereignty.

So the prime minister’s comments from earlier this week — on Quebec’s bid to unilaterally declare itself a nation in the Constitution — will have to stand as his remarks on how far Canada has travelled from that fateful moment on May 20, 1980.

“Our initial analysis …. (is) that it is perfectly legitimate for a province to modify the section of the Constitution that applies specifically to them and that that is something that they can do,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

There is no way to view those remarks in isolation from the signature battle of his father’s career, much as the current prime minister tends to resist the historical comparisons.

Forty-one years ago this week, Pierre Trudeau was soberly, cautiously celebrating the victory of federalism against the forces that wanted to make Quebec a separate nation, with words such as these:

“To those who may wish to recreate in this land those old nationalistic barriers between peoples — barriers of which the world has been trying to rid itself — I say, we Canadians do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Pierre Trudeau said in a statement after 59.5 per cent of Quebec voted “no” to a bid to embark on separation from Canada.

“All of us have the opportunity to show the whole world that we are not the last colonials on earth, but rather among the first people to free themselves from the old world of nation-states.”

That old world has re-emerged in 2021 with a twist in the form of Quebec’s new language law, which has been presented — and disturbingly accepted by Trudeau and other political leaders — as a none-of-your-business bit of provincial housekeeping. Just keeping the French language alive, drive on, nothing to see here.

Source: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

Chris Selley: Don’t you start with the ‘Quebec-bashing’ accusations, Justin Trudeau

Of note:

Certain Quebec politicians and commentators are terribly insulted on the province’s behalf. No need to hold the front page; it’s the same basic melodrama as always.

As is his wont, University of Ottawa professor and Twitter fanatic Amir Attaran has been infuriating people. This time, he tweeted mean things about Quebec: it is “led by a white supremacist government”; it’s “the Alabama of the north”; he accused the hospital employees caught on video verbally torturing Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died in a Lanaudière hospital last year, of carrying out a “medical lynching.”

As is their wont, Quebec nationalists including Premier François Legault and Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon demand satisfaction. “I ask you to condemn publicly Mr. Attaran’s words and apologize to Quebecers,” Plamondon wrote to U of O president and vice-chancellorJacques Frémont. “I also ask you to intervene (to ensure) he stops this behaviour, and to apply proportional sanctions.”

As is its wont, U of O did what a university should not: offered an opinion. “I deplore these kinds of highly polarizing statements made in public forums,” Frémont wrote back to Plamondon.

At least Frémont declined to discipline Attaran. And his response wasn’t all bad: “Freedom of expression, we will agree, is not a buffet where one can pick and choose what kind of speech is deemed acceptable,” he wrote — a fine statement in principle, and in theory quite a good comeback. Quebec nationalists have recently adopted freedom of expression, academic and otherwise, as a major cause, lest (as Legault recently put it) “radical militants” send “censorship spilling out into our political debates and our media.”

In practice, however, Quebec’s notion of academic freedom tends to evaporate precisely at the moment it wounds the collective amour propre. Thus, many in Quebec who deplored the suspension of U of O professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval for using the N-word in an academic context now want Attaran’s ears boxed. Four years ago, some of the same people successfully demanded Andrew Potter’s departure from McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada for suggesting a “malaise (was) eating away at … Quebec society.”

Also in practice, Frémont, who was happy to throw Lieutenant-Duval to the wolves (she was later reinstated), is in no position to be making such pronouncements. And it did no good anyway: In a Monday press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the topic of broadband funding, Legault said he was disappointed Frémont hadn’t condemned Attaran more harshly.

If anyone’s behaving a little differently than usual in this rote performance, it’s Trudeau. “Enough of the Quebec-bashing,” he said at the press conference, borrowing a phrase most commonly used by nationalists — including against him and his government.

When it comes to harsh allegations of racism against Canadian institutions , “Quebec bashing” is largely a misnomer. Trudeau knows very well they aren’t only directed at Quebec and Quebecers. In 2017 the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto called Trudeau “a white supremacist terrorist.” Reactions to Trudeau’s blackface problem were replete with such charges. Among Indigenous activists, the terminology of structural racism is de rigueur. And Trudeau uses it himself.

“There is systemic discrimination in Canada, which means our systems treat Canadians of colour … differently than they do others,” he said last year, responding to protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The real difference is that Quebec is uniquely sensitive to criticism in general, and bizarrely resistant specifically to the notion that state apparatuses might have discrimination baked into them that can manifest irrespective of any individual actor’s intentions.

“This is yet another example of systemic racism,” Trudeau said of Echaquan’s death at the time.

Legault responded with a perfect circle of logic. “My role as premier … is to bring Quebecers together, to take action … to fight racism,” he said. He didn’t want to “alienate the large number of Quebecers who think there is no systemic racism in Quebec.”

The Liberals have pulled off a neat trick throughout Quebec’s 15-year battle over minority religious rights, which has culminated (for now) in Bill 21, the ban on teachers, Crown attorneys and some other civil servants wearing hijabs and turbans and kippas: They have maintained their “party of the Charter” brand, opposing such restrictions with while not suffering much for it in Quebec.

On the issue of Bill 21, Trudeau hardly covered himself in glory during the 2019 campaign: “I am the only one on the stage who has said ‘yes: a federal government might have to intervene on this’,” he half-heartedly boasted during a leaders’ debate. But it was slightly further than Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban, would go, and much further than stalwart religious-rights defender Andrew Scheer would. The Conservatives lost two seats in Quebec; the NDP lost 15. Trudeau kept his job, with plenty of Quebec MPs behind him.

The Conservatives are accelerating their pitch. Erin O’Toole’s Saturday keynote speech at the Conservatives’ convention reiterated special promises to Quebec: a single tax-return (which it could have now if it just agreed to have Ottawa collect the money) and expanding French language laws into areas of federal jurisdiction, based on no compelling evidence that French (as opposed to unilingualism) is imperilled in Quebec. It’s an unsavoury and quite likely doomed endeavour.

The Liberals’ advantage here is by no means entirely earned: The party’s various Montreal fortresses aren’t impregnable for any especially good reason. But that’s all the more reason for them to stay well away from the sandbox of nationalist grievances. It’s one of the few scraps of principle any federal political party has left.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/chris-selley-dont-you-start-with-the-quebec-bashing-accusations-justin-trudeau/wcm/fdfea6b9-78eb-4168-9096-459a84c870ef

Ivison: Trudeau makes sudden course correction on freedom of speech

While current concerns over freedom of expression relate mainly with respect to Muslims, there are many examples from other religions. The advent of social media makes navigating between hate speech (high threshold) and that which is offensive or a microaggression:

Justin Trudeau was asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether he condemns the publication of cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.

“No,” he said, definitively in French. “I think it is important to continue to defend freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Our artists help us to reflect and challenge our views, and they contribute to our society.”

Source: Trudeau makes sudden course correction on freedom of speech

L’expérimentation multiculturaliste

As in the separate post on Ivison’s legitimated critique of different messages in English and French regarding limits to freedom of speech, what I found more interesting that some of the usual misunderstandings of multiculturalism in Quebec, the realization that Quebec’s demographic weight will continue to decline as the rest of Canada continues to increase immigration while Quebec immigration remains largely flat:

La semaine dernière, après avoir atermoyé pendant 12 jours, Justin Trudeau a finalement réagi à la décapitation par un islamiste radical de l’enseignant français Samuel Paty, qui avait montré à ses élèves des caricatures de Mahomet. Le premier ministre a dénoncé cet attentat terroriste tout en plaidant pour qu’on abaisse les tensions. « On ne doit pas avoir d’autres tisons pour accroître les flammes », a-t-il dit. Il s’engageait à parler à différents leaders, dont « des leaders dans la communauté musulmane ici au Canada pour comprendre leurs inquiétudes, leurs préoccupations ».

On pouvait y voir une critique à peine voilée d’Emmanuel Macron, qui s’est engagé à combattre le « séparatisme islamique » en France, tout en déplorant « la crise de l’Islam », un combat qui lui vaut les foudres de nombreux pays à majorité musulmane. « Nous ne céderons rien », a dit le président français, refusant que la liberté recule devant les menaces terroristes.

Le premier ministre canadien en a rajouté une couche. Interrogé sur ce droit de dessiner Mahomet, il a affirmé que la liberté d’expression avait des limites et qu’elle devait s’exercer dans « le respect des autres » et dans le souci « de ne pas blesser de façon arbitraire ou inutile ». Il recevait l’appui sans équivoque du chef du Nouveau Parti démocratiqueJagmeet Singh.

Or, mardi, Justin Trudeau a fait volte-face en reconnaissant que « nos journalistes, nos artistes ont un rôle dans la société de nous confronter et nous devons les laisser libres de faire leur travail ».

Pourtant, sa conception du respect, voire de la bienséance, qui doit limiter la liberté d’expression est parfaitement compatible avec la position qu’il avait adoptée au sujet de la liberté d’enseignement et de ces professeures sanctionnées pour avoir utilisé, à des fins pédagogiques, un mot qui blesse des étudiants noirs.

La liberté d’expression et d’opinion est un droit fondamental de nos sociétés démocratiques, un droit qui existait bien avant l’adoption de nos chartes des droits et libertés. Le droit canadien est clair : en dehors des propos haineux, des appels à la violence, de la diffamation qui cause un dommage et du harcèlement, la liberté d’expression est entière. La parole peut ne pas être vraie ou vertueuse ; elle peut blesser. La même chose peut être dite de la liberté d’enseignement, tout aussi fondamentale, qui est aussi celle de connaître, d’explorer, de critiquer.

Justin Trudeau peut prêcher la vertu multiculturelle si cela lui chante, mais il ne peut mettre en doute des libertés fondamentales auxquelles tient la grande majorité des Québécois. Et pour ce qui est de les représenter sur la scène internationale, on repassera. Il n’avait pas à prendre de haut le président français qui défend les valeurs de la République face à l’islam radical.

Le premier ministre François Legault a remis les pendules à l’heure : il a exprimé son appui indéfectible à Emmanuel Macron et à la France. Il s’est en pris à « certains dirigeants politiques qui craignent le terrorisme et qui, devant le chantage de certains groupes religieux radicaux, sont prêts à faire des accommodements qui ne sont pas raisonnables ». La nation québécoise a des valeurs et elle entend les défendre : la liberté d’expression, la laïcité, la langue française, a-t-il dit.

Deux conceptions s’opposent. Justin Trudeau n’a que le mot « communauté » à la bouche. Il parle de la communauté noire ou de la communauté musulmane comme s’il s’agissait de blocs monolithiques d’individus composant un « État post-national » — c’est son expression — devenu un assemblage multiculturel de communautés. Le Canada est d’ailleurs le seul pays où le multiculturalisme est inscrit dans sa constitution.

Dans cette optique, le peuple québécois n’est plus qu’un groupe ethnique parmi d’autres au Canada, les « Quebs », comme disent les jeunes anglophones du West-Island.

L’autre conception, c’est celle d’une nation québécoise qui tente de poursuivre son aventure en français avec tous ceux qui s’y joignent dans une perspective universaliste et démocratique.

Depuis l’élection des libéraux, le Canada a haussé à 250 000, puis à 300 000, puis, récemment, à 400 000 le nombre d’immigrants qu’il entend accueillir chaque année. Impossible pour le Québec de maintenir ce rythme : il lui faudrait accueillir 90 000 nouveaux arrivants par an, presque le double du niveau actuel. Dictée par Ottawa, cette réduction du poids politique de la nation québécoise au sein de la fédération n’a jamais fait l’objet d’un débat public. Pour certains, Justin Trudeau et l’élite torontoise qui le soutient sont engagés dans une expérimentation sociale inédite, une « a-nationalisation », pour ainsi dire, dont il faut discuter.0 commentaire 

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/editoriaux/589107/liberte-et-integrisme-l-experimentation-multiculturaliste?utm_source=infolettre-2020-11-05&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne