Our Trump moment might not be so white: Saunders

Doug Saunders reminds us of Rob Ford, that his base was largely the non-white suburban poor and the importance of addressing barriers that produce marginalization:

Canada’s most dramatic recent triumph of Trump-style politics occurred in Toronto, where nearly half the city’s voters (and Toronto has more voters than most provinces do) cast a ballot for a wealthy, unpredictable, populist, anti-immigration, anti-elite, racist-mouthed guy named Rob Ford in 2010, and a third voted for his movement in 2014. Many note the similarities between the late mayor and the current President. Others point out the big difference: Ford voters weren’t generally, or even mainly, white.

An analysis by University of Toronto geographer Zach Taylor found that the Torontonians who voted for Mr. Ford overwhelmingly lived in inner-suburban wards whose populations were mainly racial and ethnic minorities, mainly lacking university education and mainly getting by on family incomes of less than $100,000 a year. Those voters are what the journalist Naheed Mustafa, in an analysis of their backgrounds, called “the non-white suburban poor,” whom Mr. Ford pitted against an unseen, well-paid downtown elite (and sometimes against newer immigrants) – “Despite his personal wealth, he gave the impression that he spoke the language of the marginalized.” Sound familiar?

Since the eighties, new Canadians and their families have tended to live in the low-cost, poorly transit-connected high-rise suburbs; they are more likely to be excluded from the housing boom and the secure new-economy jobs that have buoyed Canada; they are generally not white. Mr. Ford spoke their specific language of outsider resentment; he stoked the anger felt by many marginal Caribbean, African, South Asian and East Asian Canadians, and worked their Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. He knew their sense of exclusion could be turned into angry intolerance and he gave his voters a mythic “them” to be angry about. And it worked.

Likewise, the 2011 federal election was the first in which most ethnic and religious minorities voted Conservative. The Harper Tories certainly weren’t a populist far-right party, but they didn’t attract these new voters by moving leftward.

This doesn’t mean minorities in Canada have turned to the far right – they haven’t, any more than anyone else has. It does mean that anger and exclusion and paranoia in Canada, and even racial intolerance and xenophobia in Canada, are just as likely to entrap minority Canadians. The places where I most often hear overtly pro-Trump opinions are on Toronto’s black-music radio station or in the suburban flea markets: His outsider message works there.

Canada has traditionally avoided extremism by offering hope: If you start on the bottom rung, you can make it higher. But the second and third rungs are no longer so secure. If they fail, we could wind up electing the world’s most diverse form of self-destructive intolerance.

Source: Our Trump moment might not be so white – The Globe and Mail

Paul Calandra says it was a ‘mistake’ to focus on niqab, barbaric practices

Interesting coming from Calandra, who was one of the more obnoxious practitioners of repeating inane and irrelevant talking points.

Yet he shows more awareness than defeated CIC Minister Alexander (see this short video Catching up with outgoing cabinet minister Chris Alexander).

Perhaps if he and his colleagues engaged in more discussion with Canadians before the election, allowing for a better balance of witnesses during committee hearings, rather than ramming through changes, a more solid basis would have been laid:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s handpicked parliamentary secretary says the Conservative Party’s focus on identity issues — the niqab, stripping citizenship from dual nationals and launching a barbaric cultural practices hot line — was a mistake that cost the party votes among new Canadians.

“There was a lot of confusion and a lot of first-generation Canadians said ‘OK, we’re not ready to endorse that,'” Paul Calandra said in an interview with Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“Obviously, yeah, in retrospect [it was a mistake],” he said, and one that likely led to his defeat at the hands of his Liberal opponent, Jane Philpott, in the riding of Markham–Stouffville.

“We had our challenges, obviously, in the early goings — we had the Duffy trial, then the Syrian refugee crisis — but through it all we were still in a very good spot,” Calandra said.

Voters were responding to Conservative messaging around low taxes, the economy and public safety, he said, but then the party started to stray into identity politics, and doubled down on rhetoric about Islamic face coverings and homegrown terrorism.

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act was a particular sticking point. The Conservative-drafted law, known during the legislative process as Bill C-24, strips dual nationals of their citizenship if they are convicted of terrorism or high treason, among other serious offences.

It was not that voters disagreed with what the Conservatives had enacted, but that they were “confused” about how widely the law could be applied, Calandra said, and the Liberals pounced, shrewdly denouncing the policy as a slippery slope that created two classes of citizenship.

“‘What does it mean for me? How will that impact my family,'” Calandra said, reciting some of the questions he heard from voters at the door. “I had a call … ‘If I’m caught shoplifting does that mean my family has to go?'”

Source: Paul Calandra says it was a ‘mistake’ to focus on niqab, barbaric practices – Politics – CBC News

Aaron Wherry of Macleans provides comments by Conservative MPs:

C-24, the bill that allows the federal government to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens if an individual is convicted of treason or terrorism or takes up arms against Canada, was a similarly problematic issue, unexpectedly raising concerns for immigrants and their families. “Somehow we missed stuff, because I would have been one hundred percent behind it,” says [Brad] Trost [re-elected in Saskatchewan], “but for some reason people who should’ve understood that it wasn’t meant at them were a little bit insecure.” …
In Toronto, the Prime Minister made two appearances in the company of the Ford brothers, Rob and Doug, but, according to a national Innovative Research poll conducted shortly after the election, that did far more harm than good. Almost 10 times as many potential Conservative voters were less likely (49 per cent) than more likely (6.4 per cent) to vote Conservative because of Harper’s appearance with the Fords, who have practically become a worldwide monument to bad behaviour. “It’s hard to see a more self-destructive move by a campaign,” says Innovative Research owner Greg Lyle. This was a bigger turnoff for these voters than the trial of disgraced former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy (30 per cent), the party’s negative ads (26 per cent) or its anti-niqab stance (23 per cent.)

Source: How the Conservative campaign got it so spectacularly wrong – Macleans.ca

Whether antisemitism or ignorance — it has no place in mayoralty debate | Toronto Star

Good commentary by Bernie Farber on Doug Ford’s response to accusations of antisemitism (his brother’s drunken rant) and resorting to the usual “some of my best friends” line rather than a direct apology.

Lovely story about his father:

Sitting there beside the Mayor and listening to Doug Ford open Doug Fords policard I began to wonder if I had somehow managed to crawl into a time-warp. I recalled a conversation my late father had with a customer in his Ottawa grocery store when I was a child back in the 1960s. “You Jews” the customer said to my father without a hint of disdain “you Jews are smart, hell you’re all doctors and lawyers, how did you get so smart?” My Father looked the customer right in the eye replying in his lovely Yiddish accent “can’t tell you, I’m just a simple grocer.”

I never really believed the customer hated Jews. More so he was ignorant of the slur he had uttered. And like that customer, I don’t believe Doug Ford is an antisemite. I simply believe that he holds views which are ignorant and antiquated belonging in a Toronto of the past. Those are not the qualities we are looking for in a Mayor.

Whether antisemitism or ignorance — it has no place in mayoralty debate | Toronto Star.

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama

Best piece on the Ford family reality show I have read:

Rob Ford, hospitalized with a tumour this week and facing what he admits “could be a battle of my lifetime,” was withdrawing from the mayor’s race. He’s sick and scared, you see; he didn’t say that directly, but that’s what his decision to drop out meant, and fair enough.

But as it turns out, neither he nor anyone else in the family is so sick or so scared that they didn’t didn’t also set in motion the old bait-and-switch, with Rob simultaneously announcing his candidacy for councillor in Ward 2, his home ward, and that he’d asked brother Doug to “finish what we started together,” and that Doug would now carry on in the mayoral race.

Oh, and as well, even as Doug was being registered at the clerk’s office downtown, so was their nephew, Michael Ford, withdrawing as a candidate for the Ward 2 seat to make room for the mayor, and instead throwing his hat into the ring for school trustee in neighbouring Ward 1.

It was as though it was inconceivable that Toronto, like Pyongyang, should manage without a Ford for every citizen. As Kim Jong-un took over as Supreme Leader upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, the Eternal General, in 2011, who himself took over the reins of power from his old man, Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader, when he died in 1994, so were the Fords digging deep into their gene pool.

On the tube, no kidding, reporters were soon referring to the press conference Doug Ford would be holding that evening at “Mamma Ford’s house.” They might as well have called Diane Ford “Dear Mother,” you know?

To use a PM Harper word, it would be good for Toronto and the country if this “trifecta” of Fords would be given a time-out by the electorate, although Rob will likely win back his counsellor seat.

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama.

Opinions on Rob Ford divide Toronto’s black community | Toronto Star

Interesting article on Rob Ford and the black community in Toronto and how his “retail politics” as well as follow-up to specific requests by constituents continues to resonate with some:

[Ken] Bryan, raised in foster homes in some of the city’s most impoverished neighbourhoods, says he “gets” Ford’s support in communities ignored by other politicians unless they are “pandering for votes.”“

Ford shows up and helps someone fix their door that’s been broken for three months and they say, ‘Hey, this guy is a great guy,’” Bryan said. “His sort of populism appeals to that … ‘I’m just this poor little guy and there are these downtown elites who hold their noses up at us; they don’t come into our communities.’”

But Bryan bristles when he hears claims that Ford has done more for black people than any other politician, or that youths, as Ford has said, would be “dead or in jail,” if it weren’t for him and his football charity.

“It’s patently false,” said Bryan, “but he believes it and he says it and the people who don’t know any better believe it. And that’s unfortunate.”

…. Those struggling to eke out a living in Toronto may not have the time, or inclination, to follow the decision-making at city hall closely enough to realize the inconsistencies between Ford’s words and his policy positions, says Bryan.

“It is low information, not necessarily low education,” he said.For that reason, it’s up to those who are paying attention to bring those who feel left out “into the fold,” and get them involved in the political process, Bryan adds.

“The question to be asked is why do all these black people feel disenfranchised? The answer is larger and has to do with a lot more than Rob Ford.”

Opinions on Rob Ford divide Toronto’s black community | Toronto Star.

Nenshi to Quebeckers: Come to Calgary, we don’t care how you worship – The Globe and Mail

Many of originally from Toronto have Mayor envy, and here is another illustration why Mayor Nenshi continues to show leadership on a wide range of issues, unlike the sadness of Toronto’s Rob Ford.

Nenshi to Quebeckers: Come to Calgary, we don’t care how you worship – The Globe and Mail.

And Konrad Yakabuski notes the masterful political, cynical and polarizing game of identity politics played by PQ Premier Marois as she tries to create winning conditions for the next election by uniting the “progressive” secularists” in the cities and the conservative traditionalists in the hinterland. Sad if it works.

 Marois plays a masterful game of identity politics