We’re in the final hours of 2022, and to many, glad to be done with it. The new year awaits, but how are we going to be any different than 2020-22? Excusing the fact that a global pandemic interrupted our world, what have we learned?
Some might argue that the pandemic brought out the worst in society; I would argue that it merely ripped the bandage off and exposed society’s rot which has always been there.
The divisions and distrust in society didn’t happen because of covid19, or which party controls congress, or the house of commons. These divisions, barriers and the like have happened because society looks at each other and finds blame in others for what is going wrong out there and not looking inward and asking – how can I make a difference.
The great thing about the human species is that we are infinitely capable of learning though. We’ve spent years pointing fingers and avoiding the mirror. We can change this, in fact if you want 2023 to be different than ’22 and earlier – this self reflection and evaluation is necessary.
This doesn’t excuse bad people, doing bad things from the accountability due their lot. This also doesn’t mean that others, not necessarily doing bad things, standing on their self granted soap box and pointing a finger in moral judgement.
We’re at a place in history now where many large problems have been exposed because of our collective failure to deal with them as small problems.
What we need is a consensus in society to deal with these matters because they’re no longer avoidable. Solutions won’t necessarily be easy or comfortable, but the sooner we get to it – the better.
This message won’t land well who profit from peddling fear and hate. I don’t care. Those folks offer no solutions, they offer blame, and as influencers – they can make a lot of useless noise.
Sift out the noise of hatred, fear, division, distraction. Listen to each other.
Starting with MySpace 20+ years ago, now facebook and twitter, social media is facing a reckoning.
The legal framework for social media to exist and thrive has been based on the limited immunity that each organization has through actions of various governments. This means that users can post whatever they want, but social media operators are required to maintain a version of a community standards policy that forbids the most vile content (overt racism, violent content, sexually exploitative content, etc).
Big corporate (and little corporate) advertisers generate most of the revenue flow to social media orgs – which maintain the free basis that average users enjoy. Advertisers in turn may target their advertising dollars to get their product or message in front of you based on your browsing habits and demographic information you’ve volunteered as part of your application to join.
This was the deal. It was a cost free way to join a large club for users; reach out to your community and family and for others to make money. So long as bad actors didn’t exploit the system for their own gain.
The limited immunity granted by government against social media orgs gave folks a place where free speech thrived. But like anything, there are extremes…and freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from consequences.
We have learned that the new measure of power is influence itself. The more people you can influence, the more powerful you are. If your social media circles amount to around 100 people – that is your reach. But if you’re a powerful ideologue with 250 million followers, your words carry powerful influence.
That’s a lot of power given to one person; to reach millions with a message. What if the message is lies? Who gets to vet what is truth and a lie? Is lying contrary to social media community standards? Maybe; but who gets to determine this?
Lies that told to millions of followers where election integrity is undermined; dog-whistle racism promoted; basically any narrative that might get you fired from a job or potentially charged with mischief – is that free speech?
For the same reason that you cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre and claim free speech, other words can have dire consequences too. Inciting violence (re: January 6, 2021) isn’t free speech. Yet, free speech puritans argue that it is; that literally anything is fair game…all of it. One problem.
Advertisers do not want their brands anywhere near racist, xenophobic, sexist rhetoric. They don’t want their brands anywhere misinformation on election integrity, antivaxxer garbage – and there is not a law in the land which will force advertisers to do so.
With a loss of substantial sums of money (used to prop up social media orgs), they’ll have little choice but to charge membership fees for what used to be free. In itself, this is a partial solution; but won’t replace the lost cash flow of big advertisers.
What Elon Musk, proud new owner of Twitter has elected to do is double the premium service fee – and add the vaunted blue check ‘validation’ marking to any subscriber who pays $8 per month US.
The blue check was a symbol, and it was granted to important account holders; political leaders, influential business leaders, some corporate accounts, big named media personalities, religious leaders, etc. Now anyone could buy their own blue check – making it meaningless across the system.
What Twitter could have done, is bolster their real-person authentication system. Only bonafide people or legitimate businesses with verifiable account users to wipe out the menace of trolls and bots that are largely responsible for the spread of misinformation. No – instead, those fake accounts can easily get the blue check and portray themselves as trustworthy.
As an advertiser, why would you want your brand to be mired in this ever worsening cesspool of misinformation and hate?
They’re fleeing…if not outright, they’re setting up shop on alternative social media places such as Mastodon. At best, for twitter’s sake, they’ve paused their ad spending, and Elon Musk is pretty upset about it…as if his corporation is entitled to money from another business.
What lays ahead I believe is a reckoning of the social media industry. What began as an experiment in online community building and commerce has become the testing ground for anti-democratic zealots bent on undermining freedoms around the world.
Nobody is interested in undermining free expression, but we are all interested in letting such freedoms thrive as we promote democracy and choice – not attempting to pull the rug out from underneath it.
You can bet you last assets that there are folks uninterested in democracy and freedom and wish to install themselves in positions of absolute power; corporate, religious, and extremists of the hard right and left would ban elections if they could. Social media has given their agents just enough room to spread misinformation and doubt on voting, elections, personal freedoms – to the extent that some ask – why even bother with these troublesome things.
That is what they want.
I don’t pretend to have the answers either, but I know that we cannot keep going the way we are going.
Life and freedom wasn’t bad before social media; but the anonymity of such platforms has given rise to very bad actors where they couldn’t have their soapbox before – out of the shameful embarrassment of their ideas.
The hidden keyboard warriors gather their troops; led by ‘generals’ who gain more and more authority as a result of the increasing absurdity of the level of hateful and false rhetoric that they post. They brag about being outside the mainstream as something to be proud of and gather a following of others who get to be part of this incoherent cabal of others who won’t follow the masses.
Clearly they must know something and big media/corporations, MSM and the political elite must be lying – withholding the truth, I guess.
Admittedly, its empowering to be part of a cause larger than the self; to put efforts into making society better for all. But to what extent do election integrity doubters help society? Covid deniers, antivaxxers, etc. They don’t help. They are menacing to society.
Previously, these circus side show freaks got little attention; now thanks to algorithms of the social media empires – they get promoted. Its the modern equivalent of bombarding people with lies – and demonizing efforts to fact check dangerous mistruths.
I’ll put down this marker right now, and I’m guessing that I can speak for many others too. Anjali Appadurai is likely to be an approved leadership candidate, very few memberships are likely to be terminated as a result of the internal investigation raised as a result of some publicly available information hinting at the potential of bad actors trying to influence the membership vote.
Anjali Appadurai was an approved federal candidate in the last election for the NDP and almost won a long time Liberal seat on the power of her candidacy. If she’s good enough to pass the federal NDP vetting process, she’s good enough for the BC NDP too.
Nobody has a problem with this. Any member in good standing can apply to seek the nomination of a federal or provincial riding association, seek an internally elected position or stand for leader of either party. This isn’t the issue.
Anyone can join the party too. Remember, however, that a political party has the right to set rules and conditions for obtaining and maintaining membership in a party. Most parties – as they’re in competition with each other for the same electoral contests – forbid memberships of people who retain a membership in another party.
Obtaining membership in an organization by means of deceit or fraud is illegal. I’m not sure which laws are broken, but I’m certain that its unlawful. The memberships gained in such a way would rightly be terminated, plus any and all evidence of said fraud should be forwarded to the appropriate authorities for possible legal sanctions where they may apply.
The current flap is nothing more than a narrative trap. It should not be controversial that a party seek to assure its membership base is legitimate and that its leadership election process is without issues. Yet addressing the concerns and complaints made, any attempts to dig into the matter and the party is accused by some of being under the influence of the ‘good old boys’ network.
Attacking those who defend the party and its REQUIREMENT to audit and examine memberships in light of the allegations made is turning into an exercise in gaslighting.
Just. Fucking. Stop.
Defending the party’s attempt to identify fraudulent memberships is not somehow undemocratic; its protecting the integrity of the vote itself. For folks on the right to attack the NDP for this; well that’s what they do best…attack. But for folks on the left to adopt some of that ‘anti-elitist’ language you often hear in Qanon circles, well that’s an extra level of absurd.
We pay membership dues and make donations not just to fund the various campaign needs we have, but to maintain a party infrastructure – equipped to deal with a mess like this. We want the leadership election process to be untainted. To fail to do so, means that we’ll have equally embarrassing and potentially worse outcomes.
The BC NDP are not the only political party where potential fuckery happens in the lead up to a leadership contest. Most of the federal parties, even the federal green party has had issues. This year, they booted Quebec Green Party leader Alex Tyrrell as they seek to renew their leadership from the last time they had a tainted leadership contest.
I don’t care that Anjali Appadurai is seeking the leadership of the BC NDP, and if I’m disappointed by anything its that only two names came forward for leadership. But this is where we are.
Members will have to decide which leader works best for party unity, setting government policy for the remainder of the term, and who is best to lead the NDP to a winning result in 2024.
Generally speaking, voters outside the anti-union right wing tend to support pro-labour parties.
That said, we don’t expect or demand that a government ‘from our side’ to deal out the best terms and big cash settlements (in public sector bargaining) or unduly pressure corporations in the private sector, but that the bargaining teams finally sit across from each other as equals to hammer out terms of a new contract.
In fact, I offer praise and respect when political leaders and elected officials get FAR away from the stage in these contract talks – despite the lure of getting involved.
Its too easy to meddle and put ones finger on the scale when you’re in a position of power. When the BC Liberals were in office, they ran advertising (as taxpayer supported gov’t ads) demonizing the BCTF as demanding items outside of the “affordability zone” as then Education Minister Peter Fassbender often said.
What incentive do employer-negotiators have to move off an entrenched position when their political master underwrites their argument in public like that.
That is why I appreciate this current government and its effective radio silence in the various public sector negotiations now underway. This respectful tone has allowed the potential of an HEU tentative agreement (with 60k healthcare sector employees).
It doesn’t mean that either side won’t trot out some talking points to pressure the other side by means of public opinion, but there’s well documented risks of negotiating in public – especially if both sides pledge not to do that.
I will say that activists on one side or another can complicate matters for their respective bargaining teams. They don’t act as official spokespersons for the union or employer group, and most often are not even members of said organizations. Free expression is a funny thing, ain’t it?
Having political leaders butt out of negotiations and leaving the parties to settle their own terms isn’t a guarantee of a perfect deal. There’s a 100% guarantee that even if the HEU deal goes through, some folks in the union will argue that they could have got more. Likewise, anti-unionists and rightwingers alike will argue that the deal goes to far.
Pay no attention to those voices.
What matters most is that both sides were free to settle matters free from government interference or coercion and that the members get to decide how this plays out.
This may come as a surprise to many, but the economic upheavals we’re experiencing today were destined to happen long ago. They’ve just been made more profound and extreme by the pandemic.
But we came so close to getting it. So close. The inherent weaknesses in capitalism’s true form, neoliberalism, were laid bare for all to see.
Civic planners and emergency protocols forced the hand of governments to place mobility restrictions and interrupted the economy at the outset of the pandemic. Government responded with some short term assistance, but has largely pulled back everything.
What has happened is that the biggest corporations and wealthiest among us made off with the trillions of assistance dollars made available while housing is pushed even further out of reach for most people.
Workers are just awakening to their actual power just at a time that the inflationary bubble is about to be popped by Wall street and impoverish millions of us.
Mark my words, in the coming weeks and months, neoliberals in their pet parties (federal Liberal and Conservatives) will push the talking point that “we’re living beyond our means” and shift to austerity mode.
We didn’t cause this financial mess. They did.
This was the opportunity to correct some historic wrongs. We could have created a basic income – at the very least for folks living with disabilities. We could have imposed significant wealth taxes. We could have expanded the social safety net to include dental care. We could have made billions of dollars in investments to public transportation, shifting away from fossil fuels. We could have done so much.
Instead, we’re having arguments whether women should have the right to make independent medical decisions for themselves. (of course they should, this shouldn’t even be a thing).
We’re back to a culture war that divides folks along emotional/religious boundaries while the bandits run off with our national wealth and power.
To be clear, there is no ‘both sides’ of human rights. You are either for the protection of human rights or you’re in favour of taking them away from folks. This isn’t a ‘difference of opinion’ matter. Expanding and protecting human rights is right, taking them away is simply wrong.
The disgusting part of this social culture war is that conservatives have seen fit to include pandemic politics into this madhouse. Once upon a time, conservatives were rational leaders too, while many had different social views than the rest of us – they didn’t question vaccine science.
By crass opportunism or calculation, they’ve moved their big tent posts to grab some of those vaccine skeptical voters along with conspiracy theorists to push narratives that defy logic. Narratives that paint their opposition as fascist, etc.
To any educated mind, this is absolutely bonkers. Conservatives for a long time have positioned themselves as a party of ‘law and order’; only to now embrace defiance of (since repealed) health and safety measures. They do this as part of their recasting of ‘freedom’ vs ‘fascist’ (read: Liberal/NDP arrangement).
It doesn’t matter that every law, regulation, rule that has been imposed on a temporary measure has met a constitutional test and validated by every court where its been challenged. To the Conservatives, its a culture war that draws in votes for their side. To most rational people, it a party headed for the same crazy-ville that the GOP finds itself stuck in thanks to Trump.
It doesn’t matter that the science behind the various Covid19 vaccines is sound and verified. Its true that they’re not perfect, but the overwhelming use of said vaccines, upholding safe practices is how we navigate our way out of this pandemic. But it doesn’t matter to Conservatives.
They’ve latched on to an explosive, emotionally charged, traumatizing issue for which they’re pretending to be on the side of the ‘little guy’ on.
They’re not. They’ve capitalized on this issue because its so explosive and divisive; pandemic fatigue is real. They do this because it blinds voters to all else that moves…including the machinations of the actual corporate elite who just want to get even wealthier at our expense.
Conservatives are ok with this.
Also, so are the Liberals.
The Liberals are complicit in this culture war, not because some might agree with conservative held views, but that it serves them just as well to distract voters from all else that moves.
Liberals agenda is to permanently paint themselves as the only salvation from conservative social dinosaurs, and its largely been successful. The Federal Liberal Party has governed Canada far more often than the PC or CPC party have; and for longer stretches of time too.
But there is a hunger for substantial change; one that re-formats the system. A redistribution of power (not just wealth). That’s not something that neither the Liberals nor Conservatives are prepared to give up on.
This is because they are both supporters of the neoliberal economic philosophy. A philosophy that has driven a wedge between rich and poor like no other. Their wealthy benefactors in corporate Canada fund parties that maintain the status quo.
If team red and blue can keep folks angry about social issues, then there’s no need to worry about changing the system.
As the growing EV sector cuts into fuel demand and consumption goes, so drops the fuel tax levies assessed by almost every level of government. That’s part of the bragging rights of EV owners – “we don’t have to pay that tax, or buy that fuel”.
Which is substantially true. No gasoline or diesel purchases, no fuel taxes paid. This doesn’t mean that driving an EV is cost free. It isn’t. Purchasing electricity through retail charging stations often draw a sales tax, charging at home increases your hydro bill – even though its far less than the cash output by internal combustion vehicle owners.
But what doesn’t change is the need to maintain critical transportation infrastructure. Roads and highways, traffic management, etc..these are all costly items used by EV and non EV users alike.
If you were to fly a drone over top of a massive traffic jam in any North American city, I doubt you could tell the difference between the vehicles of the two varieties of energy consumption.
This is the problem. EV’s occupy a space on the road no different than your previous gas guzzling SUV and apply wear and tear like all other cars and trucks. With rising uptake of EV’s over ICEV’s – the revenue drop from gas taxes will be irreversible. Even if the need to maintain the upkeep of our roads will not.
EV users aren’t looking for a free ride, even if there may have been some significant tax incentives to make the switch.
Full disclosure, my name is on a list to purchase a new EV when it’s available.
We’re making the switch because we’re doing our part to stem the use of fossil fuels, and in my jurisdiction, BC, the highest uptake for EV’s in Canada is right here. Sure, I’d like to save some money on gasoline purchases, but I need the roads maintained like everyone else.
So its time to reform how we look at this.
Gas taxes were easy. Everyone drove a car that requires gas or diesel, just charge a premium at the pump. Government makes a quick buck and is able to fund roads, etc. With the advent of higher efficiency engines and now EV’s, the revenue stream is under threat.
Instead of charging 14.5 cents a litre for gas taxes, perhaps we should apply a per-vehicle fee because you have a vehicle that is driven on public roads.
EDIT: I might leave 2.5 cents/litre of this tax in place in recognition of high fuel consuming vehicles and out of jurisdiction drivers who wouldn’t be subject to a per-vehicle levy as outlined in this article.
Look at it this way, there are approximately 3.7 million licensed vehicles in BC. The provincial gas tax revenue brings in almost $500 million. A straight across the board replacement would see the gas tax removed and a per-vehicle annual charge of $135 imposed (at the time of re-insuring your car).
EDIT: The $135 annual per-vehicle levy could be scaled up or down depending on the road safety record of the driver whose insurance policy covers the vehicle in question. (safe driver discounts).
I would support a continuation of the carbon tax as its a specific application and it could be further utilized to fund the electrification of our roads and highways.
Alternatively, one could have a mileage tax or per-km levy (which could be difficult to enforce or liberal usage of tolls (all bridges and access points); but that smacks of a discriminatory philosophy against those who live well outside the city, rural areas, or cannot avoid vehicular use for work reasons. Not everyone lives in a condo tower in the west end, Metro-Town with quick access to a sky-train.
I should add that I am not at all married to this idea. If there is some better plan to fund our highways, byways and transit, by all means speak up. But as we shift away from fuel consumption, alternative ways to source this revenue are needed.
As you know by now, the Supreme Court in the USA has revoked ‘Roe V Wade’, the constitutionally significant court ruling from the 1970’s which paved the way for legal access to abortion services in America.
Everyone and their pet rock wants to chime in; not all of it is helpful. Those on the right-wing are hailing this as a victory from their long campaign against abortion. Those left of that position are blown away at the human rights roll back that women in America have known for almost 50 years – gone.
Every ounce of my activist heart wants to beat the drum in opposition to this ‘ruling’ and raise the warning flags that conservatives in Canada wish the very same…because they do; they freely admit that.
Make no mistake: my position is that whatever health decision a woman is contemplating is nobody else’s business but hers to make, and she should do so without government interference but sound, scientifically grounded medical advice from her doctor. Period.
But, I too, need to take a breather here. This is been an attack against women; an attack that is threatening to spread to various other protected groups too. But in standing in solidarity with women as they face this grotesque attack, we, men, need not crowd out women from a platform that is rightly theirs.
You will hear stories from women and how this war against them is so incredibly personal. Some stories will break your heart, others will drive you to rage. But these are their stories to tell.
Women of this nation and America are perfectly capable of telling these stories and capable of conveying the anger/sadness which so many feel. They most certainly do not need us to speak for them.
Opposition attacks against against the proposed rebuild of the Royal BC Museum coming from the BC Liberals and Greens are sad, but predictable. It’s opportunist too. They both attempt to create a wedge issue (for which they are attempting to be on the right side of) by arguing that it’s a binary choice. They cast it as ‘Museum or healthcare’; or, ‘Museum or education’; ‘Museum or climate change’. You get the picture.
The reality is, and the BC Liberals know it – as they have served in government before (Greens too, in a supporting role in the 2017-20 confidence and supply arrangement with the NDP) – that government can do more than one thing at a time. In fact, we expect it; its literally their job.
Government doesn’t run its books like a household – it cannot do that…and it rightly shouldn’t.
As we continue to climb out from the effects of the pandemic, we go from high unemployment to not-enough-workers. Wages are finally moving up. Net effect? More tax revenue from more people working and at higher wages. BC’s economic performance is the best in Canada; better than most jurisdictions in North America.
This allows us to do things. Such as rebuilding a museum that has been asking for help since 2006 – and put on a shelf in favour of other vanity projects like the new Trade and Convention Centre, BC Place roof replacement, Port Mann bridge (and more, and all were grossly over budget).
What burns me is that in this era of recognizing the collective impact of European settlers harm to the First Nations of BC, this museum project allows a more accurate re-telling of what really went on.
This previous year (and more recent headlines) have showcased the thousands of unmarked graves of children who died while in care at the various religious/church operated, government sanctioned residential schools.
Were these children murdered? Neglected? Sick and died from natural causes? I don’t know. Their cause of death is important, but these children deserve to be known by name, their extended families deserve answers, and we must be accountable to this. All of it.
The lost children (the tens of thousands of them), the many complicated matters which need addressing in our delicate walk to full reconciliation, are journeys that need telling in a renewed museum.
Imagine a new museum that finally tells the (living) story of our collective failure in our relations with our first nations – not only to ourselves in BC, but to the world? That would be a good start.
The cost? Government says it will cost $768 million. But, like other large projects, expect it to go over budget. That’s just the reality of things. Especially in todays world where products needed for rebuilding and the highly skilled labour needed are in short supply.
The cost to refurbish? More. Asbestos removal, remediation of the current structure would clearly be a different cost structure than removal of the old, building new.
Over-spending on large projects is nothing new, and hardly controversial anymore. Taxpayers are used to this by now.
The opposition casts this as a thing that should be cancelled; possibly delayed into the future. But given the facts, this will inevitably be required, and there is no delay possible that makes the costs go down any.
I mean, I expect this from the BC Liberals. They cast the museum rebuild as a vanity project. Unfair, especially when the project moves forward in partnership with first nations. And who are the BC Liberals to lecture anyone on vanity projects? Have we forgotten already about ‘quickwins’, ‘om-the-bridge’, Port Mann fiasco, TransLink tinkering?
Oh I know; calls from those saying “that’s in the past, your guys need to worry about now and into the future”. They’re right! Voters are well aware of BC Liberal duplicity and hypocrisy here, but there is little to gain by rehashing it – they lost the election…electoral mileage made from their dismal failings is a credit well cashed in.
But this is about today and the future too. The proposal would only be finished its construction process in 2030 – two whole electoral terms away from now.
Every sign is pointing to a looming recession; a general hangover from the insanity over the pandemic crash – then its rocket-speed ‘recovery’.
Housing prices and general inflation has caused economic problems of their own. By pricing out working people from participating in a housing market (or rental market for that matter), there will be a huge underclass of folks unable to support the small and medium businesses who need free flowing, disposable income from paycheques from workers in order to survive. Folks are just trying to survive.
Government can sit back and do nothing, letting the chips fall where they may…or they can be proactive about it. BC needs a new museum as the old one can’t do it anymore.
The build, the narrative change and the location all serve an economic-health sensitive industry in Victoria well and would bolster the private sector; at a time when they could use it the most. Of course, Victoria isn’t the only place that matters in BC – but as I’ve mentioned, government is capable of handling more than one thing at a time. That’s what they’re supposed to do.
Opposing the museum rebuild is a knee-jerk conservative reaction that I expected from the BC Liberals, I did not expect it from BC’s Green Party. They seemingly have taken on the right wing talking point that funding a new museum is a binary choice ‘at the expense of..’ when it clearly is not.
I’m not going to pretend to be able to sway the opinions of those who hate the NDP and just found a new reason to bolster their hate.
To the overwhelming of rational people in BC however, do not be swayed by the negative nellies on the opposition side. This is a government as you know that isn’t engaging in one-off populist things. Building a new museum – regardless of rhetorical nonsense – is a bold and justified program that will benefit our province in the near term and well into the future.
This is what coherent leadership is supposed to do.
Edit: To anyone suggesting that the Royal BC Museum rebuild is a surprise that nobody wanted or talked about, this is incorrect. The earliest I have discovered that the RBCM board had discussed in public the notion of renovations or major structural concerns was in 2005 as part of their 2005/06 annual report.
And this Tom Hawthorne, on twitter, reminding folks of this.
I’m old enough to remember when a different (ahem) government unveiled plans in 2010 for a new museum costing untold “hundreds of millions of dollars” (without releasing a financial plan). The Times Colonist was filled with praise for a “bold vision.” pic.twitter.com/dTRF0kgFLB
In uncertain times, folks can reach for more bold solutions when the same-old no longer works.
These are some of those times. The Neoliberal economic philosophy hasn’t worked for large swathes of society, and those for whom it works are already the wealthiest and most powerful among us.
Through no fault of our own, the economic pillars have been knocked out from the ‘if you work hard and save your money, you can get ahead’. Unless you are part of a 1% elite out there, you’re not going to get ahead. Staying afloat is hard enough.
The powerful and elite know this and will do their best to retain the system that keeps them powerful and rich. There is a war by the 1% against everyone else. Both left and right however, present potential solutions to get us out from under that control paradigm.
But they are not the same.
The left demands wealth taxes, programs to supplement the poorest among us, assistance to those living with disabilities, tax fairness among working peoples and housing for the masses seemingly out-priced for even the very basics of shelter needs.
The right points to groups that require blame and that if only they were outlawed or restricted, the great prosperity would return. The right campaigns for harsher controls over immigration, crackdowns on unions, and engage in social culture wars to divide people among religious and ethnic lines as a source to gain power.
The problem is, the powerful elite tolerate one of these idealisms more than the other. Neoliberal elite do not necessarily care about religious conflicts or divisions, nor do they participate in culture war debates, their interest is in maintaining social status, wealth and power. The rules for you and I do not apply to those at the very top.
The elite however, will bitterly oppose wealth taxes; they’ll oppose low cost housing for folks barely hanging on, and they most certainly oppose any measures to share decision making power. You know this to be true.
While the far right pretend to have a populist message that is to get us out of the rut, in the end, they share philosophical common ground with the neoliberals who sit at the helm of power and wealth.
They are natural allies.
The answers, as they always have been, are on the left.
There was a series of social media posts circulated by various prominent conservative political leaders and thinkers in Canada which elevated the angry rants of some white-nationalist, covid-truther EU politicians as evidence that the world hates Trudeau and is harming Canada’s reputation around the world.
I am no Trudeau fan whatsoever, but I don’t hate him. My opposition is policy based and there are substantial gaps between him and I on environment, poverty, disability assistance and others. The gaps are significant enough that I will never vote Liberal; not under their current policy direction at least.
But Conservatives hate him.
They do so with a visceral hatred usually reserved for Nazi’s or Stalin’s regime. In fact; some of his conservative opponents in the deeper interwebs share memes and conspiracy theories that compare Trudeau TO Hitler…and Stalin. One of the more famous ones is connecting Justin to Fidel Casto; which has repeatedly been debunked.
Its not that conservatives actually believe that Trudeau is a family relative of Castro (they likely know that he isn’t), the point is to make you hate Trudeau as well.
Its the same tactic republicans used against President Barack Obama. He was falsely accused of being born in Kenya (which would have made him ineligible to run for president at all), then that he was Muslim. Of course there is no rule that excludes a Muslim from seeking the nomination of a party to run for President, in fact – there’s a rule that outlaws a religious test for holding public office).
Why? Because you cannot use certain language (or words that start with “N”) to identify black folks. That would be nakedly racist; but if you mask it around some (false) ineligibility narratives (Kenya) and paint Obama with being Islamic; the racist voter gets to vote against the black guy without saying that as the reason. Keeping in mind that the post-2001 world was pretty hostile to Muslims; especially in America.
The same campaign baggage is being attached to Justin Trudeau, but in a country who would have elected Obama by an 80% margin if we could, this hate-standard is risky at best.
There are many reasons to oppose Trudeau (and Obama) – on based policy and performance. Both are objectively centrist who borrow more from the conservative economic theories than an actual liberal or left – where bolder, more decisive solutions lay.
But the conservatives are making it easy for Justin.
The deeply personal, character attacks launched towards Justin by several conservatives, and their proxies are quickly swept aside with “we might not be perfect, but we’re not crazy like them”.
In the context of the outcast EU politico’s that went after Trudeau with lines not much different than the worst rhetoric of the #KarenConvoy bunch, Conservatives should have dismissed them on the spot. Imagine if any one of the current crop of CPC leadership candidates, sitting MP’s, fanbase online had remarked, “while we have little in common with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we will not share any moral ground or political space with unabashedly racist, xenophobic political figures who even the EU assembly keeps at a distance.”
They did not. Nobody did. But the internet is forever, and those who gave space to the crazy right wing in the EU here will also feature in Liberal Party campaign ads.
Justin Trudeau probably cannot believe his luck; and if he gets re-elected – its your fault.