Donald’s Canadian fans get too much encouragement

Editorial by Stephen Whitworth

Reminder: Donald Trump’s grotesque antics are not Canadian news. Yes, his incoherent, reactionary and disgusting politics impact us, but Canadians don’t have to worry about the U.S. president, say, destroying our public health care system.

Trump can’t ban visitors to Canada because he doesn’t like their religion or skin colour. He can’t stuff our top court with free-market fanatics and religious extremists. He can’t veto Canadian legislation or inject your kids with disinfectant. Dumb-dumb Donald not the boss of us.

That said, we ignore the (as of this writing) American leader’s berserk shenanigans at our own peril.

The bizarre and deadly Jan. 6 raid on Congress he incited — a failed attempt by MAGA cultists and costumed dimwits to thwart president-elect Joe Biden’s certification — might be the most demented event of Trump’s uniquely deranged presidency. This was the Fyre Festival for violent, right-wing boneheads. Buffalo-horn-helmeted liberty-larpers frolicked while red-capped vandals took incriminating selfies mid-crime. Bigoted idiots waved the flag of a racist rebellion fought over the “right” to own humans like property. Five people died.

If our dear friend Roland Sweet was still around (rest in peace, Roland), he’d have to retire his old NewsQuirks column. “Can’t top this,” he’d sigh, while quietly worrying things could still get much worse.

Anyway, it’s not surprising Canadians can’t peel their eyes from the carnage south of the border. But I’m afraid we’re going to have to for a bit, because that sick, orange shithead has irrefutably proved populists can win elections by pandering to fear, xenophobia, economic insecurity and fragile masculinity. Yes, many Canadian politicians have long embraced that approach and they certainly have enough frightened, struggling and angry people in this country to work with. But Trump showed them they can aim even lower — that shamelessness has a sub-basement decorated in conservative colours. And what’s that? A trap door that goes even lower? “Git mah AR-15 Abigail, we’s a-goin’ spelunking!”

So yes. A version of Trump’s bullshit could happen here.

Let’s look at some of the warning signs.

The focus of Canada’s Trumpist-wannabes is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Far too many Conservative politicians have fed the rabid dog of “Turdope” hatred, which, let’s be honest, is completely batshit-crazy. We’re not talking about warranted criticism of a leader who has earned it with broken promises (election reform), scandals (SNC-Lavelin, WE Charity) and cringey behaviour (blackface). No, the Justin-haters froth at the mouth about nonsense like supposed plots to bring Canada into a socialist New World Order, implement Sharia law and collude with Bill Gates to microchip Canadians under the guise of vaccination.

There have long been crackpots who believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. Not new. What’s different now is conservative politicians’ way-too-high tolerance for this nonsense. Both Saskatchewan and Alberta have conservative governments that don’t just take every opportunity to attack the prime minister, they also coddle the extremists making these wild claims.

We’re seeing the consequences of the Sask. Party and UCP’s tolerance for these angry fantasies: a growing segment of the public wallowing in pandemic denial, vaccine skepticism and ever-increasing hostility to science and data-driven public policy. In the gibbering mob’s mind, minorities and immigrants get special advantages. All taxes are bad. Government is the enemy. “Git yer libtard mitts off’a mah freedom!”

It’s a delusional worldview built by 30 years of post-Mulroney conservative politics that embraced free-market libertarianism, bigotry, the celebration of (male) confidence over skill and substance, and, worst of all, an ideological rather than rational perspective toward facts.

Particularly obnoxious are the shots against the so-called Radical Left (a made-up fantasy) and cancel culture (a whole other story that’s not what conservatives think it is).

Mike Harris, Ralph Klein, Preston Manning, Stephen Harper and creeps laid the groundwork but now it’s been supercharged by Trump’s example. Hopefully the mayhem unfolding in the United States will encourage conservative leaderss like Jason Kenney, Erin O’Toole and Scott Moe to steer back from this precipice and stop pandering to psychotic ideologies.

Canadian conservatives need to get their shit together. They don’t have to be assholes.

I mean, who hated Joe Clark?