Scott and Ian share their thoughts on the recent US Election and the implications for BC and Canada. Warning there is a lot of swearing.

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4 comments on Ep 07: The Darkest Timeline

  1. Indi says:

    While I don’t begrudge the Americans’ deep dive into what the hell just happened *there*, what I’d really like to see more of is analysis of what this might mean for Canada.

    The narrative I’m hearing – aside from observations of the role straight-up racism, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry played – is that while the voters generally didn’t like Trump, this election was a “change” election that repudiated a political establishment that has simply been ignoring the vast majority of Americans and instead served Wall Street and corporate interests. For all his (many) faults, Trump at least managed to give the illusion of being a force for change, suckering enough voters with that claim to carry him to victory, and those who *didn’t* like him couldn’t be enthused about someone like Clinton, who embodied everything that needed to be changed. Okay, fine, makes sense. But now consider Canada. Aren’t we *also* dealing with a government that is more about serving corporate interests than the little people? Does *anybody* buy the line that the Liberals are the people’s party? I think not. Our last election was specifically a concentrated rejection of Harper, so we didn’t really have to deal with frustration about politics and the establishment in general… but what about the *next* election?

    I mean, look at Trudeau’s record so far. Hot damn, doesn’t his performance so far *perfectly* embody the kinds of politics that puts big business and money first? Trudeau’s government has been more or less exactly what Americans expected from a Clinton government. Since being elected, Trudeau has failed to deliver on *every* campaign promise he made that *I* can think of – either it’s consigned to committee (electoral reform) or it’s just been outright bungled (physician-assisted dying), and his environmental record and relationship with Canadian aboriginals is basically indistinguishable from Harper’s. He hasn’t really reversed *any* of the horrible policies Harper created, and he’s been tub-thumping for the kind of trade deals that Trump was so successful in railing against. Now, *maybe* he’s holding his cards until closer to 2019, but if he’s not – if the Trudeau government we’re seeing now is all we’re going to have until the next election – then it seems fertile ground for a Trump-like Canadian “let’s burn it all and rebuild” demagogue to rile up the bigots here the same way Trump did down south.

    I don’t mean to imply that Leitch (or anyone else) is “the Canadian Trump”, because I don’t believe she has the skill to exploit the same resentment that Trump did (at least not without significant help from American and American-friendly interests, I suppose) or that Canadians are as… well, *American*… as the Americans are. But if the analysis of why Americans rejected Clinton in favour of Voldemort is even the least bit on the nose, it sure seems like we’re skating down that same path here. It seems like all we’re missing is a loud-enough populist “change” demagogue to exploit the situation. But I don’t hear anyone talking about it.

    If my analysis is on the nose, then we should take what happened a week ago as a harbinger of what *could* happen here if leftists don’t get their shit together, and fast. We need to light a fire under the Liberals, and make them realize what happened there *could* happen here unless they at least *try* to send the message to Canadians that they care about their interests more than the party donors’ interests. And we need to get a grassroots movement started to undercut a Canadian Trump *before* they appear. But again, I don’t hear anyone talking about any of these things.

    Am I totally off-base here? Are the parallels I’m seeing really not relevant? I’d like to hear that discussed.

    1. Ian says:

      So there’s lots in this that I agree with and lots I’m still skeptical of (albeit less since a Trump victory happened). We delve into this in the third segment of our latest episode but in brief: The racial resentment is there, bubbling under the surface across Canada, and arguably where we might see something come up first is in Alberta, where some people really hate Rachel Notley and the NDP and that’s fuelling a lot of anger in the Wildrose and what’s left of the PC party. Something similar could turn towards Trudeau, and there is a lot of hatred for him in those same alt-right type circles of the internet.

      That all said, nationally I think the demographics are a bit against it as we are more urbanized and educated than America. However, (and I didn’t touch on this in the show) we are a lot more white. Whereas the USA is roughly 2/3s white, Canada is closer to 80%. So if someone (*cough*Kellie Leitch*cough*) wanted to build a coalition of angry white people, they’d have more of the population to start from. Of course, the ranked ballot leadership race of the Conservative Party will mean there’s an easier path for the “anyone but Leitch” candidate to come from behind but I wouldn’t count her out. Her vitriol has given her the prominence and attention that’s brought her to the head of the pack from the distant also-rans.

      1. Indi says:

        I was glad to hear you guys taking another look at the possibility of a Canadian Trumpocalypse! And you did make a number of salient points to undercut my concerns.

        But I still can’t help but feel that the general narrative is missing the point somewhat – and to be clear, I don’t mean to point the finger specifically at you guys: *EVERYONE* I see doing analysis of Leitch and her chances, and the comparison to Trump, is focusing on the same aspect – the race-baiting. Even Rick Mercer ranted about that.

        Thing is, I think that’s a red herring. I don’t think Trump won because he played to racism. I think he was racist because what he *actually* played to *encouraged* racism, directly or indirectly, and he won because of what he actually played to. What he actually played to was a sense of abandonment by the government… a sense that the government hasn’t done enough to help the little guy… a sense that the government is somehow “corrupt” or “failed” because it panders to certain interests (“elite interests”, in the Trumpian vernacular, which bizarrely but successfully managed to create some kind of rhetorical line between big-money corporate interests that are “part of the system” and big-money corporate interests that aren’t). Put in it’s most childish terms, Trump’s platform was “anything you don’t fully understand is out to get you… and I’m the hero that’s going to stand up to them and protect you”. The racism arose somewhat naturally out of that, what with foreigners and “others” in general being part of the “things you don’t fully understand” collection, but it wasn’t the *source* of it.

        I agree with you that Leitch herself is a bit of a stretch when it comes to being able to position herself as “the hero”. I think she’s invested too much in the “Canadian values” nonsense, perhaps erroneously thinking that was the magic ingredient in the Trump campaign, but I don’t think she’s very credible as a “I’m going to run the elites/parasites/whatever out of Ottawa and make it *yours* again” candidate. (I don’t really think Doug Ford is either, for that matter. *Rob* Ford was brilliant at playing that card – as you guys put it, his whole theme was “taking on the gravy train”. Doug is just a buffoon who rode in his brother’s coattails.) Part of playing that role requires being able to believably cast yourself as an outsider who “the insiders” are afraid of and actively trying to keep out. Leitch was a cabinet minister (twice!) under the most corrupt government in recent history, where everyone knows to have favour you had to be the PM’s bootlicker. The idea of her as an “outsider”, or as someone who would “fight the system” is laughable.

        And there are the other reasons you mentioned that Leitch’s chances are thin, such as the way Conservative leaders are selected (a single ranked ballot, which gives the “anybody but Leitch” crowd a powerful voice).

        But all that being said, the *core* Trump-like plank – that “everyone is out to get you, no-one is fighting for you, and I’m the outsider who will bring the whole corrupt edifice down and make *you* the real power” – does have powerful legs among Conservative supporters. Just a couple of weeks ago, Chong was booed at a debate for saying climate change was real while Trost was cheered for denying it. When supporters were interviewed, they sang the Trumpian “the whole world’s out to get me” tune to a T – complaining that being called climate change deniers meant they were being equated with Holocaust deniers and so on (which is, of course, not only bullshit, it’s entirely irrelevant – she was whining about how insecure she felt about being challenged for climate change while totally avoiding the actual question and the preponderance of facts behind it). While it’s true that Canada had its “change election” last year, as you pointed out, it wasn’t all that much of a change… and the Liberals haven’t really delivered even on *that*. The ground is very fertile for a populist leader to rise in Canada… and that doesn’t mean someone blowing racist dog-whistles, it means someone successfully playing the “the world – other countries, other interests, anything that isn’t part of your local community – is against you, and you need to *fight* them to win, not cooperate” card. Which will indirectly include a racist message, but that will not be its core.

        While I am beginning to see *some* awareness of this possibility (there was an excellent Canadaland podcast shortly after my comment about the media’s failings that Trump exploited, and I just read a transcript of a speech by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour chastising journalism for choosing “neutrality” over truth), I’m just not seeing enough of it. Right now, what’s mostly in our favour is that the Canadian “deplorable” movement is so incompetent and disorganized (cf Leitch). They don’t have competent leader or a solid rallying point. But I believe the sentiments are there, and they are *far* more powerful than most people are giving them credit for being. And the media has not learned their lessons, and are coddling and exacerbating it. And the government has not learned their lessons, and are continuing to play neoliberal games while the accelerating losses of jobs and benefits make people more and more disgruntled. Remember, Trump came out of nowhere, tapped into that discontent, and it exploded beneath him like a well under pressure. I think the same could happen here.

        But there are facts *against* that happening. One is that Canada’s political structure requires national leaders to be party leaders – we don’t vote for PM, we vote for parties – so a populist outsider would have to play politics and build coalitions *before* any elections (which Trump is only having to do *now*, with predictable effects on his ludicrous promises). Canadians are also more generally trusting of their institutions – or at least less aggressive about wanting to see them all razed to the ground – so it would be harder for a populist to find enough anger to capitalize on. Another point is that, thanks to the Harper years (oh how it pains me to write that), Canada is somewhat late to the populist-right party… so we’ll have the chance to see a post-Brexit UK and a few years of Trump’s America. That may backfire if things actually turn out okay… but it ain’t looking good for now, which is good for us. We may be the lucky ones – when Canada’s proto-alt-right-popularists see what their brethren’s policies actually accomplish, they may scuttle back into their caves without us having to actually fight them back. Which may be a good thing, because I don’t actually see any progress toward doing that.

        1. ibushfield says:

          Thanks. I don’t disagree with anything you say.

          Your comments on trust in institutions got me curious to find out what the polls say. Turns out Stats Canada polls on this:
          http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2015007-eng.htm
          As did a group in early 2015
          http://business.financialpost.com/executive/c-suite/canadians-trust-in-institutions-buoyed-by-trudeau-effect-edelman

          The latter found (in February, so peak honeymoon) that trust was at a 5 year high. Similarly, the StatsCan data suggest we’re doing okay (not great on some areas but generally better than the States I think).

          Of course, none of this is cause for complacency. As you point out, Trudeau breaking promises is a good way to destroy that confidence.

          While we’ve focused on the possibility of populism in the Conservative Party leadership, one thing I’m going to be keeping an eye on (and the media will undoubtedly obsess over) is whether any NDP candidates try to take on the Bernie-torch. There’s inklings that Ashton or even Angus might aim that way (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/james-di-fiore/charlie-angus-ndp-leadership_b_13199696.html) but it’s hard to tell at this point whether they’ll be seen as sincerely or if they’ll be able to cross the identity politics divide that Sanders failed to.

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