Remember Jacques Parizeau? He led the “Oui” forces in the oh-so-close 1995 Quebec referendum. He was, in fact, a distinguished French Canadian academic, civil servant, political leader, and very nearly became the first leader of a new, independent Quebec nation-state. It was rather sad, then, back about two years ago when he died, that, as Allan Woods noted in an article in the Toronto Star, “It [was] a cruel quirk of history that a legend of Quebec politics who accomplished so much in his 84 years will be remembered for a single utterance muttered in defeat.” All his many accomplishments were, essentially, wiped out by one small, four word, excuse for defeat: “money and ethnic votes.”
I wonder ~ rather hopefully, actually ~ if the same fate will not, justly, await Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau, despite being the fairly elected prime minister of a G7 country, is a far, far less accomplished man that was Jacques Parizeau ~ less accomplished and less likely to ever amount to as much. Parizeau, after all, had earned a PhD from the prestigious London School of Economics before he was 25 and, in his early 30s, was one of the technocrat-architects of Jean Lesage’s “revolution tranquil” in Quebec. But just as “money and ethnic votes” came to define poor Jacques Parizeau, I wonder: will Omar Khadr’s payoff come to define Justin Trudeau?
Many commentators, including some Liberal friendly ones, are noting that the Khadr payoff is being very poorly (even dishonestly) explained by e.g. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and is not sitting at all well with many, many key Liberal supporters. It all looks a bit “shifty,” and it all ~ all that shiftiness ~ reflects, directly, albeit perhaps slightly unfairly, back on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Now, working politicians know how important both money and the “ethnic votes” are and they, Conservatives and Greens and Liberals and ‘Dippers’ alike, have, in recent years, gone “all out” to court the “ethnic votes,” especially in middle class suburbs …
… but after the Conservatives’ ill-conceived “barbaric cultural practices’ campaign tactic backfired …
… the Liberals seemed to focus on one ethnic or religious group in particular: Muslim Canadians. There is, no doubt, some “joy” (or, at least, smug satisfaction) in some Muslim communities (and by certain segments of the Laurentian Elites) that a confessed terrorist has been ‘rewarded’ by a Liberal government, but I doubt that most Muslims are very happy with the Khadr payoff; my suspicion is that most Muslims are ashamed of the whole Khadr clan and everything that family says about being Muslim in Canada. My guess is that disquiet about this payoff goes beyond just Muslims and the Laurentian Elites and will, actually and eventually ~ in 2019, cost the Liberals support in the middle class urban and suburban ridings in and around Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Conservative politicians and honest journalists ~ and there are plenty of them ~ and we in the general public need to keep reminding Canadians (setting the record straight, in other words) that it was Jean Chrétien’s and Paul Martin’s Liberal administrations that got us into this mess ~ they were leading the governments in which officials were found to be (indirectly) complicit in the torture of Omar Khadr; Stephen Harper may have wished that Khadr could just disappear but he, eventually, “did the right thing” (however reluctantly) and arranged for his return to Canada to finish his (wholly proper) sentence as a young offender.
This is, it seems to me, just another Liberal scandal, and now it looks as though Justin Trudeau is trying to cover things up by paying off a criminal. I said I wasn’t outraged at the payoff ~ it may, indeed, be the best deal we can cut ~ but not being outraged doesn’t mean that I am not disgusted by what’s going on. I understand that ” money and ethnic votes” are important but so is how a party earns those votes … the Khadr payoff smells to too many Canadians on too many levels. It looks like the Liberals, and Justin Trudeau, personally, are trying to “buy” the Muslim-Canadian vote and, simultaneously, deny the widow of an American Army medic, Chris Speer, an opportunity to get a court order to allow her to have at least some of that money as restitution. I think Prime Minister Trudeau is vulnerable on this issue; it appears that many (most?) Canadians oppose the payout on principle. This is, as John Ivison said in the National Post, an issue that is likely to unite Canadians, but not in a way that the Liberals hoped. Conservatives need to fan the flames and keep it in the news for as long as possible.
“Money and ethnic votes” came to define Jacques Parizeau … a $10.5 Million payoff and a formal apology to a terrorist should, equally, come to define Justin Trudeau.