The refusal by Conservative MPs to agree to an anti-Islamophobia motion and their mockery of an Edmonton Liberal MP for having once worked as a bus driver are both additional evidence their once-great national party, like its Republican counterpart in the United States, is increasingly controlled by an extremist, offensive fringe.
Not that additional proof was really needed. The blowhards and bigots crowding the Conservative Party of Canada's interminable leadership race should be evidence enough.
Of course they're inspired by the unlikely success of Donald Trump south of the 49th Parallel. Indeed, candidate Chris Alexander, the "lock 'er up" guy, tried to go full-Trump at a rally Wednesday organized by Rebel Media to attack the Liberals' anti-Islamophobia motion. So you have to ask, was Stephen Harper the only thing holding these clowns back from making utter fools of themselves?
We have just had a terrorist massacre in this country in which six people were shot in the back, murdered while they worshipped, apparently by an alt-right anti-immigration fanatic of the type courted by several Conservative leadership candidates. Yet the party’s federal caucus has decided the House of Commons mustn't name the religion of the victims in a motion condemning religious violence because …
Because what? Because the facts don't go to their extremist wing's constant narrative that if you're not a Christian, you're an outsider, and outsiders cause trouble? Because they want Canadians to forget what happened in Quebec City as quickly as possible so they can get back to pandering to bigots and thugs like the trolls calling for Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP who tabled the anti-Islamophobia motion, to be murdered?
"What are they scared of? They’re scared of denouncing Islamophobia and by not denouncing Islamophobia they are actually contributing to the problem," said Liberal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly of the Opposition MPs. She nailed it.
Meanwhile, the mockery in the House of Commons by Conservative MPs of Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi's former career as a bus driver, which he had the temerity to mention in response to the murder of a transit driver in Winnipeg, certainly gives the lie to the party's claim to speak for working class Canadians.
Presumably they reckon you have to have an MBA or a law degree, or run a business, to be worth listening to.
You could just dismiss this as garden-variety boorishness, I guess, or pretend the Tory MPs were laughing at something else -- which seems to be what Conservative spokespeople were doing today. But the attitude it expresses strongly suggests the highly ideological "boys in short pants" from the previous PM's office remain in charge of the party, but without any of Harper's strategic savvy.
Being an elected official from Alberta, of course, this treatment is unlikely to shock the hard-working and talented Sohi. The provincial wing of the same group of people have for many years mocked former Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason for having done the same job.
Like Sohi, Mason, now the minister of infrastructure in Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government, is one of Alberta’s most thoughtful and capable elected officials. Also like Sohi, Mason was a strong union supporter in the days he drove an Edmonton Transit bus. So I imagine there was a bit of anti-union animus built into the Cons' offensive guffaws too.
If there's an obvious lesson from this, it's that you’re almost guaranteed better representation if you vote for a bus driver than, say, whatever it is that populates the Conservative benches nowadays.
A few Alberta voters are likely to have an opportunity soon to demonstrate whether or not they've been paying attention. Two federal by-elections in Calgary will be announced very soon -- one in the Calgary-Heritage riding to replace Harper, and one in Calgary-Midnapore to replace his once and future lieutenant, Jason Kenney.
Kenney is the principal actor in another Conservative gong show, the "race” to lead Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party.
With plenty of help from Wildrose infiltrators, Kenney has successfully campaigned on a platform to close the party down and merge it with the more extreme Wildrose Party, then expel the few "Red Tories” remaining in provincial politics.
Kenney's rooting gallery at Postmedia is quite open about this aspect of their candidate's planned double reverse hostile takeover of the PC and Wildrose parties. One repeats a claim the PC Party was full of "socialists and liberals." Another compares socially progressive fiscal conservatives trying quixotically to save their doomed party to "terrorist bomb-makers who blow themselves up while attempting to plant their explosives."
For all intents and purposes, Kenney has already won the leadership race. He will win on March 18 on the first ballot. His goons have already taken care of the problem presented by credible candidates with socially inclusive tendencies by driving three of them out of the contest.
Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid yesterday described the scene in the PC Party as the party's board brushed aside the latest challenge to Kenney's candidacy, then stood back to let the Kenney juggernaut crush any remaining opponents in its path, as being like "chaos theory on the hoof."
"The party that ruled Alberta for 43 years now faces the end of days,” Braid wrote, truthfully.
There's not much sensible conservatively minded voters can do about this in the short term, but since the federal and provincial parties are dominated by the same people anyway, they could help send a message in the upcoming Calgary by-elections.
A progressive -- and at the federal level, that means Liberal -- victory in Kenney's and Harper's old ridings seems highly unlikely. Still, there is always hope. After all, anything can happen in a by-election!
This post also appearsd on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.