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Conservatives defend racist heckler who tried to sandbag the PM … so how's that working out?

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Andrew Scheer in Quebec. Photo: Andrew Scheer/Flickr

Hmmmmmmm ...

Andrew Scheer's Conservatives appear to have picked defending a racist heckler who tried to sandbag Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a string of tendentious questions about immigration and refugees as the hill they want to die on!

I wonder how this will work out for them? Not well, I imagine.

The Conservatives apparently realized too late the middle-aged "questioner" they'd leaped to defend was in fact an agitator associated with several far-right, anti-immigration groups, at least one of which also appears to favour Quebec separation.

Consequently, they were trying desperately yesterday to spin the questioner as "elderly" (she looked like a robust specimen in her middle years), her racist connections as mere allegations (the case seems to be watertight), and her repeated interruptions as an entirely legitimate question.

And the prime minister was so rude, they whined, although "OK, Madame, this intolerance towards immigrants has no room in Canada," politely repeated several times, would sound like a pretty reasonable retort under the circumstances to most of us.

Most Canadians, whether they speak English or French at home, just aren't going to get their pantaloons in a twist if the PM is a little sharp in either official language with a well-organized effort by the right to disrupt his speech. Indeed, they'd probably enjoy a little "just watch me" from the younger Trudeau, if not an outright Jean-Chretien-style chokehold.

This is what happens to Tories when they hand their election strategizing over to a former Rebel Media director, I suppose. Either that, or they'll get advice to call a fall holiday in India an effort to "repair" the PM's "disastrous" state visit last February.   

Oh, please! Scheer's planned October trip is bound to be embarrassing -- in an entirely different way from the PM's. At least the Conservatives are wisely determined to avoid photo-ops, presumably because no one very recognizable is likely to be willing pose with a gaggle of visiting Canadian Cons.

It was ironic that yesterday members of the Conservative Party's own anti-immigrant base were paying little attention to Scheer's desperate effort to spin Trudeau's remarks as inappropriate. Instead, they were in a swivet that their beloved Rebel Media hasn't been invited to the party's bunfest in Halifax tomorrow.

This presumes, of course, that the multitudinous tweets demanding talking heads from Ezra Levant's offensive video-blog site be made welcome were being posted by actual conservatives and not just Rebel bots. Perhaps Hamish Marshall, the former Rebel sub-commandante now commanding Scheer's campaign, has some insight into the provenance of those messages.

Apparently the same party that thinks it's reasonable to protest the elevation of a defence lawyer to the bench because he once defended someone they don't approve of also believes racing to the rhetorical defence of racist separatists is just fine. What does this tell you?

Speaking of the Front Patriotique du Québec, one of the groups involved in heckling Trudeau in rural Sainte-Anne-de-Sabrevois, has anyone else noticed the resemblance of that group's branding to that of the violently separatist Front de libération du Québec of the 1970s?

Yes, the man on the FPQ flag is marching to the right, and the fellow on the FLQ Manifesto is going the other direction, but the tribute seems obvious, and is presumably intentional.

Conservatives in 1970 may not have had much time for prime minister Pierre Trudeau, but they certainly wouldn't have climbed into bed with the separatists he was tangling with.

The message for Scheer and his party needs to be that you're going to be judged by the people you defend … unless you happen to be a defence lawyer.

A bad day for Donald Trump … and maybe Postmedia too

Yesterday can't have been a good day for U.S. President Donald Trump, with his former campaign director found guilty of eight counts of financial crime, and his former legal counsel pleading guilty in another court to eight criminal counts related to the 2016 presidential election campaign.

The president's former campaign director, Paul Manafort, pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty of the eight counts by a jury in Virginia. His prosecution was being described by media last night as a "major victory" for Trump's nemesis, Special Counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller. As a result, the "witch hunt," as Trump describes Mueller's efforts, will likely continue.

The president's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in New York, presumably to escape a worse fate. Court documents show he admitted to working "in co-ordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" to violate campaign finance laws. That would be Trump.

The media was having a field day, of course. But what about Postmedia? Was it a good day or bad day for them?

I ask because court documents filed in Cohen's case kept mentioning one David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., the publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer. According to CNN, the documents showed Cohen worked with Pecker "to suppress potentially damaging claims against the now-president."

Pecker, of course, is one of the eight members of Postmedia's Board of Directors. According to his potted Postmedia biography, one of his major accomplishments, other than helping to prop up President Trump in questionable ways, was that "since 2005, he has led over $5 billion of bank and high leverage financing."

It will be interesting to observe how the failing Canadian newspaper corporation covers the fact one of its directors is now making news, instead of just suppressing it.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: Andrew Scheer/Flickr

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