The election of President Donald Trump in the United States is changing the political world in Canada.
To his critics, Trump’s the worst of everything a human being can be. His detractors call him names that would have been considered extreme even for a president as divisive as Richard Nixon.
According to his supporters, he can do no wrong, even though he brags about inappropriately touching women, or slanderously refers to the countries that Canada trades with and relies upon. His detractors are tossed off as fake news or simply dismissed.
The elephant next door, as former prime minister Pierre Trudeau called the United States, is morphing into a mammoth on steroids.
It’s clear that the anti-Trump effect has influenced Canada. Unfortunately, we might be getting a bit carried away on some issues trying desperately to prove we’re not Trump’s America.
Here are three Canadians who have experienced the wrath of the anti-Trump effect:
Margaret Atwood is debatably Canada’s best writer. Recently, she commented on a controversy surrounding an academic who was removed from his job as a result of unsubstantiated sexual abuse allegations. She was absolutely right in her position that the man deserved a proper hearing. But she was set upon by leading feminists for her principled stance.
Atwood is a noted feminist. The fact that she was attacked like this demonstrates how far from reality her detractors have become on the issue.
To be clear, the Harvey Weinsteins of this world deserve every bit of punishment they get. But Atwood is pointing out that not every man is a Weinstein and it’s unfair to ruin a person’s life in the absence of anything even resembling due process. The recent fiasco over former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is strong evidence that Atwood lost that fight.
In a country not shaken and dazed by the shocking election of Trump, I don’t believe that the outrageous position taken by Atwood's detractors would have made sense to any but the most radical groups. And the fact that Trump got a pass on bragging about his own disgusting sexual behaviour has furthered the attitude of the extremists who attacked Atwood. She deserves our respect for many reasons and her principled stance, in this case, is one of them.
Lindsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant, had the temerity to play a Jordan Peterson video clip to a group of Wilfrid Laurier University students. Shepherd was roundly denounced by academics representing the university.
Peterson is controversial only because his views don’t conform to an increasingly radical viewpoint that has been allowed to take over Canadian universities. Of course, students should listen to him. They should have the freedom to make up their own minds. Peterson’s reference to cognitive dissonance (not being able to refute an argument but not being able to accept it) perfectly describes the thought process of those academics who denounced Shepherd.
The extreme position taken by those academics shows an increasing shift to the left in reaction to the election of Trump.
Recently, MP Kellie Leitch, a doctor, announced her intention to leave politics. In fact, she was forced out. The policies she advocated during her failed campaign to become Conservative leader were likened to the policies of Trump. She didn’t have a chance.
Mainstream media regularly associated her with the alt-right movement, white supremacy, “Islamophobia” and the like.
The Liberals had a field day with her and used the Trump factor successfully to gain political points. It almost seemed that the Liberals’ immigration policy was to do the opposite of anything Trump was doing.
The problem with playing political games like this is that sometimes sensible policies are lost in the process. Of course, proper screening of immigrants is important. Simply allowing in anyone who wants to enter the country is a disastrous policy. Leitch never advocated that we only choose people from certain religions or races, but that’s the way she was painted.
I have no particular attachment to Leitch. I disagree with many of the things she advocated. But she’s certainly not the raving right-wing loony she was made out to be by mainstream media.
This brings us to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She knew her mind and had the courage of her convictions. When asked to change her policies for purposes of expediency, she famously said: “This lady’s not for turning” and she stood her ground.
Canada needs a Thatcher – a leader with a clear head and clear ideas, and not given to surrendering to the mood of the moment.
But there’s no one like that in Ottawa. Everyone is too afraid of being compared to Donald Trump.
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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