Justin Trudeau – So long to these Canadian politicians only Donald Trump could be proud of
It appears to be sweeps week in Canadian politics — when troublesome political players get swept right out of the action.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals tossed an MP out of caucus on Monday amid controversy over conspiracy theories, just a few hours after Sen. Lynn Beyak decided to shut down her racism-infused political career, effective immediately.
These exits come hot on the heels of last week’s resignation of governor-general Julie Payette and the ouster of a neo-Nazi funded MP, Derek Sloan, from the Conservative caucus.
One is tempted to give Donald Trump credit for kicking off this cleansing trend that’s spread north of the U.S. border. Just as Americans are getting ready to shake off the hangover of the Trump years, Canadian politics seems to be going through its own detoxifying exercise as 2021 begins.
The idea of this being a co-ordinated effort, though, would veer toward being a conspiracy theory all on its own. No great political huddle has taken place to de-Trumpify Canadian discourse, appealing as that scenario would be to many here — especially after the Jan. 6 rampage on Capitol Hill.
It was the news release issued by the Liberals about now-ousted Brampton Centre MP Ramesh Sangha that hinted most strongly of an effort to be more zero-tolerant about the brand of politics practised by Trump and those Capitol Hill rioters.
Sent out as a succinct, “he’s fired” missive by Chief Government Whip Mark Holland, it said Liberals were shutting down that kind of trouble in its tracks, within its own ranks.
“We all know where this can lead,” the statement said in its denunciation of the “conspiracy theories” and “dangerous and unfounded rhetoric” that Sangha had been found to be spreading. Details were sparse in the news release, but the picture it painted was not. “Trump politics not welcome here,” might well have been the headline.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been drawing some sharper lines too; not just with his own ouster of Sloan last week for taking donations from a neo-Nazi, but also with some subtle nuance to his criticisms of Liberals. “We want the government to succeed,” is one such phrase cropping up now in O’Toole’s remarks about the pandemic — intended to demonstrate, one presumes, that opposition is more than a tear-down-the-Liberals exercise.
Of course, later on Monday, one of O’Toole’s Conservatives, Kerry Diotte, was standing up in the Commons to call Trudeau “wimpy” and Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner was being chided for shouting “what the hell” in the direction of the government. So this is clearly a work in progress.
Meanwhile, no one was lamenting the surprise announcement of Lynn Beyak’s self-imposed retirement, which she billed as a promise kept to serve only eight years in the Senate. While the senator’s nerve seemed to be limitless, apparently her time in public service was.
Beyak is the Conservative-appointed senator who gained fame for defending the legacy of residential schools and then digging herself deeper into the mire by refusing to apologize and allowing anti-Indigenous comments to remain on her website.
She had become an embarrassment to the Conservatives long ago, losing her place in caucus, and she was a standing advertisement for Senate-appointment reform. Her farewell statement was wholly unrepentant.
“Some have criticized me for stating that the good, as well as the bad, of residential schools should be recognized. I stand by that statement,” Beyak wrote. “Others have criticized me for stating that the Truth and Reconciliation Report was not as balanced as it should be. I stand by that statement as well.”
Trump might well be proud of the ex-senator’s ability to see the good people on both sides of the racist divide, as he did with the “very fine people” he said were involved in the deadly riots incited by the far right in Virginia in 2017.
As mentioned, Beyak won’t be missed.
Three weeks ago, with the U.S. capital in a riot lockdown and North America reeling from the post-Christmas surge of COVID, it was easy to imagine how politics in Canada might make some New Year’s resolutions to up its game here.
A flurry of personnel departures in the past week, all greeted with relief, would seem to point to steps taken in that direction. A bad boss at Rideau Hall is gone, a regrettable (but sadly regretless) senator has retired, Conservatives and Liberals have given the boot to MPs who have flirted with extremist ideas.
It’s not a total sweep in the Canadian political world, but it’s a good start.