OTTAWA—Despite the need for the country to pull together in this emergency, Canada’s right-wingers appear incapable of resisting a Donald Trump-style campaign of inflammatory, xenophobic hype designed to spark anger and divide Canadians.
At the federal level, it’s obvious the Conservative can’t stand it that the COVID-19 crisis has deprived them of the opportunity to hold the fact of a Liberal minority government over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s head daily and sabre-rattle about forcing an election ASAP.
It’s a continuation of the Conservatives’ refusal to come to terms with their inability to actually defeat the Liberals last fall, given Trudeau’s troubles over SNC-Lavalin and his old blackface misadventures.
Searching for way to get off the sidelines in a series of events that have revived Canadians’ recognition of the importance of government, the Conservatives seem inevitably drawn to the tactics of President Donald Trump in the U.S.
There, the shock, devastation, and frustration from the pandemic have unleashed a tsunami of craziness, some of it egged on by the person who more than anyone should be emphasizing the need for a calm, level-headed approach to the crisis—the president.
In a desperate bid to cover up his own deadly mishandling of COVID-19 early this year, Trump is pulling out all the stops to blame the catastrophe on foreigners and the multinational community. His targets are China and the World Health Organization (WHO), the latter of which the president is defunding for “mismanaging” the virus and allegedly not holding Beijing to account. (Never mind that Trump repeatedly praised China’s anti-virus efforts back in the winter.) And Trump has gone further, lending credence on the weekend to the blatant conspiracy theory that China purposely created COVID-19.
China may have a lot to answer for and, as Trudeau has pointed out, there needs to be a reckoning once the emergency passes. But the Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer, who always seemed to be trying to channel a bit of Trump’s populist appeal (see Scheer’s constant personalizing of his attacks on Trudeau as a callous, rich elitist, and the Conservatives’ basically non-existent climate policy), has seized on the issue of China’s handling of the outbreak as a way to slam the Liberals today.
Scheer has criticized Trudeau for not publicly admonishing China over its COVID-19 response and accused the WHO of being a front for Beijing, saying “let’s stop vouching for the communist regime in China.” Conservative Party leadership front-runners Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole readily joined this campaign to demonize China, signing an open letter saying Chinese leaders’ apparent failure to quickly provide information on the virus outbreak amounts to “China’s Chernobyl moment.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who, like Trump, his seen his popularity decline during the pandemic, also jumped in. In what can only be seen as Trump-like racial dog whistling to his base, Kenney attacked Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, asserting she has just been “repeating talking points” from China’s communists.
In Scheer’s reluctance to join other opposition parties in accepting a compromise on how to configure parliamentary sessions during the crisis, he has confirmed what was obvious since October. That is, that despite the usual expectations from the public that the election of a minority Parliament conveys a responsibility on all parties to work together to try to get things done for Canadians, the Conservatives never had any intention of co-operating with the Liberal minority. Scheer’s approach to MPs’ sittings was seen by many as political game-playing at the worst possible time, with Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accusing the Conservatives of holding Parliament “hostage” and MP Elizabeth May angrily saying that “giving the Conservatives a spotlight in Question Period is not a reason to reconvene.”
While the virus has moved the Conservatives largely off-stage by postponing the leadership contest, Scheer is obviously struggling to regain some profile for the party. The one advantage the Conservatives have at this point is that Scheer is already damaged goods. It doesn’t matter how opportunistic and irrelevant he appears, since he will be gone as leader shortly in any case.
With its heavy dose of rage and divisiveness, the Trump-derived anti-WHO, anti-China thrust may keep the Conservatives’ right-wing supporters in Western Canada on-side. But anything that aligns politicians in Canada with Trump’s gruesomely failed approach to the pandemic is unlikely to be acceptable among Canadian voters as a whole. And the wider danger is the risk of long-term damage to the party’s credibility if the positions taken by Scheer, MacKay, and O’Toole seem out of touch and driven more by attention-seeking than any serious response to the crisis.
Les Whittington is a regular columnist for The Hill Times.
The Hill Times
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How The Protests Against Police Brutality Could Shape Electoral Politics – FiveThirtyEight
Political and General News Events from June 2 – National Post
June 2 (Reuters) –
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Today in Washington
—————————————————————- This diary is filed daily. ** Indicates new events —————————————————————-
TUESDAY, JUNE 2
** TALLINN – Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will visit Tallinn and meet with his counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. ** BUDAPEST- Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok and Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjárto meet in Budapest to discuss easing border restrictions in the region and also in the European Union. ** LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a cabinet meeting of his top ministers, a day after introducing new measures to relax a stringent lockdown. ** BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas receives Ukraine counterpart Kuyleba Dmytro in Berlin – 1000 GMT. ** LONDON- British Health Secretary Matt Hancock updates lawmakers on the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – 1130 GMT.
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Calvino to participate at session in senate – 1400 GMT.
BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba speak to reporters on the sidelines of a joint meeting. GREECE – Greek, Israeli and Cypriot energy ministers speak at a virtual conference on their energy partnership and its role in regional energy security and economic cooperation in the age of COVID-19. BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s top economy official, Valdis Dombrovskis, and France’s EU affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, discuss the proposed 750 billion euro economic stimulus plan on a webinar – 1400 GMT. BERLIN – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and presidential office head Andriy Yermak will pay a visit to Berlin.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3
** ATHENS – Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion – 1500 GMT.
** WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds call with G7 finance ministers. ** WASHINGTON DC – International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva takes part in online forum – 1800 GMT. ** MOSCOW – WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge is to brief online Russian language media on COVID-19 – 1000 GMT. ** ROME – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio meets French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Rome and hold joint news conference – 1600 GMT.
LONDON- UK financial services minister John Glen speaks on government priorities for recovery following COVID-19 at investment webinar – 0830 GMT. PRAGUE – Slovakia’s new Prime Minister Igor Matovic visits Prague to meet his counterpart Andrej Babis and other officials.
BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans, presents an assessment of the EU member states’ national energy and climate plans.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 4
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Nadia Calvino to participate in online economy forum – 0700 GMT. ** MADRID – The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, participates in “Nueva Economia Forum” online meeting – 0900 GMT. ** WASHINGTON DC – IMF spokesman Gerry Rice holds regular briefing to discuss global economy and the impact of the COVID-19pandemic on emerging market and developing countries – 1430 GMT. CHILE – 9th anniversary of Chile’s Puyehue volcano eruption, causing air traffic cancellations across South America, New Zealand, Australia.
HONG KONG – Tens of thousands attend a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU ministers of justice
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU transport ministers – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 5
GREECE – The Economist holds conference entitled “Euro zone’s quest for a coronavirus vaccine.” Eurogroup’s head Mario Centeno, EU Commission’s Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Piraeus Bank Chief Executive Officer Christos Megalou will speak – 1430 GMT.
GLOBAL – World Environment Day.
SAINT KITTS and NEVIS – Kittitian and Nevisian National Assembly election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 6
LJUBLJANA – Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio visits Slovenia.
SEOUL – South Korea marks the 65th anniversary of Memorial Day. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 8 BRUSSELS – European foreign affairs minister meet in Brussels. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 9
VIENNA – 179th Meeting of the OPEC Conference via video conference.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10
VIENNA – 11th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting via video conference.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 11
DODOMA – Tanzania finance minister presents 2020/21 fiscal budget to parliament
NAIROBI – Kenya’s Finance Minister is scheduled to present the government’s budget for the 2020/21 fiscal year to parliament – 1200 GMT FREDRICK COUNTY, MARYLAND, U.S. – U.S. President Donald Trump hosts G7 leaders at Camp David (to June 12).
LUXEMBOURG – Eurogroup meeting. – – – – – – – – –
FRIDAY, JUNE 12
GLOBAL – World Day against Child Labour. – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JUNE 14
GLOBAL – World Blood Donor Day.
GAZA – 13th anniversary of Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip from Fatah. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 15 GLOBAL – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). BRUSSELS – EU-UK officials meet to assess progress in Brexit talks ahead of EU summit
– – – – – – – – –
WENDESDAY, JUNE 17
GLOBAL – United Nation’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. MOSCOW – Russian Energy minister Alexander Valentinovich Novak attends a conference on COVID-19 and the future of energy sector. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
BRUSSELS – European Council meeting (to June 19).
– – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 20
GLOBAL – World Refugee Day. Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Parliament election. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 23 KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – APEC finance senior officials’ meeting (to June 25). – – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 BERLIN – 72nd anniversary of beginning of The Berlin Blockade. Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize a massive airlift.
MOSCOW – Abkhazia’s President Aslan Bzhania will attend Moscow’s Victory Day parade, rescheduled by Russian President Vladimir Putin for June 24
CHISINAU – Moldovan President Igor Dodon will attend a military parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. BRUSSELS – Vice president of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans, presents the bloc’s smart sector integration.
Mongolia – Mongolian State Great Hural Election. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 25
LOS ANGELES – 11th death anniversary of pop star Michael Jackson. – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 26
GLOBAL – International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 27 Iceland – President election. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 29 PYEONGTAEK – South Korea observes the 18th anniversary of an inter-Korean sea clash.
BEJING/TAIPEI – 10th Anniversary of signing of a landmark trade deal between China and Taiwan.
LUXEMBOURG – European ministers for agriculture and fisheries meet for talks. (to June 30). – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JULY 5
Dominican Republic – Chamber of Deputies election. Dominican Republic – Senate election. Dominican Republic – President election.
– – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Malawi – President’s election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JULY 18 RIYADH – Saudi Arabia hosts third meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh.(to July 19).
– – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, JULY 21
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – Russia hosts SCO and BRICS summits (to July 23). – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JULY 27 MANILA – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte delivers State of the Nation address.
FRIDAY, July 31
VALPARAISO, Chile – Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera delivers the annual state of the nation address.
HANOI – Vietnam host 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings (to August 5).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event.
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