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‘If you show up, I win’: Inside Patrick Brown’s drive for Conservative leadership

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OTTAWA — An apology to the Tamil community, improving cricket infrastructure, and putting a visa office in Kathmandu are just some of the promises Patrick Brown has made in hopes of becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

But a search for these pledges on the campaign website, and social media accounts of the Brampton, Ont., mayor come up empty.

They appear only to exist in pitches he delivered to leaders and members of the country’s Tamil and Nepalese community, whom he’s courting, among other immigrant and racialized Canadians, to buy party memberships as the clock ticks down to the June 3 deadline.

And while Brown’s main rival, Pierre Poilievre, is drawing crowds by the thousands, the former MP and leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives has been criss-crossing the country, making his case to rooms of sometimes only as many as 20.

A glimpse into his strategy can be found in a series of videos and clips shared on Facebook by those who attended such events, including a meeting Brown had with Muslim community members in British Columbia, 17 minutes of which was livestreamed April 1.

“In the existing Conservative membership Pierre is more popular. The existing Conservative membership wants someone who is more hard- right,” says Brown, seated on a couch as others appeared in nearby chairs listening to him answer their questions.

“My path to victory is not winning the party membership,” he says. “My path to victory is bringing new people in and having a decent level of support within the party.”

He says they have a large campaign in the Sikh, Muslim, Tamil and Chinese communities “that have all felt mistreated by the party”

After a brief pause, Brown says: “If we pull this off, this is part of Canadian history.”

Since entering the race, Brown has fashioned himself as a fighter for religious freedoms, pointing to his vocal opposition of the controversial secularism law in Quebec known by its legislative title of Bill 21. Passed in 2019, it prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, like hijabs, turbans, kippahs on the job.

While Brown includes that in his speeches, he goes further: He bills the leadership contest as a chance for communities to see their interests better reflected in federal policy and as a way to put both a friend and an ally in the Prime Minister’s Office, which is where he tells them he believes the next Conservative leader is headed, after three terms of Liberal rule.

Among those he’s targeting are Nepalese Canadians. His campaign includes a coordinator dedicated to signing up at least 5,000 from their community.

In a roughly 36-minute Facebook video shared April 3, Brown tells a room of them in Mississauga, Ont., that as group, they have “never played a significant role in a Conservative party leadership.”

Getting involved will open the door to seeing community members represented in the country’s institutions of power, he says, noting the lack of Nepalese faces within government.

“If you’re not part of the process it’s easy to get forgotten,” Brown says.

Near the end of the video, he requests their help by adding that “I never forget those that are part of my journey. We support each other, we create opportunities for each other.”

That speech followed an earlier one livestreamed on March 13, the day the Brampton, Ont., mayor launched his leadership bid at a rally in the Greater Toronto Area city.

In the video, he promises a room of Nepalese community members that as prime minister, he would station a visa office in the country’s capital of Kathmandu and invest in cricket infrastructure.

When it comes to the Tamils, an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, Brown has credited its community leaders and members for signing up in record numbers during Ontario’s 2015 Progressive Conservative leadership race, which he won and reported selling a whopping 40,000 memberships.

Speaking at an event to Tamil community members in Quebec last month, Brown expressed support for putting a consular office in the Sri Lankan city of Jaffna and pledged to deliver them an apology as prime minister.

“In the years leading up to 2009, Canada was on the wrong side of history,’” said Brown.

That year, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which Public Safety Canada lists as a Sri Lankan-based terrorist organization, was defeated. Ottawa says in its listing the group, formed in 1976 to advocate for the creation of a homeland for the Tamils, has waged terror against civilians and assassinated Indian and Sri Lankan leaders.

Speaking at a different Tamil event, a roughly three minute clip posted to Facebook shows Brown seated at a table promising to “lift the ban,” saying he feels that Tamil Tigers were “acting in self-defence.”

In a statement to The Canadian Press, campaign spokesman Jeff Silverstein says Brown stands by his policy announcements. They will appear on his campaign website in due course, as their immediate focus is on selling memberships, he said.

Silverstein added Brown believes it’s time to delist the ban on the Tamil Tigers, citing the stigma community members face.

He also said Brown’s relationship with the Nepalese Canadian community goes back 15 years and that his campaign team reflects the county’s diversity.

Brown’s campaign says what he’s trying to do is rebuild bridges the party burned with cultural communities during its reelection campaign in 2015 — an issue most recently acknowledged in a report into the Conservatives’ 2021 election loss. By April 8, the campaign says, Brown had attended about 200 events over the past three weeks.

Back then, the Tories, led by former prime minister Stephen Harper, promised to establish a tip line for so-called barbaric cultural practices and pushed a bill banning the wearing of face coverings, like niqabs, during citizenship ceremonies.

Brown is campaigning on the fact Poilievre was in government at that time and Jenni Byrne, an aide on his current leadership bid, was the party’s national campaign manger in 2015.

“The Conservative Party will never win if Pierre Poilievre gets his way and keeps driving cultural communities away by doubling down on failed discriminatory policies like the niqab ban,” Silverstein wrote on Sunday.

“Mayor Brown is working hard to undo that damage and build a winning Conservative Party — and he’ll never apologize for it.”

To illustrate what’s at stake in the leadership race for racialized communities, particularly Muslims, Brown points to this history from Byrne and Poilievre.

He references the 2015 campaign in a 20-minute video of a meeting with Muslim leaders in Calgary in mid-April. In it, he says he doesn’t want to see the political polarization created under former United States President Donald Trump’s tenure imported into Canada. He also adds, the country’s right wing has a problem with Islamophobia.

At one point, he tells them he doesn’t know how “Pierre votes against condemning Islamophobia.” In 2017, both Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs voted against a motion brought forward by a Liberal MP in the House of Commons to condemnit.

“This Conservative leadership’s a battle for the soul of the party,” Brown told the room.

“If you show up, I win.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2022

 

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Politics Podcast: Who Will Win The GOP’s Senate Primary In Pennsylvania? – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon are holding primary elections on Tuesday. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses the the most anticipated contests — the Keystone State’s Republican Senate and gubernatorial races — and previews other races we’re watching, including the Republican gubernatorial primary in Idaho, where the lieutenant governor is challenging the sitting governor for the GOP nomination, and the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn is facing seven challengers from his own party after revelations of numerous scandals.

The team also looks at FiveThirtyEight’s latest collaboration with Ipsos, in which Americans are asked about the issues they care about the most in the run-up to the midterms. The first poll is all about inflation.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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'Replacement' conspiracies driving gunmen creep into mainstream politics – CNN

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(CNN)Critics are drawing parallels between the pattern of racist gunmen citing fears of a conspiracy to “replace” Whites with rhetoric pushed on Fox and by some Republican politicians.

The mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday was not the first such event in recent years in which a White gunman, who allegedly posted a White supremacist manifesto online, targeted the Black or immigrant community.
It’s not the second. Or the third.
Overtly racist lone gunmen motivated by such hate have, in recent years, targeted a Black church in South Carolina, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and immigrants at a Walmart in El Paso. Read CNN’s report.
Some apparently drew inspiration from a shooting by a White man in New Zealand who targeted mosques, killing 51, and published his own manifesto about “The Great Replacement.”
Now, Buffalo.
Get the latest on:
  • The Buffalo shooting and the victims: 10 people were killed at a supermarket and authorities say it was hate crime. The gunman exchanged fire with and killed an armed security guard.
  • The shooter: The suspect is 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who traveled from another New York county hours away and livestreamed the attack on the social media platform Twitch.
“Replacement theory” motivation — According to a 180-page document posted online, attributed to Gendron, he was fixated on what’s known as “replacement theory” — the idea that Whites are being slowly and intentionally replaced by minorities and immigrants.
Variations on this basic idea — that Whites are being replaced by some sort of minority-driven conspiracy — have made their way into more than just the musings of gunmen.
The Fox and GOP version of replacement theory. Critics say it is dangerously close to xenophobic rhetoric finding its way into the mainstream of American politics.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, pointed the finger squarely at her party’s leadership Monday morning, saying it has “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
And after the shooting in Buffalo, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who has split with his party by criticizing former President Donald Trump, tried to make a connection between an old Facebook ad published by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, and replacement theory.
“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory? The #3 in the house GOP,” Kinzinger said on Twitter, linking to media coverage that the congresswoman’s Facebook ads received in 2021, including a critical editorial from a local newspaper.
The Facebook ads from her campaign last September suggested Democrats wanted to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.
CNN has reached out to Stefanik about Kinzinger’s comment.
Replacement pattern. That ad is part of a larger narrative.
Tucker Carlson, the Fox host, has pushed the idea that Democrats want to import new voters to dilute the votes of other Americans, presumably Whites like him.
Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio and City University of New York media studies professor James Cohen wrote a CNN opinion piece last year about how the concept of replacement theory has festered in US politics for decades, but has recently become easy to decode in segments on Carlson’s show and in remarks by lawmakers. Read more.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza has documented how the concept of replacement theory has been mentioned by lawmakers like GOP Rep. Scott Perry, who said this at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting in April of 2021:
“For many Americans, what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is what appears to them is we’re replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation,” the Pennsylvania Republican said in reference to the number of people trying to enter the country at the United States’ southern border.
“Uncomfortably” close. This is not to say Perry’s comment, Carlson’s broadcasts or Stefanik’s ad are the same as what’s represented in the writings, allegedly from Gendron or other gunmen. They’re not. But it is also impossible to deny certain parallels in the language.
“This tension, this frustration, this fear sits not that far from our mainstream politics,” journalist Wesley Lowery said on CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday.
“One thing is unquestionably true,” he added. “Very often the rhetoric in our politics sits uncomfortably close to the rhetoric that these kind of terrorists espouse.”
Pledges to fight racism. But how? President Joe Biden, who is headed to Buffalo on Tuesday, pledged to fight racism.
“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”
Race is enmeshed in US politics. Political rhetoric often feeds replacement fears by highlighting racial divides that are enmeshed in American life and politics.
The issue of immigration will loom over this fall’s midterm elections as Biden struggles with how to end Trump-era immigration policy that has kept US borders largely closed.
The related issues of voting rights and election security often pit GOP-led states like Georgia, Texas and Florida against big cities with their large minority populations.
Seeking accountability from social media companies. Democratic politicians like New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued Sunday that social media companies should bear some responsibility.
“This spreads like a virus,” Hochul told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” She said CEOs of social media companies must look a their policies and do more to take racist content down.
“They have to be able to identify when information like this — the second it hits the platform, it needs to be taken down, because this is spreading like wildfire.”
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla who has been in the process of buying Twitter, has said he would go in the opposite direction. He’s a self-described free speech absolutist and would allow more, not less, speech online.
Buffalo and gun laws. The gun control debate has shown us that even tragic shooting after tragic shooting will lead to very little concrete action so long as a minority of senators, locked together, can stop any legislation
New York already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and Hochul said she would look to close loopholes in state law that she said allowed magazines like the one apparently used in Buffalo across state lines.
Separately, Bash asked Pelosi if Democrats should place higher priority on passing gun safety measures like a stricter background check proposal passed by the House that was stalled in the Senate. Pelosi argued the math makes passing such bills a challenge.
“The fact is the 60-vote majority in the Senate is an obstacle to doing any, many good things, unfortunately, and again, we are not going away until the job is done,” Pelosi said.

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Ukraine won the 2022 Eurovision because of politics – The Washington Post

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Even before this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, commentators claimed that if Ukraine took home the trophy, it would not be for the quality of its folk-rap entry, “Stefania.” Instead, it would be a sign of European support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

The Eurovision Song Contest allows countries to enter songs — but also to vote for the songs entered by other countries (each country nominates a jury of representatives to vote on its behalf). Several country representatives didn’t exactly try to hide their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause. When Poland’s representatives were asked for their jury vote, they mentioned “artistic creativity” — but also the bravery of Ukrainian fighters.

And it’s true: Ukraine’s victory on Saturday was political. This doesn’t make it unusual. Eurovision has always been about politics, even if the European Broadcasting Union (the organization that runs Eurovision) sometimes claims the opposite.

Past Eurovision songs have taken aim at Russia

In the past, Russia’s neighbors have weaponized Eurovision songs to retaliate against Russian actions. In 2007, Ukraine submitted a song called “Dancing Lasha Tumbai.” In Ukrainian, the pronunciation sounds very much like “Russia Goodbye.” After Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, that country tried the same trick with a song called “We Don’t Wanna Put In” — coincidentally pronounced in the song like “we don’t want a Putin.” It didn’t work; the entry was promptly disqualified. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine’s entry was a song about the Soviet deportation of Crimean Tatars. The song, entitled “1944,” also won the contest.

An analysis of voting patterns demonstrates that Russia, too, has engaged in Eurovision politics. Since Russia first entered the contest in 1994, its entry has frequently finished in the top five. Is that due to the quality of its entrants? Maybe, but many watchers also have noted how Russia almost always collects “douze points” (12 points: the maximum) from Belarus and other allies. This year, Russia was banned from participating.

Not all of the politics is about Russia’s actions

So, would Eurovision be apolitical if Russia’s ban from the contest became permanent? Hardly. While many of the recent political scandals have involved Russia, it’s not the only country that sparks controversy.

Israel’s participation in Eurovision means that many Arab countries do not participate, even though Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan are all eligible. Morocco’s first and only appearance in the contest was in a year Israel did not participate. In 2005, Lebanon withdrew rather than broadcast the Israeli entry.

Nor have Western European nations avoided politics. 1974’s Eurovision might be best known for introducing the world to ABBA. The Portuguese entry was more politically consequential: It served as a signal for coup plotters to begin the overthrow of Portugal’s authoritarian regime. Nor was that all; Italy censored its own entry that year, for fear that listening to “Sì” too many times would influence voters to vote “sì” (yes) in a referendum the next month to make divorce legal.

Eurovision has been political from the start

None of this is entirely surprising. Eurovision — and the European Broadcasting Union — was founded in the aftermath of World War II. The aim was to promote European cooperation. If it gave European nations a way to compete without guns and bombs, that was all to the good. There are worse ways for nations to vie for supremacy than with song and dance.

Given these foundations, it is safe to say that “Stefania” is not undermining any proud vision of political neutrality in Eurovision. It is very likely that Ukraine did win because of the Russian invasion — but it will be neither the first nor the last time that Eurovision expresses politics through the medium of a song contest. The solidarity that other European countries have expressed with Ukraine, and their implicit condemnation of Russia’s invasion, is not out of keeping with the contest’s political beginnings.

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