In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.
WASHINGTON — It’s only fitting that the decade is coming to an end with an impeachment vote against the president of the United States, because it’s been a dark ten years in American politics.
And it’s gotten progressively worse, especially in the last three years.
Consider this timeline of controversy, gridlock, outrage and resentment in our politics:
- The rise of the Tea Party (2010)
- The Health Car War (2010-present)
- Mitch McConnell’s “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” (2010)
- The Tucson shooting (2011)
- The debt-ceiling debacle (2011)
- The Birther movement led by one Donald Trump (2011)
- The shooting of Trayvon Martin (2012)
- Barack Obama’s campaign nuking Mitt Romney over Bain Capital (2012)
- Romney’s 47-percent comment (2012)
- Benghazi and its political aftermath (2012-2016)
- The Newtown shooting (2012)
- Government shutdown (2013)
- The rise of Trump (2015-present)
- Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination (2016)
- “Lock her up!” (2016)
- Trump’s “American carnage” inaugural address (2017)
- Trump’s 15,000 and counting false or misleading claims (2017-present)
- Trump’s controversial Muslim/travel ban (2017)
- The rise of the Resistance (2017)
- The Mueller investigation (2017-2019)
- The congressional baseball shooting (2017)
- Charlottesville (2017)
- The Helsinki press conference (2018)
- Trump’s comments after John McCain passed away (2018)
- Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination (2018)
- Pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and journalists (2018)
- The 35-day government shutdown (2019)
- Trump’s all-but certain impeachment (2019)
Add them all up, and it’s easily the darkest decade in politics since the 1960s. And think of anyone in their 20s right now — it’s all they’ve seen.
They weren’t old enough to remember when Democrats and Republicans came together after 9/11 (even though it later led to the disastrous Iraq war).
They weren’t old enough to vote in the “Hope and Change” election of 2008, when both political parties had popular presidential nominees.
And they wouldn’t believe you if you told them that Obama threw an inaugural ball in McCain’s honor after that election.
One other characteristic that has defined the past decade: When given the choice, political actors have typically pursued the more populist/radical/confrontational option.
That was especially true on the right earlier in the decade, and it’s become more true on the left in the last few years.
And it’s come amid growing polarization in our political media, the rise of social media, and the decline of local news.
And it’s all contributed to a dark and dysfunctional decade in our politics.
It’s Impeachment Vote Day
The U.S. House of Representatives today will vote to impeach a president for only the third time in U.S. history, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett.
The two articles of impeachment: 1) Abuse of power and 2) obstruction of Congress.
The House gavels in at 9:00 am ET, and the House Judiciary Committee chairman (Democrat Jerrold Nadler) and ranking GOP member (Doug Collins) lead six hours of debate, with time divided equally between Democrats and Republicans.
Barring any delays, NBC’s Alex Moe and Bennett believe the final vote on the articles of impeachment will occur between 6:30 pm ET and 7:30 pm ET.
And as it just so happens, Trump is scheduled to speak at a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., beginning at 7:00 pm ET.
Trump’s six-page tirade
On the one hand, you have to give credit to President Trump and his allies for fighting this impeachment to a near draw when it comes to public opinion.
Love him or hate him, one of Trump’s top political assets is how he wears down — and outlasts — his opposition.
On the other hand, however, you have to acknowledge just how dishonest and disturbed his defenses have been in this entire episode.
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And that was underscored by his six-page letter yesterday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “In a rambling six-page letter, Trump accused Pelosi of having ‘cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment’ and said she was ‘declaring open war on American Democracy’ by pursuing his impeachment,” per NBC News.
Tweet of the day
Data Download: The number of the day is … at least 21
At least 21.
That’s the number of false or misleading claims counted by the Washington Post in President Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi yesterday.
Those falsehoods include: His characterization of the 2016 results, his description of his call with the Ukrainian president, and some of his boasts about his administration’s policy and economic record.
Susan Collins announces she’s running for re-election: It’s not a surprise, but it’s still significant: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced this morning that she’s running for re-election.
“The fundamental question I had to ask myself in making my decision was this: in today’s polarized political environment, is there still a role for a centrist who believes in getting things done through compromise, collegiality, and bipartisanship?” she wrote in a letter to supporters, per NBC’s Frank Thorp.
“I have concluded that the answer to this question is ‘yes,’ and I will, therefore, seek the honor of continuing to serve as Maine’s United States Senator.”
Here’s the significance of Collins’ decision: Given that Democrats need a net pick up of at least three Senate seats to take back control of the chamber, it’s hard to see how Democrats win the Senate without defeating Collins.
Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities — from easiest to hardest: Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina.
And remember, the GOP has a pick-up opportunity in Alabama.
On the campaign trail today
It’s a quiet day before tomorrow night’s Dem presidential debate… Julian Castro, who didn’t qualify for the debate, stumps in the Los Angeles area… Michael Bloomberg holds a health-care roundtable in Medford, Mass… Cory Booker stumps in Nevada… And President Trump holds a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., at 7:00 pm ET.
Dispatches from NBC’s campaign embeds
Pete Buttigieg pitched himself to California Democrats last night in Hollywood, and his speech touched on some old Barack Obama themes — of hope and change. NBC’s Priscilla Thompson reports on Buttigieg’s remarks: “I refuse to be told that my hope is a function of my age. Because the truth is, my hope for more unified America is a function of my experience as a result of what I saw in my own city – written off at the beginning of this very same decade we’re living in now as a dying city that now stands tall, is growing for the first time in a long time, seeing jobs added neighborhoods lifted up the thousands lifted from poverty. It’s the hope that I cultivated in the dust of a war zone in Afghanistan among fellow Americans who I had nothing in common with besides the flag on our shoulders, different races, different backgrounds, different politic definitely different politics, but we learned to trust each other with our lives, because we had to.”
NBC’s Maura Barrett followed a YouTube livestream that Tom Steyer held with young Democrats and picked up on how this may become commonplace for the senators in the 2020 race: “I note the details regarding how the virtual town hall was conducted as speculations swirl around how senators who are also running for president while potentially sitting on an impeachment trial in January might continue to campaign. Obviously, this won’t be a problem for Steyer, but Cory Booker’s campaign manager floated the idea of tele-town halls on a press call last week and other campaigns are looking for creative solutions; the virtual town hall or other solutions utilizing new technology might something we see more of, come January.”
The Lid: Commercial break
Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at new polling on the reach of Michael Bloomberg’s TV ads.
ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss
Bookmark NBC’s impeachment live blog for today.
Adam Schiff is raising questions about how Vice President Mike Pence’s office described his call with the Ukrainian president.
Protestors rallied yesterday to show their support for impeachment.
House Republicans are running ads on impeachment, but Democrats are trying their best to change the subject.
Trump Agenda: My Man Mitch
Mitch McConnell says he’s not “an impartial juror” in the impeachment trial.
The House Rules Committee approved six hours of debate on the House floor today before the impeachment vote.
The House has passed a $1.4 trillion government spending bill.
Paul Manafort was hospitalized after a “cardiac event.”
2020: Biden releases his medical history
Joe Biden has released a three-page summary of his medical history.
Voting rights advocates are worried about a recent voter purge in Georgia.
Pete Buttigieg finally started going after his rivals. Is it working?
POLITICO delves into Pete Buttigieg’s Harvard days.
Both Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are trying to crack the code of how to win in California.
Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics
As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”
It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.
For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.
The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.
Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.
So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.
Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.
Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.
Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician
A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.
Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.
“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.
Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.
Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.
“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.
“The analogy’s extremely evident.”
Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.
Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador
In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.
Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.
Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.
CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.
“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.
Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”
“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.
He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.
Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.
The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.
In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.
In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.
Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.
On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt.
“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.
He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.
Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.
‘A very marginal conversation’
“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”
He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.
A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.
Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”
The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.
Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt
The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis
Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.
“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.
“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”
The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.
Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.
“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.
This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.
Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.
Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.
He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.
“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.
Your kids need a place to live: Raitt
Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.
That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.
Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”
That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.
Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.
“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.
“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”
Counting the cost of climate change
When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.
“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.
She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.
“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.
Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.
“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.
Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.
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