ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
Even as Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball announces he’s quitting, it seems nothing gets people in this province more riled up than politics south of the border.
“There’s nothing like American politics. I’m obsessed with it,” Kenny Hanlon of St. John’s told The Telegram.
“I can’t help but to look and see what (United States President Donald) Trump is up to. My girlfriend makes fun of me because that’s all I watch (on TV).”
Hanlon’s not alone. It seems the mere mention of Trump in conversation or on social media can spur emotional responses and strong opinions. Many wonder how the outlandish, Twitter-loving, wall-building, near-impeached multimillionaire businessman is fit enough to run a reality show let alone the world’s most powerful nation.
“Everyone knows he’s a crazy lunatic,” Hanlon said.
“But we all watch because I think it’s the fact that he’s such a liar and gets away with so much. I mean, the man should be in jail. So many people went to jail because of him, but he walks away unscathed.”
Love him or hate him, people just can’t turn away.
“I think many of us are afraid the far-right sentiment will spread to us,” Bob Symonds of Conception Bay South said. “I think we hate him and want to see him fall.”
Symonds keeps up on Trump, but he’s certainly not a fan.
“I keep hoping he falls into a wood chipper,” he said jokingly.
Symonds’ distaste of Trump is so strong, he said he doubts he will ever go to the U.S. again.
“For 50 years, I’ve been hearing about the greatest constitution and the three equal branches of government, but this idiot pissed on all of that. Their country will never be the same.”
Donna Bonnell of St. John’s is still shocked Trump was elected president, given his reputation with women and after he made fun of a disabled journalist.
“How did any female in the United States vote him in?” she said. “Still puzzles me, but I’m not convinced it won’t happen again.
“I think the United States deserves better.”
Jamie Pretty of Blaketown has a different view of Trump. He believes the American president has done great things for his country.
“What he might say from time to time makes him look bad, but you know what? None of us are perfect,” he said.
“I’d vote for him if I could. … I don’t base my opinion on what I read or hear. I base it on action.”
Pretty credits Trump with having strengthened the U.S. economy, with the country having the lowest unemployment rate (to 3.6 per cent) it’s seen in decades.
“Numbers never lie,” Pretty said. “As far as I can see, he’s looking after the middle class, the backbone of any country.”
Scott Matthews, associate professor of political science at Memorial University, where he specializes in American politics, said while U.S. presidents generally are seen as global celebrities, Trump stands out.
“He really is a very unusual figure as a U.S. president in all the obvious ways. The way he comports himself is very remarkable,” Matthews said. “He’s violating all the expectations of how a president is supposed to behave and sound.”
Matthews said Trump represents something quite distinctive in American politics, with a resistance to elite politics that is perceived as anti-establishment and a reflection of a global concern regarding immigration.
Another significant point about Trump, he said, is the way he’s threatening to change American democracy in ways that are concerning. He noted how Trump recently used his presidential pardon power to grant clemency to 11 individuals, inserting himself into justice matters.
“This goes to the core of a very important democratic principle, which is the rule of law,” Matthews said. “Everyone is subject to the law on equal terms, and when the president intervenes in a way that seems to be rewarding or favouring people … that offends the principle of the rule of law very directly.
“That’s an example of the really extraordinary behaviour that’s unprecedented in modern democracy.”
Matthews pointed out that the American media’s obsession with Trump has played a big role in spurring emotional engagement. He added that seeing a president often behave so irrationally and stray from political norms concerns many people in this province.
“(Trump) really is doing some shocking things,” said Matthews, who added that he offends Canadians, who value democratic principles.
“We have good reason to be (concerned), given our economic relationship and our many shared cultural elements. Many Canadians are fearful of consequences of having someone like Trump in the White House and it’s not an unreasonable position to have. … He makes things uncertain for us.”
Matthews said while Canadian politics may not seem as entertaining or as sexy as American politics, there are issues in this country worth being interested in, such as the protests over the natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.
“It’s hard to look to away (from U.S. politics),” Matthews acknowledged, “but I think sometimes we should.”
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Tory leadership hopefuls say it’s time for unity. Here’s what some say that means
OTTAWA — When three Conservative leadership hopefuls met this past week for a debate, the same word kept getting repeated.
Unity. Or more precisely, the need for it.
In a contest largely seen as a battle for the party’s soul, which has put decades-old fissures on display between groups that make up its very coalition, what might it take to achieve unity after results are revealed Sept. 10?
As that question lingers, many in the party and beyond are preparing for a scenario in which Pierre Poilievre takes victory.
Much of that thinking is based on the longtime MP’s popularity with the existing grassroots, coupled with his ability to draw big crowds and sell what his campaign claims to have been more than 300,000 memberships.
But after winning comes the challenge of leading.
“Somebody has to give some thought to the morning after,” said Garry Keller, former chief of staff to Rona Ambrose, who served as the party’s interim leader after it lost government in 2015.
Of the 118 other members in caucus, a whopping 62 endorsed Poilievre. That’s compared to the party’s 2020 leadership race when the caucus was more evenly split between Peter MacKay and the eventual winner, Erin O’Toole.
O’Toole’s inability to manage caucus after losing the 2021 election to the Liberals ultimately led to his downfall. He was forced out by a vote from his MPs under provisions in the Reform Act, measures which will remain in place for the next leader.
Poilievre has said his campaign message of “freedom” serves as a great unifier among Conservatives. However, Keller said if some in caucus are taking that to mean they will be able to say whatever they want on social media, they shouldn’t.
“I think people will be solely disabused of that notion.”
Poilievre and his supporters have throughout the race been accused of sowing disunity in the party by instigating personal attacks against rivals, namely ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest.
Most recently, MPs endorsing Poilievre — along with Scott Aitchison, a rural Ontario representative and fellow leadership competitor — have called into question whether Charest, who has spent the past 20 years out of federal politics, plans to stick around the party after the race is over.
Longtime British Columbia MP Ed Fast, a co-chair on Charest’s campaign, tweeted “the purity tests must stop” and cautioned party members that when Conservatives are divided, Liberals win.
Fast himself resigned from his role as finance critic after criticizing Poilievre’s vow to fire the Bank of Canada governor, which ruffled some feathers inside caucus.
“It’s a sad situation that Jean Charest, a patriot and champion of Canadian unity, continues to have his loyalty questioned by party members looking to stoke division,” said Michelle Coates Mather, a spokeswoman for his campaign.
“What’s the endgame here exactly? Lose the next federal election by alienating Conservative members who support Charest? Seems a poor strategy for a party looking to expand their base and win a federal election.”
While Poilievre enjoys the majority support of the party’s caucus, most of the party’s 10 Quebec MPs are backing Charest, opening the question of what happens next if he is not successful.
Asked recently about that possibility, MP Alain Rayes, who is organizing on Charest’s campaign, expressed confidence in the former Quebec premier’s chances, saying the party doesn’t need “American-style divisive politics.”
“I’m deeply convinced that our members will make the right choice,” he said in a statement.
The group Centre Ice Conservatives, a centre-right advocacy group formed during the leadership race, contends the party has room to grow if it leaves the fringes and concentrates on issues that matter in the mainstream.
Director Michael Stuart says both Charest and Poilievre have policies that speak to the centrists, and what they’re hearing from supporters of their group is a desire for more focus on “dinner table issues,” such as economic growth and jobs.
“There’s a lot of distraction with noise around vaccines and the convoy and those sorts of things.”
Not only did Poilievre support the “Freedom Convoy,” he used his message of “freedom” to campaign on the anger and frustration people felt because of government-imposed COVID-19 rules, like vaccine and mask mandates.
How he will handle social conservatives also remains an open question.
Poilievre has pledged no government led by him would introduce or pass legislation restricting abortion access.
Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition, said many of those who strongly oppose vaccine mandates also share values with social conservatives.
“They are largely pro-freedom, pro-family, and yes, even pro-life and pro-faith,” he said.
Social conservatives have traditionally been a well-mobilized part of the party’s base during leadership contests and helped deliver wins for O’Toole and former leader Andrew Scheer, who is now helping Poilievre in the race.
While Fonseca and other anti-abortion groups are encouraging members to pick social conservative candidate Leslyn Lewis as their first choice, he said the “freedom conservatives” Poilievre recruited will expect results.
That includes giving Lewis a critic role, he said.
“He will be forced to face that reality and to deliver policy commitments to the freedom conservatives and social conservatives that are his base.”
“If it doesn’t, the peril is you become a flip-flopper like Erin O’Toole,” he said, referring to walk-backs the former leader made on promises after winning the leadership.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Former B.C. solicitor-general Rich Coleman is returning to politics – Terrace Standard
Two years after he retired, former B.C. Solicitor-General Rich Coleman is returning to politics, this time at the municipal level, with the “Elevate Langley Voters Association” civic party in the Township of Langley, according to an Elections B.C. register of elector organizations.
The register lists former Langley East MLA Coleman as the “authorized principal official” for the party.
While he has registered a civic party, whether Coleman will be running in the Oct. 15 election himself remains to be seen.
In a response to a Langley Advance Times query on Saturday, Aug. 6, Coleman confirmed he has been approached about running for mayor, but hasn’t decided yet.
“A lot of people have been on me to run for mayor,” Coleman told the Langley Advance Times.
“I’m seriously considering it.”
Coleman said he registered the Elevate Langley party when he did, because the Election B.C. deadline to register elector organizations for the pending municipal elections was Aug. 2, and he wanted to provide a vehicle for some potential Township candidates he has been mentoring.
“I’ve got some young folks who want to run,” Coleman said.
In the Elections B.C. register entry, Elevate Langley listed a contact phone number that turned out to be the office number for current Langley East MLA Megan Dykeman, who said she has no involvement with the party, calling it “absolutely an error.”
Coleman said he would check into it.
In 2018, Coleman was considering a run for Surrey mayor, but decided against it.
Coleman spent 24 years in provincial politics before he retired in 2020, including four years as provincial Solicitor-General.
Langley Township councillors Eric Woodward and Blair Whitmarsh have also announced mayoralty bids. So has former councillor Michelle Sparrow.
Elections B.C.’s register of civic parties listed Woodward as the principal official for the “Contract with Langley Association” party, which, the filing indicates, will be fielding candidates for council and school board.
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