Conservative Criticism of Foreign Policy Uninformed by News of Last Year’s Election

The Conservative Party of Canada, accustomed to being hated by many, if not most Canadians, is still reeling from the discovery that this widespread hatred can occasionally translate into electoral defeat, even in a democracy as flawed as ours.  Now, they are turning news that Canada will be excluded from a meeting of defense ministers from nations fighting ISIS into fodder for criticism, rather than accepting the news as the logical outcome of changes to Canadian foreign policy under a new government, who was elected only two months ago on a platform promising to pull Canadian bombers out of the war on ISIS.

We can expect this level of commentary from the Queen’s Loyal Opposition for years to come.  After the attack in Paris, the party renewed its calls for Trudeau to reverse his election promise as if the promise to pull out Canadian CF-18’s was premised on the belief that there would never again be another terrorist strike somewhere in the Western world.  In response to the latest news, the Conservative Defence Critic said on Twitter, “Due to the Liberal’s incoherent policy on #ISIS Canada is not back, we lost our seat at the table,” a sentiment echoed in his official statements.

James Bezan

Conservative MP James bEzan rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Monday February 2, 2015 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Adrian Wyld

Well, fine. There is indeed  incoherence in Trudeau’s foreign policy.  There are legitimate questions to ask; how much longer will the pullout be delayed; what role will our special forces continue to play in the conflict; is the government merely going to pretend to not participate in a war, even as it continues to do so, like the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien?  Skepticism is  healthy, and governments should never be trusted, but every now and then, once in a while, they do exactly what they said they’d do when stumping for votes, and that’s pretty much the most one could ever hope for from a government.  It still remains to be seen if the Trudeau will deliver on his promise, but the critique from the right seems to be premised on the outrageous notion that he will. But then, the CPC has long had a shaky grasp on the concept of democracy. Which is a shame, because as the official opposition the party could do the nation a service by holding the government to account for its actions.  To do so, however, they would need to be asking the right questions.



It would be unfair to not mention that the Liberal government’s own explanation for why they are not attending the meeting, is equally, if not more disingenuous than the Conservative critique:

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s statement that there are “lots of meetings” to the assembled scrum is a cheap dodge.  He may be right in trying to downplay the significance of Canada getting snubbed, but the question was why it had happened in the first place.  He could have at least paraphrased his statement in a less deceptive, but more honest way: “There are lots of answers to questions. Questions get answered all of the time.  I answered some questions last week, and I’m really looking forward to answering some question in the future.”


Daily Affirmation

In Ancient Greece, the birthplace of that most beautiful of institutions we call Democracy, a tradition existed where each town would decide, by vote, who among them was the ugliest. The lucky nominee would be fed fine food on the public dime and treated very well, for awhile, until they were finished eating and driven out of town with rocks, insults, sometimes to they pyre, sometimes over cliffs, sometimes to survive alone, out there in the wilderness, where even the goats believed they were too hideous to even look at, never mind to talk to, or be friends with.

It was called the pharmakos ritual, etymologically related to “pharmakon” which referred to both poison and medicine. Both words bring to mind the wonders of alcohol which cures what ails you even as it makes you sick and, most importantly, casts out the ugly from our lives, if only for a little while. Of course, eventually people sober up or the lights in the bar come up, but remember: people generally don’t awake from these rude reminders of last call or tomorrow’s responsibilities with rocks or kindling in their hands.

And for that reason, I urge you to stand up now, walk over to your bathroom, look yourself in the mirror, and appreciate just how lucky you are, you ugly fuck.

A Modest Proposal to Solve the Refugee Crisis in Europe

Give the refugees, as a token of compensation for the atrocities they have lived through and escaped, a piece of someone else’s land. Arm them with the latest in high tech military murder gadgetry until they are, by several orders of magnitude, the most powerful nation in the region. Stand idly by while they brutalize the people who they have displaced for decades, reducing some to desperate acts of savagery which will perpetually justify collective retribution upon the women, children, and men whose only crime was to live upon a patch of dirt somebody else decided to claim for themselves. Shield them from the consequences of the international laws they have broken. Give them nuclear weapons. Make criticism of them the equivalent of political suicide bombing for the politicians of all the major nations in the west. And any time someone should ask: “Should they have shot those unarmed protesters?” “Should they have carpet bombed those residential neighbourhoods?” “Should they have starved those helpless people?” invoke the horrors of the wars and the evil of the dictators they had to flee before transforming themselves into a reflection of their own darkest terrors.

And then, of course, shake our collective heads in disbelief when one of their soldiers gets stabbed.

Better Diction is Not “Political Correctness”

There are very few occasions, at least amongst English speakers, when one misspeaks, using a series of words which convey a meaning contrary to that which they intend, where the speaker can plead that the audience is just being too sensitive. Usually if someone says one thing but means another, they apologize or correct themselves for clarity, not complain about Political Correctness and the loss of Free Speech.

If I go to a restaurant and order the chicken and then complain to the waiter that they did not bring me steak, it would not be my right to accuse them of policing my language.

If I have to look over my shoulder before I speak because I want to make sure there are no people of colour around who may not be aware that I’m only being ironically racist, maybe I shouldn’t be talking.

If the words I use genuinely bother a group of people by evoking historical intolerance, hatred and oppression; or their own experiences with bigotry both casual and overt; then what does it matter if that wasn’t my intention.

If the word I’m using conveys what I mean, but also conveys some other meaning very different from what I intend, and I want to speak articulately, then I could I use another word. There are over one million of them available.

The backlash against so-called Political Correctness is, at worst, a defence of hatred and bigotry; and at best, it is advocacy for miscommunication and misunderstanding.