Through the curiosities of circumstance, Nigel Clarke finds himself marooned in Ottawa, the capital of the socialist haven of Canada. Thanks to The Progressive Army and co-conspirators who must remain nameless, Nigel is able to smuggle his thoughts on life behind the curtain to the outside world each week.
To read last week’s correspondence here
There is a common critique of “socialism” which portrays it as drab and colorless. One only need to think of the popularized capitalist comparison between competing sides of Cold War-era Berlin – the East; gray, overcast, cold; the West; illuminated by Coca-Cola signs, the Golden Arches, a constant soundtrack of The Beatles.
Socialist Canada’s newspaper industry appears to have missed the memo, instead tending towards the extravagant, entertainment-driven headline.
“Trudeau in Pay-to-Play Scandal.”
Revered Leader Justin Trudeau, Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister, is the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s 15th PM. He is sometimes, within certain Canadian circles, criticized for his ‘legacy kid’ life. From prestigious private schools to prestigious universities coast to coast – including McGill University, known here as “Canada’s Harvard” – Trudeau would go on to dabble as a ski-instructor and substitute drama teacher before entering politics and deciding to seek the highest office in the country.
Of course, Justin Trudeau is, by popular standards, absurdly good looking. The photographs of Ivanka Trump ogling Trudeau during his meeting with The Donald became something of a propaganda opportunity here in Canada. He is also dripping with charisma and has been in and around the halls of power since birth.
Really, he is the type of politician – good looking, well-spoken, well-connected – who often gets a pass from any sort of serious scrutiny. Think of JFK, and how little of his narrative is devoted to accusations of electoral fraud in the 1960 election – The cemeteries came out for JFK in Illinois – or his father, then one of the richest people on earth, allegedly buying votes in the Democratic primary and favorable coverage in the media. And please do not let me get started on Bill Clinton.
For the most part, Trudeau did receive a pass during his campaign; on his experience (or lack thereof) and his vague but sentimental policy positions.
It is interesting to see the media, who have so vocally supported Trudeau, trumpeting scandal in what should be the honeymoon period of his reign.
And it is more than just the ‘cash for access’ accusations of the pay-to-play headlines. Recently, Trudeau became the first sitting Prime Minister to be investigated by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, an independent parliamentary watchdog, for his curious holiday arrangements in which he took a helicopter to the private island of a billionaire and registered Canadian lobbyist. Additionally, many are beginning to ask questions about the shadowy foreign donors to the Trudeau Foundation.
If this is starting to sound, to those in the United States, eerily similar to the Hillary Clinton story, I would suggest it might sound eerily similar to many stories of those born (or married) into a powerful political fiefdom.
For me, the true headline is not so much about the Justin Trudeaus and the Hillary Clintons, or the Donald Trumps of the world, but rather that questions are being asked about the composition of government and the corruption within.
While going through my stack of contraband Walrus magazines, I discovered, hidden in the middle like a Playboy stashed in a schoolbook, a copy of The Economist. Reading through page after page of propaganda for the worst parts of American imperialism brought back many memories long-suppressed in exile. I did, however, discover what I considered to be an unusual confession of vulnerability:
“When spooks tell the Republicans and Democrats who lead Congress and sit on the House and Senate intelligence committees of hostile acts by a foreign power, love of country generates a unified immune response. It is not kicking in this time.”
The message: Usually our coordinated mass-propaganda controls the masses. “It is not kicking in this time” – Our shit isn’t working.
In the article, The Economist was talking about the red-baiting Russian narrative failing to divert public attention from the corruption of Hillary Clinton and the DNC. But it is more than just the electorate’s rejection of the preferred establishment candidate despite the media’s best efforts to cram her down our throats. It is the mass public attention on the existing gears of tyranny laid bare by Donald Trump’s buffoonery. It is Trudeau’s scandals and an approval rating which has already dropped 20 points in 2017.
I was recently discussing with a Canadian acquaintance the idea that the West may be entering into an era of increased scrutiny on government corruption, perhaps not unlike the turn of the 20th century in the United States.
His response was both interesting and disturbing. “I doubt it. Nobody would run for office then.”
I thought, maybe just nobody who intended to use corruption to a level on which scrutiny would be a problem.
There is, however, no doubt that if increased scrutiny is to be a threat, then those currently benefitting most from a corrupt system can be expected to fight back. Already both the US President and Secretary of State have ‘business elite’ at the top of their resumes.
Here in socialist Canada, Kevin O’Leary – who, despite being marketed as “Canada’s Trump,” has, to this point, mostly avoided Trumpian belligerence – weighed in on the issue with the pomposity the public was expecting. He stated his belief that one should not be eligible to become Prime Minister or Premier (like a Governor) “unless you have made payroll for two years in a company with sales of over $5 million. If you haven’t made payroll, you have no right to sit in that seat.”
Whether that statement reflects actual policy position or just personal preference, it is the indicative of the attitude.
It appears that in Canada, the United States, and across the Western world, the fight is not always about socialism v. capitalism. In many ways, it is increasingly about representative government v. oligarchy.
Though a socialist might tell you those are the same thing.
Read More: Correspondence from Socialist Canada