After Christchurch, we must all do better to depoliticize tragedies
As per the woeful tradition in the aftermath of a tragedy, there have been many post-mortems written about the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand. Some have been thoughtful, uplifting, and sober-minded; others have been cynical, cheap and exploitative.
The former group includes liberals and conservatives, connoting a desire for unity in mournful times. The latter has shown a willingness to use it as a bludgeon against foes. To confer on their hollow grandstanding a sense of moral purity, some have also decorated their invective with superficial calls for unity. However, their behaviour suggests they clearly don’t mean it, and that they only care about their moral aggrandizement.
All of this reflects the failures of a culture that favours the indignant and “hot takes” over those who communicate with a clear mind. Insightful commentators have adjured others to “resist the urge to blame.” A laudable request during a miserable culture war; perhaps I’m too pessimistic, but I think we might be beyond that. The allure of boosting one’s reputation amongst their ideological peers by sharing their instantaneous, combative responses to events is, at this point, resistance-proof.
It’s become a common thing that in the aftermath of these catastrophes, political skirmishes— in cyberspace, on Parliament Hill, or in Congress— often overshadow the touching tales of a community working together to recover.
As we’ve seen after Parkland and Las Vegas, too much of the focus is on clamorous talking heads babbling on about who is to blame.
So, as usual, there isn’t as much spotlight on the community efforts to assist the families of the deceased, or fellowship between religious groups, as there is on the dreadful politicization of the event.
Much of the response is at variance with anything that resembles a constructive dialogue about terrorism, white supremacy, and communal coexistence.
Ironically enough, the attack is in many ways a product of the current culture war and portends the challenges we may have to overcome in the future. As David French writes, the killer “may well have written a new cultural script” as he’s the “first mass killer to so prominently turn his massacre into a brutal, real life-approximation of a first-person shooter video game.”
The possibility of this becoming a terrorist norm is quite terrifying. Moreover, the characteristic of the attacker that’s very disquieting is how well versed he is in the culture wars. He planned it as a catalytic attack meant to escalate them.
He is, indeed, an adherent of the white supremacism that wreaked havoc in Birmingham Alabama in September 1963, and Quebec, calling Muslim immigrants “invaders of white lands” who need to be stopped. He saluted Anders Breivik, the mass killer who slaughtered 77 in July 2011 to stop what he called the “Islamisation of Europe.” Unlike Breivik whose thinking and motivations can be fully understood, the Christchurch shooter is incoherent in summarizing who he is and resolves to describe his ideology as “eco-fascist.”
What’s certain is that he wanted to stoke the fires and deepen the fissures. Lamentably, we’ve allowed him to do this, and this is our ultimate moral failure.
One can find musings on social media about new nomenclatures that can be used to implicate their opponents in terrorist attacks. These classifications include “neo-terrorist” or “stochastic terrorist,” which means people could be unknowingly involved because any utterances about Islam “created the necessary environment” for terrorism.
Sam Harris, Douglas Murray, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are all being accused of inspiring the attack because their critiques of Islam must be rooted in latent bigotry of which these massacres are logical outcomes. Thus, blurring the lines between healthy debate and incitements of violence.
In heaping these people with this sort of vitriol for expressing an opinion, Social Justice Warriors are using the tragedy to push the limitations they’ve always wished to impose on their opponents’ fundamental freedoms of speech and conscience. (I read the works by the above authors and nothing they’ve said even remotely justifies the slaughter of innocent Muslims. To say otherwise is an outrageous lie and those peddling it should be ashamed of themselves.)
Some on the Right have also been politicizing the tragedy in detestable ways. For example, far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning thought it was a swell time to ruminate on the question of Muslim immigration and the role it played in the violence. In his statement following the attack, he remarked that the “violent vigilantism” highlighted a “growing fear within our community.” Digging a deeper hole for himself, he surmised that the violence is because of immigration policies that allow “Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
This all epitomizes the immoral discourse some people are engaging in for political gain.
Not to impute their motives, but judging by the tone of the responses, it appears as if some people anxiously wait for these events so they can weaponize them.
The shooter has achieved his objectives since, amid all our squabbles, we’ve forgotten what’s important at this moment: our common humanity. Instead, people are levelling hot-takes against others, or they’re fending off obscene accusations.
Measures to contain far-right terrorism and the spread of rogue ideologies need to be debated intelligently, as do those concerning Islamism. Regrettably, the current climate has allowed extremists to define these debates, especially in the aftermath of this gruesome deed. These crucial conversations should happen in another venue between sensible actors, once the overwhelming grief and emotion are given time to subside.
Private school perks was internal matter forcing Scheer's resignation before media leak, says insider
News the Conservative Party paid for private schooling of outgoing leader Andrew Scheer’s children was never intended for public consumption, but precipitated Scheer’s resignation, according to a 21-year-old, nascent party insider and co-founder of #ScheerMustGo.
“Spare me the spiel about your family. We all know what this was really all about and when (Scheer) saw the writing on the wall, he thought he would bow out,” Anthony Koch told The Post Millennial late Thursday afternoon, hours after Scheer’s House of Commons announcement that he was stepping down.
About the same time Scheer was addressing the Commons about his departure, Global News’ Parliament Hill bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson Tweeted that his resignation was over “party money to pay for his children’s private school education.”
Following Question Period, Conservative MP Ed Fast – who declined a critics role in Scheer’s Opposition benches; a symbolic rebuke of the party leader – said the private schooling perk “is a party matter” and that Scheer’s exit was dignified.
“All I will say is (Scheer) did it with dignity and grace and I expect I’ll have more to say in the coming days and weeks,” said Fast.
“He is putting the party first, the interests of Canadians first and the interests of his family first. And that’s why very much appreciate how he did it and all the credit.”
Conservative Tim Uppal, who made a comeback in the 2019 election by knocking out Liberal-incumbent and former Industry Minister Amerjeet Sohi, suggested Scheer’s exit was a foregone conclusion.
“I was surprised on the timing. I didn’t know about it but I wish him well. I respect that he’s taking time out to be with his family,” Uppal said.
“I came into work thinking it was just a regular day and things have definitely changed.”
Asked about the party picking up the Scheer family’s private school bill, Uppal would only say that “the party’s statement addressed that quite well.”
Shortly after Stephenson’s tweet, the Conservative Party’s executive director Dustin van Vugt issued a statement that Scheer “began to inform members of his staff earlier this week about his decision to resign.”
Van Vugt’s statement described the private school perk as “normal practice for political parties”.
“Shortly after Mr. Scheer was elected leader…I made a standard offer to cover costs associated with moving his family from Regina to Ottawa,” writes van Vugt.
“This includes a differential in schooling costs…all proper procedures were followed.”
But the way #ScheerMustGo co-founder Koch describes it, the information was floating around Conservative ranks for some time and was allegedly given to former Conservative MP and minister John Baird, who is currently conducting an internal review of the losing campaign.
“Initially it was divulged to Mr. Baird,” claims Koch, who said it came from former Scheer staffers.
“The path they wanted to take was give it to Baird and have the pressure be internal, have (Scheer) leave and then that way it doesn’t have to be this big media extravaganza. Unfortunately, other people had other ideas and that faction won out – that’s why it started to get sprinkled around.”
Baird was unreachable for comment prior to publication of this story.
As for Koch’s involvement with the party, he has worked for Conservative MPs in the past, including interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose; touted as a possible successor to Scheer.
The young Conservative and McGill University student said he never supported Scheer and instead worked on Dragon’s Den TV personality Kevin O’Leary’s leadership campaign and then for Maxime Bernier’s.
O’Leary ultimately bowed out of the race, while Scheer eventually won a narrow victory over Bernier.
Despite winning the popular vote and leading the Conservatives to a bigger seat share in the October general election, Scheer’s popularity has topped out, according to Koch who began working on the campaign to oust him “the day after” Trudeau won his minority government.
“And today, I’m a happy man,” said Koch.
According to Koch, he’s the youngest Conservative party member among a core group of 15 #ScheerMustGo enthusiasts who began making inroads and gathering support from likeminded Conservative caucus MPs that Koch declined to name.
“The greatest advantage that Andrew Scheer had going into the last election was that nobody knew who he was. The problem is, over the course of the election people go to know him and if you look at any available polling information, the more people saw Mr. Scheer, the lower his favourability rating went,” said Koch.
“And especially in parts of the country where we needed to win to have a chance of forming government. So it was clear going into a next election, he wasn’t going to have that advantage.”
New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said how media coverage of Scheer’s resignation unfolded on the Hill “looks like an internal party fight.”
“The last nail in the coffin was this story, taking money from the Conservative party to help pay for the private school of his children,” Boulerice told TPM after Question Period.
“The only ones who had this private information was Conservatives, so the only ones who could leak it to the press were the Conservatives..this is something that can happen in a party but when it’s secret and you don’t tell it to the caucus or the members, it can come and backfire like this.”
During his resignation address to the House of Commons, Scheer said putting his family first weighed heavily on his decision before thanking his Conservative colleagues.
“We have accomplished a lot on both the government and opposition sides of the benches. Most importantly, we have kept our party united and strong,” said Scheer.
“That is why I felt it was appropriate to speak to my friends and colleagues today in the House of Commons about one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.”
Ontario is getting rid of the cap on the number of cannabis shops that can be owned by private retailers. CBC News has confirmed that the Ford government “will be issuing approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations starting in April 2020.”
Attorney General Doug Downey issued a press release that read:
“In response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible. We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe.”
The new, retailer-friendly approach begins January 6th, when the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will start accepting applications from potential retailers.
There’s a new Netflix Christmas film that portrays Jesus as gay and it’s causing outrage. The comedy group Porta dos Fundos is behind a new comedy entitled “The First Temptation of Jesus Christ.” Over 1 million people have signed a petition to have the film removed from Netflix.
The five-person comedy group is from Rio de Janeiro, and make comedy sketches and parody videos on their YouTube channel. The name of their group is Porta dos Fundos which translates to “back door.”
They have signed deals with Fox Network Brazil and Netflix and critics often relate their style to the likes of Monty Python films although they certainly aren’t without critics.
“It is a serious offence against Jesus Christ and the Christians! It has no historical evidence to support the insinuations presented.” was one person’s reasoning behind signing the petition. The film is not intended to be a documentary. Others have called the film’s creators “demons” and “heretics.”
Another wrote: “A movie that came to destroy the image of Christ who gave His life to save us. Netflix has featured series that the family can’t join to watch. God created man and woman and no one can change that.”
Despite the feverous reaction, it isn’t the first time that Porta dos Fundos have had a go at Christianity. Netflix released the film “Especial de Natal Porta dos Fundos” (The Last Hangover) and was a parody of Hollywood hit “The Hangover.” It tells the story of Christ’s disciples after they wake up the morning after the Last Supper. The disciples are hungover and their messiah is missing. That film won an emmy for best comedy.
Historian Murilo Cleto tweeted: “Last year’s Christmas special, Jesus was portrayed as a sadistic, homicidal, hedonistic drunkard who hated to pray and no one bothered.
“Now that he’s harmless and gay, the world has fallen. It’s atrophying the brain.”
President Jair Bolsonaro took to Twitter to express his thoughts calling the film irresponsible: “Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta do Fundo,” he wrote. “It’s time we took a collective action—churches and all good people—to put an end to this.”
Even some members of the LGBT community have expressed dislike for the film on social media for the movie’s stereotypical portrayal of gay men.
Andrew Scheer used money from the Conservative Party to pay costs of private schooling for his children, according to sources in contact with Global News. Some are suggesting this story might have ultimately let to Scheer’s resignation.
Scheer has since stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, but he will not fully resign until the party has a replacement to fill the position.
According to some senior Conservative members, Scheer’s use of the Conservative Party of Canada funds was improper.
While in the House of Commons, Scheer said, “I just informed my colleagues in the Conservative caucus that I will be resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and I will be asking the Conservative Party national council to immediately begin the process of organizing a leadership contest.”
“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 percent.”
Dustin van Vugt, the Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada wrote a statement saying, “All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”
Van Vugt talked about the party covering some of Scheer’s costs in the statement saying, “As is the normal practice for political parties, the Party offered to reimburse some of the costs associated with being a national leader and re-locating the family to Ottawa.”
Prime Minister Trudeau also commented on the situation tweeting, “Andrew, I wish you all the best in your next steps — in the house and beyond. On behalf of Canadians, Thanks for your service and commitment to building a better future.”
According to the Elections Canada Act, there are not specific rules in place for these circumstances.
Some are confused about the situation seeing that Scheer’s average salary has been approximately $170,000 to $180,000 for the past 15 years.
Michael Spratt, an Ottawa lawyer said, “It may be off-brand for the Conservatives, but I don’t think any reasonable person would say that it’s a criminal offence to spend a salary top-up on personal items.”
Doug Ford also commented on Scheer’s resignation saying, “I wish Andrew Scheer all the best as he undertakes this new chapter in his life, and thank him for his service as the head of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and leader of the Conservative Party.”
Jamie Ellerton–longtime Conservative political strategist and public relations strategist at Conaptus Ltd.–said, “I know that he in more recent weeks had finally started reaching out to caucus candidates, close friends, longtime [party members] and I think he finally realized how tenuous his grasp on the leadership was, and it’s my understanding the family indeed came to the decision to do it this way.”
“But the idea that grassroots Conservative Party donations–$25 and $50 [donations]–is paying for his kids … to go to private school is just beyond the pale.”