NDP Jack Harris wins in St. John’s East
Liberal Nick Whalen, MP for the riding of St. John’s East, has lost reelection in his riding against the New Democrats.
Whalen won the riding in 2015 over the NDP, edging them out by only 645 votes.
The St. John’s East riding was a two-horse race, as polls showed the incumbent Liberal Party trailing the New Democrats by 3.1 percent, as the NDP polled out at 40.5 percent, according to 338 Canada.
As Canadians headed to the polls, projections had the New Democrats at a 65 percent chance of winning, with the Liberals taking the remaining 35 percent.
Whalen took on Canadian lawyer Jack Harris in a rematch for the riding. Harris formerly served as MP of the riding for two consecutive ridings, winning both the 2008 and 2011 election, eventually losing in 2015, and finally winning back his riding in 2019.
The riding was an important riding for the LPC, as it serves as one of seven electoral ridings in Newfoundland and Labrador, with the remainder of the seats projected to stay safe in LPC’s hands.
The leader of of the official opposition in Ontario is saying that singing God Save the Queen drags Canada closer to colonialism.
Andrea Horwath who leads the NDP in Canada’s largest province, has said in a tweet that she “fully supports the Indigenous NDP MPPs’ decision to abstain [from singing the anthem].”
What was perhaps more controversial was when Howarth suggested the singing of this song dragged Ontario closer to Canadians: “Dragging us closer to colonialism is not in the spirit of reconciliation,” she said indignantly.
Despite Howarth’s insistence on flamboyant displays of anti-colonial virtue signalling, her NDP party has recently been suffering in the polls—coming in a distant third behind both the leaderless Liberal Party of Ontario and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
Denis Tsarev and Sabrina Zuniga are co-founders of Truth and Consequences.
I have worked on several political campaigns in Toronto, always helping a Conservative candidate. Here, a Conservative candidate can rarely expect to win the majority of the votes in a riding. At most he/she can hope there will be a split between the NDP and the Liberal votes, helping him/her win with just a bit over one third of the vote. Part of the reason is the central campaign not explaining to the public the ethical values of conservatism.
In my lived experience, at school, university and work, I have been surrounded mainly by those who are not politically involved and do not follow current events closely. However, when a political issue comes up in a conservation, most of my acquaintances would eagerly exhibit their moral aversion to anything associated with conservatism. If I would say that I am a conservative or support some conservative policy, they would look at me as if I just told them I came from Mars.
So why am I a conservative after all? Because I firmly believe that the key conservative principles, such as government transparency and promotion of free market economy, have not only proven themselves to be effective at solving many of our societal and economic problems, but also have strong ethical foundations.
My opponents, and many average people living in Toronto, firmly believe the opposite; namely that conservative principles are inherently unethical and selfish, are aimed at benefitting the rich at the expense of the poor, perpetuate inequality and poverty, or some other cliche phrase that the left often uses to define us.
Clearly, this popular perception does not result merely from how well each party campaigns during election periods, whose leader performs better on the national debate, or whose three policy points on a flyer sound most convincing. This perception is formed by the public beyond and outside of election periods. And this is why I argue that as conservatives, we need to work harder between elections on getting our message out, explaining and defending our values.
The left side of the political spectrum is much more than just the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Green Party. It’s an ideological movement that has permeated many spheres of our society, including education, academia, media and journalism, entertainment and much more. It seems to have also managed to convince the majority of people that its principles are the right principles.
The left leaning political parties simply claim to represent these principles and promise to implement them. Their focus is not to help the voters discover and accept these principles, but to solicit the votes of the people already inclined to share these views on the ethical level. The NDP, Liberals and Greens seem simply to compete at who represents these principles the best and who will have better capacity to implement these once in government (or who will be able best to prevent conservatives from coming to power and hindering their implementation).
Hence, it seems appropriate to denominate the left-leaning political parties not as movements of their own, but simply as political arms or the tip of the iceberg of a movement already existing, wide and populous, with its already formed and solidified ideological, theoretical and ethical frameworks.
Conservatism in Canada seems to operate very differently. It has the manifestation of registered political parties, often well-organized, well-funded, and capable of carrying out strong campaigns during election periods.
However, what it lacks is a strong movement, with its own ethical and theoretical frameworks anywhere closely comparable in magnitude to those of the left.
The Conservative Party is the tip of the iceberg without the iceberg itself.
Each election conservatives appeal and concentrate on practical political and economic issues, current events, the mistakes and scandals of the Liberals and/or NDP, and specific government policies. Outside of the rather small core base of committed conservatives, this approach might win the support of the people who both have no strong ideological preferences and are also tangibly experiencing the negative effects of Liberal or NDP policies, or benefitting from Conservative policies, if they happen to be in government.
Conservative strategists often emphasize the fact that most voters don’t pay attention to and don’t care about politics outside of election time, and therefore they don’t want to discuss ideas in depth.
While I agree that many people don’t pay attention to specific policy outside of election times, in the back of their minds, people all the time do care a lot about the more profound aspect of politics–the ethical and ideological frameworks.
The average voter may not know the platform of each party, their policies on taxation, budget or trade, but the average voter always wants to make the ethically “right” decision, “to be on the right side of history” and to feel like he or she is doing something good for society.
There is absolutely nothing wrong or misguided about this. Wanting to be ethical and helping society are really important human qualities.
During the federal 2019 election, the Conservative campaign focused the most on the issue of affordability, with the recurring line “putting more money in your pockets” featuring in many materials and statements. However, while canvassing door to door, I noticed that this did not resonate well with many, if not most voters here in Toronto.
What many people cared about was solving “big” problems like climate change, poverty, racism, and inequality and they were eagerly willing to contribute their tax dollars to help save the world.
I found many people at the door were indifferent to the policies aimed at “putting more money in their pockets”, and to some we came off as unethical and selfish, appearing to care more about tax credits than about helping the vulnerable and addressing the big problems and injustices. Many people admitted to highly disapproving of Trudeau over the scandals, but felt the Liberal party at least was tackling the right issues and was “on the right side of history”.
I know personally some people who are economically struggling, and admit that conservative policies will benefit them, but claim they will never vote conservative, because it’s unethical and “just wrong”.
The left is very good at exploiting the feelings of wanting to make the ethical choice even if the individual thinking this will be negatively affected. That’s why their message focuses so much on the big issues and appeals to people’s ethical and deep emotional, not immediate, considerations. They make people feel that by voting Liberal or NDP, they will feel morally good, be “progressive” and contribute to saving the world and that by voting Conservative, they will act selfishly and let the world down.
How can Conservatives counter this?
First we must note that the Liberals and the NDP are not trying to create new moral and ideological frameworks during election periods–they are simply appealing to and invoking the already formed popular perceptions about what’s right and what’s wrong that were instilled into the majority of people by education, media, entertainment, academia, etc.
The truth is Conservative policies and principles are not selfish and petty like our opponents try to portray them. The concepts of government transparency and accountability, strong work ethic, support of business completion, reduction of red tape, focus on reduced deficits and economic prosperity, strong foreign policy, freedom of speech and individual liberties, fair and effective justice and immigration systems, respect for the rule of law, and many more, are grounded on solid ethical values and are supported by strong fact- and logic-based intellectual frameworks.
I believe these are much more profound and have stronger ethical justifications than the principles the Liberal and the NDP parties focus on.
These principles have also proven effective at helping improve our society, promoting fairness and opportunities for all, helping those who are vulnerable and struggling, taking care of the environment and increasing the world’s prosperity. These are much more potent than the left’s common approach of throwing money at problems and setting up bloated non-transparent committees and programs to control people’s lives and speech.
Moreover, the conservative principles have a very long and profound intellectual history. Whether in economics, political science, philosophy, or another discipline, we have a broad foundation of writings by thinkers such as John Locke, Adam Smith, Roger Scruton or Jeane Kirkpatrick, dating as far back as the 17th century.
What needs to be done, therefore, is to make these basic conservative principles known, understood, and popular. We need to help people understand conservative values, both ethical and practical. We are a movement that promotes a set of values and aims at implementing effective solutions to help our society prosper. We are much more than just a registered political entity with leader X or Y that mails flyers to people when it’s election time.
To promote these ideals, individuals operating outside of the party framework, need to step up and be heard. Conservative think tanks and conservative-led educational projects are the step we need to invest in further.
Grassroots movements of smart conservatives do exist and we need to support them further here in Canada. I am proud to be a conservative and I want people to know why, so I am stepping up and speaking out. It’s not just about election hot topics, tax credits and Liberal scandals–it’s also about important and solid ethical principles.
I am not the only one. Wherever you are as you read this, find the organizations and individuals you want to support and help as much as you can. Share and spread the messages, talk with your neighbours, and don’t stop.
By working together and not seceding the political discussion, Conservatives can build a solid iceberg underneath its tip.
Every so often, Canada’s progressives in the media remind us that despite their claims of being purveyors of compassion, they are in reality just small and hateful men incapable of understanding complex issues. A prime example of this is radio host Charles Adler, who had a minor meltdown this week over an exchange between Alberta MP Arnold Viersen and NDP MP Laurel Collins of BC.
After a speech about the horrors of sex trafficking and the responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the victims by Viersen, Collins responded by asking Viersen “to consider listening to the voices of sex workers. Sex workers are saying that sex work is work.” She then went on to criticize Bill C-36, which criminalizes the purchasing of sex in order to target pimps and johns.
Viersen responded: “Mr. Speaker, I would respond to that by asking the honorable member across the way if it is an area of work that she has considered and if that is an appropriate—” here he was interrupted by indignant shouts—”I think this makes the point. I do not think any woman in this country ever chooses this as a job. This is something women are trafficked into and something we have to work hard to end in Canada. Prostitution in Canada is inherently dangerous, and we must work hard to ensure that all Canadians have a safe place to live in this country. We do not want to see our women and girls forced into prostitution.”
Opposition MPs erupted, demanding an apology (which Viersen gave), and the media picked up the story and ran with it. Twitter blew up. Ironically, the outrage precisely proved Viersen’s point: After all, if sex work is just work as Collins claimed, why would it be so offensive to ask someone if they’d ever considered it? If being a prostitute is much like being a florist, or a lawyer, or a construction worker, why should people be so angry at Viersen’s question? Anyone who thinks about it for longer than thirty seconds knows: It is because prostitution is not like other work. Even those who do know accept this position intellectually understand that instinctually.
Mr. Adler, unfortunately, is one of those folks who has not thought about this for longer than thirty seconds, and he leapt at the opportunity to do what he most loves to do: Sanctimoniously attack conservatives. Conservatives, he thundered on Twitter, “missed a moment. If I were Andrew Scheer, I would have booted Viersen from caucus. If I were Peter MacKay, I would have called on Scheer to do that. CPC had a golden opportunity to say to Canadians, ‘Trash is not welcome here. We are taking out the trash.’” In case you were wondering, yes—that is Charles Adler, the man who cannot stop bemoaning the political tone of Conservatives, the dehumanization of others, and the coarsening of our politics, calling the MP who has done an enormous amount of work to fight the sexual exploitation of women “trash.”
I will include the text of Viersen’s full speech on sex trafficking, which preceded his exchange, at the end of the article—but in the meantime, it is interesting to consider that the outrage at Viersen came primarily from ignorant name-callers like Adler leaping at the chance to score political points rather than from those who actually work to combat sex trafficking. Gioia Stover, for example, had this reaction:
In his speech, MP Viersen spoke so well against the violence that we are witnessing against women in the sex trade. He should be applauded for speaking on behalf of a woman who is now voiceless, because she is dead. It is unfortunate that things were allowed to become personal during the question period. It is unfortunate that the NDP MP felt offended over his question to her. I believe it was very respectful of MP Viersen to apologize so quickly, showing that no offense was intended. However, the fact that she did get offended, that her party felt they needed to protect her reputation, that her reputation even came in to question, implies that on some level, even those attempting to defend the sale of sex as a viable work choice in Canada must not actually believe it to be so. However, let us not lose focus on the real issues that MP Viersen raised. Exploitation and violence are inherent in prostitution. Women and girls are not commodities and cannot be treated as such. We cannot endorse a society that creates a class of women that are able to be purchased for sex by men who believe they have the right to objectify and harm those who are for sale.
The left-wing group Edmonton Women and Allies Against the Sex Industry responded on Facebook to the backlash, noting in part that: “The reaction alone to Viersen’s question is proof that no one else thinks ‘sex work is work,’ either.” Women Read Women tweeted a similar response: “If ‘sex work is work’ as she claimed, then why is it wrong for him to ask if she’s ever considered doing it herself? The disturbed reaction to his question shows it’s common knowledge that sex trafficking is violence against women.” (Although, admittedly, perhaps not common enough for Mr. Adler.)
And the list goes on. Another feminist group tweeted: “Either prostitution is ‘work like any other’ in which case there shouldn’t be a problem with [the question]. Or [Viersen] was making the point that prostitution is violence against women…and everyone in the room knows that really.” Rachel Moran, an anti-sex trafficking activist, responded even more emphatically: “No matter how many times I see it, it still sickens me to watch women promote prostitution as viable for *other* women, yet erupt with indignation when asked if it’d be suitable for themselves. You weren’t owed an apology, Laurel, and it’s you who owes an apology to all women.”
And I could cite other examples of female activists who, knowing the value of Arnold Viersen’s work, promptly came to his defence (including Katarina McLeod, executive director of Rising Angels and a survivor of fifteen years in the so-called sex industry.) Some commentators defended him in editorials as well. I wonder what these women, who tirelessly work on behalf of those who are sexually exploited and trafficked, think of Mr. Adler’s brave stand in defence of their right to be prostitutes.
Arnold Viersen has been a consistent champion for those victimized by the sexual exploitation industries since his arrival in Parliament, and this so-called scandal was created entirely by grifters such as Mr. Adler, who ignore the testimonies of women who have actually experienced “sex work” in favor of attacking a man who does listen to them, all so Mr. Adler can get some cheap applause. Perhaps Mr. Adler should listen to women for a change. He might find that they have something to say.
Here is the text of MP Arnold Viersen’s speech on sex trafficking in the House of Commons on February 4:
It is with heavy hearts that we come here to speak today. At the beginning of January, Marylène Levesque was an innocent young woman alive in Canada. A few weeks later, on January 22, Marylène was brutally murdered by a convicted murderer out on parole.
To say that this should never have happened is a significant understatement. Marylène should be alive today. She should never have met with Eustachio Gallese. Her death is tragic and utterly senseless. It is one more example of the preventable violence that women and girls face across Canada by men who view them as nothing more than objects and commodities to be bought and sold. Canadians are outraged. They have every right to be. They want answers.
The public safety minister told the House that a full investigation would take place and would be conducted by the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada and the chair of the Parole Board of Canada. It is an investigation that will try to answer why this senseless murder took place, and how to prevent others.
We already know the Parole Board of Canada allowed a man with a history of domestic violence against women out on day parole. He had already brutally murdered his own wife in 2004. Prior to that, he committed violence against an earlier partner in 1997. However, despite his clear history of repeated violence, the Parole Board and Gallese’s parole officer made the shameful decision to sanction more violence by condoning and encouraging his perceived right to buy sex, thus signing the death warrant of Marylène. This is appalling. They should not have encouraged him to break the law.
In 2014, Parliament expressed grave concerns about the exploitation and violence inherent in prostitution through Bill C-36. Through this bill, the buying of sex was made illegal because of the harm and violence created by the demand for prostitution.
The goal of Parliament was to protect human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on women and children, particularly indigenous women and girls. The bill did not seek to reduce the harm of prostitution, but to eliminate prostitution altogether because of the violence and exploitation inherent in it.
Prostitution creates an environment of violence and inequality for women and girls, perpetuates sexual commodification and turns the most vulnerable in our society into objects to be bought and sold. That is why Bill C-36 sought to eliminate the demand by prohibiting the purchase of sex.
Countries around the world that have legalized prostitution have seen the violence against, and the murder of, those who work in prostitution. They have seen sex trafficking increase, especially among youth. This has happened in Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The legitimization of prostitution normalizes attitudes of violence, misogyny and the objectification of women and girls.
Men do not have the right to buy sex, or to buy women and girls for pleasure. However, in this country, I dare say in this chamber, there are those who believe that prostitution should be legalized and that men should be entitled to buy sex and treat women and girls as commodities.
This line of thinking is heinous. It is evil, and a brazen attack on equality and the safety of all women and girls in Canada.
This insidious rationale was on full display in the Parole Board’s last written decision with respect to Gallese where it states:
“Although you are still single and you say you aren’t ready to enter into a serious relationship with a woman, you are able to efficiently evaluate your needs and expectations towards women. During the hearing, your parole officer underlined a strategy that was developed with the goal that would allow you to meet women in order to meet your sexual needs.”
In other words, while the Parole Board acknowledged that intimate relationships with some women were inappropriate as they would be unsafe, it explicitly acknowledged his sexual needs and affirmed his perceived right to buy sex from those trapped in prostitution. In their minds, the Parole Board members were protecting some women that they deemed more valuable, while sending a convicted murderer to prey upon those who were the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
As this tragic case demonstrates, it perpetuates the idea that there should be a class of women who are able to be purchased for sex by men who believe they have to the right to objectify and harm those who are for sale. That is what we are talking about with this case today.
The Liberal-appointed Parole Board members thought so little of those in prostitution that they were willing to knowingly put these women’s lives in grave danger, women like Marylène. How else can we explain their words and actions, other than that they believed buying sex should be legal and therefore condoned Gallese’s perceived right to sex as if it was legal? In their minds, Gallese’s perceived right to buy sex was more important than the law.
If Parole Board members had followed the law, they would not have granted Gallese’s parole for this purpose. If they had followed the law, they would have recognized the exploitation and violence inherent in prostitution instead of supporting Gallese’s sexual needs. However, the Parole Board’s attitudes toward women and prostitution reflect what we have seen from the Liberal government over the past few years: a clear pattern of always putting the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of victims and those at risk.
We know indigenous women and girls are the most represented victim group in sex trafficking and prostitution in Canada. They make up only 4% of Canada’s population, yet make up more than 50% of the victims in Canada.
Last year the government reduced some of the human trafficking offences to summary offences, which will significantly increase the likelihood that a human trafficking offence against indigenous women will proceed as a summary conviction offence, further denying them justice. The government also eliminated the consecutive sentences for human trafficking that were adopted under the previous government. The loss of consecutive sentencing leaves victims with a continued reluctance to come forward and report a crime due to their immense fear and the psychological control that traffickers have over their victims.
In the days following this horrific case of injustice, many survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution spoke out. They are outraged and want justice for Marylène and others. I want to share with this House a few of these voices.
Trisha Baptie of B.C., a survivor of sex trafficking, stated:
“In my 15 years of involvement in the sex industry, it was never the laws that beat and raped me and my friends, it was men. It was never the location me and my friends were in that was unsafe, but the man that we were in that location with that made it unsafe. Our laws must always focus on ending the demand for paid sex.”
Casandra Diamond, a survivor of sex trafficking in massage parlours in Toronto, said the following:
…commodifying a woman’s body is dangerous, always. It sends a message that buying someone is acceptable, enshrining the power imbalance where people from average to above-average socioeconomic status purchase other humans, mainly women and girls who have below-average socioeconomic status and power.
Timea Nagy, a survivor who was trafficked from Hungary to Canada and sold in legal strip clubs and massage parlours in the GTA, stated:
To think and promote sex work as “normal work” must come to an end. The Liberal government is completely blinded and refuses to hear our side of the story. How many more deaths will it take them to listen? 10? 20? 30?
I strongly condemn the Parole Board of Canada’s decision to allow a convicted murderer to buy sex and I hope the government will also condemn this decision.
I also call on this government to stop allowing prostitution to be legitimized.
Legitimizing prostitution and downplaying the seriousness of sex trafficking will lead to more violence against women and increased discrimination toward those most at risk in our country. Legitimizing prostitution creates two classes of people, those who can be commodified and sold and those who should not be.
There are some things in Canada that are just not for sale. For example, my vote is not for sale. Democracy is not for sale. People should never be for sale. Women and girls in Canada deserve better.
Liberal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has made an announcement walking back previous comments regarding the licensing and regulation of Canadian media.
In an interview with the CTV aired yesterday, Guilbeault said, “If you’re a distributor of content in Canada and obviously if you’re a very small media organization the requirement probably wouldn’t be the same if you’re Facebook, or Google. There would have to be some proportionality embedded into this.”
“We would ask that they have a licence, yes,” Guilbeault continued.
Guilbeault walked back the comments on Monday, stating that the government had “no intention to impose licensing requirements on news organizations,” nor will the government “regulate news content.”
“… Our focus will be and always has been that Canadians have diversity to high-quality news sources,” said Guilbeault to reporters in Ottawa.
This announcement comes after deep criticism of a previous announcement by the Liberal government, where they said they would force news organizations to apply for a licence.
Guilbeault’s announcement faced intense scrutiny from across the political spectrum with some commentators suggesting that it would be a dangerous attack on the freedom of the press.
Guilbeault also told CTV’s Solomon that the government was taking their time deliberating what 97 recommendations to adopt and hasn’t committed to anything yet.
“What the reports says on that topic is regarding those who produce cultural content and it’s around the issue of discoverability, which doesn’t apply to news media outlets,” said Guilbeault in a press conference when he was asked to clarify his comments from Sunday suggesting all news media would also need to be licenced.
“I think I was pretty clear. And when I’ve talked about the report I’ve always talked about how it’s from an independent panel and these are recommendations, and that we were looking at which recommendations we might put forward as an upcoming bill,” he continued.
The list of 97 proposals also includes having the CBC—notoriously known for not crediting other journalists’ work and for pushing Trudeau government propaganda—monitor and police other news outlets’ content.