Charlie Angus, a failed leadership contestant and the NDP MP for Timmins—James Bay has sent shockwaves through Twitter by describing Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Premier as “White Trash.”

The MP made the controversial statement in regards to the Premier’s recent scandals involving a potential camper purchase, alongside the decision to hire a family friend for the position of OPP commissioner. 

Charlie Angus, a progressive leader makes a fairly regressive comment

There may be serious concern over Ford’s recent decisions but that doesn’t change the severity or offensiveness of the MP’s comments, it was bad enough that Facebook actually removed it.

To denounce an individual as white trash over a camper purchase is offensive as it dehumanizes the poor (the very group the NDP and Charlie Angus purport to defend), while also segmenting a race between the good and the bad.

It furthermore goes against the typical progressive mantra of moving past insulting labels based on race.

None the less, this kind of language appears to be increasing on the left and right.

For example, UNIFOR President Jerry Dias had recently said: “F*ck You” to Doug Ford, released videos exposing “scabs”, and declared UNIFOR (an organization representing most journalists) as the resistance to Andrew Scheer.

It is truly awe-inspiring, but not necessarily surprising to see left-wing leaders en-masse adopt the same cruel and divisive language they actively denounce from the populist right.

While in the United States, Donald Trump’s actions and comments have been controversial, there is almost no denying the overwhelming success he has had in advancing a populist agenda.

An individual with next to no political legitimacy was able to win the election for the most esteemed office in the world and remake it in his own image.

This more recent shift to cross-partisan populism though is perhaps why Steve Bannon may have been correct in his Munk Debate: that the future of the west was, in fact, populism, either on the left or on the right.

It appears that the left has noticed a large number of extremely angry disenfranchised individuals who have had steep losses as a result of globalization, and who can actively be mobilized through an aggressive tone on social media.

Was this specific move smart?

While the overall situation points to a continued descent from traditional leftwing leaders into a state of populism, this case likely did not help the NDP cause come election time.

By targeting working class individuals, the angry message segmented the left once again as the party of the elite, at a time when half of all Canadians are left with less than $200 after paying their bills.

In terms of what a rapidly growing populist political system leads to, we will just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Did the MP’s comments go too far?

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