Singh says NDP will form coalition to prevent Conservative minority government
In response to a tight race between the Liberals and Conservatives for seats in parliament, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has promised to form a coalition government with the Liberal Party to prevent a Conservative minority.
Singh made the announcement in a Liberal-held riding in Surrey, B.C. amid the Liberals arguing that the only way voters can prevent a Conservative government is to vote Liberal. Singh assured voters that he will support a coalition to prevent Scheer from becoming prime minister with a minority government.
Garnett Genuis is the Conservative MP representing Sherwood Park–Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta.
One of the most important and formative experiences for me on the road to getting into politics was competitive debate—in both high school and university. I would strongly recommend this activity as optimal preparation for anyone considering the same path.
Competitive debaters compete to defend a point of view. They very often will defend a point of view that is not their own.
Every competitive debater is taught early that an essential characteristic of good debate is something called “clash”. Clash is when arguments are made to directly counter the arguments made by the other side—to show that, even on their own terms, the other side’s arguments fail. The alternative to a good debate characterized by clash is a bad debate which resembles two ships passing in the night—essentially, debaters doing their own monologue without much reference to what others are saying.
Debate in the Canadian Parliament has come to be characterized by the near complete absence of meaningful clash. MPs deliver prepared speeches one after the other that cast arguments on their own terms and play to their own social media following. It is extremely rare that an MP would use his or her speech to deconstruct the arguments of a previous speaker.
Clash is essential in good political conversations, though, because a neutral listener has a hard time weighing out who is right and who is wrong if meaningful refutation and deconstruction of arguments does not take place. If we are to be what Edmund Burke thought Parliament should be—the “deliberative assembly of one nation”, then we must talk to one another and about one another’s arguments.
In the same speech, Burke told voters in 1774: “Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.”
It is very important for all members of the newly constituted 43rd parliament to reflect on the importance of clash and on Burke’s advice. If we are going to work together, then we must first be able to talk together, and disagree substantively, while seeking to persuade each other to change our perspectives. People who cannot argue together well will generally struggle to work together well. We must also denominate our conversations in terms of the common good, not the narrow particular interests of one group over another.
There are a few reasons why this will be particularly difficult in the 43rd parliament. The third largest political party exists explicitly to advance the interests of one region of the country over the interests of the rest of the country. The Bloc cannot be expected to seek to advance the national interest of a nation that they seek to break apart. Though less explicitly, the governing party has and will likely continue to pursue a strategy of ignoring the development needs of western Canada. When parties run regional instead of national campaigns, they are talking past some parts of the country they think they can ignore, and only talking to parts of the country that they think they need.
It has always been interesting to me that Justin Trudeau briefly did competitive debating as a student as well. However, he stopped competing early on, noting: “I discovered I had a serious limitation for either a debater or a lawyer. I wasn’t able to argue for something I didn’t passionately believe in.” Unfortunately, an inability to dig into, understand and defend views that are not yours is not just a limitation for a debater or a lawyer—it is also a limitation for a parliamentarian and for a leader. In the privacy of one’s own mind or as an intellectual exercise, one should be able to defend things that one does not believe in order to understand and argue against those same things later. A nation as diverse as Canada particularly needs leaders who are capable of understanding and responding to different modes of thought than their own.
I hope that we will be able to raise the quality of clash in upcoming parliamentary debates, but I worry that there are a variety of cultural factors, as well as institutional ones, that are working against us. We live in an age of social media filtering, where people easily get only the information that confirms their pre-existing biases. But more broadly, our culture has for a long time lacked a common understanding of what constitutes the common good—and so we generally treat political opinions as if they were expressions of individual emotive preferences as opposed to substantive deductions about facts. There are no short-term solutions to these problems but treating opinions as opinions instead of as feelings would be a good start.
For Conservatives, we can take some pride in the fact that our support grew across the country, and that we tried to speak in terms of national ideals and projects. Inevitably those ideals and projects were more popular in some places than in others. In this new Parliament, Conservatives must maintain a truly national orientation. I will defend the interests of my own riding, but I will seek to do so in terms that are persuasive to people in other regions and in other parties. Pursuing an idea of separatism in the west, which will never come to fruition, is not a good way to be persuasive to people in other regions. It is especially dangerous in an environment where our primary complaint is the land-locking of our resources.
I am not particularly optimistic about the amount of meaningful clash that will be on display in the next Parliament, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
During the third reading of Bill 17 Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence (Claire’s Law) Act, the honourable Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services, shared a personal story of a friend who experienced domestic violence.
Sawhney stated that domestic violence is not usually reported to the police and that “the prevalence of this issue is way more common than we think it is.”
She said that this law is relevant because “when you have this information, people can make informed decisions about their relationships as to whether they could be harmful to them.”
Premier Jason Kenney also spoke of a recent example in Alberta where Claire’s Law may have been effective in preventing domestic abuse. In this example, the woman was brutally beaten by a boyfriend who had a history of violence.
However, it’s far from enough. Jonathan Denis, Alberta’s former Attorney General, said there is “no one solution”. Instead, this is “a step forward”.
Minister Sawhney and Premier Kenney both believe that this new law can both save lives and prevent further domestic violence.
The provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador has made similar efforts to develop a procedure curbing domestic violence. It recently passed its second reading.
Alberta, like it’s Prairie counterparts, suffer from high rates of domestic violence
According to a Stats Canada report report, 75,399 of 166,928 (45 percent) female victims nationwide were victims of intimate partner violence. On page 26 of the same report, women aged 25 to 34 years and 35 to 44 years were predominantly impacted, accounting for 56 and 52 percent of violence towards those respective age groups.
3,642 of said 75,399 women experienced sexual assault, accounting for 4.83 percent of all intimate partner violence towards that particular gender, the Stats Canada report states.
Alberta, like it’s prairie counterparts in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, is subject to some of the highest rates nationwide according to the report. The third-highest rate, which is exacerbated in rural areas because of “justice by geography.”
Throughout 2018, about a quarter of homicides committed in Alberta were documented cases of domestic violence.
Claire’s Law is “a step forward”, but more can be done to curb domestic violence
Despite the continued shortage of Crown prosecutors, which the UCP has committed $10 million to alleviate for rural concerns, gaps in policy still remain.
Notably, budget cuts to the specialized electronic monitoring of domestic violence perpetrators serving their sentence in the community were taken off the table.
However, individuals can find out if their partner has a history of violence by requesting records from the police, but that’s only if their history violence has been reported. The police are then able to inform that individual of their partner’s criminal history if they determine that it is necessary to ensure an individual’s safety.
Bill 17 was passed into law on Nov. 1 with unanimous support from both the NDP and the UCP. It is not with any coincidence that this law passed on the first day of November as this month is Family Violence Prevention Month.
Saskatchewan was the first province to adopt Claire’s Law. Claire’s Law is named after Claire Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in Manchester, England. After Claire’s murder, her family found out that Appleton had spent six years in prison for a previous domestic violence assault.
Had this law existed before Wood’s murder, the police could have notified Wood on her boyfriend’s violent history.
Hopefully, this law will entice further dialogue and encourage the reduction of domestic abuse in Alberta.
If you or someone you know are experiencing family or spousal violence in Alberta (and it is not urgent), please call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818. For more information, click on the following link: https://www.alberta.ca/family-violence-prevention-month.aspx
The Liberal Party’s antisemitism problem has now been realized with one of their caucus members.
Newly elected MP of Pierrefonds-Dollard, Sameer Zuberi poses a grave threat to antisemitism within the country, and the potential to vote against party lines with regards to legislation that would impact Israel and the Jewish community.
The well-established Jewish community in the riding is concerned about their MP not representing the Liberal values of such as support for Israel and the condemnation of antisemitism.
Jewish constituents in the riding are disturbed with their MP and fear that they will be treated with a negative bias.
Never before in recent memory has a candidate with a concerning antisemitic past, before political office been elected to a governing party.
Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are continually on the rise and it frequently appears within the realm of politics.
Canadians see the associations certain MPs may have with anti-Israel personalities. While this does not mean the MP is antisemitic necessarily, it means that there still is a long way to go for politicians to truly understand the intentions that anti-Israel bigotry can have on their reputation.
However, there is a line that when crossed does fall under antisemitism. This is known as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Calling Israel a racist endeavour, comparing the policies of Nazi Germany to the current policies of Israel, and holding all Jews accountable for the actions of the state of Israel, and countless other examples cross the threshold of being antisemitic.
We see it in multiple past actions of Mr. Zuberi. His anti-Israel bias led him to lead an initiative to close down his school’s Hillel club. Campus Hillels are the quintessential centre for Jewish life on many postsecondary campuses around the world. They support Jewish students and maintain a strong pro-Israel stance.
It seems like the initiative to close down the club was because of the blatant antisemitism of Mr. Zuberi. Closing down the main Jewish club on campus due to their support for Israel meets the antisemitic threshold.
Holding a violent protest against Israel by physically intimidating pro-Israel supporters is another area of danger in a political candidate. The activities of any candidate at any political level should be giving their on-campus involvement and affiliations as part of the vetting process.
The other student activists at Concordia, where Zuberi studied, had faced severe consequences, such as a permanent suspension from the school, arrests, and disciplinary hearings by the school. Many of the activists who coordinated the riot continue to act as anti-Israel activists in the public realm.
Mr. Zuberi did address his past behaviour to the Montreal Gazette, but would not respond to my requests for comment. He said that “in university, you are young, idealistic and rambunctious. There are rough edges.”
He also appears to have contradicted himself in his statements to the Gazette. “I intervened to calm the crowd on the day of the protest. I did not urge or promote any confrontation with the police.” Why would he say he need to say he had “rough edges” then?
It seems the rough edges are promoting anti-Zionism, the belief that Israel does not have the right to exist. The IHRA definition threshold is met here, as the “rough edges” is denying the Jewish people to self-determination in their indigenous homeland, Israel. He could do a lot better in addressing his past reprehensible actions than simply saying he was young.
The Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel. They have had a documented presence in the land for over 2000 years and truly have a right to self-determination in their own state.
Who can we really compare the past actions and potential political actions of Mr. Zuberi to?
None other than the notoriously antisemitic American Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. There are so many comparisons that can be made between the three.
All three continuously meet the threshold of being antisemitic, and they all have past lives of supporting anti-Israel campaigns, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.
The common phrase of “the elephant in the room” applies to this scenario. Virtually none of Omar’s or Tlaib’s party will properly come out and condemn their blatantly antisemitic language. They are both the elephants of the Democratic caucus.
Omar has not had her committee assignments taken away, and it is suspected Zuberi will not have his committee assignments taken away if he is appointed.
While we cannot predict the votes of Mr. Zuberi with exact accuracy, we can predict he will have an anti-Israel bias based on his pre-political office behaviour.
He may very well be the elephant in the Liberal caucus when it comes to issues relating to Israel and the Jewish community.
While multiple Liberal candidates came out to condemn Hassan Guillet who was stripped of his candidacy, none came out to condemn Mr. Zuberi. This will likely continue into the House.
Using the precedent set in the election, it is assumed that his Liberal colleagues will not come out and condemn him, as they have previously done in the protection of MP Iqra Khalid, due to her close affiliations and awards given (and rescinded) from anti-Israel activists.
Mr. Zuberi needs to understand the new threat of antisemitism. It is not just on the far right anymore. Antisemitic behaviour now occurs through the double standards, delegitimization, and demonization of Israel.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Zuberi will be in Parliament. He does not seem to share Western values, of acceptance, and the condemnation of hate and bigotry in all of its forms. That is why he has a similar comparison to concerning antisemitic Congresswomen.
At this point, the Canadian public can only hope that Mr. Zuberi has a change in thought and will actually support Liberal ideals of being pro-Israel and supporting Canadian Jews, instead of his pre-office life of being virulently antisemitic student activist.
Without a proper apology he’ll continue to be the big elephant in the room.
During a meeting in Ottawa, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister gave some “friendly advice” to Justin Trudeau. Pallister told Trudeau that there was growing frustration in western Canada has towards Ottawa, according to the CBC.
In their meeting, the two leaders discussed a range of issues that came up during the election campaign. This included climate change and indigenous issues, as well as western alienation. Speaking to the CBC, Pallister stated that “there’s some great frustration with the lack of progress, not just on pipelines, but on other things.”
After the election, a deep frustration with Ottawa turned quickly into a separatist movement. This was blamed on the Liberal party, who due to a series of policy decisions, did not pick up a single seat in Alberta. Parts of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have also been vocal in their frustration with Trudeau’s government.
Pallister was critical of Trudeau’s carbon tax and other policies designed to hinder the Canadian oil and gas sector. This has been a deeply contentious topic in the prairies, especially due to the recession that was triggered as a result of Trudeau’s pipeline bungle.
Unlike the Saskatchewan and Alberta premiers, Pallister has not threatened to rip up the equalization agreement.