The fake Scheer supporter story gets more intriguing
The recent arrest of Talya Davidson, videotaped spitting and making racist and “patriarchal” comments while holding a sign supporting Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer, has raised many legitimate concerns about potential “fake news.”
Davidson’s digital footprint shows deeper connections to the political left than to Scheer or the Conservatives and her Facebook profile was almost entirely deleted prior to her single person “protest” and arrest.
Davidson was arrested for assault, for spitting at the photographer, as captured on video, as well as for allegedly assaulting police officers. The first court appearance is covered by an automatic publication ban, which protects Davidson’s right to a fair trial, but it was reported that her case was also moved to “mental health court” with the next appearance scheduled for September 12, 2019.
As with any other accused, Ms. Davidson has the right to a fair trial based on the facts of her case. Her mental health is currently being assessed and this may affect both her fitness to stand trial and whether or not she can be held criminally responsible.
Legal expert Joseph Neuberger, spoke with The Post Millennial about how Davidson’s mental health assessment may impact her trial. Aside from being an experienced criminal defence lawyer, Neuberger has also authored a book called Assessing Dangerousness: A Guide to the Dangerous Offender Application Process which addresses the role of mental health in criminal liability. He offered the following insight:
“I think it’s very important for the integrity of the process, and out of fairness to this woman, that if she has been referred to mental health, or there is obviously some basis for concern that she is suffering from some mental disorder, hopefully through the mental health court she’ll have an assessment done by a forensic psychiatrist. And if it is determined that she’s suffering from a mental disorder it may very well be that disorder was operative at the time of her behaviour.”
Neuberger said that the woman’s statements and actions, if mentally ill, “may not be a reflection of her true beliefs, it may be a reflection of her aligning with viewpoints that are out in the media that may be prominent in her mind.” Neuberger said “it’s way too early to make judgments as to whether she was doing this as political motivation.”
Neuberger also pointed out that Davidson was charged with not just assaulting the cameraman who was filming her, but also for assaulting police officers and a person in court and that “that behaviour is going well beyond the pale.” He pointed out that her behaviour was escalating after arrest and that indicates serious concerns about her mental condition.
There is a common concern that people accused of a crime may claim mental illness to escape responsibility for their actions but Neuberger, who is experienced in cases of mentally ill offenders, pointed out “using mental illness as a way to get out of a crime makes no sense to me.” He said “when you’re being assessed, you’re in a locked facility and if you’re found not criminally responsible you may very well wind up going back to a locked facility. And so these are not free cards out. There are serious, prolonged consequences for it.”
Further to that, Neuberger added that, in cases of mental illness, we have to treat people with legitimate mental health problems differently than those who commit crimes with proper awareness.
When Davidson receives a mental health assessment, they will determine not only if she has a mental illness but whether or not it was operative at the time of her actions.
In terms of the upcoming legal process, Neuberger said “If, hypothetically, someone had a disability that was operative at the time and it robbed them of the ability to appreciate the nature and consequences of their act, or that it was morally wrong and legally wrong, then the trial could be very truncated.”
Having seen the video from Nathan Phillips Square, Joseph Neuberger acknowledged “spitting is an assault and it’s captured right on camera so it’s very hard to defend that from a criminal law standpoint” but said that he felt the video showed there were serious questions about Davidson’s mental health.
Neuberger said one of the things the court would react to is whether or not Davidson was able to instruct counsel or understand what was happening in court. Her fitness to stand trial is separate from assessing her mental health at the time of the offences.
Neuberger said that, from his experience, “there is a lack of understanding about how profound mental illness is and how mental illness is a very serious force in people committing acts that are criminal in nature” and the public sometimes incorrectly sees this as a “get out of jail free card.” He emphasized that we have to avoid demonizing people who suffer from mental health disabilities that legitimately impact their actions and understand it’s just like having any other physical illness that may impact the way a person behaves or functions.
As most in the mainstream media have pushed the narrative that even if the Liberals get less seats than the Conservatives they would still get first crack at forming government, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau himself said in the 2015 election “Whoever gets the most seats gets the first shot at trying to command the confidence of the House.”
Twitter account Pundit Class posted an interview between Trudeau and CBC’s former flagship anchor Peter Mansbridge where Trudeau pointed out historically that’s always how it’s been in Canada.
“Yes, that’s the way it’s always been,” Trudeau says earlier in the exchange when Mansbridge asked him it was his view the party with the most seats “has the right to govern at that point.”
Mainstream journalists such as Mansbridge’s successor Rosemary Barton have been promoting the idea that Trudeau would have first right to form government, even if the Conservatives win more seats. “It’s literally how the parliamentary system works,” Barton incorrectly said on Twitter, repeatedly retweeting others making the same claim.
In the 2015 interview Mansbridge mentions to Trudeau that when his father was the incumbent PM he argued the governing party “has the right to see what its options are.”
Trudeau responded saying, “I think the reality is there is such a clear desire for change amongst Canadians right now that Mr. Harper will have a very difficult time commanding the confidence of the House after this.”
Trudeau has dodged questions this election whether the Liberals would try to cobble together a coalition government if no party wins a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.
Scheer this week said “modern convention” dictates that Trudeau must resign as prime minister if his party doesn’t win the most seats.
The Canadian constitution and the Parliament of Canada Act don’t explicitly state how the prime minister is chosen in a minority government situation. However, historically the leader of the party with the most seats has become prime minister and the losing incumbent PM has not contested the other leader’s claim to power.
As part of his first 100 days in office, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer promised on Wednesday that he would fine politicians up to $20,000 if they are found to have broken ethics laws.
“For breaking the Conflict of Interest Act not only once, but twice, Justin Trudeau faced absolutely no consequences. That’s because there are no consequences attached under the law,” said Scheer.
“A new Conservative government will introduce legislation for stiff penalties of up to $20,000 for violating the Conflict of Interest Act
“It’s all part of our 100-day action plan to show Canadians exactly how a new Conservative majority government will get to work right away to help them get ahead,” said Scheer.
While in power, Justin Trudeau was found to have broken ethics laws on two occasions, once when he accepted a trip and gifts from the Aga Khan, and another time when he was found to have attempted to interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Imagine that for two months, you are placed under a curfew. For two months, your phone and internet services are cut. For two months, you do not know how your family members and relatives are doing. For two months, your local hospital has not had adequate medical supplies.
For two months and counting, your life, and of those around you, has come to a virtual standstill.
This is the reality of the situation in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir.
It is the equivalent of, say, the Canadian government sending thousands of soldiers into Quebec and implementing a total blackout in the region.
Anyone with a sense of humanity within them would be concerned.
Yet Canadians have seen neither proper news coverage, nor a proper response by almost any federal party leader, on this issue.
As a nation that is a global champion of human rights, Canada must, at the very least, inform its citizens on the issue and federal leaders must also release a statement.
One finds it almost hypocritical that all federal leaders released statements in support of the people of Hong Kong, protesting against a brutally authoritarian regime masking itself behind the red banner of Communism.
Yet when we see something similar, if not worse, happening in India, we turn a blind eye.
India is hiding its authoritarianism behind the mask of “development and security.” One would expect better from Canada’s ally and one of the world’s largest democracy.
Kashmir is a long and historical source of tension between India and Pakistan. Both nations have fought numerous wars over it for the last 70 years.
The issue of who has legal rights over Kashmir is a contentious one. For what it’s worth, both India and Pakistan are equally responsible for the mess in the region.
Pakistan has been arming jihadists and supporting violent extremists in the region to create instability; the Indian army has been committing numerous human rights abuses against women and children.
So of course, this entire situation is not just plainly India’s fault. ]
But what is India’s fault, however, is this draconian imposition of an authoritarian blackout that was blasted on the Kashmiri people against their will.
Hospitals are out of medical supplies; people can’t contact their relatives; Kashmir has no access to the outside world; and the Indian army’s presence is in the hundreds of thousands.
Global Affairs’ official response has been a moot one, and its hollowness hurts more than it helps.
If anything, leaders should at least express their opinions on the issue. We can’t treat Hong Kong any different from Kashmir.
As Canadians, we are lucky to be able to read these articles. Kashmiris, cannot.
It is for those eight million helpless people that Canadian leaders should stand up for. It is imperative that Canada continues to champion human rights on the global stage.
Allow me to break the fourth wall for a moment as I start off this column: in my piece “Why I’m voting Liberal,” I paraphrased Sir Winston Churchill to argue that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is a “modest man who has much to be modest about.”
The Post Millennial editors asked if I would expand on that suggestion. Here goes.
This weekend over Thanksgiving dinner, both my poppa, dad and great uncle were quite clear that they do not like Justin Trudeau one bit. They should be prime Conservative voters, demographically speaking. But are they enthusiastic to go vote Tory? Not in the slightest; “I guess I have to vote PC,” they said. They say Scheer seems like “a kid” or “weak,” or most devastating in their minds, “not much better than Trudeau.”
Similarly, when I ask my Tory buddies—even some who work on Conservative campaigns or for Premier Doug Ford—about Mr. Scheer, they all say variations on a theme: he’s boring, not up to the task, soy boy (whatever that means).
So let’s dispense with the obvious: Scheer is a career politician who oddly served as the nonpartisan Speaker, only to go back to party politics to run for leader. That, and then there’s the whole business about relocating to Saskatchewan after a stint as a staffer on the Hill, and the whole embellishing about being an insurance broker, when he was not one (of all the qualifications to fudge—the guy in Catch Me If You Can at least had the sense and imagination to fake being a pilot).
The bigger issue, though, is Scheer lacks a compelling alternative vision to Prime Minister Trudeau. His strategy seems based more on voters tiring of Trudeau, not on actually presenting a programme that could persuade people to change their vote.
Call it a base play, or timidity.
What is Scheer offering Canadian voters? A few boutique tax credits from the Harper playbook, the cancellation of the carbon tax and not being Justin Trudeau. For maybe 30 percent of the population, that is more than enough, sign me up.
But for the vast majority of Canadians, simply “not being Justin Trudeau” is insufficient. They want something to vote for, something that speaks to their real anxieties. To 70 percent of the population, Scheer’s agenda of not fighting the climate crisis and spending cuts is anathema.
Throughout this campaign, even as Trudeau faced significant challenges such as the blackface controversy, Scheer has been unable to capitalize, unable to grow beyond his 30 percent base.
His failure to put forward any programme to fight climate change is clearly a dealbreaker for many Canadians; no doubt that is why the Liberals have focused so heavily on the issue. Moreover, Scheer is seemingly nowhere on the major social contract issues we are facing in this area of economic disruption, automation and darkening geopolitics.
Scheer is offering small-ball politics, when the issues and challenges people face—from the climate crisis to the lack of workplace benefits in the gig economy—require bolder, broader solutions.
What is the Conservative plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs? How will Tories deal with precarious work and the lack of pension and other benefits? What is the Conservative solution to traffic gridlock? How will Tories address AI and automation to protect workers? Scheer is largely silent on these major challenges. Even on deficits, his plan to balance the books is years away and a pipedream without major cuts.
There is a small-C conservative approach to tackling these big questions of economic change, the cost of living and the climate crisis, but Scheer’s trying to play error-free, uninspiring hockey, rather than setting out to win the game. Again, he thinks Trudeau will defeat himself, which is a variation on the classic blunder of underestimating your opponent.
Added to this timidity in terms of policy is the fact that even Conservative voters find Scheer lacklustre—can anyone realistically imagine Scheer standing up to Donald Trump?—and you have a recipe for an uninspiring offering to the voters.
For all his flaws as a blowhard playing footsie with racists, at least Maxime Bernier would have presented a clear contrast with Trudeau’s vision; even if the vision Bernier offered was dead wrong, at least it exists.
Or, to quote another timid conservative figure, George HW Bush, Scheer lacks “the vision thing,” and as the proverb says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
They say that history does not repeat itself but it does rhyme. It’s intriguing to think that here we are yet again in this country with the bloom off the rose of Trudeaumania but a tepid and milquetoast Conservative leader is unable to capitalize.