Vocabulary.com states that “if you feel that ordinary working people should have the strongest political voice, you can say you believe in populism.”
For entrenched political parties and their leaders, populism increasingly equates with intolerance. And not just political parties and their leaders.
Canadian Press, reporting on a year-end interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, writes that “although recent provincial elections suggest Canada is not immune to the anti-immigrant sentiment or nationalist populist sloganeering that has swept through the U.S. and other countries around the globe, the Prime Minister argues that Canadians are getting wise to political leaders who promise easy, simplistic, solutions to complex issues.”
It’s not too much of a reach to interpret that Canadian Press (at least in the Trudeau story) considers the election of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party to majority government status as qualifying for inclusion into “Canada is not immune to anti-immigrant sentiment or nationalist populist sloganeering.”
That’s a galling insult to the voters of Canada’s largest province. “Anti-immigrant sentiment” was not the reason Ford was elected in Ontario. The premier and his majority caucus represent voter fatigue with 13 years of Liberal Party of Ontario mismanagement of provincial affairs.
That the Liberals were so thoroughly thrashed by voters to be denied even official party status by the election of only seven MPPs to Queens Park is a direct result of the record of the Kathleen Wynne government.
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Canadian Press it would appear doesn’t deduce Ontario’s electorate ejected the Liberals because the provincial debt had soared well beyond $300 billion, making Ontario the most indebted sub-national jurisdiction globally, or that the provincial Auditor General regularly expressed frustration with the Liberals accounting methodology.
As far as any “Anti-immigrant sentiment” may be concerned, it’s an aging and completely unfair accusation.
In November 2015, an Ipsos poll for Global News found that 60 per cent of Canadians nationally disagreed with Justin Trudeau’s election promise to relocate 25,000 people to Canada, dislocated largely due to the conflict in Syria.
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As I wrote in an earlier blog, “Ontario voters push back,” Canadians expressed fear security checks might be limited, with 67 per cent worrying terrorists may pose as refugees in order to enter Canada.
Reacting in Ottawa, Wynne in the presence of (then) Quebec premier Phillip Couillard, played the race card.
“What we can’t give in to, I think, is allowing security to mask racism. That’s the danger, that somehow talking about security laws allows us to tap into that racist vein when that isn’t who we are,” Wynne said. Precisely.
The Ipsos poll found 67 percent of Canadians rejected the idea of closing our borders completely.
Playing the race card and deriding growing populism is the politically sanitized version of Hillary Clinton attacking what she referenced as a “basket of deplorables.”
Mr. Trudeau will make the case that his is the steady hand on the tiller and complain as he did to CP that “we see around the world right now folks to want to exacerbate, amplify and exaggerate those fears (anti-immigrant) for short-term political gain versus those who are trying to thoughtfully allay those fears.”
Not nearly correct.
The current wave of global populism is the direct result of voter frustration with government policies and legislation that strain credibility and overstep the bounds of what people are willing to accept and absorb.
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It is why a thousand truck convoy launched in Alberta this week and why citizens of the U.K. voted for Brexit.
It may well be why next October, leading to the federal election, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada could be fighting for political survival.
Populism is neither unacceptable nor exclusionary. It is the exact opposite.
A national election is not only a real example of populism in action but also a centuries-long cornerstone of democratic governance.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.
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