Battling the Boy from Beauce

[ Part of The Canadian Far Right in the Time of COVID ]

Justin Trudeau announced a snap election in the hope that he could secure a majority in Parliament. This was an election that none of the opposition parties wanted and would not trigger themselves.

How it started

Trudeau greets supporters after calling a snap election on August 15. From Winnipeg Free Press, “Tourism, the arts would get more aid from Liberals, Trudeau promises” 16 Aug 2021

How it’s going

From CBC, “Trudeau says he won’t back down after protesters hurl death threats, racist and sexist slurs” 29 Aug 2021

How it got here

From CBC, “Trudeau campaign rally cancelled over security concerns amid protests” 27 Aug 2021

Anti-mask, lockdown, and vaccine protesters have followed Trudeau to campaign stops across Ontario, culminating in one so large and threatening that the police and Prime Minister’s security detail could not guarantee his safety.

From CTV, “O’Toole, Singh denounce aggressive protesters dogging Trudeau campaign” 28 Aug 2021

The leaders of the other major parties condemned the protests for their disruptive and inciting actions and words.

From National Post, “Trudeau pledges tighter rules for oil companies to cut emissions” 29 Aug 2021

Trudeau returned to the campaign on Sunday, making his first climate announcements at a steel plant in Cambridge. His tour bus was delayed for an hour because of the protesters waiting for his arrival.

From CTV News, “Trudeau met with another protest at campaign stop in Cambridge, Ont.” 29 Aug 2021

Protesters greatly outnumbered police even though the event had increased security in anticipation of the protest.

There are some real lunatics and zealots attached to these protesters. Attentive readers of this series may recognize some of the signs and symbols used in Bolton and Cambridge. Whoever could these protesters be?

“Lock him up” is of course an echo of the anti-Hillary Clinton slogan used by MAGA crowds, “Lock her up.” It has been deployed in Alberta since 2020 at the latest, when the separatist Wexit party bought this billboard:

From Red Deer Advocate, January 2020
After Cambridge, Trudeau’s hostile following became large enough to harass and delay his campaign bus.

Mia Rabson’s report on the Cambridge protest captured some of the more extreme details of the protest:

His campaign has been dogged by protesters at multiple stops, but the mob mentality and size of the crowds appear to have increased in recent days.

Some of the agitators have appeared at multiple events. One man showed up at a Trudeau event in Hamilton, Ont., and then the next day at one in Surrey, B.C. He told reporters he was “maybe” being paid to follow Trudeau around.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press (via CityNews)

Canadian elections are never this dramatic, and security is always very lax as a result. They are usually marked by photo ops, handshaking, maybe some mockery and pranks.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien hit in the face with a cream pie in 2000. The plate reads “P.I.E. MINISTER.” From CBC.

The Trudeau campaign protests are unlike anything seen in the country in decades. The PM’s security could reasonably anticipate that these crowds could become violent: the most wild outcome would be someone trying to impress Finn Wolfhard by becoming a John Hinckley Jr. copycat.

Qui Bono?

From MacLean’s, “Dogging Trudeau is a dead end for anti-vaxxers” 28 August 2021

Election Image of the Day: By disrupting the Liberal leader’s event, they raise a question: what credible Canadian politician wants any part of them and their foul-mouthed crusade?

Michael Fraiman writing for MacLean’s

Fraiman seems to forget the former Cabinet member and founder of the People’s Party who has been actively courting the support of these foul-mouthed crusaders:

Maxime Bernier attends an anti-lockdown protest in Barrie Ontario, 17 August 2021. From Barrie 360.

This is a chance for the Liberal Party to retool their entire campaign. With Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives playing for the political Center and taking the lead in the latest polls, Trudeau’s Liberals need a different opponent, a foil, a villain.

They need to be able to cast Justin as the hero who saved Canadians from the pandemic, climate change, and their deniers. The Liberals need someone to represent everything that they are not, and the Tories are simply not that different from them.

Maxime Bernier and Justin Trudeau can both benefit by keeping the spotlight on one another and their antagonism.

Bernier is the only party leader who has defended the protesters’ right to harass Trudeau and disrupt his events. From CBC.

If they were really savvy snakes then the Liberals could use the unusually aggressive protests as pretext for taking Trudeau off of the campaign trail and putting him back in front of a camera, where he has always performed best. He’s a dramatist, not a retail politician.

Bernier’s Heel Turn

Bernier needs Trudeau. His People’s Party of Canada has gained most of its support by catering to the far-right opponents of the Prime Minister. Having Trudeau in power actually benefits the PPC more than a Tory government, as it is so much easier to harness discontent against Trudeau than against a “Conservative in name only” like O’Toole. Trudeau can be presented as almost demoniac, or somehow portrayed as a Communist infiltrator and traitor.

From Castanet, Aug 29 2021

More specifically, Bernier needs Trudeau to outperform the Conservatives. If the Conservative support starts to drop across the country then it will help his chances of winning back his riding, Beauce.

From 338Canada

This is an enormous improvement over 2019, when Bernier lost his seat:

2019 results for Beauce. From CBC.

His xenophobic, nationalistic PPC ideologies are a perfect fit here:

The Beauce riding has the highest percentage of people who answered “Canadian” as their ethnic origin in the 2006 Census (84.0%; multiple responses).

It is also the riding with the highest percentage of Whites of European descent (99.3%).

From Wikipedia, “Beauce (electoral district)”

The Bernier name has a long history in Beauce. His father Gilles was the MP from 1984 to 1997, when he was appointed Ambassador to Haiti. Gilles’ last term was won as an independent because he was not allowed to run for the Progressive Conservatives in 1993. Maxime himself held the riding from 2006-2018 as a Conservative and then as a PPC member from 2018 to 2019. Like father, like son!

[ Featured image from Global News ]

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