Phony Jody narrative continues to pollute the election and endanger the nation

gregfelton.com
June 21, 2019

[See update at the bottom]

When last we saw disgruntled Native MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, she and her trusty sidekick Jane Philpott were bemoaning their “unjust” expulsion from the Liberal Party and contemplating their political futures, assuming each had one. Now, it has been revealed that Canada’s Heroines of Hubris have decided to run as independent candidates in this fall’s federal election. This is welcome news, especially in the case of Wilson-Raybould.

Jody Wilson-Raybould stands before her new poster, depicting her only real political allegiance. Source: Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press
Her decision is a rare, overdue declaration of political honesty. The large Native emblem dominating the poster of her independent candidacy expresses her true, and only, political allegiance. It also vindicates my previous essay, in which I showed Wilson-Raybould to be a Native zealot masquerading as a cabinet minister.

So determined are they to go it alone that they rejected offers to join the New Democratic Party and the Green Party. In the latter case, leader Elizabeth May nearly committed political suicide when she offered both women not only membership but the party leadership! May claimed the two women made a mistake by not accepting, as if she were oblivious to Wilson-Raybould’s conduct when in the Liberal Cabinet, which resembled less a government than a political comedy: All about Jody! or No, Prime Minister!

Even CTV joined the party. For an interview on Question Period with Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, host Evan Solomon set the mood with a rousing recitation of the Gospel According to Ste. Jody before launching into his role as a sounding board. Around the 5m30s mark, Solomon had the gall to ask Wilson-Raybould if she would be willing to return to the Liberals if Trudeau weren’t prime minister. Not only did this question falsely impute blame to Trudeau, but it begged the question of the Liberal Party’s even wanting them back. It was the Liberal caucus, not Trudeau, who demanded that the arrogant Wilson-Raybould be disciplined for leaking the Wernick interview.

As I showed, Trudeau did nothing wrong, and the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, itself, played no part in Wilson-Raybould’s political collapse; incompetence and unethical conduct did that. Of course, no such acknowledgement by the NDP or Greens will be forthcoming. Instead, these parties, with conspicuous media assistance, will continue to milk the fake, anti-Trudeau narrative in the vain hope that doing so will boost their electoral chances. What they’re really doing, though, is corrupting the vote and helping ensure that Andrew Scheer and his Reactionary Corporatist Clowns get elected.

Unenlightened self-interest

The most that the New Democratic Party can ever hope for in any federal election is to end up supporting a minority Liberal government. It will never win an election both because of this country’s first-past-the-post voting system and because voter support outside of the NDP’s true-believer core is transient. In 2015, when it entered the election as the Official Opposition, the NDP seemed to have a realistic chance at power sharing, but voters stampeded to the Liberals and their youthful, vapid avatar as the best bet to rid the country of Stephen Harper. The NDP ended up losing seats and fell back to being a third-place party.

A similar problem of strategic voting faces voters this year but in reverse. The Liberals are in power and the so-called conservatives are threatening to reimpose Harperism. As it stands now, Trudeau’s Liberal government is in serious trouble because of pipeline politics. British Columbians and environmentalists generally are livid that Trudeau is forcing expansion of the TransMountain pipeline on B.C. thereby creating an inevitable catastrophe to the costal maritime habitat.

On the other hand, the oil industry, its media shills and political agents are vilifying Liberal senators for upholding the West Coast oil tanker moratorium and the Trudeau government for rejecting 80 per cent of the oil industry’s attempts to emasculate Bill C-69, which regulates “the exploitation, development and transportation of energy within Parliament's jurisdiction”.

Trudeau faces a no-win scenario, but the NDP should not see this as good news. NDP fortunes and Liberal fortunes are linked because a crippled Liberal Party is a threat to the NDP’s governmental ambitions. Therefore, in the name of self-interest, to say nothing of honesty, the NDP should mitigate the damage done by Wilson-Raybould’s fraudulent narrative and stop amplifying it. Unfortunately, this simple logic cannot compete with the allure of opportunistic hypocrisy. Take the case of NDP MP Charlie Angus.

In early March, as a member of the House judiciary committee, Angus heard testimony on the SNC-Lavalin affair from chief civil servant Michael Wernick, during which time Angus uttered this embarrassing non sequitur:

[Wilson-Raybould] said she expected the Saturday Night Massacre, which was a reference to Richard Milhous Nixon and the firing of the special prosecutor. And lo and behold she was replaced two weeks later. So I think Minister Wilson-Raybould’s testimony was very credible…”

Angus had no reason whatever to link Wilson-Raybould’s putative analogy to the credibility of her testimony, especially since the analogy was inappropriate. There is also no evidence to suggest that Angus even knew the real reason that Wilson-Raybould was demoted. By this time, though, understanding was not important because the false narrative had become common currency, and it was just so easy for Angus and other opposition MPs to jump on the Jody bandwagon. On April 2, Angus even tweeted a paean to Wilson-Raybould and Philpott praising them for their integrity.

Angus’s effusive support was transparently hypocritical because before the farce hit the fan his opinion of Wilson-Raybould was quite different. As he tweeted in mid-December: “The failure of @Puglass to show any leadership or direction on Indigenous justice has been one the deepest disappointments of the Trudeau government. “For Christmas I want Justin Trudeau to fire @Puglass. The Justice file has been bungled.”

It’s not clear what Angus was referring to, but it could be Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to carry out Trudeau’s instructions to restrict the use of solitary confinement, which affects Natives and the mentally ill disproportionately. In any event, his criticism had an empirical foundation and was defensible; his boosterism did not. Something happened to make Angus go from “disappointment” and “bungled” to “[showing] integrity” and “much respect” in a mere four months. The only causal factor that could account for such a flip-flop is the need to exploit Wilson-Raybould’s phony SNC-Lavalin narrative.

Angus was not just speaking for himself, though. On Feb. 12, the day Wilson-Raybould was demoted, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who would only take his seat in the House in a byelection 13 days later, delivered an endorsement of the official narrative that was remarkable for its robotic language and boilerplate script. It’s unclear what Singh hoped to accomplish.

It is patent idiocy for the NDP to fight a two-front war since it has nothing in common with the “Conservatives,” and its positions on domestic issues like women’s health, Native rights, the environment and health care overlap the Liberals to a greater or lesser degree. It is impossible to imagine pro-environment Liberal voters splitting the anti-Scheer vote by voting for a party led by an inexperienced nobody, especially since right-wing Liberals could well jump ship to Scheer because of Wilson-Raybould’s narrative.

The darkest timeline

While Trudeau is being undermined from both the left and the right, the threat of a return to neo-fascism is real, and the following survey shows the destructive effect of the Phony Jody narrative. Between January 30 and March 4, David Coletto and Bruce Anderson of Abacus Data interviewed thousands of Canadians to measure such topics as familiarity with the narrative, party preference, opinions on party leaders, and if Trudeau should resign. The survey took place in three stages:

  • Jan. 30 to Feb. 5: 2,500 interviews prior to the Globe and Mail story on Ms. Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin.
  • Feb. 8-11: 2,500 interviews prior to Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from Cabinet.
  • Feb. 22-26: 2,347 interviews after Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary, resigned.

The entire survey can be found here, but some features deserve discussion. First is this snapshot of voter intent:

The Liberals and “Conservatives” were virtually tied before the survey began, but by the end of it the Liberals had lost 4% while the “Conservatives” gained 2% albeit on a down tick. Interestingly, the NDP showed no growth at all even as the Green Party rose 3%. Clearly, the NDP has not been able to present itself as a viable centre-left alternative to the governing Liberals despite Trudeau’s loss of prestige. The next three graphs show the relative popularity of the three party leaders as a function of the Wilson-Raybould narrative, and it is sobering news for the NDP.

As expected, the propaganda cost Trudeau dearly: he went from a +5% approval to a -13% disapproval rating. Remarkably, neither of the other two leaders profited from his misfortune. Over the course of the survey, Scheer’s positive rating stayed the same (+30%) while his negative rating improved by only 3% to 26%, reflecting general voter distaste for him and his reactionary Harperism. As for Jagmeet Singh, he hardly benefited from the scandal at all and remained more unpopular (28%) than popular (21%) even after his byelection victory. His Feb. 12 speech was a non-event.

Survey author Coletto gives the following summary of voter intent:

What our data shows is the controversy has [affected] public attitudes towards the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party. The Liberals now trail the Conservatives by 6-points, the largest Conservative lead in our tracking since the 2015 election. The government’s approval rating is down 8 points since December and 4 points since Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony. More people now have a negative view of the Prime Minister than a positive one–– the first time since last March that our surveys have found this and about as many people would prefer Mr. Trudeau to be the prime minister after the next election as would Mr. Scheer­––a big shift since the end of last year. (my emphasis)

The best of all possible bad worlds

As was the case in 2015, this election will not be about electing a government, but about preventing Harperites by whatever name, from actively increasing Canada servility to corporations and Israel. There might not seem to be much difference with the Liberals on this score, but Liberals have at least the potential to act in the national interest, as they are doing on the tanker moratorium and Bill C-69.

Until Parliament passes electoral reform, this country will continue to be undemocratic and ungovernable, which means the NDP cannot afford the luxury of acting as if it had a hope in hell of winning the election. The only positive outcome is a minority Liberal government supported by the NDP. For that to happen, Singh et al. have to act in the national interest and that means not being useful idiots for Andrew Scheer.

UPDATE

A July 9 poll by iPolitics confirms the two main points in this article: Liberal support is largely driven by anti-Scheer fear and loathing, and the NDP is electorally impotent. Nationally the NDP is tied with the Greens at a mere 8.5% of decided voters. In B.C. where its support is the strongest at 13.7%, the NDP still trails the Greens by 7.8%.