Monthly Archives: August 2021

‘Their hearts are not in it.’ Liberals in Atlantic Canada accused of being unfocused – CTV News

Posted: August 30, 2021 at 2:48 am

HALIFAX -- At the start of the election campaign, the polls were suggesting Justin Trudeau's Liberals could hold most of the 32 seats in Atlantic Canada after they won every riding in the region in 2015 and lost only six seats in 2019.

But political pundits in the region say the Liberal campaign is in trouble. They say Trudeau has failed to explain the need for a vote on Sept. 20, leaving the party unable to properly defend its East Coast fortress.

"It's almost as if Justin Trudeau himself is trying to figure out why we're in an election campaign," Tom Urbaniak, a political science professor at Cape Breton University in Sydney, N.S., said in a recent interview. "I'm starting to get the sense that the Liberals are realizing they may be vulnerable, at least in certain seats."

Don Desserud, a political science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, says the Liberal campaign is unfocused.

"It's bizarre that there is no coherent message," he said.

"The ministers are all over the place. Their hearts are not in it."

The Liberals' big-spending, feel-good campaign appears aimed at capitalizing on Trudeau's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the strategy isn't working, Desserud said.

"I think Liberal support is ebbing, and I don't think Trudeau is going to get a pandemic bump," the professor said in a recent interview, adding that the region's premiers and their chief medical officers have received most of the credit for keeping the pandemic in check.

"They don't see Trudeau as having had that role, though he has been handing out a lot of money."

In July, Trudeau signed multi-year affordable child-care deals worth a total of more than $1 billion with P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Later that month, he signed a $5.2-billion deal to help Newfoundland and Labrador cover the cost overruns that have plagued the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

In Nova Scotia, however, the surprising results from the provincial election on Aug. 17 should serve as a warning for the federal party, Urbaniak says.

Like their federal cousins, the provincial Liberals started their midsummer campaign for a third term in office by highlighting their stewardship during the pandemic. And like the federal campaign, the provincial version lacked focus.

"The Nova Scotia Liberals went into the campaign without a clear narrative and without a bold road map," Urbaniak said. "They thought people would reward past performance .... (Liberal Premier Iain Rankin) thought this would be enough to coast through, and that was an historic miscalculation."

Rankin's minority government was swept from power by a decisive Progressive Conservative majority victory. Led by Tim Houston, a chartered accountant, the Tories won the election by consistently promising to improve the province's health-care system.

The Nova Scotia election race, however, was decidedly different on several levels, including the fact that Rankin had been premier for only six months, and he proved to be an awkward campaigner -- unlike the seasoned and smooth Trudeau.

As well, the provincial Progressive Conservatives campaigned on a decidedly moderate, big-spending platform that stood in contrast to the Liberals' tight-fisted, deficit-averse approach -- a reversal of the roles typically seen at the federal level.

"The Nova Scotia example doesn't translate to the national stage," Donald Wright, chairman of the political science department at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, said in a recent interview. "Houston ran from the left as a progressive .... to distance himself from the social conservatives. I don't know if that's going to translate into votes for Erin O'Toole's Conservatives in Nova Scotia."

Cape Breton resident Lorie McGean was out for a walk last week when O'Toole arrived for a rally in North Sydney. McGean said health care remains the dominant federal issue for her.

"Right now we're in a huge mess with health care," said McGean, who has worked as a nurse for 40 years. She said the province's seniors homes are desperate for nurses. "I don't know where they're going to get them from. They don't have them right now to fill the hospitals."

She says she's on the fence about who she will be voting for, waiting to see what the Liberals and Tories are planning for health-care.

Lisa Raitt, a former Conservative MP who lost her Ontario seat in 2019, was also at the North Sydney rally on Friday. Originally from Sydney, N.S., Raitt said the key issue for Cape Bretoners is affordability, which she said is something O'Toole is focused on.

However, Raitt said the federal campaign has yet to produce a central theme, unlike the recent provincial race.

"What has to happen is if an issue does come along, the party has to be ready and prepared for the leader, and then people will say, 'OK, I like the leader. I can follow. I can go in that direction."'

On another front, Wright said, the perceived momentum behind Jagmeet Singh's New Democrats could siphon votes from the Liberals in urban ridings in Atlantic Canada, where Conservative candidates could find themselves the prime beneficiary.

Meanwhile, the federal Conservative campaign on the East Coast has been helped by the fact the Liberals have failed to demonize the party or its leader, as they did in the previous two elections.

"In Atlantic Canada, you need a right-wing bogeyman to frighten people," Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, said in a recent interview.

"In Atlantic Canada, it comes down to the question of, can the Liberals paint Erin O'Toole as somebody to be afraid of?"

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2021.

-- With files from Stephanie Taylor

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The Conservatives opportunity and the Liberal imperative – Maclean’s

Posted: at 2:48 am

Bruce Anderson: While theres a voter-rich battle to their left, Liberals must notice OToole is relaunching the fight for the centre that his predecessors weren't interested in

Bruce Anderson is chairman of Abacus Data and Summa Communications and a partner in Spark Advocacy

Having worked in several national elections, some for the Liberal Party, some for the Progressive Conservative Party, the polling I studied made one thing really clearwhile its common to talk about the base as fundamental to electoral success, its really the swing voters that matter.

Elections in Canada are won or lost by a margin of 1 to 2 million votes, and the trading of these votes among parties can be tricky to see on the surface of polling data, but vital to study below the surface. Vote switching is what campaigns turn onfinding some share you can take from your opponent, figuring how best to win those voters, and then closing the deal.

In our latest Abacus Data work, something caught my eye. The number of Liberal/NDP switcherspeople who say that they will vote for one of these two parties, but if they change their mind it will be a vote for the other oneis a lot bigger than the number of Liberal/Conservative switchers. Today, one fifth (21 per cent) of the electorate indicate their choice will be red or orange. About half as many (9 per cent) say their choice will be Liberal or Conservative.

Historically, this wasnt the case. The deepest pool of swing voters was Liberal/Conservative switchers, a mass of people who lived around the centre of the spectrumpeople who didnt like too much government spending or too little government services, whose progressive instincts were tempered by a frugal mindset, who could feel tempted either by grand ambitions of the Liberal Party or worried that we were getting out over our skis and needed to be more practical.

I think a few things caused the pool of Liberal/Conservative switchers to shrink and probably the thing Im most curious about is whether Erin OToole is making progress in turning that around.

Heres what made the pool shrink in my opinion.

When the Progressive Conservative Party was replaced by the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative Party of Canada, most of the campaign energy of that new party went to cementing the foundation rather than building. It was as though self-styled mission conservatives were so relieved at the thought of not having to water down their personal agendas that they paid little attention to how many voters they were pushing away, as long as they could see a path to about 38 or 39 per cent popular vote. Turns out that approach did make some people who would normally consider Conservative their second choice decide the party wasnt for them, and it left the Conservatives working with very thin margin for error if they were going to win an election.

More recently, a great deal of Conservative energy has been poured into brittle criticisms of Justin Trudeau. Ive no doubt it feels good within the Conservative caucus rooms and raises plenty of money from diehard Conservative voters but it hasnt connected with other voters who might be open to the idea of a Conservative government, but dont hate Justin Trudeau. Trudeau haters are mostly a lock for the Conservative Party, they arent going anywhere, especially if they see the prospect of a victory. But a campaign about anger at Trudeau is counterproductive among voters who havent been interested in that argument so far. On that point, 62 per cent of the Liberal/Conservative switchers have a good impression of Trudeau, 42 per cent have a good impression of OToole.

Its early days, but in Erin OToole the Conservatives may have a leader who gets this math, quite possibly because it is the math of his political birthplace in Ontario. The absent voice of Jason Kenney, the relative silence of Pierre Poilievre and some other front benchers, no campaigning with Doug Ford are all things you would do if you wanted to win votes from the Liberal Party and not only excite the base. He saw in Derek Sloan a line that needed drawing and he drew it.

These moves have given the Conservatives more potential to grow. And while straying from base rallying might have driven down support among hard core conservatives, his popularity with them, which had been relatively soft, is firming up.

OTooles platform might fail a stress test on some big issues like climate change and childcare. His caucus includes a substantial number of people who, left to their own devices, would revisit abortion and waffle on the rights of some minority groups. A fascination with China bashing is unlikely to grow support. Tone deaf harangues about vaccines earlier this year helped the Liberal Party more than his own. The Conservative brand is still a heavy burden to carry into a conversation aimed at winning young, urban and suburban centrist voters. But with policies aimed at helping gig economy workersOToole is making a pitch that his recent predecessors werent really into.

For the Liberals, it may have been tempting to focus almost exclusively on the battle on their left flankwhere the number of winnable votes is large and the philosophical differences small. However their path to another victory will require attention to the centre and the efforts by Erin OToole to present his party in a different light.

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The Conservatives opportunity and the Liberal imperative - Maclean's

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Former WA Liberals leader Zak Kirkup bears brunt of scathing internal election review – ABC News

Posted: at 2:48 am

Appointing Zak Kirkup WA Liberal leader before the party's March state election disaster was "a desperate and ill-advised move" that should never have happened, according to those tasked with determining what led to the landslide result.

And the authors of that damning internal review lashed the MPs who made the decision to elect Mr Kirkup for their "staggering laziness", finding many of them did not make a single phone call or knock on any doors during that ill-fated campaign.

The 2021 Liberal election review, which pointed to "unethical and underhand" conduct by party members and MPs in calling for sweeping reforms of the party, saved some of its harshest criticisms for the decision to elect Mr Kirkup leader just four months from the election.

"Surely there were better choices for leader," the review, from a three-person panel headed by party elder Danielle Blain, stated.

ABC News: Hugh Sando

"It is difficult to accept there were no other options available for a more senior MP to assume the leadership.

"It should never have happened, and all members of the parliamentary wing who actively encouraged this move must take responsibility for that, as they should for the election result.

"Zak Kirkup was just too inexperienced and perhaps a little overwhelmed."

The review blasted the campaign Mr Kirkup led, saying there was "policy disconnect" and his statement that the party could not win the election "caused much anger and loss of morale".

"[It] critically had a significant negative impact on most of the party candidates standing for election," it stated.

While Mr Kirkup was the MP singled out for the strongest criticism by name, many of the party's most powerful identities were not named in the report.

It comes after more than 700 pages ofmessages between party powerbrokers were leaked to the media, revealinginternal game-playing and branch stacking.

AP: Patrick Sison

Other MPs were also lashed for their failure to appropriately campaign.

In what was labelled "staggering laziness" and "poor performance", four of the 13 MPs did not knock on a single door of a constituent in the four months prior to the election.

And five MPs were not recorded as registering a single phone call during that same period.

Both practices are seen as basics of political campaigning.

Meanwhile, policies such as Mr Kirkup's contentious 'green energy plan' also faced heavy criticism.

"The Liberal Party lost most of its voter base, who deserted it, because of its leadership squabbles, factional activities and loss of principles," the report states.

"The state party lost its way because its members were more concerned about holding power than the power of ideas.

"It failed on both counts."

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North Island-Powell River Liberal candidate to help build bridges on pertinent issues Campbell River Mirror – Campbell River Mirror

Posted: at 2:48 am

North Island-Powell Rivers Liberal candidate in the 2021 federal election sees her ability to build bridges between people as what the riding needs.

Dr. Jennifer Grenzs background is in ecological restoration, and her work has taken her all over the riding where she has met and worked with people of all different backgrounds and political inclinations. Grenzs family is from the Lytton First Nation, which showed her how dire some of the environmental issues facing the region are.

She says knowing that issues like climate change and fisheries can be divisive has given her the skills needed to bring forward solutions that benefit everybody, and that having a representative in government can help bring North Islanders perspectives to Ottawa in ways that have not been possible before.

There are examples in the riding where policy decisions have come from the government that have had a significant impact on people here, she said. Because the voices of the people in the riding are missing from the conversation. The region is about as far from Ottawa as we can get, so the things that are important for the people that live here are not going to be front-of-mind unless someone is able to effectively deliver those messages.

Grenz has a PhD in integrated land and food systems from UBC, where she teaches as part of the faculty of land and food systems. She also runs a small business in the ecological restoration field and works with non-profits in that area.

A lot of the work that I do involves people from all different political stripes. Working with boots on the ground means that I get a unique perspective that other people dont, she explained. Ive gotten to know so many amazing people across the region over time and seen first hand the impacts of COVID, climate and collapsing fisheries, this is the stuff that wears on my heart and is heavy on my mind as I drive home. Before I ever said that I was going to run, these were the things I was already thinking about. I care about all these people, towns and places that I get to call my homes away from home.

Grenz said she decided to run because so many of the issues facing the riding cannot afford to wait for solutions. Whether that is Pressing issues of climate, jobs, housing, caring for elders, having a representative in the opposition well meaning-voices arent necessarily getting those important issues to the table to create solutions. I want to be able to deliver for the people by being at that table, she said.

Grenz can be found online, and on Facebook.

RELATED: NDP Candidate says things are changing and we need consistency

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Liberals shift target to Big Banks from Big Oil, but there’s little relief in oilpatch – Financial Post

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'Not for one moment do I believe that (Trudeau) has shifted away from Big Oil, in particular, the oilsands,' says SAF Group's Dan Tsubouchi

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CALGARY Liberal leader Justin Trudeaus move to put the Big Six banks in his crosshairs instead of Big Oil, his previous favourite target, is causing some transitory relief in the Calgary oilpatch, but also some anxiety that energy as well as additional sectors may be targeted as the federal election campaign continues.

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Trudeau on Wednesday announced plans to slap large financial institutions, including banks and insurers, with an additional three-per-cent tax on profits of more than $1 billion.

But Dan Tsubouchi, principal and chief market strategist at Calgary-based investment firm SAF Group, said he expects oil and gas executives will suffer additional hits from Liberal rhetoric during the current campaign.

Not for one moment do I believe that he has shifted away from Big Oil, in particular, the oilsands, he said in an email, adding that oil and gas producers have also posted large profits this year and could be in line for the same tax proposed for the banks.

Others in Alberta also believe that the Liberal campaigns focus may shift back to either the energy sector, or to a different sector of the economy, which could put a chill on investment confidence and competitiveness just as the broader economy is trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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We are an ongoing project, which is the nation of Canada, were struggling for competitiveness globally and the last thing we should be doing is fighting amongst ourselves, whether it be regions or sectors, said Adam Legge, chief executive of the Business Council of Alberta. Other countries will see that and just fly right by us.

Legge said the temptation to win votes by campaigning against corporate boogeymen in any sector detracts from a more fulsome conversation about policy.

The optimal way to go is to really address the fundamental underlying issues. If its CO2 emissions, then talk about CO2 emissions rather than one sector, he said. If its outsized profits, then talk about competition as opposed to just the banking sector.

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So far, the banks response to Trudeaus election promise has been tepid and mostly channelled through their industry lobby group.

The proposed tax increase would reduce income that would otherwise benefit the majority of Canadians who are bank shareholders, either directly through share ownership or indirectly through pension and mutual funds, including the Canada Pension Plan, the Canadian Bankers Association said in a statement.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce chief executive Victor Dodig, on a Thursday earnings call, said, Banks have always been in the crosshairs.

But executives in the energy sector dont believe the banking sector has always been in the crosshairs, noting that Trudeaus last two campaigns singled out oil and gas as his target.

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During the 2019 election campaign, Trudeau caught the attention of English-speaking oil executives in Alberta when he said that he would stand up to Big Oil during the French language television debate.

The 2015 election campaign forced oil and gas executives and workers to deal with a storm of issues, including the merits of oil pipelines such as Energy East and the integrity of the pipeline regulator, said Glen Schmidt, the retired chief executive of oilsands producer Laricina Energy Ltd., which has since been acquired by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

In 2015, we certainly saw a change in investment flow, Schmidt said, adding that hes worried that campaigning against specific sectors of the economy damages the countrys reputation for attracting foreign direct investment.

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The outcome is that many companies no longer exist, he said. Theres less employment and less income to all governments.

Tsubouchi said the Liberals may propose new policies targeting the oil and gas industry in an effort to boost flagging polling numbers, which show the Conservative Party closing the gap.

I suspect sooner rather than later, as they need to stop the bleeding, he said. Dont forget, Prime Minister Trudeaus kickoff speech said, We think more ambition on climate change is needed now.'

Others dont expect climate change will play the same major role in the 2021 election as it did in the 2015 and 2019 elections.

Its a change in tone from the Liberals to just focus on the Big Banks, said Duane Bratt, political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, adding that he believes the change is in response to housing affordability becoming a major issue.

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Energy and climate is not as big an issue in this campaign as it was in 2019, he said, pointing out that the other big issues in this campaign are COVID-19, health care and Afghanistan.

Bratt said the Big Six banks, like Big Oil, are an easy target during and attacking both industries was a favourite campaign tactic of late NDP leader Jack Layton, something Trudeau has now emulated.

Whos going to come out and defend big banks? All sorts of companies lost money during COVID, but the banks were not one of them, he said, adding that he expects bankers and finance professionals will try to avoid the spotlight until the election wraps up on Sept. 20.

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However, Trudeaus pledge to slap an additional tax on massive bank profits comes at the end of earnings season for the Big Six, all of which, except for National Bank of Canada, posted net income well in excess of $1 billion in their most recent quarter. National Bank earned $839 million.

CIBC on Thursday reported a quarterly profit of $1.7 billion, while Royal Bank of Canada, the countrys largest bank, on Wednesday announced a record quarterly profit of $4.3 billion.

But National Bank analyst Gabriel Dechaine said the banks will not delay further reports or investor presentations in an effort to avoid attracting more political attention.

I dont think theyre going to make any antagonistic remarks in the public sphere, he said. At most, I think they would provide some argument against a move to increase their taxes and I think the arguments around that would revolve around what they did to support Canadians during the financial crisis by deferring mortgage payments or reducing interest rates on certain products.

With a file from Bloomberg

Email: | Twitter: geoffreymorgan

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Liberals say they’ll bring in a rent-to-own program. But what will it do for Toronto’s housing crisis? –

Posted: at 2:48 am

On Tuesday, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau unveiled a multi-billion-dollar housing strategy to help Canadians buy a home at a time when the market is sky high. The plan includes measures to curb the practice of "flipping" homes, the banning of so-called "blind bidding" and a promise to double the first-time homebuyers tax credit.

Part of the plan isto introduce a government-funded rent-to-own program to help renters get on the path to home ownership. The party is promising$1 billion in loans and grants to develop rent-to-own projects with partners from the private, not-for-profit and co-op sectors.

If that sounds familiar to Torontonians that's because it is.

In 2018, former mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat proposed a similar program for the city.

While some are praising the proposalas a positive initiative that helps renters who are struggling with a down payment, others say it caters to a niche group of constituents, and that housing supply is what all parties need to focus on to make cities like Toronto more affordable.

"I was actually really pleased when I heard the [Liberals'] announcement," said Keesmaat, a former businesswoman and chief planner for the City of Toronto.

"Because I think what we're beginning to see in this campaign is housing solutions that actually respond to the magnitude of the challenge that we're faced with."

Themagnitude of the challenge Keesmaat is speaking about is enormous.The average price for all home types combined in the Greater Toronto Area as of last monthis$1,062,256up 12.6 per cent compared to July 2020, according to the latest report from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.

At the centre of Keesmaat's 2018 campaign for mayor of Toronto was a municipally run rent-to-own program that involvedthe city dedicating a certain number of new units. The proposal would have allowedrenters to apply to pay monthly instalments that would go toward their down payment onthe property at a price set at the start of the agreement.

The funds to support the program would have been generated by a proposed tax on luxury homes.

"Part of why this policy matters is because it's about recognizing that we all have different housing needs and we also have different housing needs at different stages of our lives. And we need lots of options within that entire housing spectrum " said Keesmat.

Keesmat is now the founder of Markee developments which designs, builds, and runs affordable rental housing and says she would welcome the opportunity to work with the federal governmenton a rent-to-own program.But she acknowledges that planalone won't help address the affordability crisis.

"It means nothing if it isn't tied to a really profound supply initiative that's about driving housing supply."

Other experts agree with Keesmaat that housingsupplyis what all federal parties should be focusing on when it comes to addressingaffordability.

"Given that we have a housing crisis across Canada, we need to think millions of new homes at affordable prices. That would make a dent in bringing housing prices in line with people's incomes," said Murtaza Haider,professor of real estate management and data science at Toronto's Ryerson University.

While Haider says ideaslike rent-to-own programs do open up the market for a small group of people, he believes governments need to think bigger.

"It's much better to have some relief than not. But we have to take much bolder, much bigger, much larger programs to be able to have housing prices and rents much in step with people's incomes."

Others question whether that $1 billion would be better spent on measures to help lower-income individuals or families who can't evenget accessto affordable rental housing.

"It's really rental housing that's the big problem. That's where the government should focus its effort," said Frank Clayton, senior research fellow at the Centrefor Urban Research and Land Development at Ryerson University.

Clayton said he worries initiativeslike a federally run rent-to-own program might increase demand, which would drive up real estate prices if there's no parallel effort to build more housing.

"The focus should be on supply, not demand, because demand will just aggravate what's already happening. And that makes things worse."

The plan laid out by the Liberal Party of Canada doesn't spell out whether the loans and grants under the proposed program would go to the landlord or to the tenant, or whether the majority of the $1 billion pledged would go to big cities like Toronto or Vancouver where housing prices have continued to soar.

It also doesn't say how it would work with municipalities who are responsible for the approval of development projects to ensure rent-to-own projects would actually be built, or how it would encouragecurrent landlords to take part in it.

In response to questions fromCBC Toronto, the Liberal Party of Canada said: "There are a variety of existing rent-to-own models and the financial structure of each can vary, as will federal support."

The party added that it is"confident that by partnering with municipalities and providing substantial federal funding, we will be able to incentivize the building of new rent-to-own units across the country."

So far, the Liberals are the only party formally pledging a rent-to-own program, but when it comes to supply they'repledging to "build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes in the next four years" by giving cities tools to speed up construction. The party isalso promising to create a $4-billion pool of cash that cities could tap if they help to create "middle-class homes."

The NDP is pledging to create at least 500,000 units of affordable housing in the next 10years, while the Conservatives are pledging to build one million homes over three years, andconvert at least 15 per cent of federal government property into housing among other measures.

The Greens are calling for an expansion of the government's Rapid housing Initiative which creates new affordable housing for vulnerable populations and to build and acquire a minimum of 300,000 units of affordable housing.

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Opinion | The Right-Wingers Who Admire the Taliban – The New York Times

Posted: at 2:48 am

As the Taliban swept through Afghanistan in August, a Gen Z alt-right group ran a Twitter account devoted to celebrating their progress. Tweets in Pashto juxtaposed two laughing Taliban fighters with pictures meant to represent American effeminacy. Another said, the words auto-translated into English, Liberalism did not fail in Afghanistan because it was Afghanistan, it failed because it was not true. It failed America, Europe and the world see it.

The account, now suspended, was just one example of the open admiration for the Taliban thats developed within parts of the American right. The influential young white supremacist Nick Fuentes an ally of the Arizona Republican congressman Paul Gosar and the anti-immigrant pundit Michelle Malkin wrote on the encrypted app Telegram: The Taliban is a conservative, religious force, the U.S. is godless and liberal. The defeat of the U.S. government in Afghanistan is unequivocally a positive development. An account linked to the Proud Boys expressed respect for the way the Taliban took back their national religion as law, and executed dissenters.

The far right, the alt-right, are all sort of galvanized by the Taliban essentially running roughshod through Afghanistan, and us leaving underneath a Democratic president, said Moustafa Ayad, executive director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank devoted to countering violent extremism. Theyre looking at Afghanistan, he said, from a standpoint of us getting owned, in the parlance of the internet.

This is not the first time that right-wing American extremists have been inspired by Muslim militants; several white supremacists lauded Al Qaedas attacks on Sept. 11. The difference now is that the far right has grown, and the distance between the sort of right-wingers who cheer for the Taliban and conservative power centers has shrunk.

The Florida Republican Matt Gaetz may be a clown, but hes also a congressman who was close to the previous president. On Twitter earlier this month, Gaetz described the Taliban, like Trump, as more legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here.

Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the United States embarked on a war that would, in time, sell itself as a battle for democracy. Back then, liberal democracy was almost universally venerated in America, which is one reason we had the hubris to think we could export it by force. Many, especially on the right, worried about the threat that jihadism posed to a modern, open society. The tragic journey of the last two decades began with the loudest voices on the right braying for war with Islamism and ended with a right-wing vanguard envying it.

At least before the devastating terrorist attacks on Thursday, there was a subtler form of satisfaction with the Talibans takeover among more respectable nationalist conservatives. They dont sympathize with barbarism, but were pleased to see liberal internationalism lose. The humiliation of Afghanistan will have been worth it if it pries the old paradigm loose and lets new thoughts in, Yoram Hazony, an influential nationalist intellectual whose conferences feature figures like Josh Hawley and Peter Thiel, tweeted earlier this month.

What old paradigm? Well, a few days later he tweeted, What went wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan was, first and foremost, the ideas in the heads of the people running the show. Say its name: Liberalism.

Foxs Tucker Carlson, the most important nationalist voice in America, seemed to sympathize with the gender politics of Taliban-supporting Afghans. They dont hate their own masculinity, he said shortly after the fall of Kabul. They dont think its toxic. They like the patriarchy. Some of their women like it too. So now theyre getting it all back. So maybe its possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the entire neoliberal program is grotesque. (By neoliberalism he seems to mean social liberalism, not austerity economics.)

It turns out that when the government deceptively invokes liberal democracy to justify a war, liberal democracy can be discredited by a grueling defeat. In his new book Reign of Terror, the national security journalist Spencer Ackerman draws a direct line between our stalemated post-9/11 wars and the rise of Donald Trump. Trump was able to safely voice the reality of the war by articulating what about it most offended right-wing exceptionalists: humiliation, he wrote.

Humiliation is a volatile emotion. Many have written about its role in motivating Al Qaeda. Perhaps its not surprising that parts of the right would respond to humiliation by identifying with images of brutal masculinity.

Some of this identification might just be for shock value; the alt-right is adept at using irony to occlude its intentions. But some of it is deadly earnest.

Weve come across a lot of content thats U.S.-based extreme far-right websites saying how good the Taliban victory is, and why its good for their cause, said Adam Hadley, director of Tech Against Terrorism, a U.N.-supported project that monitors extremists online. One neo-Nazi website, which I wont link to, has a tract hailing the Taliban victory in part for showing that a small band of armed fundamentalists can defeat the American empire.

As for the rest of the pro-Taliban right, the Proud Boys and incels and MAGA splinter factions, some of them are probably just trolling. But as groups like QAnon and the civil war-hungry Boogaloo Bois show, a movement can seem absurd and still be a source of real radicalization. The classic response to any of this is, Ah, theyre just a fringe group, and then when that metastasizes, a lot of people eat their words, said Ayad.

If theres one lesson of recent American history, its that theres no such thing as something too ridiculous to be dangerous.

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View from the Left: Is Hollywood really liberal? Examining Conservative misinformation in media. – Norwich Bulletin

Posted: at 2:48 am

Scott Deshefy| For The Bulletin

Travel anywhere, and whether Nike, MTV, Gap or fast foods with accompanying health disorders, cravings for American products are satisfied. US product proliferation via globalization is part of a conscious dissemination of Yankee attitudes oft-described as cultural imperialism. US corporations, wanting to cash-in on 95% of world consumers overseas, have moved operations accordingly. Such US domination inevitably hurts local markets too small to compete against our politically inbred industrial financiers whose fiscal and military coercion forced Korea and Japan from 19th century isolationism.

If incessant economic growth serves US corporate interests, externalities (i.e., destructive impacts) are ignored, especially ecological. Commercials like Im lovin it (McDonalds) and Id like to buy the world a Coke (Coca-Cola 71) portray US goods as peace-making unifiers transcending ethnic and social divides. In reality consumption of sodas, cheeseburgers and processed foods deforests tropical ecosystems for cattle, sugar and palm oil production while Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle buy rights to limited water resources.

CNN and media conglomerates to which 2 billion people in over 200 countries subscribe can also be harmful. According to Brit sociologist Jeremy Tunstall, unlike other commodities, governments importation of news unavoidably spreads bits of their politics. When resulting imbalances in outflow and control of information enhance political influences of powerful nations, undesirable homogenizations of needs and desires are created, which lead, potentially, to cultural extinctions. Against that onslaught, Italys slow food movement, and resuscitations of nongovernment, non-capitalist, civic spaces parks and village greens, for instance offer only limited pushback (see Barbers Jihad vs. McWorld).

While CNN and MSNBC arent immune to bias, nowhere is media manipulation more evident than Fox News and radio. Except for local TV and some journalists of national prominence, such as Chris Wallace, Fox bevy of high-ratings commentators is conduit for disinformation/ad hominem-assault water torture. Their repetitive drip-drip-drip has undermined attempts to mitigate climate change, contain the pandemic and reestablish truth, science and fact-based reasoning in American culture.

Rabid, mind-numbing insistence that fundamental responsibilities for public health and safety (e.g. mask-wearing and COVID shots) are attacks on personal freedoms and communist takeovers is brain-washing. But Fox isnt alone. Free Press found 91% of weekday-radio talk formats were right-wing echo chambers, byproducts of how FCC doles public airwave access. Of 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations, those controlled by group-owners with 3 or more stations in single markets or who broadcast from multiple towns, aired conservative call-in shows primarily. Because racial and ethnic minorities (1/3 the population) own just 7.7% commercial stations, women even less (6%), that limits diverse public expression.

Is Hollywood really liberal? D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation resurrected the KKK long before The Defiant Ones, Home of the Brave, Gentlemans Agreement, Crossfire, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Whos Coming to Dinner. Opposite Frank Capras link between excessive wealth and moral decay in Its a Wonderful Life theres Ayn Rands The Fountainhead. As counterpoint to films decrying political corruption and prison brutality (I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Cool Hand Luke, Birdman of Alcatraz, Shawshank Redemption; Preston Sturges Sullivans Travels) are Dirty Harry and Death Wish glorifying law & order police violence and vigilantism.

Countless silver screen expressions of Manifest Destiny preceded Little Big Man, Soldier Blue, Dances with Wolves and Cheyenne Autumn. Strategic Air Command and Red Scare cinema provoked The Bedford Incident, Dr. Strangelove, WarGames, Failsafe and Paths of Glory. Where would we be without that progressive lighthouse?

Scott Deshefy is a biologist, ecologist, film devotee, and two-time Green Party congressional candidate.

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Coalition opposition to proof of vaccination status growing – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: at 2:48 am

I am bitterly opposed to denying people goods or a service on the grounds of whether they are vaccinated, he said.

The whole idea only invites right-wing paranoid reactions that this is all about a passport. It is not the message we need to be sending out ... we cant have traders making the calls and saying sorry we are not serving you.

Dr Laming also questioned why businesses werent giving employees who chose not to be vaccinated the opportunity to be redeployed to lower risk parts of the businesses.

Victorian Liberal MP Russell Broadbent said he had received many distressing calls from constituents who were about to lose their jobs because they choose not to accept the vaccines available.

I feel powerless in the face of government or employer directives, Mr Broadbent said.

This is wrong. This is not in keeping with the freedom I claim to stand for as an elected representative ... where are the civil libertarians that have stood in solidarity with me in the past?

Labors health spokesman Mark Butler said the opposition supported the plan, but there had to be exemptions in place for people who had genuine medical reasons not to get vaccinated.

I think the Prime Minister will have difficulty carrying his party room on that. Already there are a number of Coalition MPs who have said they will cross the floor, he told the ABC.

Coalition senators Eric Abetz, Matt Canavan, Gerard Rennick and Alex Antic have also vowed to fight any proposal, with the latter warning Australians should not be denied access to services on the basis of their willingness to undergo a medical procedure.

Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen, who has previously been condemned over suggesting lockdowns and face masks did not help in the fight against the virus, last week told Parliament thousands of Australians were marching in capital cities to protect their freedoms.

We demand that there be no more discrimination between vaccinated and unvaccinated Australians. We demand that our freedoms be restored. And I demand that peaceful protesters patriotic, freedom-loving men and women never be fired upon in this country ever again.

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Coalition opposition to proof of vaccination status growing - Sydney Morning Herald

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PROFILE: Liberals’ Wilson relying heavily on social media in Barrie-Innisfil – BarrieToday

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'This is part of what this whole campaign is about, is for the Barrie and Innisfil residents to voice their concerns,' says Liberal candidate

Editor's note: BarrieTodayisprofilingfederal candidates in the Barrie-Innisfil andBarrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonteridings.Today we feature Lisa-Marie Wilson, the Liberal candidate in Barrie-Innisfil.For more coverage of the upcoming federal election, visit our Canada Votes 2021 page. *************************

Lisa-Marie Wilson doesnt expect to run the same kind of campaign as she did during the last federal election campaign when she was also the Liberal candidate for Barrie-Innisfil. But since the onset of the pandemic nearly two years ago, nothings been normal anyway.

The probation and parole officer and public school board trustee underwent unexpected surgery Aug. 9 to remove her left kidney where a cancerous tumour was located. Just six days later, Liberal leaderJustin Trudeau dropped the writ declaring a federal election for Sept. 20.

The past one-and-and-half, two years a lot of people have faced adversity, said Wilson, who is on a leave of absence from the Ontario Public Service through the campaign. Im not alone in having my own challenges.

I wasnt anticipating that I would be facing my own health issues.

But, she insists that more reliance on the virtual approach and less upon the face-to-face meetings wont put her behind the 8-ball.

Wilson requires no further treatment, although she is in recovery mode. So she doesnt expect to be banging on a lot of doors, at least in the early stages of the campaign. Instead, she will rely more on social media, phone calls and other alternative methods of getting her message out.

While some might see the timing of the election as bad, Wilson saysthe experience has given her more of a purpose and a goal to push the Liberal agenda.

This is part of what this whole campaign is about, is for the Barrie and Innisfil residents to voice their concerns, she said.

Wilson, 49, is a mom of two grown children who works in probation and parole. From that perspective, she said shes experienced first-hand many of the major issues facing local residents.

She sees thebattle with controlling and stopping the spread of COVID-19 as an ongoing concern. She also points to the economy, affordability and protection of seniors arising from the pandemic along with climate change as important issues.

Locally, she saysthe opioidcrisis and affordable housing need attention.

Although there have been calls locally and nationally to legalize and regulate non-medical use of drugs to reduce the ever-growing number of fatal overdoses, Wilson didnt share her opinion on legalization. Instead, she saystheres a need for supervisedconsumption sites (SCSs) and pointed to new federal funding for substance abuse and addictions proms.

I have seen, first-hand, how this crisis impacts communities and families, she said, referring to her background in probation and parole. I know personally how tragic it is and how we really do need to find ways to support them.

Housing, the lack of it and the need for more reasonably priced places for people to live is also in Wilsons scope. She points to a dire need to increase the local housing supply.

My role is going to continue to be an advocate and a voice for this crisis, she said, pointing to the areas continuing changing landscape.

Wilson said shes not afraid to speak up and advocate for people, ask the uncomfortable questions and keep the government accountable, which she said is an extension of her work.

Wilson moved to the area in 1993 from Toronto and says shes seen incredible changes in the intervening decades. In addition to the ongoing growth, the community has also become more diverse. Issues involving Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ are often now in the forefront and Wilson would like to see the discussions continue.

For me that coincides with being a representative in Ottawa. I want to be able to voice these concerns, said Wilson.

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PROFILE: Liberals' Wilson relying heavily on social media in Barrie-Innisfil - BarrieToday

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