The Commons: Racists, anarchists, women’s rights and ‘McCarthyite demagoguery’

Outrage is all the rage

by Aaron Wherry

A skill questionThe Scene. The House had managed just half a dozen rounds this afternoon before the Speaker was first compelled to admonish those in attendance for the noise. Two more questions after that, he was calling for order again.

It should have been obvious then that we would not get through these 45 minutes without someone being accused of McCarthyism.

About halfway through Question Period, the NDP’s Mylene Freeman stood to state her disappointment with a Conservative MP’s recent choice of committee witnesses.*

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney stood and identified the parliamentary secretary in question—Chungsen Leung—as an immigrant from Taiwan, who received a suggestion from one of his constituents, but who demanded, upon learning of the “totally inappropriate” comments of the potential witnesses, that they be removed from the witness list. Mr. Kenney also declared the current Conservative caucus to be the most ethnically diverse in history and reported that immigration levels have been kept at their highest.

It should not surprise you that the matter was not then dropped.

“Mr. Speaker, voting to take away women’s rights an hour after inviting racists to a parliamentary committee is a new low even for Conservatives,” declared the NDP’s Jinny Sims.

This new game of “Let’s See Which Disparate Subjects We Can Link For The Sake Of Denigrating Our Opponents” seems to be spreading.

There was grumbling from the government side, but Ms. Sims went on.

“The group’s website even features a prominent picture and positive statement about the Minister of Immigration. It also defends white supremacism and includes a section called ‘chinafication. ‘ Conservatives defended calling this group to committee,” she claimed. “Even a cursory look shows the group should not have been invited. How could Conservatives fail to do even basic due diligence?”

Ms. Sims wagged her finger and the New Democrats stood to cheer.

Mr. Kenney stood and attempt to outdo Ms. Sims’ outrage. ”Mr. Speaker, what a fine example of McCarthyite demagoguery from the member opposite,” he declared.

“The member for Willowdale is an immigrant to Canada from Taiwan,” he explained. “He put forward a witness at the suggestion of a constituent. The moment he found that the witness had expressed totally inappropriate views on the Internet, he condemned those views unequivocally, demanded that the witness be withdrawn, and said that if the witness came before the committee he would give them a serious condemnation of their outrageous views.”

Three sentences removed from condemning “McCarthyite demagoguery,” the Immigration Minister concluded thusly. “Let us face it,” he proposed. “This is coming from the NDP, whose members hang out with the anarchist group No One Is Illegal that says that Canada is illegal.”

Back over to Ms. Sims.

“Mr. Speaker, we did not invite racists to committee,” she testified. “We did not vote to take away a woman’s right to choose. That was the Conservatives, including the Minister for Status of Women.”

For bonus points, Ms. Sims might have also quibbled with the corporate tax rate here.

“To quote from the writings of the CIR,” she continued. ” ‘This hate on for National Socialism is completely misguided … there is nothing inherently wrong with it at all.’ Conservatives even tried to defend these witnesses. Why are they bringing racists to a parliamentary committee?”

Mr. Kenney appealed to a higher standard.

“Mr. Speaker, those comments are below the member who just said them,” he scolded. “She knows perfectly well that the member who put forward the suggested witness is an immigrant to Canada from Taiwan. Is she really making this kind of ad hominem remark against that member?”

Perhaps identifying the parliamentary secretary as an immigrant is intended to demonstrate that he couldn’t possibly agree with the views expressed by the witnesses he put forward. But it does not quite explain why they were put forward as potential witnesses (or, rather, how they nearly ended up testifying without anyone noticing the website in question).

“The moment that Conservative members learned about these outrageous views associated with this Canadian, they insisted that the person not be brought before committee and condemned unequivocally these outrageous remarks,” Mr. Kenney assured.

And speaking of ad hominem attacks.

“However,” the minister segued, “will the member deny that her predecessor, the immigration critic of the NDP, has gone to rallies for the anarchist organization called No One Is Illegal that says that Canada is illegal? That is outrageous.”

Outrage is all the rage.

The Stats. Employment insurance, nine questions. Food safety, five questions. The environment, four questions. Immigration, science, aboriginal affairs and foreign investment, three questions each. Health care and national defence, two questions each. Sports, children, forestry and abortion, one question each.

Diane Finley, nine responses. James Moore, Gerry Ritz, Jason Kenney and Gary Goodyear, four responses each. John Duncan and Michelle Rempel, three responses each. Colin Carrie, Joe Oliver and Peter MacKay, two responses each. Bob Dechert and Rona Ambrose, two responses each.

*Previous versions of this piece have included the sentence, “Freedom of speech!” Gary Goodyear called from the government side as Ms. Freeman spoke. Yesterday afternoon, I emailed Mr. Goodyear’s office to ask if his heckle was in reference to the witnesses invited to appear before the immigration committee. His director of communications responded four hours later that it was not. I immediately asked what it was in reference to. After not receiving a response last night, I emailed again this morning. I have yet to receive a response. Rising on a point of order after Question Period yesterday, the NDP’s Jinny Sims alleged that Mr. Goodyear had said “freedom of speech” while she was asking her questions. Ms. Sims repeated the allegation this morning—though, in this case, the heckle was said to be “free speech”—during statements by members.




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The Commons: Racists, anarchists, women’s rights and ‘McCarthyite demagoguery’

  1. I’m no friend of the Conservatives but even though Inviting those people to the Parliamentary Committee was an obvious screw-up did they not act appropriately in withdrawing the invitation and condeming the racist views? Isn’t that what we want them to do, NDP?

    • Agreed. I also noted that Ms. Sims didn’t even attempt to distance herself from whoever this “No One Is Illegal” group is, nor try to defend them.

      • Oh dear me. And during question period, the purpose of which is to seek information from the Governmentopposition and to call it to account for its actions?”
        Poor lil’Ricky.

      • Either that or she wasn’t taking the bait. The Harper Government has labeled most Canadians radicals, fanatics and friends of child pornographers. Since most people have stopped taking their “McCarthyite demagoguery” seriously there’s no sense in the NDP wasting their time on it.

      • Perhaps because Kenney’s allegations against No One is Illegal were silly (anarchists? looking to change government regulations? logic win?).

      • That’s because there’s no need to distance herself (or her predecessor, rather) from No One Is Illegal. They are a great organization that does great work.

        • Good to hear from someone familiar with their work. I was just doing a cursory look on their website and the Wikipedia article. They certainly appear to be a good organization fighting for a good cause.

          But then again Kenney had KAIROS killed after they effectively delivered foreign aid for 35 years. He mistakenly thought they supported the Gaza Flotilla (which they actually didn’t.) That’s when Bev Oda forged the CIDA document: it approved more foreign aid delivery; Oda scratched a “^NOT” on the document to make it appear CIDA killed the funding (when it was in her purview to kill the funding herself if she wanted to.)

          These are a bunch of crooks, con men (and women) and fanatics.

  2. ‘Outrage is all the rage.’

    Yes, and everybody is fed up with hearing it, What we need are Parliamentarians discussing the economic future of this country.

    PS…Thanks for telling us about ‘No One Is Illegal’ though, Mr Kenney….I hadn’t heard of them before.

  3. “Three sentences removed from condemning “McCarthyite demagoguery,” the
    Immigration Minister concluded thusly. “Let us face it,” he proposed.
    “This is coming from the NDP, whose members hang out with the anarchist
    group No One Is Illegal that says that Canada is illegal.”

    Actually, i’d say three sentences is quite a lot these days Aaron.

    Normally i’d take a pot shot at the NDP too [Sims deserves it] but the sight[sound] of JK expressing his aversion to ad hominems and almost immediately launching into one to defend against one is priceless. This from the guy who went up one side of JT and down the other[ and dined out on it for a week] for using a less than unequivocal word to condemn abhorrent practises. There really must be a hall of fame for outrageous hypocrisy reserved especially for gas bags like him.

    • I think you should cut him some slack – he’s running for leader of the Con party after all.

    • My bet is that No One Is Illegal was making remarks about the Harper Government and Kenney is propagandizing what they said.

      I’d certainly rather have a radical non-violent group fighting for refugees and environmental responsibility than fighting to take away a woman’s right over her own body (as many Con MPs are doing, like Kenney.)

      I never heard of No One Is Illegal before today, but here are their demands from their website:

      • An end to all deportations and detentions
      • The implementation of a full and inclusive regularization program for all non-status people
      • Access without fear to essential services for all undocumented people
      • The recognition of indigenous sovereignty
      • An end to the exploitation of temporary workers
      • An end to all imperialist wars and occupations
      • An end to the use of Security Certificates and secret trials

      • http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/

        Kenny seems to be pissing a lot of people off right now. Listen to the first cut and the astonishing part 2 interview with Dr Berger,who Kenny says is lying about a report criticizing his incompetent changes to the refugee system.
        Maybe normally conservative professional groups are beginning to realize what a bunch of incompetent idealogues these guys are?

  4. The behaviour of our elected members on both sides of this House is an embarrassment to the nation – immature, uncivil, irrelevant, and totally unproductive. Shame on all of them.

  5. “has gone to rallies for the anarchist organization called No One Is Illegal that says that Canada is illegal?”

    Kenney must be dyslexic. No One Is Illegal is an *antiracist* group, not an anarchist group:

    “No one is illegal is a loosely connected international network of antiracist groups and religious asylum initiatives, that represents non-resident immigrants who have lost their immigration documents or are otherwise at risk of deportation. The network has started a campaign and held rallies, to bring wider attention to the situation of refugees.” (Wikipedia)

    No wonder Kenney is not a fan…

    Of course the Harper neo-Cons are themselves economic anarchists (libertarians): they believe that letting the economic chips fall where they may produces the strongest economy — and if it leads to disaster or kills living standards, then that’s what must be best for society… (They take their economics like they do their religion: on blind faith…)

    • They attacked the sitting government with their positions. Therefore they are anarchists! See? Boom! Logic! (of the Con variety)

  6. Kenney should stick to posting online petitions thanking himself for being such a wonderful gas bag.

    Stand back everybody – this guy has more emissions than anyone. He looks ready to explode!

  7. As someone the Conservatives probably consider a big-R Radical (because I understand the science behind global climate change), I’d kindly ask Kenney to reconsider his faux outrage about ‘McCarthyite demagoguery’. We haven’t conspired with the RCMP to keep you out of any campaign events because of your political beliefs, Mr. Kenney. Can you or your glorious leader say the same?

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