Where do we draw the line?

by Aaron Wherry

Kris Kotarski makes an important observation: what Vic Toews said last Monday wasn’t without precedent.

On Nov. 15, 2011, Toews responded to a parliamentary question by saying, “I would call on the Liberals to finally stop putting the rights of child pornographers and organized crime ahead of the rights of law-abiding citizens.” So, the Liberals were siding with child pornographers.

On Feb. 2, 2012, Toews told Parliament that “Rather than making things easier for child pornographers, I call on the NDP to listen to the police, listen to the provinces, and support these balanced measures that protect law-abiding Canadians and their children.” So, the NDP were enabling child pornographers.

Just in case anyone missed that, on Feb. 3, 2012, Toews tweeted that “Lawful access will aid child porn investigations. I call on the NDP to stop making things easier for predators and support these measures.”

As I wrote last Tuesday, I don’t think anything we’ve heard over the last month or so has been beyond the rhetorical parameters of the last four years. And in that regard, having had a front row seat for such stuff, it’s been interesting to watch Mr. Toews’ sentence become such a problem for him and his government. I suspect that owes a lot to the legislation involved: online surveillance is much more tangible to the average Canadian than say justice policy or war, so the slur is more easily transferred beyond Mr. Toews’ partisan opponents. The Prime Minister can say Stephane Dion sympathizes with the Taliban, for instance, without great swaths of the public feeling insulted. But when the Public Safety Minister says anyone who has doubts about the government’s pursuit of online surveillance stands with child pornographers, a sizeable number of people are going to feel insulted.

Maybe there’s also something more tangible about the evil invoked as well. Maybe suggesting someone sides with a foreign enemy seems almost cartoonish. I suppose the Internet’s great ability to churn out reaction and draw attention also elevated Mr. Toews’ attack. But it still seems to me to be nothing more than an extension of everything else that has been said these last four years. I’m not sure, in the moment, I heard it as something above and beyond what I’d already heard. And, for that matter, I’d be interested to know whether anyone on the government side (or even the opposition side) immediately knew that a previously uncrossed line had been breached.

I’d note that no one stood after QP on the day of Mr. Toews’ remark to raise a complaint. Not until a full day later did someone stand and demand that Mr. Toews apologize (and in that case it wasn’t even the MP at whom the minister had directed his remark).

Two days after Mr. Toews’ comment, Conservative MP Shelly Glover stood and ventured that the NDP was “anti-Canada.” When Liberal MP Denis Coderre demanded she apologize, Ms. Glover declined and, in fact, declared that she stood by her comment. A quick search of Google News seems to show no reporting of this.

Where do we draw the line?

    • If that were actually proposed, it would be amusing how fast he’d start clinging to the dreaded Charter.

  1. Conservatives try to demonize their opponents of the Crime Bill or the Internet Bill or Afghanistan by insinuating that these opponents are sympathizing with the criminal and not with the victims.

    Liberals try to demonize their opponents in the government by insinuating that Conservatives are going to prevent homosexuals from getting legally married, are going to prevent women from getting an abortion,are going to send the police into homes to check your computer, and worst of all are going to force Justin Trudeau to become a separatist.

    Conservatives will win the PR war here. Their insinuations are closer to the truth.

    • It’s our country and it ain’t a war. What is it with the Con pompom crew that fails to recognize this? As an aside, Ellen, when you meet with the PM today, please remind him that he is the PM of Canada, not East Germany.

      • Those in the know in the Liberal Party disagree with you. For them it is a PR war. they know the only way back to power is through Quebec. They must somehow convince those lost souls who sent those misplaced 59 NDP to Ottawa to swing over to the new enlightened Liberal Party. It is the only beachhead left for the Liberals. It is a war for them. They are desperate. Why else would they have Justin frothing and foaming the separatist theme?

        • I don’t know what the Liberal party believes as I have no affiliation with them or any other party. You seem to have the inside track — but as a Canadian, I do not agree with the war analogies that seem to fall so glibly from Our Glorious Leader’s lips. I guess I immune to the effects of the koolaid. Have fun plotting strategy from the PMO war room. 

          • My only affiliation with the Conservative Party is that I will vote for them and encourage others to do likewise because I believe they are the best of the lot at this moment.
            I think the NDP is a joke and the Liberals need a few more years to get themselves together before they should even be considered.You do realize that you make it easier for Harper to remain PM by drifting along the sidelines, just firing meaningless shots at him.

          • Small wonder you believe that the Conservatives are the best lot at the moment if you can be made to believe that the opposition side with pedophiles and terrorists!

          • That’s a pretty sorry recommendation — sorry, but I’d rather be lumped in with the “child pornographers” and the “Taliban Jacks” than to give up my soul for Harper and his evangelical minions.

    • You forgot to add that the Cons have God on their side – that is what you believe in, isn’t it?

  2. Politics is one thing…you can say lots of things about political opponents and be safe …but when you start accusing them of criminal matters or treason you’ve crossed the line.

    • Emily today:  “…you can say lots of things about political opponents and be safe …but when you start accusing them of criminal matters or treason you’ve crossed the line.”

      Emily yesterday:  “….yup, christian SOP…bomb, invade, hack to bits….anybody, anywhere.”

      • Boy, you sure love straw men!

        Now you’re even trying to make a connection that doesn’t exist.

        You can call your neighbour an idiot, and it’s not a problem.

        Tell people your neighbour is stealing from his employer, and if you can’t prove it, he’ll sue your sox off.

        See, this is local Canadian law.

        However ‘christian’ nations regularly go to war….and war is brutal.

        And see, this is history….it’s also current.

        Now try and hold 2 thoughts in your mind at the same time.

        • Right! Or tell people that it’s christians’ standard behaviour to hack and maim anyone anywhere, and that’s totally kewl. I mean, obviously one can’t be expected not to smear the right.

          • I guess you’ve missed Iraq and Afghanistan eh?

            And only people like you would think it’s ‘kewl’

            And stop mixing up your politics and your religion…it’s muddle-headed and leads you to stupid conclusions. The right smears itself doing this kind of thing.

  3. I don’t have problems with people’s language, it is actions that are more worrisome. Being right wing in Canada means I get called Nazi, Hitler, fascist, sexist, homophobic, racist … etc. on regular basis and no Liberals ever seem all that concerned about their language. Liberals and their schoolmarm tendencies seem to enjoy critiquing people’s language except their own, I wonder why that is? 

    Why does Toews dislike pornographers? Canadian State murders 100,000 babies a year and allows pedophiles to roam free unencumbered to continue their wicked ways, and that’s acceptable, but we are supposed to be concerned about pornographers. Once the State stops killing children and allowing them to be raped, I will believe pols/bureaucrats have young people’s welfare in mind. 

    Maclean’s ~ Paradise For Pedophiles:

    “…. further illustrates a point many pedophiles themselves admit: far more than any other city in North America, Montreal is a good place to live if you happen to be attracted to children.”

    Abortion In Canada:

    Statistics Canada tables show a recorded total of 2,822,293 abortions between 1969 and 2005. Assuming an annual average of 100,000 abortions for 2006 and 2007 (and recognizing that reported numbers since 2000 reflect about 90 percent of abortions) the total number of abortions is more than three million

    • You complain about being called nasty names, and go on to call all of us murderers…

      • Or Taliban Jacks or child pornographers of as Larry Miller said, Hitler.

        • And they tell us we’re the haters.  I see Santorum is comparing Obama to Hitler, seems to be the new conservative strategy. 

  4. The attitude on the part of the Conservatives demonstrated by these remarks leads to the question “will the government use the powers they will have after this legislation to identify and target “enemies” who post negative comments about them on the internet?”  Will they be able to resist the temptation during an election “war”?

    • Toews equates opposition to the law with support for p0rn.  Meanwhile, you equate support for the law with support for political witch-hunting.  Are you two related?

        • I see. So it would have been totally ok then if Toews had just asked, in a gently musing manner, whether the Opposition intended to start downloading child p0rn if the bill is defeated.

          • ok, nope. Sadly for Toews, it would have been slightly better.

          • So, the opposition has a history of downloading child porn?
             Can you not comprehend the difference between the logical fallacy – you oppose this legislation therefore you support child pornography – and a concern that Conservatives might abuse their access to information given they’ve done so in the past?

  5. Vic Toews was wrong, and should apologize.  It is obviously a smear to equate opposition to this law with support for those the law ostensibly targets.  It is also a sign of weakness.

    Similarly, it is both a smear and a sign of weakness whenever anyone equates opposition to gay marriage with hatred of gays, opposition to abortion with misogyny, opposition to hate-crimes laws with bigotry, opposition to climate change legislation with opposition to science, and campaigning against a liberal party as “voter suppression tactics”.

    • Or shorter: Generalization Bad.

      Gotcha.

      • More like: Distortion Bad.

        But obviously we disagree.

        • No, it’s not distortion. The people the law targets will probably object to it. It’s the generalization of it to everyone else that’s a problem.  Just like some people do oppose gay marriage because they hate gays, some people oppose abortion because they’re misogynistic, some people oppose hate-crime laws because they are bigots, and so on.

          Although.. you’re right about opposition to climate change, it’s a distortion to say that that’s opposition to science.. more ignorance of it.

          • Well on the first one, if you add ignorance to homophobia, you’ve covered pretty much every argument against gay marriage I’ve come across.

            (NOT an invitation for posters to spew forth on the same old reasons they oppose gay marriage.  Uninterested).

          • There are some who believe that marriage has a definition imposed by God, and if we adjust that definition, we act against Her.

            I’m not sure if you can call that ignorance or homophobia. Personally, I call it proof that the God these people believe in is an ass.

          • I guess that is in part a strong point.  But I would say if they take the extra step to say that the law of Canada must represent their religious beliefs, then it’s a form of ignorance about how our society works.

            To take it further, I guess if someone were to be like “I am personally against gay marriage but I understand why we must offer it in a state which offers equality under the law”, I would commend them for putting their homophobia aside for the greater good. 

    • You really don’t know what similarly means.

      • It probably means that which is similar.
        If Toews was wrong and should apologize, then there are likely similar situations where some on the other side should also admit they were wrong and should apologize.

        Think Justin Trudeau who while trolling for votes in Quebec falsely suggests that the Conservative government is going to take away the right of women to abortion and gays to marriage and then claims that false suggestion is sufficient reason to break up the country.

        • DO stop lying.

        • He didn’t say — you’re just making that up because that’s what you want to believe. That doesn’t make it true.

          • So what exactly did Justin say?

          • HIs radio interview, the transcript and his scrum are right on this site.

          • I’m not sure you actually care. I can see from your history on this site that you pretty well mangle the words of anyone who isn’t a card-carrying CPC member.

          • Justin said that two of the reasons why he thinks that Quebec should separate is because he thinks the gov`t may endanger abortion and gay marriage rights.

            None of you can show me he did not say that. Therefore you must believe he said that.

          • For F’s sake: “I always say, if at a certain point, I believe that Canada was really
            the Canada of Stephen Harper – that we were going against abortion, and
            we were going against gay marriage and we were going backwards in 10,000
            different ways – maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a
            country.”

            Did he say any of “the Conservative government is going to take away the right of women to
            abortion and gays to marriage and then claims that false suggestion is
            sufficient reason to break up the country.” ?

            An emphatic NO! You’re reading something into his words that clearly isn’t there. Now please quit being obtuse.

          • You are absolutely right.

             He did not say that the Harper gov`t was against those rights. It appears that he said that if  HE  believed they were against those rights then Justin would join in with the Separatists.He should admit he was wrong and apologize.

          • I am always amazed at how fussed Cons get about Justin Trudeau. I just can’t see what the threat is.

          • I am always amazed at how Libs get fussed about Vic Toews. I just can`t see what the threat is.

          • The National Post called for Toews resignation today,  dear.

        • More to the point you should admit that you were wrong and apologize but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. So, Wherry, you’ve noticed that all of these ridiculous controversies widely ignored by ordinary Canadians are in fact just partisan political grandstanding that is enabled by the media.

    Yes, there’s no doubt that the government haters have all jumped on board the Toews-hating bandwagon, and they’re riding it as far as it will take them. They used to reserve these tactics for Harper, but these days he’s been bullet-proof, so they resort to taking down whomever appears the weakest at a given moment, and they’ve decided that it’s Toews.

    It doesn’t seem to matter that all of these games got them nowhere in the last election.  They keep on beating those dead horses.  In a way, it’s simply a measure of the modern Canadian left.

    • Why yes, poor Toews was just innocently wandering along beside Harper…. minding his own business, when the evil Libs for gawd knows what reason, attacked him.

      Ordinary Canadians of course ignored the whole thing, apathetic as they are

      The fact that Libs have governed for 70% of Canadian history means the media and the public will overlook anything they do anyway.

      What??

      • I don’t even think he believed that b.s.  lol

      • Emily, you do realize you live in a bubble of your own making, do you not? Come out for some sunshine once in a while. You don’t even know who is the official opposition – did you miss the last election?

        • I’m not the one living in a bubble dear….I’m not a member of any political party, and I follow no ideology.

          • You follow no ideology? Is that so? Coulda fooled me. There’s certainly one there. It tends to be incoherent and illogical – which is certainly indicative of an underlying ideology.

    • “controversies … are … just partisan political grandstanding … enabled by the media.”

      That’s like blaming the roads for air pollution.

      • LOL I agree!

      • Is that so? When you look at asphalt, you think about politics? What else does the road remind you of? Procreation? The big bang? How about world peace?

          • I’m not funny at all. I’m trying to figure out your priceless one-line witty retorts.

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