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Canada has nothing to learn from Donald Trump’s America

Canadians on the right and the left are now aping American political tactics. It’s a toxic mess that offers this country nothing.


 
President Barack Obama speaks during the ceremonial swearing-in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (Scott Andrews/AP/CP)

President Barack Obama speaks during the ceremonial swearing-in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (Scott Andrews/AP/CP)

If there is one thing Canadians should notice about the garish and morbidly fascinating carnival unfolding around Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in Washington, with its parades, protests, pomp and pathos, it’s that all the rhetoric and the remedies competing for dominance in American political culture will be brought into sharp relief, and there’s nothing in any of it that’s of any use to Canada.

America is choking on its own vomit. While Bikers for Trump rednecks mingle angrily with hoodie-clad DisruptJ20 sloganeers along Pennsylvania Avenue, Canada is beginning a year of celebration and national reflection on the 150th anniversary of the British North America Act, and the prospects for Canada in the 21st century. Still, at this weird juncture in the dramatically different trajectories our two countries have taken, the last thing Canadians should do is retreat into the boring delusion that we are somehow better than Americans. We’re not. We’re just different, and we’ve been lucky. Canada is a thinly populated, uniquely decentralized federal nation state, a bilingual, multicultural, constitutional monarchy. Somehow, as liberal democracies go these days, we’re muddling through.

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We remain burdened by our own vexing dysfunctions. Most are of our own making. Some we’ve inherited from the earliest days of Confederation, not least the persistent estrangement in the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Rates of suicide, alcoholism, spousal abuse and drug addiction are no better among Canada’s Aboriginals than among African-Americans, and poverty, incarceration and school dropout rates are far worse.

But these conditions are our own, and whatever Canada’s ailments, they won’t be responsive to experimental treatment by any of the competing American elixirs and therapies that have each failed so miserably to rid the United States of its own maladies.

Even so, within the Conservative Party of Canada there are people who imagine that Trump’s example might be mimicked by inviting Kevin “Hail King Trump” O’Leary back up from Boston or New York or Los Angeles or wherever the reality-television capitalist has been living lately, to lead a Conservative charge to retake the Prime Minister’s Office. O’Leary has dug a vein so deep into lowbrow populism that he’s struck on the idea of selling Senate seats, for perhaps $200,000 each. Even in his most craven moments, Trump himself hasn’t sunk that low. The Trump-admiring Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch has also been helpfully candid in letting it be known that her xenophobic dog-whistling run for the Conservative top job is more important to her than the dire implications an unhinged American President presents for Canada’s trade-reliant economy and our national security.

Greenpeace added nothing to any Canadian conversation last week when it chartered a helicopter for yet another American celebrity ritual, this time with hippie-epoch Hollywood activist Jane Fonda. Even if the Trump administration fully abdicates from Barack Obama’s greenhouse-gas reduction commitments at the 2015 Paris climate summit, the most daunting policy challenge confronting Canada will remain a necessary long-term transition away from the country’s carbon-based energy economy. The thing to quarrel about is how to do it with the least economic disruption and the least damage to communities directly dependent upon the extraction of fossil fuels.

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Flying Jane Fonda over the oil sands in a chartered helicopter so she can convene a press conference to explain to Canadians how upsetting it all was for her is a decrepit form of celebrity stage management that doesn’t even work anymore in the United States, with its divisive and deadlocked arguments between camps conventionally occupied by Democrats and “liberals” in one corner and by Republicans and “conservatives” in the other. Things have degenerated to the point that Fox News rightist Sean Hannity and fugitive counterculture-left icon Julian Assange are on the same side. The Trump-supporting white nationalist “alt-right” competes with the Kremlin apologists of the “anti-imperialist left” for the affections of Russian kleptocrat-in-chief Vladimir Putin, who is believed by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies to have employed disinformation and strategic hacking to help Trump win at the polls last November.

There is nothing for Canada to emulate in any of this. The American culture wars carry on in Congress committees, on university campuses and on cable television, sucking the oxygen out of every forum that might otherwise make some progress in unravelling the distinctly American tangles of race, class, gun violence, gender equality, poverty and a notoriously primitive public health system.

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After eight years with an African-American in the White House, American voters are as pessimistic now about race relations as they were during the riots following the Rodney King verdict a quarter of a century ago. It’s been four years since the Black Lives Matter movement arose in anger over police shootings, and a Monmouth University poll last summer reported that 51 per cent of African-Americans say the movement has had no noticeable impact on American life. One in five African-Americans say it has made matters worse.

After crossing the border into Canada, Black Lives Matter activism has become best known for targeting Pride parades in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver with demands for the elimination of any official police participation in marches, parades and community spaces. This follows the pattern begun in Chicago and San Francisco. It’s an American thing. It is not helping.

In cities across Canada this weekend there will be copycat replications of Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Best of luck to the marchers, but Canada’s capital city is not Washington, where Friday’s inauguration is expected to bleed into weekend shouting matches and fancy-dress balls and exhibitions of fashionable intersectionality and louche vulgarity in equal measure. Country singer Toby Keith will serenade Trump’s crowd. The Indigo Girls will sing for the other crowd. The District of Columbia Homeland Security office reckons at least 800,000 people will pour through Washington over three days of various inauguration freak shows and jamborees.

Canadians have nothing to learn from any of this. We would all benefit from a clean break from the whole damn thing.


 

Canada has nothing to learn from Donald Trump’s America

  1. Glavin… you’re an asshole.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Gavin exemplifies the ult-left who strongly support Trudeau as he leads us over the cliff. Gerald Butts lead Wynne to the disaster known as Ontario and he’s now the main puppeteer for Trudeau.

  2. On the whole, Americans are badly educated and full of themselves.

    Trump….a Baby Boomer….personifies that culture.

    • Emily,
      Time to get over the America hate. Like a drug, America-bashing allows too many Canadians
      to feel good, but like a drug, it wears off and you are right back to where you started.Think
      about that for a while.

      • Americans have always been idiots. You must be one of them.

        • Sorry Emily, only an idiot would make that kind of blanket statement. I’ve met many Americans only a few a whom I would characterize that way – about the same proportion of Canadians I encounter.

  3. Buy Canadian, demand Canadian products as a costumer, hire Canadians,
    send criminals to prison,
    say NO to junkie Made in India and Chins junks.

    • You obviously haven’t checked country-of-origin labels in years.

  4. Wow … nothing but rambling nonsense made up by stringing together 428 buzzwords.

    • I guess you’re not ‘old enough’ after all

    • As opposed to Trump’s rambling nonsense which is generally confined to 140 character tweets…

  5. Mr. Gavin; permit me to copy this article … it may humiliate you if I paste it here after the next Canadian election.

    • We already had Harp and he was close enough to Trump to scare everyone……so he got bounced.

      We won’t go that route again.

      • Now we have Trudeau who is not, at all, close enough to Trump, annoys nearly everyone … and’ll also get bounced.

      • BTW, Emily; There you go, speaking for all Canadians again. ;-)

        • WE have Trudeau high in the polls…..so he’s doing just fine.

          • Obama was high in the polls too and it did help his party.

      • I dislike Harper intensely, but in no way is/was he anything like Trump. Hyperbole adds nothing to the conversation.

  6. We have a lot to learn from the U. S. experience, mostly about how not to do things. Learning from the mistakes of others is preferable to repeating them.

  7. Good piece, Glavin. However, you fail to point out that the greatest problem in Washington is Washington itself. As Trump pointed out in his speech, Washington has grown fat off of unearned riches that are taken, not earned, from the American people. Regulatory and confiscatory agencies are out of control. An IRS bureaucrat, whose pay is commensurate with what only a tiny percentage of highly successful small and medium business owners might expect to earn, invokes the 5th Amendment scores of times in her testimony before Congress, thus offering proof that she was at least complicit in unspecified criminal acts against the American people, and then immediately trots off to a retirement funded by a $350k+ annual pension. The head of the EPA is seen to have conspired with activist groups to use lawfare to expand the political agenda of the agency beyond that supported by the Congress that represents the American people. Repeat ad nauseum.
    The alphabet soup of federal agencies in DC needs a thinning of the herd, and Trump at least appears to be determined to do at least that. A nation’s capital cannot be an enemy of the people’s desires to engage in free and lawful commerce.

  8. Good piece, Glavin. However, you fail to point out that the greatest problem in Washington is Washington itself. As Trump pointed out in his speech, Washington has grown fat off of unearned riches that are taken, not earned, from the American people. Regulatory and confiscatory agencies are out of control. An IRS bureaucrat, whose pay is commensurate with what only a tiny percentage of highly successful small and medium business owners might expect to earn, invokes the 5th Amendment scores of times in her testimony before Congress, thus offering proof that she was at least complicit in unspecified criminal acts against the American people, and then immediately trots off to a retirement funded by a $350k+ annual pension. The head of the EPA is seen to have conspired with activist groups to use lawfare to expand the political agenda of the agency beyond that supported by the Congress that represents the American people. Repeat ad nauseum.
    The alphabet soup of federal agencies in DC needs a thinning of the herd, and Trump at least appears to be determined to do at least that. A nation’s capital cannot be an enemy of the people’s desires to engage in free and lawful commerce.

  9. Canadians have a lot to learn about what’s going on in the US, i.e., how not to lose our democracy.

    The bulk of Americans failed Citizenship 101. They rested on the laurels gained by others. Trump won for many reasons, not the least of which, by far, is apathy.

    We can blame the press, corporations, politicians, or even named individuals, whether politicians or not, and a host of other participants, but the real blame lies with citizens who don’t deserve democracy.

    I don’t know who said it, but “democracy is not a spectator sport.” If we want to preserve our democracy, we must remain vigilantly informed (fact-check, fact-check, fact-check) and we must get involved.

    By the way, I failed Citizenship 101, too, but I’m changing that.

  10. > The American culture wars carry on in Congress committees, on university campuses and on cable television, sucking the oxygen out of every forum that might otherwise make some progress in unravelling the distinctly American tangles of race, class, gun violence, gender equality, poverty and a notoriously primitive public health system.

    That’s called a “smoke screen.” It’s used to steal desperately-needed attention from what matters to local citizens and cover the hides of those who would stand to lose the most if such attention went that way.

    > We would all benefit from a clean break from the whole damn thing.

    With the rotting carcass of a system we still have, and the Liberals’ desperate attempts to bottle the genie back up, that’s wishful thinking, and you know it.

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