Barbara Kay: Canada’s quiet, reassuring election
Alongside Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump, British Labour Leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn (above) shows how we should be thankful for the boringness of Canadian elections.
Normally a federal election would claim the undivided portion of the attention I allot to politics. But this time, with more fascinating political campaigns in progress abroad, I find myself distracted from our own, which seems dull by comparison. I hasten to add that by “dull” I mean normal and orderly, while by “fascinating” I mean weird, threatening and an ominous reflection on democracy.
Sure, Stephen Harper is a control freak, Justin Trudeau is preternaturally naive and Thomas Mulcair is a Quebec-Canada shape-shifter. But none of them are actually creepy (except to folks with Harper Derangement Syndrome, who are basically conspiracy theorists; you can’t talk to them). And while the Duffy scandal demonstrates a lack of transparency at the top, no Canadian diplomats in the Middle East have died because of it, as U.S. diplomats did in Benghazi.
In the U.S., the front-runners for both parties are indeed creepy. Hillary Clinton, a secretive, power-obsessed, money-grubbing entitlement queen, and under FBI investigation for an egregious abuse of communications protocol during her tenure as Secretary of State, is rightly considered by the American populace — via a published word cloud — as a “liar,” “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.” Her polls are tanking, and her outlier Democratic rival, communist Bernie Sanders, is actually gaining ground.
Hm, let’s see: serial liar, communist or — on the right — buffoon Donald Trump? Trump’s 15 minutes are supposed to be over, but in head-to-head survey matchups, the buffoon is besting the liar, the communist and the plagiarist (vice-president Joe Biden, who may or may not run).
But for true creepiness in a candidate who has garnered a groundswell of support, we must look across the pond to the United Kingdom’s Jeremy Corbyn, poised to win leadership of the Labour Party on Sept. 12. The 66-year old Corbyn is so far left he makes Bernie Sanders look like Margaret Thatcher. Just a few months ago he was written off by bookmakers as a 100-1 shot. But the youth wing of the party loves him. They may well propel this dreadful useful idiot, who thinks Putin was goaded into invading Ukraine and who admired Hugo Chavez’s tyranny in Venezuela, to the helm of the party.
Corbyn is worse than a mere hard-line leftist, though. If he were merely promoting the state ownership of utilities and draconian taxes on corporations and Britain’s withdrawal from NATO, he would still be this side of political normalcy. But it’s far worse than that. He has “friends” — his word — in Hamas and Hezbollah. He sees a moral equivalence between the “rather shadowy leadership of ISIS” with the “more open and obvious leadership of the U.S.A. and the West.” He will not condemn IRA atrocities.
Hillary, Trump and Corbyn — three reasons there’s something to be said for boring political campaigns
Most disturbingly, Corbyn has been linked with substantial evidence to the world’s oldest hatred. Paul Eisen, notorious Holocaust denier and fan of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, has boasted that Corbyn has attended “every single” annual event put on by his anti-Semitic (not just anti-Israel) group, Deir Yassin Remembered. This group is so in thrall to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — a member of its advisory board argued that Jews were guilty of kidnapping Christian children and drinking their blood — that in 2007 it was disowned by the mainstream Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, which stated, “You cannot oppose racism against the Palestinians and turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism.”
When asked the source of his appeal, young Corbyn supporters speak of his “authenticity” or the fact that he has a “clear message with no mixed messaging.” Sound familiar? The same tropes are often used to explain the appeal of Donald Trump (and as well recall supporters of trainwreck Toronto mayor, Rob Ford). One blogger wrote: “I do love how [Corbyn] looks to be the opposite of all the other steam-cleaned, focus-grouped, robotic politicians who don’t ever seem to have a useful thought in their heads.”
Steam-cleaned? Maybe the others are that. But what “useful thought” is non-steam-cleaned Corbyn offering that is compelling enough to offset the filth that clings to him? Or is it that leftist U.K. youth, presumably raised as all youth in the West are with a reflexive horror of racism, homophobia and Islamophobia, don’t even register anti-Semitism as a negative trait in a politician?
U.K. pundits say Corbyn wouldn’t last long in the leadership, but that’s not the point. He shouldn’t have gotten to within a mile of his particular racetrack. Nor should Trump have to his. And Hillary shouldn’t have made it to her opening gate. It’s nice, I must say, to return my gaze to Canada — and, in spite of a few clumps of flying dirt, an honest horse race.