Open Letter to Kyle Seeback re: Pierre Poilievre

September 9, 2022   ·   0 Comments

Dear Honourable Member,

It has been some weeks now since you indicated your intention to switch your support from Jean Charest to Pierre Poilievre. I read that with some chagrin – and surprise. I’m curious why.   

Pierre Poilievre has plumbed the depths of social media for baseless conspiracy theories, stirred up grievance rhetoric, and aligned himself with movements spouting hatred, racism and misogyny – the stock-in-trade of the far right, according to the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism.

His policy statements, untethered to serious economic analysis, and his cosey, uncritical relationships with people whose clearly-expressed views and wishes suggest they were not paying attention in civics class – reveal someone who is intellectually dishonest. He threatens to fire the head of the Bank of Canada and blames “Justinflation” for a phenomenon that is global in scale. Andrew Coyne, one of your own, insists there is no such thing as poilievrism: ‘He has no meaning; he is simply a mean person who says mean things.’

To present himself as our liberator, here to make us the ‘freest nation on earth’ is just, well, silly. Where are the data to support a view of Canada so low in the freedom scale? Check out the Fraser and Cato Institutes’ (beloved of the right) Freedom Index. On a list of 165 countries, based on a long list of indicators, Canada is 8th, in a statistical tie with #1 (Switzerland), with #2-7 small and far less diverse in makeup than Canada. Seriously?  I have done work around the world in conflict zones and, well, I’d like to invite him along for a trip to places where freedoms and rights we take for granted are violated every day. We have work to do yes; but even the cited-above Institutes make clear:  your freedoms can only be exercised without constraints or punishment if they do not impinge on those of another.

Instead of working on a definition of freedom that is all about being able to do and say whatever I want, no matter the consequences for others, my society, even myself ­– including vile insults and threats to working journalists and politicians ­– why not focus your energies on health, on housing? on racism? on welcoming war-, climate-change- and poverty-refugees, a new generation of workers? on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? on ensuring that everyone has a living income? what about climate? Indeed. What more does the CPC need to know about how the world is falling down around our heads before it is going to get serious about impending climate catastrophe? This is not news.  As one Indigenous leader said to a meeting of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers:  Are none of you grandparents? I recall that you distanced yourself from the climate deniers in your own party at an all-candidates’ meeting two elections back. No longer, it would seem.

There are valid grievances, without doubt; it’s a rare one of us who wouldn’t like to be heard by the powers that be. And we need better and more accessible means by which we can do that than elections separated by years of unresponsive leaders. But PP does not offer a way out; he deserves no one’s support this weekend.

Pierre Poilievre is not stupid; he knows all this. He knows what he is saying—which is why he is intellectually dishonest, depending on the support of people who are, for whatever reason, unwilling or unable to counter his nonsense.  And thus, dangerous, inciting an incivility, without which democracies cannot survive.

LeeAnn McKenna


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