As the Wet’suwet’en resistance and the solidarity protests and blockades carry on, yesterday, a group of vigilantes attacked a solidarity protests on a rail line near Acheson, Alberta. Around noon on Wednesday, they massed and attacked the blockade, throwing the parts of it that were movable into the back of a pick up truck. Violence was avoided, as the original protesters didn’t escalate the situation.
This was seized on by Peter MacKay, a former Conservative Minister of Justice (2013-2015) who is running to replace Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party following their humiliating defeat in the 2019 federal election. In a video posted on Twitter, MacKay put his tinfoil hat on and criticized Justin Trudeau for having ‘United Nations aspirations,’ which he then uses to attack Trudeau for ‘travelling the world, handing out your money (I presume he means taxpayers’ money) to buy a seat on the United Nations Security Council.’ Well, no, Trudeau has been in Ottawa dealing with this, but facts have never really concerned the Conservative Party of Canada. He took aim at the Prime Minister, who has refused the idea of using force against the protesters. claiming that ‘Dialogue is now an excuse for inaction and capitulation is not an option.’ But this allows MacKay to show his cards plainly, arguing we need a Prime Minister who will ‘not allow our economy to be highjacked by a small gang of professional protesters and thugs.’
We can’t allow our economy to be hijacked by a small gang of professional protesters and thugs.
— Peter MacKay (@PeterMacKay) February 18, 2020
This is just more of the same of a morally and ideologically bankrupt political party. As leader, Scheer has been obsessed with Justin Trudeau, to the point where his campaign platform last year was mostly empty, it simply boiled down to ‘Justin Trudeau is Satan.’ And the clown parade lining up to replace him seems to have missed the memo that the Conservatives lost a winnable election last year because of their unending negativity and lack of a platform by continuing to obsess over Trudeau.
And then there’s his actual language, dismissing the protesters as ‘professionals’ and the indigenous as ‘thugs.’ This is ancient conservative rhetoric, any protester in their eyes must be a professional. And then there’s the use of the term ‘thug.’ That is a coded word, used by American conservatives to dismiss African Americans. And here is MacKay continuing the Americanization of Canada.
But it got worse. MacKay re-tweeted a news report of the Alberta vigilante action, with comments where he endorses vigilante action.
He has since deleted the tweet.
So let me sum up here. A former Conservative Party cabinet member running to lead the party yesterday referred to indigenous protesters as ‘thugs’ in coded, racist language. He repeated the ancient conservative shibboleth that anyone who protests must be paid. He criticized the Prime Minister of Canada for doing his job in meeting with foreign leaders, even some pretty odious ones, which is the same thing Stephen Harper, the PM under whom MacKay served, did. But then, Peter MacKay, who seeks to be Prime Minister himself, literally called for vigilante justice.
The race to the bottom continues for the Conservative Party of Canada. And then there’s MacKay.
That is a very dangerous and slippery slope, as it leads to extra legal activity and could very well spark the kinds of violence Canada does not need. Peter MacKay needs to not only apologize, he needs to resign from the CPC leadership race, and he needs to return to private life. There is no place in public life in Canada for a politician who calls for vigilante justice. Period.