It was easy enough to identify U.S. president Donald Trump as being a demagogue. He exhibited all the hallmarks while in office. He was a brash, boisterous braggard. He would not have known a truth if he tripped over it. He promised his followers any foolish thing they wanted.
The classic demagogue is Ontario premier Doug Ford. He learned about politics indirectly from his conservative father and from his younger brother in Toronto city hall. His classic promise of ‘Buck a Beer’ was demagoguery at its best. He promised change and instead gave Ontario confusion over covid-19, cronyism, confidential deals with developers and attempts to control competition.
Ford’s major problem was that he was neither as smart nor as experienced as his buddy out west, Jason Kenny, premier of Alberta. Kenney had years of experience in Ottawa behind him when he went home to ‘unite the right’ in Alberta. He understood the need to drive a pick-up truck, wear a ten-gallon hat, engage ethnic groups, stamp out competition and feed on the old shibboleths of outing Ottawa. What identified Kenney’s demagoguery was his foolish expenditures on false enemies and hoped for pipelines.
Who but a demagogue would pour more than a billion of taxpayer’ dollars into a failing pipeline that is now dead? Who else would see conspiracies in who supports organizations that care about the environment? And who would arrange for a propaganda office to fight Ottawa and environmental concerns?
And yet, we cannot leave these notes on demagoguery without considering Canada’s chief demagogue. We are dealing here with a person who has lived with privilege his entire life. His disdain for those less privileged is there for all to see. He talks environmentalism and builds a pipeline to carry the highly polluting product of Alberta’s tar sands. He talks feminism and fires women who disagree with him.
He harbours with the rich and famous, he is an elitist, he loves the stage and the adoration, he is the cuckoo in the clock at Rideau Cottage. He is the most dangerous of demagogues. He is Justin Trudeau.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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