Doorstep Postings: The apple doesn’t fall far from Canadians celebrating a massacre

Pierre Poilievre takes a bite out of an apple during an interview with Times Chronicle editor Don Urquhart in a video posted by the Conservative leader on Oct. 14, 2023.

This is a special edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

Strategists salivating over the prospect of running against big bad scary extremist far-right U.S.-style Tea Party politician Pierre Poilievre or any other conservative-of-record found themselves—to use their curious vernacular—“wrapped around the axle” this week as, one by one, their culture war flashpoints blew back on them due to the utterly predictable and completely self-destructive antics of their ground troops, for whom mealy-mouthedness on Gaza was the absolute last straw.

You may have gotten the sense that the Liberals would run ads making the case that Poilievre’s inability to condemn the Freedom Convoy disqualified him for consideration as prime minister. Indeed, the chillaxed attitude of this government in the face of plummeting poll numbers practically guaranteed it.

But that was before we were subject to mass protests where Jewish businesses and community centres were mobbed, and the occasional Jewish person roughed up, and cops stood around just calmly observing while the Liberal caucus put out more of their extremely helpful statements calling for ceasefires overseas with the occasional “no place for this in Canada” when things got a bit too pushy and shovey. We had no RCMP, no mass arrests, no bank accounts frozen, and no months-long inquiry where people testify that they suffered from phantom shouts of “from the river to the sea.” 

Or how about trying to argue that Poilievre is an avatar of dangerous disinformation? That can still happen, but when a critical mass of recently arrived Canadians refuse to believe the official fact checkers when it comes to whether Israel bombed a hospital, and cabinet ministers refuse to retract the implication that Israel did it, and even the PM himself appears to have been tricked, voters might ask who’s exactly zooming who on this point. 

Then you’ve got the old reliable messaging of how the conservative option are inciting folks to violence, using dangerous rhetoric, and everyone’s going to die.

Well, if you believe that, then listen to the former executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association as she swoons over hang-gliding Hamas fighters who in her mind were just getting free. And if you think this is some nobody spouting off, recall that this is the same outfit that sprung B.C. premier David Eby.

But although the party top brass are banging their heads against a wall after being foiled at every turn as per the above, their actual rank-and-file who turned out to support Palestinian resistance “without conditions” have other concerns.

Much like your average conservative shaking their fists at clouds, they’re deeply troubled about cancel culture and the new authoritarian censorship, a world you can’t even be an MPP who downplays the role of Jew-hatred in the Oct. 7 disaster or a law student who puts their name to a letter declaring that Israel is not a country these days without putting your career in jeopardy.

And if that’s not bad enough, it’s a bunch of squishy Progressives In Name Only, a bunch of centrist sheeple working for Progressive Inc., who are doing the censorship.

The worst part of all this is, as usual, the surprise, which is as fake as everything else. Of course left- and right-wing extremism are perfect mirror images of each other—and of course the centre is feckless and spineless. Of course Sarah Jama getting booted from caucus followed the exact same pattern as every other MPP who got tossed from the PCs for being insufficiently pro-lockdown, and every other elected official before them who didn’t check their brain at the door when they got elected, right down to the party keeping tabs on every time Jama didn’t say “sorry” when she bumped into someone and using that to make the case for “an unsafe working environment.” Of course Jama’s supporters tolerated every circling of the wagons, every rightward lurch, every not-fit-for-prime-time moment from the NDP up to this one, and of course their preferred solution is—drum roll please—a new and truly progressive party, where they can cry if they want to. Of course you can’t cheer when Jan. 6 people get their walking papers, pump your fist when the unvaccinated get sick, pick and choose from a buffet of conspiracy theories, and then throw a tantrum when the pendulum swings back the other way.  

Luckily for us, it’s easy to establish who has a legitimate gripe against the system and who’s a poster poser who supports the current thing when it’s easy and then expects an exception from the rules that the rest of the suckers follow when it isn’t. The real ones stand up to scrutiny and have their receipts ready; the posers sound like broken artificial intelligence.

This dynamic was illustrated quite clearly when B.C. newspaper editor Don Urquhart came at the opposition leader with some hastily strung together phrases meant to put Poilievre on the spot with respect to his Trumpiness. You’ve seen the results—a viral hit for the Conservatives, an emoji symbol in the apple he calmly munched on while being completely over this line of attack, and Urquhart turning himself into an avatar for every journalist sneering at conservatives from the safety of their desktops.  

The progressive braintrust can write Poilievre off as a sanctimonious, petulant, woman-voter-alienating dick all they like. But it’s all the same cope as those folks who keep trying to normalize attacks against Israel and the Jewish people—and who keep ending up surprised when it results in them having a bad time.

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.