As a diversion from covering the Ontario provincial election, please enjoy this special federal edition of the series of opinion columns written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.
In an interview with Sada al-Mashrek, a Montreal-based Arabic-language publication, Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopeful Patrick Brown wondered aloud about why Canada was so slow to help Palestinian refugees and so quick to help those from Ukraine.
He also pushed back against the idea of moving Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem, complained about Canada replicating Donald Trump’s position on the Middle East, and talked about having a more balanced foreign policy.
You know, the usual.
Now, despite what you may think of these comments, I’m here to tell you that Patrick Brown isn’t an antisemite. Patrick Brown doesn’t hate Israel.
I know this because to be an antisemite or to hate Israel, you must have a genuine belief that Jews and/or Israel are bad. And because Patrick Brown hasn’t a single genuine belief of any description to his name—after serving as a Member of Parliament, the ultimately overthrown leader of the Ontario PCs, and the current mayor of Brampton—he therefore cannot hate Israel or be an antisemite.
So, why is Patrick Brown this way? Because our political system is this way. You get ahead not by having inconvenient principles or beliefs. You get ahead by anticipating the things people want to hear, and saying them in an extremely preprogrammed manner. You gain their loyalty this way, and set up “relationships” where everything centres around you and the other person telling each other things you both want to hear.
For example, I once stood not 10 feet from Patrick Brown and heard him speak to an audience of Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee donors at a fundraiser. He spoke for perhaps five minutes, said the pro-Israel things he knew everyone wanted to hear, and then fell silent. He couldn’t benefit any more from speaking any more, so there was no reason to speak. Making human contact wasn’t on the agenda.
Another time, while going through ministerial correspondence, I encountered a letter from Brown—on official parliamentary letterhead—professing solidarity and offering his outrage on that mister’s behalf after Toronto Star editorial cartoonist Patrick Corrigan had depicted said minister in his usual unkind-to-anyone-who-isn’t-a-Liberal fashion.
Nobody asked for this letter, and it served no purpose other than to provide a record of how Patrick Brown had made a gesture of support, which necessitated a gesture of thanks from the minister—which Brown could later use for some yet-to-be-determined favour.
Then there was the time I was charged by a rival Progressive Conservative leadership campaign to figure out how Brown was flying around Ontario, to locations so remote that they could only be accessed by air. After a bit of digging and creating accounts here and there, I was able to connect Brown’s plane to a certain Barrie-based billionaire with a significant interest in the local Ontario Hockey League team. A worthwhile investment, to have such a close relationship to someone who was expected to be the next premier!
These are just the examples I’ve witnessed of how Brown treats people as a means to an end—and how others treat him in a similar fashion. There are countless other such relationships, and this is how we know groups like Independent Jewish Voices and individuals like labour leader Sid Ryan are praising him not because they care about any of the enormous red flags hanging about, or because they are in any way conservative, but because having a person with name recognition that appears to pander to them validates their existence in a way that nothing else could.
And now, they will offer themselves up to him, body and soul.
You may well argue that Patrick Brown displayed poor judgment by pandering to folks who do come by their Israel-hatred honestly. I would add that the poor judgment is mutual, and that the anti-Israel folks who imagine that Patrick Brown will hesitate to throw them under the bus the minute they present an obstacle to him getting what they want need only ask the Ontario PC MPPs he alienated, or the women he offended, or the social conservatives that he brushed aside, or the Bramptonians who are less than thrilled with his tenure as mayor.
And, true to form when pressed, Brown was careful to reassure everyone that his comments were misconstrued by the article. It was, of course, what he knew we’d want to hear.
Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.