Canada has lost its mind.
Precisely, most of Ottawa’s official departments have abandoned the remnants of its already questionable faculties. A fake scandal created by scoop-hungry journalists and hyperbole-addicted politicians—is there another kind? – gripping the capital like a drug-resistant psychosis.
These whiny journalists and politicians have been reduced to — figuratively speaking — cruising newsrooms and parliaments in a state of weakened critical thinking, holding signs saying: The end of democracy is near.
Little by little, they say, Chinese agents and their proxies are stealthily eating away at the fragile foundations that underpin Canadian democracy.
Standing between apocalypse and possible redemption are patriots working inside Canada’s always law-abiding spy agency, apparently chanting “O Canada” at breakfast and bedtime, with their hands in permanent maple leaf tattooed hearts superior.
Discerning international readers thought it was a slightly exaggerated depiction of the hysteria that paralyzed the once-quiet city for months. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are quite a few jittery people in public office checking under their desks to see if there’s a fifth columnist lurking there who’s compromised with Beijing.
I live in Toronto. So, luckily, I’ve been able to avoid succumbing to the madness caused by the “yellow peril”. Still, I have had more experience with it, having appeared as a witness three times in the past few weeks before two House of Commons committees investigating Chinese influence campaigns.
Given my longstanding coverage of Canada’s brash security services and China’s influence efforts, I reluctantly agreed to join the meeting via Zoom, hoping my testimony would stem the widespread panic and rampant McCarthyite accusations of poisoning Ottawa.
I was wrong.
I leave with the conviction that China is less of a threat to Canadian democracy than the sad, bland MPs I’ve encountered – with one exception – who claim to defend once-so-fragile institutions that are now allegedly under siege.
My general information is not registered. While I agree that Chinese interference is troublesome, a witch hunt-like wave has infected lawmakers and journalists intent on “exposing” so-called “seditious” Canadians, reminiscent of the shameful purge of public servants generations ago. Their left-wing politics and homosexuality.
It is dangerous and corrosive. People’s lives, livelihoods and reputations are being destroyed by inept spies and their grateful channels in the media and on Capitol Hill.
In fact, I’ve been alternately bewildered and disgusted as I watch a string of MPs belittle themselves and the country they’re supposed to represent in search of “trap” moments that might attract brief attention from journalists or endorsement from their party leaders. More interested in stoking fear and speculation than in encouraging sobriety and truth.
Members of the opposition Conservatives, the separatist Bloc Quebec (BQ) and the disguised Socialist New Democrats (NDP) of Canada have excelled in this unfortunate aspect.
There is no doubt that Conservative MPs have channeled every unpleasant aspect of Pierre Poilievre, the gimmick, smug demagogue of a leader who believes anger and ignorance are necessary prerequisites for becoming prime minister.
Each of these fanatical partisans seeks to discredit the other in order to curry favor with a weak politician, making former Conservative leader Stephen Harper, like Borg, almost moderate in comparison.
The ugly thing happened when a Conservative MP asked an eyewitness and publisher of China-hating pamphlets whether former Canadian Governor-General David Johnston was a member of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “based on his relationship with China.” “elite captives” of relations”.
Unsurprisingly, the conspiracy theorists forgot that Johnston was named Canada’s nominal head of state by Harper in 2010.
Oh, it’s Okay.
Regardless, the witness said Johnston was certainly an “elite captive” because “during his 40-year career [Johnston] Positive leaning toward China and the People’s Republic of China. “
It’s a shameful question and answer, and here’s what I say. BTW, the regretful exchange somehow suggests that the email address for the Conservatives these days should be: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johnston has become a ferocious target for the Conservative Party since he was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “special rapporteur” to investigate a series of selective leaks about Chinese interference in Canadian politics and the last two elections.
In an interim report, Johnston found that Chinese influence campaigns had no effect on these elections, that media reports of the extent and nature of such interference were exaggerated or “false,” and that, as a sinister by-product, loyal Canadians are being accused of disloyalty.
None of that matters, such is the disfiguring intensity of the hostility at the hearing against a respectable man who has served Canada in various important capacities.
Meanwhile, the separatist BQ is so busy bowing to the “expertise” of a few spies-turned-scouts that it forgets that not long ago the same security service set fire to a barn where the separatists were planning to meet. Or that security services were responsible for at least 400 break-ins in Quebec (including the offices of separatist news organizations), and they stole the membership lists of the separatist party Quebec.
BQ’s amnesia is as dull as its naivety.
Meanwhile, a delusional member of Canada’s pretend Socialist New Democratic Party allowed the two spies to claim — without any words of rebuttal — that the highly secretive and accountability-hungry agency they worked for was committed to openness, transparency and the rule of law.
I had to resist the urge to laugh.
Unbeknownst to the criminally ill-prepared NDP MP, a string of federal court judges in the recent past have blasted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for withholding information from the courts, lying and often breaking the law.
If the derelict lawmaker had done a little research, she would have discovered that in July 2020, Justice Patrick Gleeson rebuked CSIS for “institutional disregard — or at least an arrogance” of Attitude – The duty of candor and impartiality “regret the rule of law”.
Examples of CSIS shenanigans abound. In order to deport a Canadian suspected of being a “terrorist” in 2009, the spy service not only lied to the judge who was deciding the man’s fate, but also withheld information about his innocence. In 2016, another irate federal court judge slammed CSIS for failing to disclose over a decade of illegal collection and storage of metadata unrelated to a national security investigation involving dozens of unsuspecting Canadians.
Eager NDP lawmakers recalled nothing. Like her flippant, biting leader Jagmeet Singh, she succumbs to hysteria rather than making intelligent efforts to stamp it out.
Only Ontario NDP MP Matthew Green impressed me with the gravitas with which he handled this delicate document with the calm and intelligence required.
I should have followed my instincts and stayed away from Ottawa and most of the bland politicians who live there.
In case I get another email inviting me to a committee meeting after this column is published, I’ll hit the delete button.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.