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‘Trump is loud, boorish, and a bull in a china shop’: The best comments from Hub readers this week

Commentary

Hub readers this week discussed the issues of housing affordability, the federal government’s spending on EDI research, the return of the “Great Canadian Slump,” and polling on how Canadians’ are feeling about a potential second Trump presidency.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community to the fore and to foster open dialogue and the competition of differing ideas in a respectful and productive manner. Here are some of the most interesting comments from this past week.

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Housing affordability is Canada’s most pressing problem

Monday, April 1, 2024

“While the problem is most acute in a few big cities, the affordability crisis has spilled over into many other Canadian cities from Toronto, Vancouver, etc. Cities like Halifax, Hamilton, and Guelph have had their own property booms because of housing prices in the big cities.”

— Michael F

“In many ways, the zero-sum conflict is already here. The biggest age group is around 30 and are on the clock if they want to start families, and (anecdotally) they are already resenting how much their lives have been delayed both by economic forces and pandemic restrictions. It makes a huge difference, both to individual people and to a sense of generational prospects, whether a solution for people to at least be able to stably rent family-sized housing takes five years or 10. Governments are largely still acting like they have the luxury of pretending time is free. They don’t, and short-term fixes need to be at least partially about demand.”

— Valerie

The federal government is spending millions on equity, diversity, and inclusion research

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

“This article seems to be based on some diligent research about the grant-receiving researchers. The pursuit of truth starts with a question, but too often the pursuit of social justice starts with the answer. In fields in which there is very little quantitative data, there are lots of places for poor research to hide and lots of punishment for any that attempt to question it.”

Paul Attics

“Researching EDI issues is one thing and worth doing. Implementing the results of that research is also worthwhile. It’s a smaller part of the overall funding and doesn’t guarantee that the research results will be poor or invalid.”

— Elizabeth Thorne

Demonstrators march down Broadway during a rally to demand more inclusion for minorities and the disabled on April 22, 2021, in New York. Mary Altaffer/AP Photo.
Supreme Court confirms that the Charter applies to Indigenous governments—except when it doesn’t

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

“Every community, Indigenous, municipal, and local, should enjoy the right of self-government within reasonable limits. Being a whimsy-child of the province like cities are is not self-government, merely self-administration.”

— Gregory Lang

The ‘Great Canadian Slump’ is back

Thursday, April 4, 2024

“Economists seem surprisingly reluctant to admit that if their theories about how the economy is doing do not actually match people’s experience that their standard of living is declining, then they may just be measuring the wrong thing. What good is expertise that is divorced from what actually matters to people?”

— Valerie

New polling shows Canadians think another Trump presidency would deeply damage Canada

Friday, April 5, 2024

“Speculating about a potential future Trump 2.0 policy agenda is worthwhile, and such analysis should be part of the Canadian establishment response to any U.S. election cycle. But it must be done in a practical way that focuses on why are we vulnerable and what can we do about it.”

— Gord Edwards

“Trouble with Trump is it’s hard to get past his meanness, name-calling, narcissism, vengefulness—all the traits you wouldn’t want to see in your sons and daughtersto actually take a serious look at his politics. A country leader should be held to certain standards, and this, to me, automatically disqualifies Trump.”

— Solange

“Trump is loud, boorish, and a bull in a china shop. But he is also a rare protector of democracy, free speech, and free enterprise in a world becoming increasingly Orwellian.”

— Peter Byrne

Lianne Bell: Conservative elites need to quit the condescension and actually make their case

Commentary

Tucker Carlson came to Alberta recently. Filled two arenas with crowds of ordinary folks. Thousands of them. Many of my friends and family keenly queued and loved every moment of his performance. Many observers decidedly did not.

I understand. I drink my morning coffee from a “Trust but verify” mug. I bought it at the Ronald Reagan Library. My bookcase has biography after biography of the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. My old truck has a Reagan bumper sticker on it, right beside my NASCAR sticker. 

But my bumper stickers don’t properly portray popular conservative politics anymore. The Reagan one is looking a little faded. 

The people in my day-to-day life are all NASCAR sticker people. They work hard, they protect their families, and they have no time to read a Churchill biography or contemplate Aristotle. I understand them too. 

Since around the time Donald Trump won the Republican nomination there has been a split amongst the broader conservative coalition. There are the well-established, well-connected conservatives. The ones who quote Burke, who turn political theory into policy. The ones with their hands on the levers of power. And then there are the populists. Sick of institutions and structures meant to exclude them. They want their freedom. They want the government to at a minimum stay the hell out of their way and their way of life. This divide is hardly new. Or even all that interesting anymore. It’s been with us for at least eight years. 

Anyway, this reaction got me thinking: who could ever take on Tucker? 

It certainly isn’t the aforementioned conservative elite. They aren’t even trying. Listen to any commentary discussing those who support Trump. “Morons. Dumb. Embarrassing. Deranged.” It’s emotional and hate-filled. It’s hardly convincing. But I’m not sure that’s the intent. 

Elites talking down to blue-collar folk is hardly new. Dog bites man. Elite people think you’re a moron because you don’t agree with them. Yawn. It’s not worth dwelling on. 

What is, though, is where this dispositional divide finds purchase in the real world. Where, if you take the time to listen to people like Tucker, you’ll find a particularly poignant animating cause: the two major conflicts erupting across the world that the West has decided to take an interest in. 

The challenge is that the elite conservative movement supports the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel and, to their horror and the horror of the whole Western world, many in their war-weary base do not. The ruling classes writ large have failed to bring along notable shares of their own parties and the people who vote for them. They have not adequately communicated their case, and are shocked to find dissent to it. 

Why are we supporting Ukraine and Israel’s wars? This is an easy answer for those with their hands on the levers. The types who drive cars without a single bumper sticker on them. The elite conservatives have hardly found a foreign land they aren’t willing to get involved in. Their motives are perhaps pure. Furthering democracy, protecting Western civilization—there are a litany of defensible reasons.

But have we won any of these wars? What was winning ever going to look like? What exactly were we signing up for, and why? In the case of 9/11, there was a very easy answer to these questions. It barely even needed to be said aloud. But thank goodness when it was said aloud the person making the rallying cry was a plain-spoken, salt-of-the-earth president standing on a pile of rubble calling for us to come alongside and join the fight. Strong start. But now years and years later, back and forth across the Middle East, daughters’ and brothers’ lives lost, Osama dead—did we win? Was this what winning looks like?

There may not be a current ask for boots on the ground in Ukraine—particularly for Canada which has few boots to spare. But that does not negate the need for a clearly articulated rallying call. This particularly applies to the United States where the twenty-first century has been marked by large numbers of American troops in theatre in far-flung countries around the world. The groups and communities who are wary of what we might be getting into have experienced wars firsthand. They have been overseas for tour after tour. They understand the costs of war, and they understand what happens when their boots hit that ground. And they are right to ask questions.

The fact that Tucker has done a better job of communicating why these young men and women should stay home is hardly surprising. Doing nothing is a far easier case to make. The truly surprising thing is that conservatives have seemingly abandoned the debate altogether. Who is making the pitch? 

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks during a rally in Ottawa, on Sunday, March 24, 2024. Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press.

Snippy comments about Tucker or condescending demands are not going to do it. It’s time for the elite conservative class to make their case. It’s time for a dose of humility and a shot of action. Time to take off the pointy hat and go convince some hard hats. 

Take, for instance, the Conservatives here at home. Former leader Erin O’Toole says the vaccine mandates—and those pesky truckers who opposed them, no doubt—was the issue instrumental to his election loss. 

Maybe. Or maybe the country was too unkind to notice him running against the base he had just pretended to champion, right as soon as he no longer needed them. Condescension is a curious campaign strategy, and yet they keep trotting it out. 

That brings us to his successor, Pierre Poilievre. The tentative promise he represents. What does he think of foreign wars? I don’t know. But either way, he doesn’t seem afraid to make his case to the likes of me. That’s a promising start. 

For too long conservatives have been exclusive, ideologically purity-focused to the end result of navel-gazing. Quoting Friedman and Thatcher at cocktail parties while dismissing the real and valid concerns of fellow conservatives. We can all start by putting ourselves in the shoes of those whose sisters and sons who have too often been ignored, maligned, or sent off to war. We can start by communicating with clarity and compassion. We owe it to them.