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Michael Kempa: Downplaying the treason of MPs and senators is a betrayal of Canadian democracy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press.

This week, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) revealed downright explosive information with the release of its latest special report: that sitting Canadian MPs and senators have been “witting” beneficiaries of foreign interference in Canadian political processes.

The government’s insipid response will not protect Canadian democracy—the first order of business for any serious country.

The NSICOP report is just the latest in a stream of official reviews detailing how the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, and other ideological opponent states have surreptitiously meddled in Canadian affairs.

NSICOP confirms much of what we already knew from the timid report of “Special Rapporteur” David Johnston (May 2023) and the recent, rushed interim report of “Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference” headed by Justice Hogue (May 2024).

The dominos have fallen, one by one. Each report, in order of release, has traced, with increasingly greater detail and conviction, the ways in which Beijing and New Delhi have extended their tentacles into our election nomination contests (where electoral candidates are selected by local party members), clandestinely injected money into their preferred candidates’ campaigns, and pressured diaspora communities to toe the line of their “mother country” while in Canada, an ocean away.

Ginny Roth: Neither Trump nor Trudeau—Poilievre’s free market realism brings modern savvy to tried-and-true economic principles

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre gives remarks alongside Conservative MP Jasraj Hallan, during a press conference in Mississauga, Ont., Sunday, April 7, 2024. Christopher Katsarov/The Candian Press.

A couple of weeks ago, at the request of his editors, the New York Times’ David Leonhart wrote about an emerging political consensus. He coined it neopopulism. As these useful meta-narrative columns often do, it drove the conversation on major podcasts over the following days. Public intellectuals have been grappling with how to describe the moment in politics and economic policy, and Leonhart seemed to be providing them with a useful frame and vocabulary.

Leonhart’s basic point is that for all the hand-wringing about political polarization, the energy among both Republicans and Democrats in the United States these days is around the exact same theme—a rejection of the simplistic old Washington consensus and an embrace of a new approach that considers state intervention in the economy necessary in order to promote the welfare of American workers and fight foreign threats (sometimes, in order to do both at once).

While the frame is useful for thinking about Canada, it’s inadequate. Justin Trudeau’s Laurentian capitalism lacks the reform and relevancy to fit Leonhart’s definition of neopopulism. More importantly, while Pierre Poilievre’s approach contains some savviness to the political moment, giving it a frisson of neopopulism, his approach is fundamentally economically liberal, better described as free market realism, and may perhaps even serve as a model for Republicans emerging from a post-Trump era.