Mark Steyn and I have completed our Freaky Friday role reversal. Just a few weeks after he and I sat down for a full-length interview for True North Initiative, it was my turn in the hot seat, joining singer-songwriter Tal Bachman and author Kathy Shaidle on a free speech edition of the Mark Steyn Show, filmed in front of a live audience aboard the maiden Mark Steyn Cruise.
From Tal’s background as a successful musician, Kathy’s as a published poet, and my own navigation of the world of media and politics in Canada, there was a general understanding that the threats to free speech are coming about from within the cultural sphere and not just from statist forces.
It was a great pleasure to be on the panel, so I hope you’ll enjoy watching.
As time passes, the fringe becomes mainstream. This is happening with efforts of the rabid anti-free speech Antifa types, who now seem to have an ally in a federal political party in Canada. The NDP has adopted the position that former White House advisor Steve Bannon should not be allowed to participate in a debate scheduled tonight in Toronto.
It shows how unserious the NDP really is, but that doesn’t mean it’s brazen opposition to free speech isn’t a serious problem.
I tackle this in my latest Loonie Politics column, which subscribers can read here. If you aren’t a subscriber already, use promo code ‘Lawton’ for a discount.
Here’s an excerpt:
Allowing these ideological clashes to happen is paramount for any free society to be able to challenge its paradigm.
Far too many people don’t want this or any other contentious debate to go on. Since Munk Debates announced the Bannon-Frum square-off, self-styled anti-fascist groups have tried to get it shut down. These calls became far less fringe when NDP member of parliament Charlie Angus said this week that Bannon’s invitation should be cancelled “out of respect” for the victims of last weekend’s horrific synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
So far as I know, Bannon had nothing to do with the attack and wasn’t even in Pennsylvania at the time, but somehow his presence in Toronto would be disrespectful to the families of slain Jewish worshippers, Angus says.
An NDP spokesperson told CBC that Angus’ comments reflect the party’s position.
I suspect the NDP’s stance was the same last week, but the Pittsburgh tragedy gave Angus the political cover to promote an agenda of silencing others.
Freedom of speech means controversial people can express controversial opinions. It also means anyone can decide whether or not to entertain those views. Yes, it even gives people the right to criticize a platform being afforded to someone.
This process becomes censorship when the force of the state is weighing in. The NDP may not be in power right now, but it’s a party seeking to govern Canada. As such, Canadians should be concerned if it has an official stance that anyone’s speeches should be shut down. If it’s Bannon today, it’s someone else tomorrow.
It’s only been two months since Maxime Bernier walked away from the party he once tried to lead to launch the People’s Party of Canada.
In that time, the PPC’s membership has increased, as has its war chest despite not yet being allowed to issue tax receipts. Though Bernier has attracted continued criticism from the mainstream media, and his former colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada.
Though no poll has shown the PPC as being near victory, the party has momentum and energy. This poses challenges for the Conservative campaign and for right-leaning voters.
It’s still not clear what impact the PPC will have in the narrative of next year’s election campaigns or in the results themselves. Even if the PPC doesn’t win, it could damage Conservative campaigns in ridings with historically narrow margins.
As a longtime conservative, this possibility hasn’t sat well with me. I wanted to challenge Bernier on the impact his party is having on the broader conservative movement in Canada, and also allow him to articulate his vision for Canada in his own words.
I supported Bernier in his leadership bid, and also supported him against critics earlier this summer when he started speaking out on immigration and diversity issues in Canada. Though I’m sympathetic to his ideas, I’m not a fan of having a fractured right again.
I explained to Bernier’s team that I wanted to tackle these in an in-depth interview for the True North Initiative. They were excited for the opportunity, as was I.
In this interview, I put the questions that matter to Canadian conservatives to Bernier.
Tommy Robinson carried a prison bag into London’s famous Old Bailey courthouse last week, expecting he’d be headed to jail after a contempt of court hearing.
That hearing never happened. The judge instead referred the case to the attorney general, which Robinson and his legal team had wanted all along. It was passionate personal statement from Robinson that swayed the judge.
This may be the end of the road for Robinson’s legal trials, but it won’t be for Robinson himself, who is still on a mission to expose the rape and grooming gangs that have popped up around the United Kingdom and Europe.
When I left Canada for the England, I wrote here that my coverage for the True North Initiative was for two purposes: I wanted to cover the case in a way the mainstream press has proven itself unable to, and also to get to the bottom of who and what Robinson really is.
The night before his court appearance, I sat down with Robinson one-on-one to talk about his legal ordeal, and more pointedly whether his beliefs align with how the media characterize them.
If you live in the province of Ontario, you had the chance to go to the polls a few days ago in your municipality’s civic election. For eligible voters, it’s a great chance to participate in democracy. Unfortunately, it also is for ineligible voters, as I was reminded of by numerous firsthand accounts from people who cast ballots despite not being lawfully able to do so.
I extrapolate on it in my latest Loonie Politics column, which you can read here if you’re a subscriber. If you aren’t a subscriber, consider joining using the promo code Lawton, which gives you a discount. Here’s a little teaser:
No citizenship? No problem.
Such was the reality for voters across Ontario in the province’s municipal elections this week. With a slight amendment. You need to be a citizen to vote — you just don’t need to prove it. It’s a glaring oversight that everyone knows about, but no one in power seems to care about.
I saw it firsthand in an election in 2011, when I had to add myself to the voter’s list at the polling station for some reason and was surprised I didn’t have to prove that I was actually eligible to vote. (I was and still am, for what it’s worth.)
Despite changes to the voting systems at various levels of government, this loophole hasn’t been closed in the last seven years. It’s time to fix that.
While it’s never sat right with me, I didn’t realize how widespread the issue was until I was asked about voting eligibility last week by an acquaintance of mine active in the Chinese community. She is a Canadian citizen, as are many of the people in her networks. But many of them are permanent residents, who are not allowed to vote in even municipal elections.
Like many ethnic communities, the Chinese community is becoming more politically engaged and connected. Several of these permanent residents were eager to vote, and were reportedly getting conflicting information about whether or not they could. At least one such person, my contact said, voted after being told by a poll clerk that citizenship wasn’t required.