Embarrassing “Lock her up!” Chant in Alberta, Canada

This weekend at a Conservative Party of Canada rally for leadership-hopeful Chris Alexander in Edmonton, Alberta, on the steps of the provincial legislature no less, this politician allowed his “constituents” to boo and otherwise malign the current Premier Rachel Notley for her NDP government’s controversial carbon tax policy. What started as a rally-cry of “Vote her out!” quickly turned into one of “Lock her up!” The latter was a common chant at Republican Donald Trump rallies throughout the United States in one of the most vicious, mudslinging campaigns in modern politics. When there weren’t legal grounds to raise this particular alarm during the US election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, there is not one justifiable reason for Alexander to allow it at his rally.  
In the US election, the chant was used to deride Clinton over what became known as the email scandal. While serving President Obama as Secretary of State (2008-2012), Clinton established a private server in her own home for personal and government-related emails instead of using a government email address and it’s servers. What’s more, Clinton was loathe to immediately release all of those emails to government officials. And, yet, after several intra-governmental investigations and two more conducted by the FBI, Clinton has not been criminally charged or found to be in breach of her duties. Not once.

But the truth has never stopped Donald Trump, and his supporters know it. During the second debate, Trump declared he would appoint a “special prosecutor” to address the ongoing email scandal and have Clinton put in jail once and for all. Like so many Trumpian pronouncements, like the concrete and steel wall that Mexico will pay to build, the obliteration of Obamacare, the removal of illegal immigrants and all Muslims on Day One of his presidency, he quickly back-pedalled from this assertion, too. It’s populist politics at it’s finest – Bait and Switch, a classic advertising method that has brought Trump his share of lawsuits throughout the United States. In politics, however, the electorate’s gulliblity is Trump’s perfectly legal stomping ground. 

In Alberta, however, it makes no sense for a group to chant “Lock her up!” regarding Noley’s tenure. Capitalizing on voter anger and the desire for political change, her government swept to power in 2015 – with the highest voter turnout since 1993 – the Orange Wave decimated the Conservatives and left the Wild Rose searching for a dinghy. Notely won the election and set out to institute her publicized, well-known policy changes and, in some cases, bring Alberta up to speed with the rest of Canada. 

Of course, change is rarely welcomed by everyone, and Notley has had more than her share of detractors. It’s one thing to disagree with Notley’s policies and want a change in governance during the next election, but it’s embarrassing that a legitimate contender for the Conservative Party of Canada would allow this specific chant at his rally, and not even feign attempts to prevent or discourage it. What, exactly, has Notley done to deserve such treatment? She won the provincial election. Her government has used it’s majority to pass controversial legislation, but policies that a majority of Albertan voters accepted when they gave the NDP it’s mandate to govern. Tackling climate change was one of those planks. (You mean we don’t get to pick and choose what we, as voters, want from a majority government!?)

At nine percent, the unemployment rate in Alberta is at it’s highest point since 1996. Many Albertans are struggling to make ends meet. Does Alexander, and his supporters, give Notely and the NDP credit for their ability to control and manipulate the global oil and gas market or the US response to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in late 2014 and early 2015 which had a disastrous impact upon Canada’s economic outlook, especially in the oilsands? Did Bill 6, legislation that finally brought Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health & Safety to bear on commercial farming operations, further weaken the provincial economy? Is it also the Premier’s fault that investment in the oilsands was in decline and unemployment on the incline under Premier Jim Prentice? Does Alexander believe that stopping a future carbon tax, now a federal policy despite what the AB NDP has done, will help current Albertans in financial turmoil? 

Regardless, are the aforementioned policies so egregious, so offensive to the provincial legislature, as to send a politician to jail? Has Rachel Notley demonstrated reckless abandon at the helm of Alberta governance? If voters actually think that’s true, someone certainly should have gone to jail when the AB Conservatives, swimming in pools of cash like Scrooge McDuck, decided on the brilliant policy of making it illegal for future provincial governments to run budgetary deficits. 

“We love death like you love life.” Sure you do.

This past week in a Montreal courtroom, a 29 year-old Canadian Muslim, Ismael Habib, made headlines with his attention-grabbing we-love-death pronouncement as he was questioned about his radical views and newfound ideology in Shariah Law. Apparently, his greatest desire is to fight alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Habib further alleges that while he was visiting Syria in 2013, he hung out with “real” Chechen jihadis and whipped a Syrian prisoner accused of rape. That was the life. Anything else, perverse. Canadian Muslims are not “true” Muslims.

Habib’s life wasn’t always this way. He was likely raised in a moderate household surrounded by family and friends that hold similar views to other Canadians on society and life. I am willing to bet his upbringing was similar to most Canadians that grew up in a religious household: a different belief system, but his parents were teaching him respect, obedience, values, and love. Habib has never been charged with a crime against a fellow citizen, let alone anyone else in the world. Yet, he became radicalized at the age of eighteen. Even now, though, he suggests he holds no ill-will toward Canadians.

And he’s not the first young Canadian to become radicalized and want to join the Caliphate. For whatever reason, these children are not content in their current lives and get caught up in the fantasy of fighting for what they’re told is a true and noble cause; of sacrificing their lives for a cause which is greater than themselves; of controlling a gun, tank, fighter jet, or the detonator on a suicide-vest making them important and powerful decision-makers over life and death; of winning virgins for eternal life. It may sound absurd, but take away the realities of war and conflict, and one can see the romance in it: the choice between a typical Canadian life or, like the fantastical storybooks, a real adventure for a true hero or heroine.

In reality, however, those that travel to these foreign lands to exact jihad on non-adherents or live in the Caliphate, quickly find disillusionment rather than enlightenment. One woman fled the United Kingdom with her five children for this probable paradise only to regret her decision because the people she trusted are “not Islamic.” Now she wants to come home. Most of the boys that fall for the same fantasy will spend their time as lookouts or guards in unimportant towns, as cooks or lowly servants schlepping food and clothing to ISIS’ real heroes. Similarly, for the girls, they will be married-off to men acceptable to ISIS and their greatest and only role is to provide children to both an adherent and the movement. If ISIS can’t win the hearts and minds of the locals, they will just repopulate it with the indoctrinated.

It’s all so less romantic. And it’s no wonder Habib didn’t stay in Syria to take up the fight when he initially travelled there. Yes, he whipped a Syrian prisoner and has the video (read: t-shirt) to prove it. He was hanging out with jihadis – real ones, he swears. He was one of them. Accepted. And he demonstrated his conviction with the lash. But when given the chance to join their ranks, he chose to return to Turkey to his wife and children. He could have sent for them, but he’s a family-man first. Against his will, the jihadi-in-waiting was sent back to Canada by Turkish officials after his return from war-torn Syria. Who would have seen that coming!? And it was back on Canadian soil, safe from the realities of actual sacrifice, that Habib decided it was his “duty” to fight with ISIS. Clearly, Habib loves death more than life.

Perhaps Habib’s life is better understood in the context of a boy wanting to live the “fantasy” without actually putting his life or real values on the line for his “radicalized” beliefs. Look at Habib’s picture above. Really look at it. Or this one. In both pictures, there is a lost, scared boy feigning strength; a serious threat; a possible recruit; a guy that can live the life of a would-be defector without actually doing it. Habib holds a gun, puffs out his chest, and strikes what he considers to be a serious terrorist pose. He’s tough. A menace to society. He embodies rebellion and anti-establishment views. Come to think of it, he looks like a Canadian teenaged boy thinking about living the gang lifestyle. All bravado and no brains.

After all, Habib is now facing serious charges in Canada with real consequences. He was quick to point authorities toward a local Montreal Imam that he alleges is responsible for radicalizing Muslim youth. Being an ISIS recruit, shouldn’t Habib protect his radical sources so they can continue with their Canadian contributions to the Caliphate? Besides, the police are well aware of this particular Imam. With manipulative repentance, Habib sounds like a petulant child telling mommy that his older brother was doing something worse, hoping it will lessen his meted-out punishment. And wouldn’t this local Imam already have trusted sources to help boys-turned-radical-soldiers leave Canada for the frontline of their holy war? Instead, Habib was speaking to an unknown asset, an undercover RCMP officer, about leaving the country, as well as demonstrating his terrorist “street-cred” through home video. Pretty easy to be a tough-guy when your opponent can’t fight back. And this time, Habib really meant it. He really wanted to go back to Syria and take up arms. Scout’s honour.

Habib wants Canadians to know that he is connected, in-the-know, an important cog in the wheel of a local terrorist cell. He’s been caught and he will go to jail. Knowing that’s the worst that can happen to him, and in the relative safety and comfort of a Canadian courtroom, he can meekly pound his chest and spew sensational rhetoric. He is defeated. At least he is not dead. And he will be able to continue his personal narrative of being a would-be-terrorist to impress the impressionable. Other children.

Police Militarization

It is a growing epidemic throughout the western world. More and more police forces are acquiring military-style equipment to police civilian populations. While there are some positives, namely the personal protection of our men and women serving to protect our communities, it is a deeply worrisome trend particularly when its necessity is actually low.

Yesterday, I spoke with a retired Chicago police officer. I will call him Mike. Standing six-foot-two, he has a fullhead of silvery-grey hair and the stress lines on his face to match. Mike is slender and does not project intimidation or a strong, overbearing personality when you meet him. His handshake is friendly, but firm. In a word, he is neighbourly. Exceedingly humble and respectful. To this day, he is a consummate professional even when he is just relaxing with his family. In my mind, he is as close to the ideal in temperament that a citizen could ask for in a police officer.

At first, Mike seemed unwilling to talk about his career. Thankfully, his wife got the ball rolling for us and touted some of her husband’s achievements. I had no idea I was in the presence of a marksman; a weapons expert; a man that has trained some of Illinois’ most impressive Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) members. He told me of two war-stories in his time, but those were for private consumption. Suffice it to say that I would not want to cross this man.

It was refreshing to hear Mike’s views on the increasing militarization of local police forces. In fact, he prompted the discussion by asking me, as a Canadian, what I thought of the police response to the Ferguson, Missouri, riots and other situations that have made international headlines. Like me, Mike is not a fan of his brothers and sisters in blue taking up military-style arms and paraphernalia to police civilian populations.

Mike wholeheartedly believes that when a police officer is dressed like a solider, it sends the wrong message to civilians, whether they are protesting or not. He asked me what I thought the most important weapon in his arsenal was as a police officer. My guess wasn’t even close. Mike believes a police officer’s greatest strength is his or her ability to de-escalate situations before they reach a boiling point. In other words, control the situation through discussion. Talk to people.

It’s Mike’s personal belief that the police response to Ferguson and other volatile domestic situations throughout the US were further exacerbated by the police showing up in full riot gear, MP5s in hand, gas-masks covering their faces, and riot shields literally putting up a physical barrier between the protesters and those sworn to protect and serve. Those officers were not doing anyone any favours, especially themselves, when they arrived on scene prepared for all-out war. 

For a former SWAT member and trainer, there is no question for Mike that specialized weapons, tactics, and defence systems have their place in a civilian police force: “it is a necessary evil.” His words, not mine. But, Mike says, “It should always be a last resort and sparingly used.” That is, the police should be prepared for situations to escalate, but showing up to a mostly peaceful protest looking like the invasion force that landed in Mosul goes against the grain. What’s more, Mike believes that wearing a dress shirt and tie or a standard-issue police uniform carries the necessary respect that a qualified and dignified police officer needs to control a situation. “Force is the last thing a police officer wants to use – like a club or pepper spray … or a gun!” Mike’s eyes lit up at the thought of the last one. Seemingly defeated, he continued, “At least thats the way it used to be.”

There is a knee-jerk desire to blame the military-industrial complex, especially in the United States, for this shift. The argument is intuitive and the one that I made to Mike: when a theatre of war enters demobilization, like the US in Iraq or Afghanistan, or newer equipment becomes standard-issue for rank-and-file military personnel, the army has a surplus of high-quality, usable equipment it no longer needs. If that equipment can be sold, it lowers both the cost of new equipment or further research and development. It appears that everyone wins: the civilian population is better-protected against career criminals and it helps police officers maintain law and order.

Mike agreed that this is a stimulus for increased militarization, but the main reason is much simpler than the borderline conspiracy theory that came to my mind. For Mike, the real problem is that some individuals within a given department want this equipment, typically because they think it is cool. The frustration slowly starts to seep into Mike’s voice as we continue our discussion: “Why not have a BearCat? Why not have rocket-launchers, gas masks, and prepare for chemical warfare on the streets of Ferguson. These guys think they actually need it; and that if it is at their disposal, they can out-gun the bad guy. It’s ridiculous. A BearCat! Are you serious? I think it’s to make themselves feel big and important.”

This does happen. For example, in 2012, the mayor of Keene, New Hampshire, attempted to acquire a Lenco BearCat (pictured above) for its domestic police force. The BearCat, an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, is a war machine. It is a twenty-foot long, armour-plated vehicle weighing 8.5 tonne (19,000lbs), which can hold ten fully-equipped SWAT members, and it has a manhole and turret-mount for heavy-machinegun capabilities. It is a tank on wheels. Population of Keene: 23,000. The town’s murder rate (1999 to 2012): two. As Mike suggests, these vehicles were used on the front-lines in Ferguson, too. Population: 21,000. Even smaller than Keene.

In 2014, there was significant concern raised throughout the US with the military-style response to the protests in small-town Ferguson after an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer. The ensuing madness is difficult to understand and piece together, largely because a number of tensions boiled-over all at once: socio-economic disparity; the town’s demographics rapidly shifting from a majority white population to black in the past decade; and a predominantly white police force and their real or perceived bias and aggression toward black people, a problem that continues to play out across the US. It is also difficult to pinpoint the escalation of the protests into riots because each side, police versus protester, feels justified in their real-time responses to real or perceived threats of violence. 

Some of the images are haunting and Mike suggested a few key terms I should Google to find images like this one or this one. The people behind the equipment are not soldiers; they are domestic police officers. As Mike explained: “Imagine these folks in your neighbourhood. Imagine seeing that police presence from your kitchen window or your garage as you work on your car. How would you feel being policed in this fashion if it was your son or brother, or whatever, that was killed by a cop, and your community exercised it’s constitutionally-protected right to peaceful assembly? Now, complicate that image with race. Those pictures should not be considered a normal police response to angry and frightened citizens. These people were scared. Anger is a natural, human response. As cops, we can do better. We have to.”

Some will argue that the ends justified the means, that the police response in Ferguson was appropriate because, in the end, police officers were wounded and killed by rioters. However, the protests started out as a peaceful response to real or perceived injustices. The police response, which resembled that of a country preparing for war (and there are stories of the police department actually stockpiling riot gear for future protests), was inappropriate if the goal was to serve and protect the community. People have the right to protest and the state cannot unduly infringe upon it. The military-style response escalated an already deeply-emotional community response to the killing of a young man. The state demonstrated provocation, and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the people reacted to it.

The modus operandi of all civilian police forces is to serve and protect. It is a noble cause, one easily forgotten amid the chaos of a modern world faced with career criminals and terrorist threats. But criminality and external threats are omni-present. Their presence necessitates a specific, pointed response. Once the problem is dealt with, all of the ancillary personnel and equipment that was required should also fade away. To serve and protect is to make people feel safe and secure that their rights will be honoured and respected. BearCat’s and grenade launchers may be “cool,” but it comes at a significant social cost: they should be reserved for extreme circumstances and sparingly used. And those circumstances likely require a bigger response than local police officers prepping for a pseudo, yet-to-be-determined war. 

 

Mr. Just-keep-your-knees-together may Lose his Job

I was pleasantly surprised late last night to read that Federal Justice, Robin Camp who grew up in South Africa, may lose his position for deeply inappropriate, insensitive, unfathomable, and just plain stupid comments made throughout a 2014 sexual assault trial in Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Judicial Council concluded there was enough evidence to recommend Justice Camp be removed from power. That recommendation will go to Parliament, the body that actually decides Camp’s fate.

The surprise is due to the reality that only two other judges have been forced out of their job for misconduct since the CJC was founded in 1971. In both cases, like any self-respecting person, the maligned judges resigned their positions before Parliament made it’s decision. If ‘three’ seems like an impossibly low number over forty-five years, its because it is statistically improbable that among the federal judge population only a negligible amount of justices would be deserving of formal sanction. It goes to show that those in power are afforded latitudes that the rest of society could never expect. It appears that a judge’s actions must be so egregious – bordering on the unconscionable – before the social and political elite will strip one of their own of power.

This story made its way into the headlines throughout the summer and, especially, into the fall when the CJC began it’s inquiry into Mr. Camp’s actions to determine if he had offended the integrity of his position. And rightfully so. Not only did Camp have the gall to ask the 19 year-old female complainant, who Camp repeatedly referred to as the “accused,” why she couldn’t keep her knees closed as she was raped over a bathroom sink at a house party, but he also questioned why she didn’t employ more vigour to fend off her attacker – who outweighed his victim by at least 100 pounds. According to Camp, she should have prevented vaginal penetration by “skew[ing] her pelvis” or thrusting her buttocks into the sink basin. And, obviously, so sayeth Camp: drunk girls want to have sex and sometimes that sex is naturally coupled with pain. 

Camp wasn’t to be dissuaded from his attack on the complainant. He took it upon himself to question the complainant’s moral compass, concluding that her personal morality left “much to be desired.” The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was homeless and struggled with addictions on the streets of Calgary. It appears that Camp believed her to be part of the “other” – the group that can be scuffed-off and dismissed. Withheld from justice. Denied decency and their basic humanity. Normally, I would say Camp threw everything into his personal defence (of the actual accused – the rapist – before acquitting him) save the bathroom sink, but he brilliantly covered that legal loophole, too. 

Apparently, the idioms of “blind justice” and “judicial impartiality” are legal principles in Camp’s mind that are only befitting a complainant meeting his personal criteria of appropriate social and economic prerequisites. It should go without saying that these foundational ideals – enshrined and encoded in legal systems throughout the western world – are meant to guide justices past bias based on unfounded beliefs regarding a person’s appearance, culture, ethnicity, sex, religion, or socio-economic status.

Equally incredible was the defence of Camp. During the judicial review, Camp’s daughter, Lauren, was placed in an unenviable position. With her father’s federal judgeship and legacy on the line, she painfully disclosed on the record her own unreported rape in their family home. Allegedly, Camp’s own daughter went through a similar experience to the complainant, but there was no gentleness, no compassion, no benefit of the doubt, or empathy shown for the latter, likely due to her station in life: homeless; struggling; the decay of western society. Or, perhaps Camp poorly treated his own daughter, too, but this would have been an even more tragic admission. Either way, I have deep empathy for both victims – of sexual assault and Camp’s treatment.

After all, the best defence Lauren could muster during her testimony was that her dad was “old-fashioned” and “there are gaps in his understanding of how women think and experience life.” The excuse is bewildering, and it feels forced – really, contrived. Even rehearsed. No male has to understand how a woman thinks or their personal life experience to appreciate that “No” actually means “No.” In fact, by the time boys are five, they know there are (sometimes) dire consequences if they do not heed this command. Inevitably, when that boy asks, “Why?” the short answer for the adult is “Because I said so.” This is well-engrained in children regardless of religion, sex, culture, or socio-economic status. And “because I said so” was the only justification the complainant needed to stop any unwanted sexual advances from her attacker, even if she was initially accepting of those advances.

A psychologist also defended Camp’s actions, and her testimony is farcical. The suggestion that Camp has undergone intensive “re-education” and therapy to better understand and appreciate the ways of the Canadian judicial system as well as Canadian societal norms and expectations to right his personal wrongs, perceptions, and misconceptions is similar to rehabilititation programs for convicted offenders. Yes, felons need to learn different behaviours or how to deal with their emotions in a socially acceptable manner, but they are convicted. Guilty. Wrong in the eyes of their peers. That is, it is not an acceptable defence that a powerful man required further education that was, unbeknownst to him, withheld  – in this case, at the age of five – and, therefore, should be allowed to remain on the bench. Absolutely not. Ignorance of the law; of judicial principles; of common decency; of your daughter’s own experience does not a defence make.

Moreover, the deployment of Camp’s upbringing in South Africa as a legitimate excuse for his deplorable way of thinking is outside the bounds of reasonability. When Camp was called to the bench in Canada, his peers judged him to be of sound mind and reflective of Canadian values and ideals. To be sure, even in allegedly-culturally-backward South Africa, in 2015 a judge somehow managed to see through the drama and absurdity of Oscar Pistorius’ defence and convicted the Olympian of murder in the horrific death of then-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius’ jail sentence was exceptionally light and he is currently serving it in relative luxury, but even the South African judge got it right. Pistorius was guilty and his actions required formal sanction and discipline. 

So, too, does Camp’s demonstrated disposition. His actions were reckless. The five-member CJC board found that Camp had done harm to legal precedence, to future sexual assault victims, and reinforced myths that were long ago debunked. At this moment, I think it more than appropriate for the collective-Canadian conscious to sound the refrain, “No shit!” Victim-blaming, -shaming, -degrading is unacceptable. Comments dripping with vacuous misogyny, righteous condemnation, and damning condescension have no place in Canadian society, especially within those whom wield constitutional authority. If Camp didn’t learn some of these lessons when he was a boy, he ought to have picked them up in university and law school in the 1970s, or when he wrote his qualifying exams and was admitted to the Canadian bar in 1999, or during his countless interactions with Canadians over the fifteen years prior to presiding over the sexual assault case that will hopefully end his career.

Now Robin Camp will actually feel the pain of being publicly maligned like he maligned the complainant (or was she the “accused”?). He is disgraced. Soon to be cast aside. Treated like the “other.” The difference in his particular circumstances, of course, is that the treatment wholely fits the crime.

Jill Stein and the Absurd Recount

Under the banner of “Election Integrity,” the Green Party’s Jill Stein has raised $3 million to contest the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. She has raised that money in 24hrs, an impressive feat, the capital needed to make a formal judicial request by this Friday (tomorrow) for the election results to be reviewed in each of the three jurisdictions. 

There is – potentially – much at stake. These three states have a combined total of forty-six electoral votes, which could put the election result into question, meaning the Democrat’s Hillary Clinton could be President-elect, and not Republican Donald Trump. Of Trump’s 306 Electoral Votes, he would be left with 260, which is ten votes shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. 

Politically, it makes complete sense for Stein to be spearheading this movement. She is not attempting to help a fellow female candidate or the Democrats secure the White House over the Republicans. Rather, this would be fulfilling one of the planks in the Green Party’s platform. 

On her campaign webpage, Stein designs to “Empower the People” through “electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy: public campaign financing, ranked-choice voting, proportional representation, and open debates.” What a remarkable rambling diatribe. Somewhere in there is Stein’s reason for championing this last-minute judicial review (note to Stein camp: simply writing “electoral reform” as a plank would have sufficed).

Stein’s cause is perhaps noble, but it wreaks of political opportunity for the Green Party. Stein placed last in the presidential contest. Now she appears to be selflessly working for the American people to ensure the election result is accurate. A true patriot amid the scions of all-that-is-wrong-with-US-politics. In reality, Stein is working to make the Green Party’s lacklustre, blowhard platform shine with relevancy. 

Even if the reviews are allowed in each of the three jurisdictions, the chances of finding voter fraud or manipulation by a third party (Russia) on a grand enough scale to change the outcome in EACH jurisdiction is exceedingly low. And it must be all three, Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), and Wisconsin (10) to put President-elect Trump below the 270 Eletoral Vote threshhold.  It would be the Hail Mary of the century. Such reviews only feed the political troll that would have the audacity to cry, “the election is rigged.” Thus, a complete waste of everyone’s time and money, and an exercise in futility. 

Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump. Fair and square. Allow the Republicans to get on with governing and put an end to this absurd sideshow. Besides, the real show – that critics are billing as “even bigger and better” than the George W. Bush presidency – is just about to enter the main circus-ring.  

Clinton was the Right Candidate

Embittered and still in shock, the reality that Hillary Clinton will not be president is slowly sinking in for many Americans and Canadians. How could she lose? How did seeemingly everyone get it so wrong? How did a man so full of himself, contempt, misogyny, disrespect, ignorance, arrogance, and a complete lack of subtlety beat the poised, articulate, sophisticated, intelligent, poignant, and classy candidate? Many are still searching for answers.

One writer, Michelle Hauser with the National Post, suggests Clinton was too arrogant, blinded by “naked ambition” – as though Clinton should be apologetic for such a flaw in character – and ought to have known “the party was over” after failing to secure the 2008 Democratic nomination. In other words, Clinton never should have run for the presidency a second time. What a revelatory insight now that the election is over; Hauser never once raising the alarm bells for the Clinton camp pre-loss; even weeks prior to election night, writing it was time for the US to tell Trump, “You’re fired.” Make up your mind,  Hauser.

Hauser’s claim that Clinton believed she was owed the presidency after thirty years of public service is incredible. On what insights is Hauser basing this claim? If anything, the opposite is true. Clinton doggedly worked day-in and day-out for the last eighteen months to re-secure the White House for her party (something only five presidential candidates, barring a sitting president’s death, assassination, or resignation, have successfully done in  thirty-nine elections – or 12.8% of the time – since Abraham Lincoln ended slavery and the Civil War), to say nothing of another four years of service as President Obama’s Secretary of State, travelling to 112 countries to anchor American interests abroad. Clinton didn’t just walk away from politics after losing the 2008 Primary contest until her entitlement to America’s highest office could be fulfilled: she licked her wounds, swallowed her pride, and rededicated to commander-in-chief and country.

Taking a shot at the White House is not done without months of consulting, preparing, polling, gladhanding, and hosting multiple donor events to ensure a candidate can attract enough political and economic clout for the impending contest. It was a foregone conclusion Clinton would run in 2016; that does not mean she expected to be handed the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave so long as she graced American voters with her presence. As she has shown throughout her career, Clinton rolled up her sleeves and went to work.

And Clinton’s approval rating for Democratic leadership remains unquestionable, evidenced by the minor facts of absolute dominance in the 2016 Primary election before winning the popular vote for President. Among white American women, exit polls show a majority voted Trump. Apparently, Ms. Hauser would opine that these women, caught “somewhere between angry and annoyed” that Clinton had the gall to run for President, voted for Trump in protest. Please. Clinton may have lost the presidency, but she was the right candidate for the Democratic ticket.

Robyn Urback with CBC, has suggested that the Democratic Party establishment should be ashamed for having lost this election to Trump. While it is embarrassing to lose to this man in particular, it suggests that Clinton and the party lost the campaign as opposed to Trump winning it. Time and again Clinton and her political team took to the high road in what was a nasty, brutal, bareknuckle brawl mostly because of how Trump chooses to handle business. Trump was able to keep the focus on his anti-establishment, -humanity, -immigration, -globalization, -logical rhetoric, and he ground-out every possible vote from the despondent, allegedly disenfranchised, disaffected, delusional and blame-anyone-else-for-our-problems Republican base. Trump fought harder and dirtier than any candidate in recent memory. And he won.

Another writer with the Globe and Mail, Marie Henein, is claiming Clinton’s loss is explained by gender. There. She said it. And she is wrong. No question, gender-bias is alive and well in North American society – alongside all of the other biases one could possibly imagine to unfairly pigeonhole an opponent. We all have them. Again, Clinton attracted the most votes of all American citizens who cast one. To believe bumbling socialist Bernie Sanders, the only plausible male alternative (appearing on all Primary ballots), would have won the presidency because he had the appropriate anatomy is asinine. If the next inductive counter-argument is to establish that other, stronger Democratic candidates would have entered the primaries if she had stepped aside, save the megabytes, Henein: insightful, astute contenders knew they would be publicly routed in any popularity row with Clinton.

Henein is right that Clinton’s main detraction is “relatability.” However, Henein’s version lays bare her own sexist bias. To most voters, relatable means having a discussion with the candidate over a beer. Instead, Henein questions whether Clinton appeared “cuddly” enough; motherly and grandmotherly enough; presidential enough in her pantsuits and pearls. (Has the sighted world forgotten about the airtime, webspace, memes, and gigabytes invested in Trump’s small hands, orange-glowing skin from a recent soak in nuclear waste (likely from Chernobyl while visiting Comrade Putin), or the dead thing on his head that he calls hair?) One only need watch the townhall-styled second debate where Clinton is devoid of her safety-lectern to see utter weakness in the relatable category: she is uncomfortable to the point that I drew blood from my lower lip, agonizingly trying to steady myself while she attempted an impromptu lean.  I’m still blushing at the thought.

Trump won because he did not stay on message; was not the voice of reason or stability; and he promised to Make America White Again (sorry, Trumpian slip). Clinton was bound by circumstance and a wildly popular predecessor that still resides in the White House. And it is incredibly difficult to ride the party’s coattails to the oval office for a third consecutive term as voters, in this case, viewed Clinton’s potential through the lens of Obama’s failures. Moreover, the deep, raw, emotion-inducing divide within the American electorate swung enough voters to cast ballots for the candidate that promises to reform Washington and cleanse America of its social ills, ethnically and otherwise. All of these situations are beyond the control of the Democratic establishment, and none of them can be laid at Clinton’s feet. Clinton was the candidate Democrats wanted, and the candidate the rest of the world deserved.

Change Trump

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This morning, a majority of Americans are making their way to work in shock and awe that their candidate, Democrat Hillary Clinton, is not the president-elect of the United States. In fact, as of 11am EST, the latter has yet to make a formal concession speech, though she has privately conceded the race – clearly beaten last night – to her opponent. Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has already secured 279 of the available 538 electoral votes with at least another forty available, a majority of which are leaning in his favour.

Even at his best during a particularly quagmired, quarrelsome, and quixotic presidential campaign, the major polls, pundits, and popular opinion polemics suggested Trump had few Electoral College paths to the White House. As it turns out, all paths lead to only one front door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: President-elect Trump’s. What a stunning, improbable, unfathomable upset.

Trump will be the forty-fifth man to hold what has become the highest elected office of the free world. While he campaigned on anti-western values including the absurd and frightening (repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act), the unconstitutional and xenophobic (banning Muslims), the useless and ineffective (US-Mexican border wall), the protectionist and populist (exiting or renegotiating international trade deals), the embarrassing and eye-roll-inducing (US elections are rigged by the Democrats and their media), he has now promised to be the president “for all Americans” by putting millions of people and billions of dollars to work rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure and inner-cities to make the United States “second to none.”

The unlikely Republican presidential nominee is the 2016 “change” candidate, not unlike the star Democratic State Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, in 2008. His fervent campaign slogan, “Yes We Can,” echoed across the country and reverberated in adherents’ hearts. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Obama pledged to overcome the fray and end Congress’ partisan political problems. He would end wars, hunt terrorists, repatriate American troops, close prisons, build bridges where his predecessor had built walls, heal the deep social, economic and political divisions within America, and restore hope that the US was an international leader wanted by the world.

In the end, President Obama’s passionate promises did not equal sustained change. Yes, he had milestone successes in providing basic health insurance to many of America’s most vulnerable and under-privileged citizens, in first bailing-out and then reforming Wall Street, in eliminating the 9/11 mastermind and subduing other terrorist threats, and in finding a peaceable solution to the Iran question.

But Congress remains inextricably stalled and divided; the Guantanamo Bay detention facility remains open for business; thousands of US troops remain deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan (to mention nothing of the new US theatres of war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria); international contempt for American intervention boiled-over in Benghazi; the national debt has all but doubled during his administration, though to be fair, some of that belongs to George W. Bush; and yesterday, the people of the United States overwhelmingly demonstrated that they remain deeply divided on what will actually make America great again – the popular vote going to Clinton and the presidency to Trump.

Now it is Trump’s turn to effect his venereal version of vacuous change in Washington. Favourably to the Republican Party is that it also won majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bicameral legislatorial bodies that form Congress. But unlike in Canada where recent provincial majority governments (the Alberta NDP and Ontario Liberals) and back-to-back majority governments at the federal level (Stephen Harper Conservatives and Justin Trudeau Liberals) have passed controversial legislation with ease as politicians toe the party line, President Trump will have a difficult time wielding similar congressional authority.

In the American Republic, Representatives (435) and Senators (100) owe allegiance first and foremost to the electorate of the states they represent. Thus, fellow Republicans are afforded the ability to openly defy party wisdom or refuse their support for a presidential candidate, which Congressional Republicans Paul Ryan, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and Mike Lee have publicly done. Thus, Trump has the next two years to persuade, cajole, force, and otherwise threaten the aforementioned Republicans and their colleagues into turning Trump campaign promises into meaningful, change-inducing legislation. That would be a feat of epic proportions for Trump, but he has already pulled off two minor miracles – winning the Republican Primary contest and the Presidential election. If he does pull it off, he will be a candidate for canonization.

We wait, with bated breath, for 2016’s change candidate to make good on his promise to govern for all Americans and “drain the swamp” that is Washington D.C.

Congratulations, Mr. President-elect Trump.