Trumpism in Canada? Erin O’Toole be thy name

While Trumpeteers were laying siege to the Capitol on Wednesday, Conservative Party operatives and supporters in Canuckistan were getting in on the misinformation on social media


It’s the question on everyone’s lips: Can what happened in Washington DC on Wednesday happen here? Canada, don’t be naive.

While Trumpeteers were laying siege to the Capitol on Wednesday, Conservative Party operatives and supporters in Canuckistan were getting in on the misinformation on social media. 

Some were making familiar apologies for the rioters. It wasn’t their fault, they said. After all, the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump. Some downplayed the chaos. Others, including one notable party insider who has since apologized, busied themselves pushing the conspiracy theory that the insurrectionists were actually Antifa.

Then Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O’Toole weighed in on the chaos stateside. 

“The storming of the Capitol Building is an astonishing assault on freedom and democracy. I am deeply saddened to see chaos grip our greatest ally today,” O’Toole posted on Twitter. 

The reaction from all sides was swift. 

This is the same guy, after all, who borrowed liberally from the Trump playbook to win the party’s leadership with his “Take Back Canada” race-baiting and “Canada First” sloganeering. Sound familiar?

He also coddles toxic Trump wannabes and anti-vaxxers in his caucus (Pierre Poilievre, Derek Sloan, Michelle Rempel-Garner) many of whom are active on Parler, the Nevada-based social networking platform popular with all manner of right-wing extremists. His deputy leader, Candice Bergen, is a proud adherent of the Make America Great Again faction in the party. Now the party is claiming on its website, à la Trump, that Trudeau is already “rigging” the next election.

O’Toole’s connections to Trump-loving groups like Canada Proud and Ontario Proud run deep. His former leadership campaign chair, Jeff Ballingall, is the founder of both groups. And since his election as the leader they’ve been working to remake his “too, short, too fat, too bald” image. O’Toole has gone from “compassionate Conservative,” which is what he used to call himself, to Proud Boy-esque Top Gun, posing in party PR photos in Royal Canadian Air Force gear. O’Toole served in RCAF, but he’s no Tom Cruise. He served on a helicopter in search and rescue. But that’s another story.

It’s no surprise then that political opponents accused O’Toole of being a hypocrite when they saw his condemnation of events in the U.S. 

Those in O’Toole’s own party got in on the criticism, saying he’s not right-wing enough and warning darkly that the same fate awaits Canada and politicians that supposedly ignore the proverbial “will of the people.” 

A simple scroll through O’Toole’s social media feeds – or those of his closest caucus lieutenants – reveals that Trumpism is alive and well in spades in the Conservative Party; and in particular in the party’s base out west, where a separatist movement has given rise to the Maverick Party and consequently seen O’Toole veer further right toward extremists. 

And while most political observers agree that our politics are not as polarized as the U.S. (yet), there’s no denying that Canada’s Conservative party shares a similar antipathy towards liberals (aka “libtards”) and anyone else who may occupy space on the political spectrum anywhere left of Attila the Hun.

This is most clearly seen in the Conservative party’s antipathy towards “communist” China (O’Toole never mentions China without pointing out it’s communist) and, in particular, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The hate-on for the PM is visceral (deranged, some call it). To be sure, the fevered Conservative rhetoric of the PM not being smart enough, tough enough, Canadian enough (many believe the preposterous lie he’s the offspring of Fidel Castro) has led to several death threats made against the PM.

Back in June 2020, Corey Hurren, a fan of conspiracy theories – including that “global elites” unleashed the coronavirus – crashed his pick-up truck through the gates of the PM’s residence in Ottawa looking for Trudeau. The RCMP reported he had a number of firearms.

Over the holidays, the hashtag #WhereIsJustin started trending. The PM was staying at Rideau Cottage. There were numerous sightings of him on walks. Still, the outrage and conspiracies among Conservative persisted that, like other politicians, he was vacationing in some far off sunspot while the country suffered through another pandemic lockdown.

With every tweet and retweet (some pushed by bots) the hashtag kept trending off and on for days.

None of it was true, but that’s not the point. As Trump and other autocrats before him have shown, repeat the lie often enough and it becomes reality. Indeed, there’s been a noticeable uptick in anti-Trudeau misinformation on social media as his numbers in public opinion polls have gone up and O’Toole’s are dipping.

While the exponential growth in social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook has allowed extremist sentiment to flourish, the seeds in Canada’s Conservative movement were planted before O’Toole arrived on the scene. Stephen Harper’s fomenting of anti-Muslim sentiment was followed by Andrew Scheer’s dalliance with the Yellow Vest movement out west.

Trumpism can’t happen in Canada? Don’t look now….

@enzodimatteo

Comments (21)

  • Ron H Fichtner January 8, 2021 06:41 PM

    Written as blatant left wing nonsense. O;Toole’s condemnation of the capital hill riot is spot on. His slogan of “take back Canada” could not come at a more critical time. Junior has stolen our country and thinks he is the king of Canada. O’Toole’s comments about prioritizing delivery of vaccines to the most vulnerable before vaccinating any criminals in prison is absolutely appropriate. These left wing-nut media types need to wake up before even their jobs are gone forever. There is no better model than capitalism which has been proven over and over again throughout history. We just happen to be in a cycle where excess affluence allows us to believe that we are all entitled to a high standard of living without producing anything to get it. That is simply not sustainable and we will ultimately pay the price of communist totalitarianism if we are naive enough to drink the coolaide currently being dished out by the socialist elites. Trickle down wealth is much better than trickle up poverty every time.

    • Ed January 9, 2021 06:59 PM

      Go hug your grandchildren while they still talk to you, I sense that won’t be an option for long based on this mindless Trumpistry

    • Chris Elliston January 10, 2021 12:14 AM

      Replay to Ron
      As opposed to blatant right-wing nonsense? O’Tool’s “Take Canada Back” slogan came just a few months after Canadians elected a minority Liberal government. Who did he think he was going to take it from? Your comment “Junior has stolen our country” is false, imflammatory and meant to cause division. You then proceed to call everyone whose opinions vary from yours “left wing nuts” . You are spreading crazy conspiracy theories in order to sow division. There is no communist totalitarianism in Canada – that is just crazy fear-mongering from the uneducated alt-right Quazies.
      Your toothless coward hero’s who failed at the attempted coup down south did the world a favour by demonstrating how dangerous right-wing governments are. Wednesday’s actions just guaranteed Trudeau a massive majority when an election is called this spring (or sooner).

      • Margaret Steele January 13, 2021 02:01 AM

        I so agree with you that on that, harper showed his true colors when he tried sneaking off to Washington to talk with trump and his corrupt gov’t lackeys and of course, Ford followed right behind him, when they came back, Ford started his job acting like trump, it was his way or the highway, this has not changed!,

    • Edd Anderson January 10, 2021 01:19 AM

      there is a joke about trickle down wealth but 99

      %wont get it.

      • victor tabamo February 27, 2021 10:26 PM

        Replay to Ed

        This had me cackling!

  • Colin January 8, 2021 07:56 PM

    Cool opinion article, but it shouldn’t be labeled as news

    • Doug January 14, 2021 04:58 PM

      Reply to Colin
      I thought the part about O’Toole’s former campaign chair founding two trumpy proud boy groups was news worth knowing about.

  • Joanne L Hutchinson January 8, 2021 08:10 PM

    Love what & how Enzo writes! Thanks for sharing!

  • Daryl Jung January 9, 2021 05:58 PM

    Enzo rocks the house!!

  • Linda January 9, 2021 07:51 PM

    You spout idiotic comments on like ‘communist totalitarianism’, ‘no better model than capitalism’ and ‘left wing-nut media types’ as adeptly as any Trumputin. Nuff said.

  • Elaine R. January 9, 2021 10:20 PM

    Keep repeating it and narrow-minded, conservative rhetoric will convince the “Erin O’Toole’s” of our country that Canada
    is being stolen… Stolen??? By whom??? Who is responsible for this larceny? Think about it. It sure is not Justin. We did
    not hear of thieving until “Erin the Fool” starting beating his gums.

  • John January 9, 2021 10:26 PM

    Agree 100% with Ron. As usual, the left has the only opinion that counts. Go f yourselves!!

  • Chris Elliston January 10, 2021 12:02 AM

    If O’Toole is starting conspiracies to rile up the alt-right Reform party base, he needs to be held responsible for it. We cannot let these fake Conservatives destroy the integrity of Canada’s electoral system. Spreading fake news in order to misinform voters should be a crime. At the very least, voters need to be made aware that one party is attempting to suppress your vote.
    It’s not hard to understand why these faux-Conservatives will never again form government in Canada. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ of the Progressive Conservative Party after Mulroney, but he was a choir boy compared to what the CPC is now.

    • Don January 10, 2021 11:00 PM

      I totally agree with what you are saying about the Conservatives. I am not entirely happy with the Liberal party but am so, so sick of Erin O’Toole complaining about everything and looking smug while he is doing it. I am already wondering if Candice Bergen is another top Conservative who believes in Trumpism.

      We are heading for trouble in Canada as well!

  • Jeff January 10, 2021 03:58 AM

    Quit trying to bring America’s divided political propaganda to Canada. You’re an imbecile. America is America and Canada is Canada. We aren’t taking the race-bait thanks.

  • Ian January 10, 2021 09:35 AM

    Conservatives invented the Robo Call to send liberal voters to the wrong voting stations. ’nuff said.

  • Steve January 10, 2021 11:02 AM

    It appears that Mr O’Toole has a choice to make. Pander to narrow minded ‘populists’ (self interested bigots) or broaden the tent as noble failures like Clark and Stanfield tried to do and Mulroney did successfully ( with some trickery which may ultimately have created the PC demise.). It would be nice to see stronger repudiation of silly conspiracy theorists so that ‘we’ in the moderate middle can feel better about him as an alternative. While we are indeed NOT the US, we ARE subject to the same social media echo chamber syndrome that seems to magnify extreme and unfounded (conspiracy) theories and fuels division. As a military man it would be great if Mr O’Toole would draw on that and provide a pragmatic, positive and action oriented (action on the pandemic 1st & foremost) agenda and plan that Canadians could get behind as an alternative to the lack of leadership we have now. Make the critique pragmatic – not personal.
    I remember hearing Joe Clark say as part of his surprise winning campaign for the PC leadership in 1976, “People are tired of hearing about what we are against. People want to hear about what we are for!” . IMHO – a lot of us could vote for that kind of platform again. Rampant stagflation of the times ultimately ousted both Clark and Carter in the late 70s ( in Clark’s case aided by poor Parliamentary vote management) but the positive and uniting message was something Canadians across the country did buy into.( much like they did with Liberals in 2015). Unifying messages are less ‘visceral’ in the short run – but they can work when it counts ( like in a pandemic). Couldn’t we try this again?

  • Gord Ruddin January 12, 2021 02:51 AM

    The entire white right wing global conservative movement is infected with the disease of stupid and paranoia about Muslims, Marxists, Global Capitalists, white and non-white working together to destroy ‘their’ world. The Qanon madness is another manifestation of their insanity. Add in right wing Jewish settlers and Indian Hindu fascists, also hateful of Muslims, blacks and the Left and you have a global coalition of insanity.
    I used to consider voting Conservative. Unfortunately, Con today mean right wing Fascist with Crazy conspiracies.

  • Carol February 16, 2021 01:18 PM

    if you think Trudeau is the be all, end all, think again. Transparency is a dirty word in his government. The more people interested in using Trumps name in the media, the more popular he becomes. Pelosi and Democrats must really feel threatened for the next election. They totally need a third party choice down there. Erin O;Toole is no better than Trudeau and certainly no worse. Trump was, what you see is what you get personality and the Democrats have their own skeletons, but hiding in the closet. Just my opinion, so happy we have free speech in Canada. Would like to see The Green Party move up more in government…definitely my vote. 🙂

  • Sandy February 19, 2021 06:22 PM

    Erin O’Toole the Trump of the North!!! Take Canada Back to what the 1930’s of hate and angry old white men, the rich not giving a damn about anyone else only making money. No middle class to keep the country going?? Yeah No!

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