By Chris Nelson, columnist for the Calgary Herald
Hey, it’s all going to be your fault, I told my wife.
I suspect she’d an inkling this was coming. After all, every time she turns on the TV, watches a movie, reads the paper or browses some social media chat room the message is unmistakable. It’s all the fault of those Russians.
She being born and bred in Moscow, though for years a proud Canadian, it’s a tad annoying to constantly see your native land being blamed for every problem on earth.
For comparison, let’s recall those old John Wayne movies where Indians — as they were then called — were portrayed as such needless, nasty critters they could be shown getting mown down like dithering ducks in some early-morning November sky. The movie audiences of the time ate it up.
Thankfully, that storyline doesn’t play well today. But such cultural and political correctness isn’t universal. Now the only bunch left you can impugn without fear of societal vilification are those nasty Ruskies.
Now, truth be told, I’ve always had a fondness for Russia: some of the greatest literature, dance, art, engineering and science has emanated from what is by far and away the biggest slice of national landmass on our planet. Oh, and having the world’s most beautiful women didn’t hurt, either.
Of course, if I actually lived and worked there, it wouldn’t last long — pondering in print why Vladimir Putin insists on being photographed with his shirt off more often than Kim Kardashian would likely guarantee I’d soon be slipping whilst giving some ninth-storey windows a quick clean. (I love Canada — it puts up with me.)
But what’s the latest dirty deed those Russians are involved in? For an answer, who better to turn to than the man standing bravely and resolutely on guard for Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Yes, in a much-needed (for him, anyhow) time out from insulting Indigenous women protesting mercury poisoning or booting former ministers out of caucus because they think the rule of law worth defending, Trudeau was in fine fettle, speaking about something he undoubtedly is an expert in malign actors.
“We have seen over the past number of years an increase in the interference or the implication of foreign actors in democratic processes,” he said. “We saw very clearly that countries like Russia are behind a lot of the divisive campaigns, a lot of the divisive social media.
“The election that’s coming up in six months will be decided by Canadians. We’re going to work very hard with all the intelligence communities and our partners around the world to ensure that our democracies stay strong for all the different voices that express themselves within it.”
Wow. He certainly wasn’t talking about his own Liberal caucus and how it stands up for different voices within it.
That’s not all. Apparently, we need a group of five senior civil servants who might be forced to go public if they find a malign act of interference in the October campaign.
What a bunch of tosh. We’ve witnessed a bigger threat to the values this country holds dear emanating out of Trudeau’s own government than could ever be envisaged by some nebulous Moscow-based bunch intent on placing some daft ads on Facebook.
But this is just a smokescreen. The only threat this man is concerned about is the free-fall his personal approval ratings are taking at the polls. Or maybe that too is some fiendish Russian-inspired plot.
No, this is simply another lame attempt to derail the SNC-Lavalin scandal, to make himself look statesman-like when in reality Trudeau appears increasingly as a thin-skinned, bully boy.
Still, he might have reason to worry about those Russians after all. I know a fair number here in Calgary, mostly engineers in the energy industry.
Yes, they will be interfering in the federal election all right. It’s called voting and like the majority of their fellow Calgarians, they won’t be marking an X anywhere near Trudeau’s party.