Canadian Conservatives Ape Trump in Misuse of Government Resources

Today’s brand of conservative politics is becoming more similar on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, with right-leaning politicians constantly pushing against rules and precedent.

To be sure, no political party anywhere in the world is likely to be completely innocent of mixing politics and governance. But in the actions of the leading conservative parties in both of these countries, the commingling of government and party resources — and government and party campaign goals — is reaching a crisis level.

There is meant to be a separation between campaigning and the actual job of governing. Campaigning is about convincing the electorate that you are the best person for the job, while governance is about meeting the duty of office.

Attacking opposing parties and political rivals during events or through government channels is a violation of that ethical principle. Using taxpayer-funded government resources to send political messages is another. The former has perhaps become normalized beyond the point of reversal — thanks to, among other things, Donald Trump’s use of the POTUS Twitter account and trend of using government power for personal gain. But defenders of democracy still need to push back against the latter.

In Canada, two of the grossest recent examples involved Conservative premiers in their first term of office. Ontario Conservative Premier Doug Ford (yes, this guy’s brother) used taxpayer money to push back against climate mitigation measures put forward by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal federal government. Earlier this year, Ford passed legislation requiring gas stations to put stickers on their pumps that would tell vehicle owners they were paying several cents more per liter of gasoline thanks to the federal government’s tax.

This blatant political messaging under the guise of government communication was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s most important constitutional document (the equivalent of the U.S. Bill of Rights). But it seems Conservatives are only defenders of the Constitution when it suits them. With that scandal still in recent memory, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister also decided to get involved in federal politics, using the machinery of his own provincial government.

This time the goal was not to attack Trudeau but to prop up his Conservative opponent, Andrew Scheer, ahead of the upcoming federal election. Pallister actually one-upped Ford when he directed nonpartisan civil servants to write a news release focused on praising the opposition leader of the federal wing of his own party — a person who is not in charge of the government and whose role is therefore entirely political. This exceeds Ford’s wrongdoing because Pallister simultaneously misused his government position as a megaphone and also misused taxpayer money for campaign purposes.

If this is the conservative playbook, we have a lot to worry about. South of the border, Trump has moved beyond flirting with dictator-like tendencies and is in a full-blown relationship with them. Meanwhile, in Canada, the far-right extremist who hopes to oust Trudeau from the prime minister’s office is likely to bring the same sort of sketchy behavior to the federal government as his provincial lackeys.

If these behaviors aren’t consistently and aggressively called out and punished, we risk ending up in an Orwellian situation where formerly democratic governments use their own resources to hold onto power indefinitely. Instead of a prime minister or president, our countries could end up with dictators and official departments of propaganda, using taxpayer money to explain why they should rule in perpetuity — or at least until the entire world is burnt to the ground.

Photo credit: KKIDD/Getty Images

49 comments

john c
john casablanca3 days ago

Absolutely a wonderful and articulated article, which also happens to be very truthful.
But rather then blame the politicians and their respective parties, there lies a larger culprit, the VOTERS. I can understand why some people in the U S voted for the COWARD, COMRADE, RACIST, DON THE CON, - SOCIOPATH, as he sold them a bill of goods and they bought it, but what will be their excuse the 2nd time around ???
Or will they all plead, that they are just IGNORANT, STUPID, or the FORGOTTEN PEOPLE ???
John C./Houston, Tx.

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heather g
heather g4 days ago

I don't vote Liberal for Trudeau - but he's not that bad. At least he doesn't cause terrible trouble on the world stage as his counterpart does.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M10 days ago

Trump is no where near as underhanded, fabricator, could not see the truth if it struck Trudeau, in the face, and nothing in comparison to the Liberals abuse or use of taxpayers funds to make the trust kid look like he has something between his ears (maybe he inherited his mothers mental problems?). Controlling the "big 4" Canadian TV networks, running ads on all 4 networks paid supposedly by the Union Reps dissing the leader of the Conservatives and the elected leaders of Ontario and Alberta governments.. Trudeau is owned by Jerry Dias, the Union Boss of Unifor (now conjoined Canadian Auto Workers and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions), not to mention most of the large news papers are in the same bucket of slime, owned by the Liberals and Unions. Yup the Democrats and the Liberals sure have a lot to brag about, corrupt to the core. Pity Canadians are such yellow bellies, can't even stand up for themselves, let everyone walk all over them, yea haw, what its like to be a Canuck, eh!

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Alea C
Alea C20 days ago

Tyfs.

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Mary B
Mary B29 days ago

Conservatives , republicans, are all backward thinkers. They will do nothing to help the ordinary people of this country. Don't listen to them or vote for them.

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Susanne R
Susanne R29 days ago

There's only ONE trump and, unfortunately, he's our problem. As much as I wish he'd go away, I wouldn't wish him on anyone else.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M29 days ago

Anne Moran You are right Anne, Trudeau is no where near Trump, at least ten times worse than Trump!

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M29 days ago

Opps that would be Unifor was created in or around 2014 not 3 years ago as noted below.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M29 days ago

If Prime Minister Trudeau actually was capable of using the brain that was given to him instead of playing at being the jet-setting dictator, did something for the benefit of ALL Canadians there would be no push back from the provincial governments. Trudeau answers only to the Union bosses, take a look at some of the news items from before he became PM, most of his brain wave policies come from Jerry Dias, the Unifor National President (also in the US). Unifor and the United Auto Workers have been working with Chrystia Freeland on NAFTA or whatever they call it now. No surprise here, Jerry has been mistakenly identified as a spokesman for the Canadian liberal government. After being elected as Prime Minister, who did Trudeau meet first, the Union Bosses. Mr. goody two shoes is not at all ethical or who you think he is Joel, get your facts straight.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M29 days ago

Continued FYI
Unifor was created 3 years ago through the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paper Workers (CEP), which boils down to the unionized media workers all belong to this Union, which has bought and paid for the Federal Liberal government. No such thing as unbiased media in Canada, they all report what they are told to report, say what they are told to say and write what they are told to write. And who has the pre-election ads on TV today, not the Conservatives, paid for by Unifor trashing the Conservatives already.

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