Once upon a time, 50 years or more ago, a clear distinction between Left and Right may have existed. Not any more, I fear - not since the Left in Canada got taken over by the Middle Class. Consider this month's editorial in the mailed out version of the CCPA Monitor, a left-of-centre magazine that I have always respected and supported.
Here's how their second paragraph read.
"Nearly two years, a group of far-right activists launched the most
successful crowdfunding campaign in Canadian history in order to lead
a caravan of thousands of people to the nation's capital demanding that
all public health restrictions be lifted, COVID be damned. The so-called
"freedom convoy" occupied Ottawa for over a month -- creating a social
crisis that culminated in the convoy's eviction by the police following the
federal invocation of the Emergencies Act."
The editorial goes on to lament "the disinformation" that led to one in three Canadians supporting the Convoy and its demands. To resolve that kind of "problem” in future, the author suggests that Big Tech could be given the capacity, in coordination with government, to purge "disinformation agents and the far-right extremists" they produce from their platforms.
Really! Does that not sound to you as if the 'solution' itself might be tilting towards a threat to our democracy. What happened to that supposed left-wing commitment to “freedom, equality, fraternity and rights?”
As for the Emergencies Act that brought an end to the occupation, the editorial makes no mention of it. That doesn’t surprise me. In a cursory search of 43 alternative left-wing media sites, I found only one magazine (Passage) that expressed concerns about the Act. The vast majority of publications apparently didn't feel that the introduction of an Act that could allow government to rule by decree was important enough to comment on.
Fourteen of the sites did, however, choose to write about the right-wing element in the Freedom Convoy and how this could lead to a resurgence of the right in Canada.
The irony is that they may well be correct, but not for the reasons they give. I would suggest that it is left-wing attitudes, not right- wing activities, that are actually pushing people to the right.
As an example, take a look again at the above paragraph from this month's Monitor and consider how this might go down with the one third of Canadians that supported the Convoy movement - a movement that was largely working class in its roots and participation.
Notice the biased slant in the information presented.
No mention was made that "the most successful crowdfunding campaign in Canadian history" was quickly blocked (and still is largely blocked) with truckers getting very little to no money.
Nor did the Monitor bother to clarify that there was very little justification for continuing the vaccine passports and mandates that the Freedom Convoy wanted abolished. That’s because by the time of the protest it was known and acknowledged that the vaccinated could spread the virus just as easily as the unvaccinated. "COVID be damned." implies something very different to the reader.
And, of course, no mention is made of the fact that the whole ordeal might not have lasted more than a couple of days if the Liberal Government had agreed to the not unreasonable request from the truckers to meet with their team of medical and constitutional experts to discuss their concerns. Our prime minister refused to even send an intern to talk with with the Convoy organizers.
My working class friends view the Monitor article as typical of the perspective of a smug laptop class whose individuals have ridden out the pandemic closures, salaries intact, from the comfort of their homes. They argue it shows how little sympathy that class really has for those who lost their livelihood during the pandemic.
What are the consequences of this class divide? I suspect that both the Liberals and NDP will lose votes among Blue Collar Workers in the next election and I predict a solid Conservative win, maybe even a return to Harper style politics. The Right may seldom walk the walk of "freedom, equality and fraternity" but they've certainly shown the ability to talk that talk in their sympathetic reaction to the Convoy’s participants. Very clever of them.
And very short-sighted, borderline stupid, on the part of the new Middle Class Left.
In conclusion, in fairness to the CCPA, when I wrote to them expressing my dismay at the attitude in the editorial, I immediately got a reply from the director of the national office suggesting we talk further about this. I 've since noted that the editorial is very different in their on-line version.
So what would I say in that conversation? For sure I would acknowledge all the good analytical work the CCPA think tank has been doing for years on growing inequality. That’s unequivocal.
But that doesn’t change the tone of the editorial. Like so many of the articles I've found in other left-wing media sources, the editorial implicitly suggests that Freedom Convoy participants and their supporters were misinformed sheep, naively influenced by disinformation from right-wing conspirators. There is no consideration given to the protestors’ point of view.
So, is there a winner here? Actually, I suspect our elites are just delighted with the way things are evolving. The growing animosity between not just classes, but different identity groups, conveniently deflects attention from the huge upward transferal of wealth and power since the pandemic began. We’re so distracted by judgmental squabbles among ourselves that we are simply not seeing the big picture.
Is there a solution? I think we in the new Middle Class Left might want to start by considering how exclusionary we might have become in our thinking. Is economist Thomas Piketty actually right in calling us the Brahmin Left? Maybe. On a personal level I’ve been surprised to note that the higher the educational level of my friends and fellow social justice contacts, the less willing they have been to, not just consider, but even listen to minority opinions. I would never have anticipated that.
What ever happened to the Occupy Movement’s inclusionary vision of “We are the 99%”?
Recommended reading: The Freedom Convoy: The inside story of three weeks that shook the world.