Tag Archives: Donald Trump

It could be worse

At this time of year, in this region of the increasingly Great White North, we have a pernicious habit of wearing our worries on our sleeves.

Call it a somber reflection on the year that was or an anxious anticipation of the one that looms before us, but our moods rarely improve with the promise of winter’s darkening skies.

Our kids are still leaving for sunnier economic climes. Good, sustainable jobs continue to evade us. Our public debts and deficits persist in vexing us, though we haven’t the foggiest notion of how to settle them. Meanwhile, the pundits and prognosticators among us sally forth like so many members of a chorus in a Greek tragedy with whispers and whines of imminent doom.

But are our lives in the Atlantic Provinces really as awful as we imagine them to be? Think of those we’ve welcomed from other, sundered parts of the globe. Specifically, think of the Syrian newcomers who have, in recent months, found new reasons to hope along Canada’s East Coast.

Last year, a BuzzFeed News report, relying on data supplied by the United Nations and assorted research groups, concluded that in 2014, “as the war enters its fifth year. . .the most shocking finding is that life expectancy in Syria dropped from 76 years in 2010 to an estimated 56 years in 2014. . .Syria’s population has shrunk from 20.9 million to 17.6 million during that time as people have fled overseas or been killed, the report says. The country is now the world’s biggest source of refugees. Over half of Syria’s pre-war population have fled their homes during the conflict. . . The bulk of that group have remained displaced within Syria. Around 200,000 people have died in the conflict so far.”

A problem that’s far less dramatic than any of these, but nonetheless troubling, is the rise of anti-immigration sentiment everywhere, it seems, except Canada. According to a New York Tomes article late last month, “(Donald Trump’s) promise to deport (2-3 million) immigrants who have committed crimes suggested that he would dramatically step up removals of both people in the United States illegally and those with legal status. If carried out, the plan potentially would require raids by a vastly larger federal immigration force to hunt down these immigrants and send them out of the country.

Added Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies of New York, for the Times: “If he wants to deport two to three million people, he’s got to rely on tactics that will divide communities and create fear throughout the country. He would have to conduct a sweep, or raids or tactics such as those, to reach the numbers he wants to reach. It would create a police state, in which they would have to be aggressively looking for people.”

Fear is the operative word these days. It is again becoming a media meme song. Still, here in Atlantic Canada, we may count our blessings – however minor we often perceive them to be – on our sleeves frayed with worry. Even the Conference Board of Canada says we’re doing pretty well, all things considered.

Says Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial Forecast: “All three Maritime provincial economies are expected to perform better in the new year. This largely boils down to growth in the tourism, forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors, as well as increasing exports to the U.S. and abroad boosted by a lower Canadian dollar.”

So, buck up my fellow New Brusnwickers. It could be worse. . .much worse.

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Strange days, indeed


It’s difficult to gauge the measurable effect of Donald Trump’s recent election win on the natural world as 30 centimeters of wet snow descended on Moncton nearly a month before the official start of winter. But maybe the legendary Eastern cougar knew something we didn’t more than a month ago.

According to a CBC report in late October, “Several people in the Tracy (New Brunswick) area have reported seeing and hearing what they believe is a cougar prowling in their yards over the past two weeks. Four households have heard and seen what they describe as a large cat with long tail, and tawny coat, sitting in their yards making separate loud, disturbing yowls and screeches.”

Said one Holly Whittaker: “It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And there he was and it was kind of scary knowing I had a cougar outside my bedroom window. It was beige colour, very big. He had a very long tail and he just went strutting down the road. I’ve looked online and seen pictures of them. I know it wasn’t a bobcat or a lynx, he had a very long tail.”

Naturalists have dismissed theories that the big feline is making a breeding comeback in the province. It’s more likely, they say, the cats – probably exotic pets that have escaped their captivity – are travelling north from the United States. There’s no word yet on whether they self-identify as Democrats or Republicans.

We know that fish don’t vote so it’s hard to parse the circumstances surrounding the following, as reported last week in the Annapolis County Spectator in Nova Scotia: “Cindy Graham was walking her dogs Nov. 25 on the beach at Griffin Cove just west of Seawall and found that beach littered with herring. Joan Comeau was bird watching in Sandy Cove the same morning and saw herring on the beach there and under the wharf.

“Dead and dying herring has been washing up on the shores of St. Mary’s Bay for a week or more, from the head of the bay at Marsh Road in Marshalltown, as far west as Gilbert’s Cove on the mainland and Sandy Cove on the Neck.”

Said Department of Fisheries and Oceans detachment supervisor Gary Hutchins: “We expect to have some kind of determination of what, if anything, is wrong with the fish by the first of week.” The newspaper piece added that Hutchins “said a DFO biologist in Digby had made a quick examination of some affected herring but was not able to identify a cause for what is happening.

Roland LeBlanc, a researcher with the Salmon River Salmon Association has also had time, before heading to sea on a research trip, to cut open a herring and was not able to find the parasite Cryptoctolye lingua in that one fish.”

Meanwhile, as the CBC reported, following the Trump victory in the United States, “The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website crashed around 11 p.m. on (election day) due to what a department spokesperson called ‘a significant increase in the volume of traffic.’ Since then, the department has confirmed that visitors from the U.S. accounted for half of that surge. . . Toronto-based immigration lawyer Heather Segal told CBC News that she has had American inquiries about relocating to Canada during the election campaign.”

Of course, as Mr. Trump has said, climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China on the rest of the world. So, we shan’t look there for explanations. Suffice to say the days, already strange, are getting stranger all the time.

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Oh, we lucky few

Certainly, we in New Brunswick face some tough problems, some hoary challenges. Even a casual review the public accounts will tell you that. So will the unemployment rate, systemic poverty in certain parts of the province and persistent illiteracy and innumeracy.

But, in our quieter moments, even the most disenfranchised or cynical among us must admit, all things considered, we have it pretty good. After all, consider the alternatives.

The other day, CNN reported: “Donald Trump – struggling to move past a week of one controversy after another – is making clear that he’s willing to go it alone in the final weeks of the campaign. As the Republican nominee tries to recover from one of his toughest stretches, few prominent GOP leaders – other than those who advise him or are on his payroll – seem willing to launch a full-throated rescue effort. So Trump sought to do the heavy lifting himself, delivering a feisty speech that attempted to reframe the campaign and extract him from the quagmire of the past week, which included a disappointing debate performance, a roiling controversy over whether he paid taxes, and ill-advised attacks on a Latina beauty queen – a feud he couldn’t seem to let go.”

Yet, the man is polling at 41 per cent public approval. His rival, Hillary Clinton, is barely squeaking ahead at 45 per cent exactly one month before the U.S. federal election. Oh, brother!

Still, our American cousins might take some solace from the fact that their institutions of justice, law and morality have not entirely crumbled. Can we say the same about Syria, from which refugees arrive in Canada every day? Can we say the same about Zimbabwe? Ask Mark McKinnon. He’ll give you an earful.

He and his wife owned a farm in that southeast African country until last month when government operatives summarily expropriated his land, animals and chattels. Forced to flee the land his family had worked for generations, he and his spouse, children an relatives are now ensconced in Canada.

“We had to get out,” he told The Zimbabwean the other day. “I was going to just send the family out and fight it myself but they’re following me and would have locked me up. . .I was in hiding. . . The Canadians have been amazing. I’ve never been here before but we’re going to build a new life until we can come home. We’re on one side of Canada staying with an aunt, and my parents are on the other side staying with my sister.”

According to the story, posted online, “Mark is one of the latest victims of Zimbabwe’s state of lawlessness. The well-ordered farm that his grandfather carved out of virgin bush when he arrived from Canada and bought the land in the late 1960s, is already descending into chaos. . . It was a familiar scenario. Government ‘lists’ the farm and issues an ‘offer letter’ to a few connected people. They simply chase the owner off – with the help of the police – under the guise of the ‘Land Reform’ programme. . .If the land falls within the peri-urban area around towns, they change the land usage status, subdivide and sell off hundreds of small plots to make themselves millions.”

We walk down the streets of Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John and never fear that bombs will fall on our heads. We stroll through the back-40s of our farms in rural New Brunswick and never worry about government thugs evicting us from our lawful livelihoods.

We have, in short, much to be thankful for – we lucky few

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Brexit’s dart to the heart


Nothing unwittingly captures the folly of Britain’s decision, last week, to leave the European Union than do comments from the world’s reigning absurdist, the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States Donald Trump,

Having only just arrived to reopen his golf course in Scotland, the billionaire heir to impossible wealth tweeted, “Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!”

In an off-the-cuff interview with reporters, he elaborated: “I think it’s a great thing that’s happened. It’s an amazing vote, very historic. People are angry all over the world. They’re angry over borders, they’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are. They’re angry about many, many things in the UK, the US and many other places. This will not be the last.”

The curious problem with these remarks is, of course, the fact that Scotland voted 62 per cent to remain within the European Union and is now seriously considering a new referendum to separate from Britain to do just that. So is Ireland.

So, then, who does The Donald actually think took which country back, as he says, with “no games?”

Was it Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who told the BBC last weekend that she intends to spearhead a renewed effort for her nation’s independence from Westminster?

Was it Gerry Adams of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein, who has, in vigorous protest to the Brexit vote, floated the idea of unifying his country with Eire as a bulwark against an increasingly belligerent England?

As usual, Mr. Trump is doing his level (if unconsciously ludicrous) best to increase Canada’s immigration rates – specifically, to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, where the color of one’s skin still tends to be as white as driven snow. After all, his special brand of xenophobia and populist outrage plays beautifully in places like “Little England” and “Outer Atlantica”.

But before we lick our chops at the prospect of somehow amalgamating London’s progressive urbanites with Boston’s disaffected Democrats within our own porous borders, we’d better be clear about a few incontrovertible facts of life in the global, 21st Century world we inhabit.

The first is: People in democracies make terrible mistakes when they are inchoately angry. They lash out like drunken bums on bingers, only to awake at dawn to ask, “My God, what have I done?”

The second is: The planet fairly brims with enterprising, calculating opportunists who are more than happy to drive wedges between people of otherwise good and temperate nature. The sharks among us swim for this conflict, because by fomenting it, they profit from it.

The third is: No one is ever truly satisfied with the decisions they make or the leaders they choose. All anyone can ever hope for is the wisdom and freedom to forgive, change and reconcile. This is the prevailing power of reasonable governments in stable societies.

The Brexit vote will affect every economy in the world, either directly or indirectly, including Atlantic Canada’s.

Here, we do ourselves a favour by ensuring that our borders are as open as our doors, our business is open-handed, our attitude towards immigrants is openhearted, and our concept of democracy is open-minded.

If we manage that feat, then we will reject the purchase of our minds that the absurdists and calculating suitors to our basest instincts among us insist.

Then, perhaps, tomorrow, people will tell villains like Donald Trump, “You’re fired.”

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Whistling a nasty tune

Few issues loom larger in New Brunswick than the condition of the provincial economy. But one that’s gaining traction is the increasingly spiteful tenor of public debate.

I’m not talking about placard-waving protesters or media-savvy talking heads. They’re playing a fair game in front of the cameras, greasing the wheels of democratic action.

I’m talking about actual politicians who would rather shoot from the hip than focus their sights on real targets.

None of this is especially new. Neither is it restricted to one party or another. Our system of government is deliberately adversarial. It should be. That’s one way we hold elected officials to account.

Still, human nature insists that at some point we almost always approach the line that signifies we have gone too far – in this case, the place where vigorous debate becomes needlessly acrimonious and, therefore, utterly useless as an instrument of change.

We’ve not quite reached this particular boundary in New Brunswick. We cannot, for example, hope to compare our political arena with the cage matches now underway in the U.S. election.

Would a New Brunswick politician utter the following Donald Trumpism just to sway a few nutbars? “You talk about George Bush, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time. He was president, the World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

Would a New Brunswick politician talk about immigration in this province the way Mr. Trump “discusses” the issue in his neck of the North American woods? To wit: “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Would a New Brunswick politician get cringingly personal the way Mr. Trump did about his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break during last year’s televised debate? “I know where she went,” the real estate mogul and reality-show star told a crowd of his fans. “It’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting.”

Clearly, we don’t sink to these levels. Yet, we can detect a rising churlishness in New Brunswick’s political discourse. Indeed, it’s been rising for years.

When the Liberals were in opposition, they routinely, even reflexively, hammered away at the Tory government’s dismal track record on job creation, even though most reasonable opinion concluded that playing that particular card was a mug’s game. After all, despite their campaign rhetoric, governments don’t, in fact, create jobs.

Now that the Conservatives are out of office, they’re returning the favour. Said Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch the other day: “There are a number of crises the premier needs to address. (He) disappeared, came back and did his tour delivering a couple of job announcements. They are fine in themselves but there is a bigger question to be answered here. In the last 18 months, there has been a dismal failure in job creation under the Gallant leadership. He promised 5,000 jobs, we are down 6,000 jobs, so that is 11,000 less than promised.”

Mr. Fitch is not wrong about the state of the provincial economy. But the argument about the condition of his rival’s leadership actually goes nowhere if we still expect a government that hasn’t created jobs to suddenly become an employment-generating factory.

Now might be a good time to retire the lashing tongues, and explore ways to target the reasons for New Brunswick’s economic maladies together.

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A middle-class pick me up?


The one political rubric that defies partisan ownership these days is the plight of the so-called middle class.

Everyone from U.S. President Barack Obama to populist rabble-rouser Donald Trump to former Canadian Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper to current Liberal office-holder in Ottawa Justin Trudeau makes hay with this benighted segment of the North American labour market.

The problem is the middle class just isn’t what it used to be, so figuring out ways to solve its many problems is a little like looking for needles in several thousand bales of straw.

What, for example, does it mean to be middle class in New Brunswick? Do the same standards and measures apply in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, or, for that matter, Fort McMurray?

Are you middle class if you earn $60,000 a year pushing paper in at government job in Freddy Beach? Are you a card-carrying member of the bourgeoisie if you pull down $85,000 doing the same thing at Queen’s Park in downtown Hog Town?

In the old days, what signified your status as a middle-class worker was, as often as not, your job security. That depended on the quality of your employment contract and/or the stability and effectiveness of your union’s bargaining unit. Not anymore.

A nicely penned piece by John Allemang in the Globe and Mail a couple of years ago made the salient point: “So it has come to this: Even union leaders are losing faith in the power of their unions. ‘There used to be a time when we had great respect from the public,’ says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. ‘But we’ve lost that. There’s this notion that unions are just out for themselves and not for society. You get that label hung on you, and you have to work to get rid of it.’”

Yeah, good luck with that.

In fact, New Brunswick may be one of the most middle-class provinces in Canada if only because the labour market here has not endured the tumultuous economic reformations of other jurisdictions in the country – at least, not to the same extent.

That should make the recent federal budget good news to the provincial populace. After all, as Globe columnist Rob Carrick wrote last week, “Stagnant wages, rising household debt, income inequality and declining economic prospects for young Canadians are all woven into a budget narrative of a struggling middle class that needs help. The question is, how much support does the budget deliver?”

The other question is, does it really matter?

The budget document, itself, appears a tad unclear.

On the one hand, it states, “With more money in their pockets, middle class families will be able to save more, enhancing their own financial security. They will also have a greater opportunity to invest – in their own future and that of their children. Finally, they will have more money to spend, which will boost economic activity in the short term, and also put Canada on a firmer growth path over the long term.”

On the other hand, in the section expressly concerned with the middle class, it notes, “It is widely recognized that increasing support for low-income families also has a positive and long-term effect. Poverty is not just a problem for individual Canadians all of Canada is affected. Poverty is particularly challenging in the case of children, and its effect can be long term. When children are lifted out of poverty, they are better able to develop to their fullest potential.”

Perhaps, then, we have found our new middle class, after all: poor people.

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The wisdom of the crowd


When protesters shut down access roads to a Donald Trump rally in Arizona recently, prompting the improbably coiffed billionaire and reality-show host to instruct the interlopers to “go home” to their “mommies”, media broadcasters readily assumed those in his audience stood solidly with him.

I’ll wager, though, the truth was a little more complicated.

If I had conducted a straw poll onsite and at the time, I’m almost certain a third of the participants would have said the protestors should be arrested and tried for public nuisance, another third wouldn’t have cared much, and a final third would have shrugged their shoulders and mumbled something about every person’s right to free speech, even the disagreeable variety.

Politicians (especially candidates for office) and members of what was once classified so quaintly as “The Fourth Estate” expect black and white responses from John and Jane Q. Public on any issue – large or small, consequential or insignificant, even though they almost never get them.

Yet, the mantra is wearingly familiar: You are either for us or against us. You can’t be both. You certainly may not cradle any notion that democracy, in practice, is anything but fractious and polarizing.

It’s the same assumption that the chattering classes in the Atlantic Provinces make about the East Coast hoi polloi right around election and budget times, when the partisan bunting luffs ever so vigorously in the hot air.

Lately, however, in my travels around New Brunswick, a different picture of average members of the body politic emerges – one that’s more nuanced than monolithic. It suggests that most people are willing to entertain often-radical points of agreement to reach consensus on how to solve the persistent problems that afflict regional society.

Surprising are the number of voting citizens who firmly believe, regardless of their party affiliations, that forging much closer economic ties between provinces is a durable way to cut public deficits and debts.

They also think that the amount of government spending is less worrying than the lack of material return on each dollar invested. They are, for example, more likely to concur with the proposition that small-p politics should play no role in allocating (or curtailing) resources to higher education.

In fact, they are broadly convinced that entrepreneurship and innovation are functions of literacy and numeracy (not the other way around); that culture and the arts are engines, not byproducts, of prosperity; and that health care planning lacks only from a paucity of imagination among public officials who refuse to consider delivery models other than those prescribed by the status quo.

Most striking, perhaps, are the definitions people embrace for that long-abused rubric – the favorite of every politician, wearing his or her partisan colours proudly, who ever went to Government – leadership.

The notion that good leadership is “strong” or “unwavering” – that it springs, unbidden, from the souls of the anointed few who assume elected office; that it is impervious to the corrupting influences of circumspection and changing conditions – is, most average folks contend, ludicrous.

Rather, good leadership is about “respect” and “listening”. It’s about “setting an example” for others to emulate. Yes, it’s “decisive” and “consistent”, but it’s neither “rash” nor hidebound.

Few, it seems, are alarmed about peaceful, deliberate protest – except, of course, politicians and other members of the chattering classes who attend them.

Few are prepared to concede the point that holding an opinion precludes changing one’s mind.

These are the principles around which effective governments must finally rally if we have any chance of solving the problems that plague our various societies.


Avoiding the ‘T’ word


To the best of my knowledge, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has been silent on the guy, whom some oddsmakers now insist, could become the next president of the United States.

On the other hand, the Dread Pirate Donald has had plenty of things to say about Canada – mostly benign, if not exactly kind.

For one thing, he insists, he will not “build a wall” on our shared border to prevent legions of illegal Canadian immigrants from flooding into the Red, White and Blue (as if, pal!). For another, he says he “loves” us (if only on camera).

Of course, what he actually knows about the sparsely populated, monstrously sized geography just north of him could fill a plug in one of his artfully coiffed toupees. But let’s give him the benefit of our doubt.

Better yet, let’s imagine that once he assumes residency in the Oval Office, he will reach out his manicured hand and seek to shake that of Mr. Gallant’s. How would that conversation transpire?

President Trump: “Brian? It is Brian isn’t it? You know I really like that name. . .Reminds me of ‘Life of Brian’. . .You know. . .the Monty Python movie. . .though I gotta say, I preferred John Cleese doing silly walks. . .Hey, did you ever see the one about grandmas beating up thugs on the streets of London?. . .You know, they really had something there. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with America. . .So, Brian, what did you want to talk to me about?”

Premier Gallant: “Uh. . .you phoned me. . .”

Trump: “So I did, so I did. Well, now, Brian. . .I’ve met your President Jason Treacle. . .”

Gallant: “I think you mean Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. . .”

Trump: “Trudeau. . .huh. . .Listen, is he any relation to that Doonesbury comic guy Gary Trudeau?”

Gallant: “Not that I’m aware of.”

Trump: “That’s good. . .good. . .good. I don’t care for that Gary character. . .Kind of a pinko, if you get my drift. . .Now listen Bri-Bri – by the way, you can call me the Trumpenator – what do you think about getting some good, patriotic Americans up to that Cape Breton of yours? I think it could be a win-win for both of us. . .I hear you have some great golf courses there and, as it happens, I build golf courses. . .So, you can see the. . .what’s that darn word?. . .Synergies?. . .You can see the synergies going forward, right?”

Gallant: “Sure, I guess. . .Except that Cape Breton doesn’t belong to New Brunswick. It’s a part of Nova Scotia. . .so. . .”

Trump: “Details, details Bri-Bri. . .Listen, I didn’t get to be president of the United States by sweating the small stuff. You gotta start thinking extra-box-like. . .I just made that up. Start being a boxless person, and you, too, could become president of the United States someday.”
Gallant: “I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed.”

Trump: “Don’t worry, I’m working on an app for that. . .By the way, can I land one my helicopters on this Cape whatchamacallit? I only ask ‘cause I got a lot of helicopters.”

Gallant: “Sure, I suppose.”

Trump: “Good. Oh, by the way, you’re fired! Ha, ha, ha. . .See what I did there? Geeze, I kill myself sometimes.”

News headlines from Canadian Press confirmed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “intends to steer clear of contentious topic during” his U.S. visit this week: Donald Trump.

Indeed, in this circumstance, perhaps silence is golden.

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Yankee come home!

Oh to be a bluenoser now that the three-minute-long spring becomes us

Oh to be a bluenoser now that the three-minute-long spring becomes us

New Brunswick’s department of tourism (or whatever they’re calling it these days) should take a page from one Cape Breton radio personality’s playbook on luring wandering Yanks to these shores.

As Canadian Press playfully reported last week, “The creator of a cheeky website that encourages Americans to move to Cape Breton before Donald Trump can be elected president says he’s been shocked by the response. . .Traffic to the website has increased steadily, reaching over 35,000 unique visits on Wednesday (February 17).”

The spillover effect has also been pretty commanding. Said the CP story: “The site includes a link to Destination Cape Breton, which promotes tourism on the island. CEO Mary Tulle says U.S. traffic to her website over the past three days has jumped from almost 1,300 visits last year at this time to almost 12,000 this week.”

The man behind the fuss, Rob Calabrese, was, himself, gob smacked by the reaction. “I’m in disbelief,” he told the wire service. “I wish everyone from Cape Breton could read them (emails from Americans), because they really make you proud of living here. Some are writing about how it feels nice to know that they are welcome somewhere. A lot of Americans think that they’re not very popular in the eyes of the world.”

Heavens to betsy! Wherever did they get that idea?

Here, then, are a few collected quotes (courtesy of the CBC) of Mr. Trump from 2015:

“I don’t need anybody’s money. . .I’m using my own money, I’m not using the lobbyists, I’m not using donors, I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”

“When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best. . .They’re sending people that have lots of problems. . .They are bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.”

“Obamacare really kicks in in 2016. Obama’s going to be out playing golf, he might even be on one of my courses. I would invite him. . .I have the best courses in the world.”

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I will bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs and I’ll bring back our money.”

“I’m a free trader, but the problem is you need really talented people to negotiate for you. . .But we have people that are stupid.”

“I like China. . .I love China. . .Their leaders are much smarter than our leaders.”

Need we say more?  Or, as Heather from Missouri points out on the ‘Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins’ website, “As an American who has spent time in Nova Scotia exploring new opportunities and the idyllic landscape over the last three years, I would highly recommend a visit Northeast – destination Cape Breton Island. Fair warning, though, you WILL be charmed and delighted. Political asylum seeker, curious traveler, or modern nomad seeking jaw-dropping beauty, rich culture, and inspiring collaboration value, oceanside? Pack your skill set, and explore island life beyond the confines of a tourist/visitor visa. Consider the NAFTA Skilled Workers Program as a path to legal residency for American immigrants.”

In fact, the website has received an enormous amount of publicity over the past few days, having received write-ups in mainstream print and online news organizations across North America, including The National Post, Winnipeg Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Fortune, and the Huffington Post.

All of which may only prove that Mr. Trump is the greatest gift God ever created for improving Atlantic Canada’s anaemic immigration record.

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Trumping American reason


Many times over the past decades have we shaken our Canadian heads and clucked our Canadian tongues at the sight of the circus that is, so often, U.S. presidential politics.

There was former movie star-cum-California governor Ronald Reagan “horsing around” on talk radio about “bombing” Moscow in 1984.

There was George W. Bush stealing (literally) the presidency away from Al Gore in 2000.

There was Mitt Romney who effectively lost his bid for the White House after engaging in a peculiar bit of social calculus in 2012:

“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president (Barack Obama) no matter what. . .47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

But no one, and I mean no one, has come close to the audacity, vulgarity and caustic cynicism of Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate tycoon and former reality show producer and host, who, to the astonishment of many in the still flappable mainstream media, enjoys a public approval rating of 23 per cent in a field of 17 Republican candidates for president.

That may not sound impressive to our north-of-the-border ears, where our own candidates for prime ministerial vainglory are flirting with a three-way draw of about 30 per cent. But consider that, in the U.S., the next nearest in line to Mr. Trump for civic approbation on the right hand of the political ledger, Jeb Bush, enjoys a mere 12 or 13 per cent, followed in descending order by Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie and the rest of the gang.

All of which may only prove that the steady doses of abuse, insult, and villainous misrepresentation that have defiled the American electoral system have finally become politics-as-usual – in other words, no big deal.

Apparently, it’s no big deal when Mr. Trump questions Senator John McCain’s war record. Neither is it any great cause for alarm when “The Donald” calls comedian Rosie O’Donnell a “big, fat pig” and a “slob”.

Indeed, according to Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, writing in ThinkProgress online “Trump has a long history of sexist comments. Soon after the first Republican presidential debate ended, Trump retweeted a comment deriding Kelly as a ‘bimbo’. . .In 1991, he told Esquire, ‘it doesn’t really matter what (the media) write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of (expletive).’

More food for thought, courtesy of Ms. Lee: “When a lawyer once asked for a medical break to pump breast milk for her daughter, Trump reportedly told her ‘you’re disgusting’ before walking out of the room. Trump said that the women on his reality show The Apprentice all flirted with him because ‘I believe we’re all equal except women still have to try harder and they know it. They will do what they have to do to get the job done and will not necessarily be demure about it.’”

Thank you for sharing. Still, this is the guy who once said, not too long ago, that political correctness is killing America. Perhaps this is why a goodly number of Americans appear ready to send him the White House next year.

We Canadians may occasionally deride the lack of decorum in our own campaigns for office.

Under the circumstances, though, Stephen Harper’s most recent attack ads seem downright adorable.

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