Civil liberties violator, racial profiler, and apologist for police brutality Bill Blair announced today in an exclusive interview with the Toronto Star that he will seek the nomination for the Liberal Party in Scarborough Southwest.
This is one of those times when I hate being right.
You may recall that last week I was sounding the alarm about a “grassroots initiative” led by “local Liberals” to “draft Bill Blair” to run in the upcoming federal election. It was transparently an astroturf group, but based on the respectful and widespread coverage it received, I concluded that it was essentially a beat-sweetener put forward by the Liberal Party to float the idea and get some same press. At the time I said:
So one could see this as the first step in what would essentially be a coronation of Blair as the candidate for Scarborough Southwest. And ultimately, that’s the way I’m reading this…I expect that we’ll hear something next weekend, when Blair is officially a civilian, if we’re ever gonna hear anything at all. In the meanwhile let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this is some kind of horrible nightmare.
And now here we are. I’m sad to say I’m not surprised that he’s made it official. There were a few surprises in the Star’s gushing piece, though:
In going with the Liberals, Blair rejected strong arm-twisting by the Conservatives to run with them, including personal overtures by senior cabinet ministers, a source said. Blair declined to comment, saying only that he had “respectful discussions” with a “number of people.”
“I was asked to consider a number of different options for the future,” he said. “I’ve made my choice and for me, it’s a values-based choice.”
Of course it makes sense that both the Liberals and the Conservatives would aggressively woo Blair, given that their platforms and values have become nearly indistinguishable from each other, and that they have both supported the growth of the police-state via Bill C-51. So how on earth did Blair choose between them?
Blair says his decision was cemented in personal discussions with Trudeau. It was influenced, too, by a major speech the Liberal leader gave in March that laid out a vision for liberty and diversity in Canada while condemning the Tories for a “corrosive” style of politics…
“In my conversations with Mr. Trudeau, I felt there was a tremendous alignment in our values,” Blair said.
There’s that word again. “Values”. What on earth does it mean in this context? In what way do Blair and Trudeau share values? Blair cites a few examples – he supports Trudeau’s posture of aggressively combatting terrorism while not attacking “communities impacted by radicalization” (a sneakily encoded way to reinforce the trope that only Muslims are terrorists), as well as the Liberal Party’s plan to legalize marijuana, a real slap in the face to all the people who were arrested for petty drug possession during Blair’s tenure as chief of police.
But do Blair and Trudeau’s “shared values” extend to, for instance, believing in the right of police to arbitrarily detain and arrest peaceful protesters? Does Trudeau share Blair’s views on carding? By courting the ex-Chief, the Liberals are buying into his whole legacy of police abuse.
This doesn’t seem to trouble the party in the least:
The recruitment of Blair is a coup for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and a boost for the Liberals in Toronto and across the country, given the profile of the former police chief, a senior party official told the Star.
“He’s an excellent community leader. He’s got a depth of experience I don’t think you would find anywhere else in the country,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We’re thrilled,” the official said.
First of all, what the hell is the Star doing? Allowing a prominent Liberal to speak anonymously to say something absolutely non-controversial is just indulgent. Anonymity shouldn’t be granted so lightly.
Second, and more subtly, note that while Trudeau is the main supporting character in this article, he’s not quoted on the matter one way or another. Could that be because of the controversy he’s courted this election cycle by getting too closely involved in riding nomination contests? (Yes, each of those links is about a different controversy! The last one, which sadly is a HuffPo article, is an excellent overview of several poorly-covered nomination debacles across the country.)
Scarborough Southwest’s Liberal Party Association hasn’t yet selected a nominee for this fall’s election; as the Post noted last week in its coverage of the Draft Blair Astroturf Group:
The chief would enter a field already crowded with Scarborough Liberals angling for the nomination, some of whom have already been campaigning for more than a year.
One of them, Michael Kempa, says he remains optimistic about the prospect of going up against one of Toronto’s most well-known public figures.
“There’s no question that Bill Blair is a high profile person … but a big name and competence in another field doesn’t necessarily translate to a nomination win,” said Mr. Kempa.
A big name may not be a slam dunk by itself, but with the whole of the Liberal Party apparatus behind Blair, he’s a shoe-in. There’s no way they’ll let their hand-picked star candidate not get the nomination. And Blair is surely not one to object to a little preferential treatment.
I think it should be clear that I see Blair as a menace to society. His decision to join the Liberals, and their eager embrace of his candidacy, shows how morally bankrupt the party has become, and should be further proof, to anybody who was still unsure, of how indistinguishable they now are from the Conservative Party. We can only hope that the people of Scarborough Southwest see through this transparent ruse. I’ll continue following this race as it develops in the weeks to come.