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Roger Stone is the wife-swapping, weed-smoking, dirty tricks-loving Republican strategist with a Richard Nixon back tattoo whose sartorial sense can charitably be described as Gotham City-esque. And now, fresh from a 40-month prison sentence that was swiftly commuted by then U.S. president Donald Trump, Stone is on his way to Canada to advise one of the most long-shot contenders in the Ontario provincial election.
Specifically, Stone was just announced Monday as the “senior strategic advisor” to the Ontario Party, the province’s answer to Maxime Bernier’s populist People’s Party of Canada. “As a seasoned veteran of hard-nosed politics, Roger’s insights into campaign strategies designed to take back Ontario will be invaluable to our grassroots campaign going forward,” read an official Monday statement by the Ontario Party. Stone doesn’t appear to have taken a huge interest in Canadian politics over his 40-year career, but like many on the American right, that all changed with Ottawa’s recent crackdown on the Freedom Convoy.
Stone has been a Republican political fixer going back to the campaigns of Nixon, but is probably most famous for his 20-year bid to convince real estate mogul Donald Trump to take a run for the U.S. presidency – a quest that ultimately yielded Trump’s surprise 2016 election victory. He’s also never been particularly coy about employing ungentlemanly means of winning elections.
At the helm of the Ontario Party is Derek Sloan, whose recent political career has been almost as much of a roller coaster ride as Stone’s. Just two years ago, he was a contender for the head of the Conservative Party, winning 14.9 per cent in the first ballot of the 2020 leadership election. The race’s ultimate winner, Erin O’Toole, soon kicked Sloan out of caucus citing a “pattern of destructive behaviour.” In the last federal election, Sloan ran as an independent in the deeply conservative riding of Banff-Airdrie, for which he yielded a catastrophic fifth place.
Also, there are an awful lot of fringe parties contesting the Ontario provincial election. Ballots will feature candidates from no less than 23 parties, including Go Vegan, Stop the New Sex-Ed Agenda, the Pauper Party of Ontario and the 11-year-old Peoples Political Party, which confusingly has nothing to do with the People’s Party of Canada (and why Sloan was forced to call his party the Ontario Party instead of his preferred choice of the People’s Party of Ontario).
IN OTHER NEWS
The bean-counters at the Parliamentary Budget Office have arrived at a preliminary cost for Canada’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic: $371.5 billion. Since lockdowns first began in March 2020, the federal government has blown thrown $576 billion in extra spending, of which the $371.5 billion was directly attributable to the pandemic. This cements the pandemic’s legacy as the single-most expensive thing to have ever happened to Canada. For context, the total inflation-adjusted cost of Canada fighting the Second World War is $395.81 billion – but that was spread over 10 years from 1939 to 1949. And of course, the PBO figure doesn’t even touch on the tens of billions in provincial debt assumed as a result of the pandemic.
Canadian immigration levels are rapidly soaring to their highest rates since the two decades preceding the First World War, when mass immigration was used to rapidly populate the Canadian Prairies. But here’s the thing about the pre-1914 era: Back then, new Canadians were literally given free chunks of land. Nowadays, they arrive into a country with soaring inflation and some of the world’s most ridiculously unaffordable real estate. It’s why, in a lengthy feature for the Toronto Star, data analyst Stephen Punwasi accused Ottawa of perpetrating a “snow job” on the world’s legions of would-be Canadians. “The truth is, Canada’s reputation as a place of opportunity is fading,” he wrote. “It’s prohibitively expensive to live here, wages aren’t stellar, and lots of other places have quality health care.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have come closer than any of his predecessors towards obtaining a criminal record while in office, according to investigative documents recently unearthed by the Globe and Mail. The reason was Trudeau’s 2016 all-expenses-paid family trip to the private island of the Aga Khan, the billionaire hereditary leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Accepting the gift of a luxury vacation from a foreign monarch (particularly one whose eponymous foundation has received massive amounts of Canadian federal funding) would eventually be found to have been a contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act. But the new documents find that the Mounties briefly considered charging Trudeau with fraud over the trip. And if Trudeau had any other job in the federal government other than prime minister, the trip probably would have been enough to warrant a criminal charge. But given Trudeau’s position, the RCMP ultimately backed off in part over fears of damaging “the Government of Canada’s appearance of integrity.”
Speaking of the prime minister, Conrad Black actually has something good to say about him for a change. In a recent column, Black heaped praise on Operation Unifier, Canada’s little-known nine-year mission to train Ukrainian forces for the prospect of all-out war with Russia. In a conflict that has seen Russian forces utterly decimated as a result of calcified Soviet-style top-down command structures, it was Canadians who helped whip the Ukrainian military into a more decentralized and fast-acting force. For this, wrote Black, “Canada has incurred more gratitude in Europe for its military assistance than at any time since the First Canadian Army largely liberated the Netherlands in 1945.”
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