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Jagmeet, Lies, And Dishonesty
On The NDP's New Lie
Given that the advice I was given was to be less ranty and more educational on Twitter today, let’s use Jagmeet Singh’s latest call for a emergency House of Commons debate, and specifically 3 words he used.
This is not, as some say, a generic statement about slippery slopes and the need for a robust public health care system. This is a very specific accusation that Doug Ford and Conservative Premiers in general (ignoring the BC NDP here, because of course he is) are “planning US-style privatization.” This is, of course, a massive lie, a fraud, a complete deceit upon the voters and the country.
What Doug Ford has proposed is an increase in private provision, that will be free at the point of use for consumers. Whatever you think of the merits of the plans, it is still nothing close to US-style anything, because US-style anything suggests hospital bills directly for care if you’re uninsured. It is potentially accurate to say it’s something like US Medicare, but we know that’s not what Jagmeet meant.
If you want to say that it is a slippery slope to some form of mixed, French model where the rich can skip the line, that argument is less solid, but also less specific. “This is bad because it could lead to a two tier system” is a defensible argument. The Premiers are actively planning US-style privatization is a specific claim requiring proof, of which there is none.
Had he just said that the Ford plan for private provision was bad for the litany of reasons that some have pointed out – higher overall costs, no increase in total capacity but merely a transference of capacity, potential monopolization given Ford’s propensity for corporate cronyism – then I’d have nothing wrong with the claim. I do not like having to defend Doug Ford, as everybody well and truly knows. But this is about more than just Doug Ford and the best methods for health care delivery. This is about honesty in public life at this point.
And we have to hold both friends and foes at a standard if we’re going to continue to have a functioning democracy.
It is not acceptable to lie in politics just because the other side is terrible. The famous Liberal Soldiers In The Streets ad, about the entirely fictional soldiers that Stephen Harper would be putting on our streets as step one of his military dictatorship (as far as I can surmise) is one of the worst things that’s ever been made, as was the John Turner 1988 ad about how the US-Canada free trade deal would result in the Canadian-US border being erased. This is not a partisan issue, nor a made in Canada one.
From Tony Abbott claiming there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC/SBS the day before the 2013 Australian Election to cutting all 3 in the 2014 budget to David Cameron claiming he would stay as Prime Minister even if Leave won to resigning the next morning, from Trump’s just general existence to Bill Clinton claiming to never have sexual relations with that woman, we have normalized a level of outright lies and bullshit that never should be allowed.
Is Jagmeet’s lie worse than Doug Ford promising to never touch the Greenbelt and then subtly allowing his developers to buy up land at extreme cost right before definitional changes? It’s hard to say which is worse, and if I was doing Ontario writing these days I’d lose my mind at Ford. (The reason I’m not: I’m trying this really radical thing of not immediately continuing to cover places and governments I do badly at projecting, because I’m trying to make sure I don’t fall back into bad habits around Ford.)
But this is a national politician straight up lying to people, and he’s hoping we’re all too stupid to be able to handle the ocean’s gap between Ford’s proposals and some form of dystopia where I and everybody else have to pay for SunLife Health to ensure that a dislocated kneecap doesn’t bankrupt me. That is not what Ford or anyone else is planning, and to say they definitively are is a straight up lie. If you’re defending the idea it’s not a lie, what you’re actually doing is defending dishonesty in politics as a price worth paying so long as it’s the good guys being dishonest.
I hope y’all understand this, but let’s be clear: “It’s okay to support a liar to get our preferred policy outcomes” is the moral choice every single Republican made to get Donald Trump. Every elected Republican came to the conclusion that their pet politics – either overturning Roe and cementing a hard right wing Supreme Court, or getting the Trump tax cut – was a price worth paying for the dishonesty and the lies and the character attacks.
It is why you had Tory MPs in the UK who despise Boris Johnson voting for him to become party leader in 2019, either because they supported Brexit and/or they supported not losing their fucking seats, a job he succeeded at on the whole. The impulse to defend Jagmeet’s dishonesty and lies comes from the same root calculation – the ends justifies the means, and this sort of lying is fine because Jagmeet means well and cares about important issues.
Here’s the thing – Republicans think they’re good people too. I know it’s impossible to think they could be, but pro-life people on the whole actually do believe that they are being more moral and righteous for their beliefs, and therefore that their choice to put up with the lies is justified. We find that argument to be absurdist nonsense, because it is. That also means it definitionally is when the left makes it too.
Jagmeet drives me insane not because I am some died in the wool partisan Liberal who will hate every NDPer ever and who views the NDP as stealing “Liberal” votes as if votes in a democracy are pre-ordained. I have voted for either the Ontario or Federal NDP as many times as I have the Federal or Ontario Liberals – 2 each – and of my 5 votes for partisan office I’ve voted non-Liberal more times than Liberal (my 5th vote was for the Greens in 2019, for the record). I am not a hater out of malice, but disappointment.
“I love you/But I’m afraid to love you” is playing right now, a line from Jeff Buckley that manages to articulate the gravest fear so many have. As someone who has been to hell and back, the only people who manage to earn my anger and my irritation are not those I expect nothing of, but those I do expect something from. The reason I am harsher on Jagmeet Singh’s lies than Pierre Poilievre probably/definitely making up a fake person and a fake wedding in Cuba is because Jagmeet is supposed to be better than the guy who brought Convoy to one of the unofficial Convoy meeting grounds outside of Ottawa. No shit I’m gonna be harsher on him, because he claims to be better than everybody else. And when he lies like this, he proves he isn’t.
If the NDP want to keep on lying to the Canadian people that is their right. Just save the holier than thou bullshit next time you ask why nobody on the other side of the aisle is willing to criticize their own party in good faith.