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Canada Trudeau complains about tone, but Conservatives say polarization is coming from the Liberal camp

07:10  16 october  2019
07:10  16 october  2019 Source:   nationalpost.com

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In a moment of reflection during a scenic campaign stop in Fredericton, N.B., on Tuesday morning, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau admitted his biggest regret since becoming prime minister is the plunging political climate in the country.

“Everything I tried to do in the last four years has been focused on bringing the country together. Yet we find ourselves now in a more polarized, more divisive election than even the 2015 one,” said Trudeau.

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Trudeau ’s complaints are without merit, Scheer said , adding that he stands by his criticism. Opposition Attacks. Trudeau kicked Wilson-Raybould and Philpott out of the Liberal caucus on April 2 The prime minister’s national carbon tax kicked in last week, coming into effect in four provinces

For Conservative leader Andrew Scheer it was all a bit rich.

Just days ago, Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts posted a photo on Twitter of Scheer shaking hands with a construction worker and wrote, “Well, this is subtle. Sometimes a yellow vest is just a yellow vest?”

It was an attempt to lash Scheer to the right wing “yellow vest” groups in Canada, which became a source of racism and violent threats against the prime minister. Although it originally drew inspiration from the French yellow vest movement, which spurred populist demonstrations around that country, the name quickly grew toxic in Canada due to bigoted social media activity from some members. Even the “United We Roll” convoy that descended on Ottawa earlier this year to protest the government’s environmental polices tried to distance itself from the yellow vest moniker.

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But, Scheer pointed out, thousands of Canadians wear those vests to work everyday and they were collateral damage in the Liberal attacks.

“That’s just despicable,” said Scheer, at his Tuesday policy announcement in Quebec City. “He has essentially insulted everyone who wears a a high-visibility vest to work.”

Later in the afternoon, Scheer took to social media to further condemn Butts’ comments.

“Still shocked by this from Trudeau’s top advisor,” wrote Scheer . “Liberals say they’re for the middle class and those working hard to join it. Except if you wear high-vis work gear and put in a hard day’s work. Then they call you a racist. I was proud to shake this man’s hand.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also got involved, tweeting, “Sad to see what’s happened to the once-great Liberal Party. Justin Trudeau’s top advisor thinks a working guy wearing a mandated safety vest is a Nazi dog whistle.”

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The campaign dust-up was not unusual, nor was the fact that it originated on Butts’ Twitter feed. Even before Trudeau became prime minister, Butts has gleefully enraged Conservatives on Twitter.

Since the campaign started in early September, Butts has attacked Scheer multiple times about his views on abortion and same-sex marriage — areas where the Liberals think the Conservative leader is vulnerable. Butts has mentioned Ontario Premier Doug Ford no less than eight times in the last month, sometimes explicitly tying him to Scheer and other times just drawing attention to Ford’s public appearances.

On Oct. 3, Butts squeezed nearly half a dozen attacks and innuendos into a single tweet, attracting nearly 1,500 responses, some of them supportive, but many of them abusive.

“So far… we’ve learned Mr Scheer is an anti climate action, anti gun control, anti abortion US citizen. Maybe he’s telling the truth that he never voted in the US,” tweeted Butts . “But do you doubt how he’d vote if he did?”

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Justin Trudeau, Gerald Butts are posing for a picture:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his then-principal secretary Gerald Butts in February 2017.© Chris Wattie/Reuters/File Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his then-principal secretary Gerald Butts in February 2017.

During an interview with National Post columnist John Ivison for his book on Trudeau, Butts said he enjoys the role he plays on social media.

“I hold out the possibility that I could be wrong about anything at any given time. That’s not the person I play on Twitter,” said Butts.

The Conservative campaign chief, Hamish Marshall, attracts a similar amount of ire from Liberal partisans thanks to his former role as a board member of Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. Marshall, though, has no Twitter account and has mostly shunned the spotlight.

For Trudeau, the toxicity of federal politics may have been front of mind after a security scare over the weekend forced him to attend a Liberal rally surrounded by a security detail while wearing what looked like a bullet-proof vest.

“I hope that Canadians make the choice to pull together come Monday,” said Trudeau.

But “divisiveness” may be in the eye of the beholder. In that same press conference, Trudeau admitted he can be “sharp” when describing the Conservatives. And, asked if he was trying to scare NDP voters into voting Liberal next week, Trudeau said his party has been positive and quickly pivoted to an attack on the former Conservative government.

“I think people remember well the cuts and the choices Stephen Harper made,” said Trudeau.

Asked how he might change his tone, to unite the country, Trudeau didn’t quite answer the question, instead saying he was going to focus on the middle class.

“We made a decision in 2015 that pushed back against right wing economists and Conservatives who thought that the only way to grow the economy was to give tax breaks to the wealthy,” said Trudeau.

• Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter: stuartxthomson

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