We reported last week how populists had been elected to lead Italy. We also reported that Spain had lost an existing nationalist / populist leader primarily because of scandal. We’ve written on Shinzo Abe, the nationalist leader of Japan. Those are only the ones we’ve covered. There are more around the globe.
Now add Doug Ford to that list.
From the Washington Post:
Ford is the older brother of the late Rob Ford, whose time as mayor of Toronto was marked by alcohol problems and a notorious videotape in which he was seen smoking crack cocaine. He entered rehab and later died of cancer. Doug Ford was Rob Ford’s main political adviser and ally on the Toronto City Council, where he served a term as a municipal councilor, his only prior experience in elected office.
This man, often called “The Canadian Donald Trump” won handily on Thursday, gaining 40.6 percent of the popular vote, with the hard left New Democratic Party attracting 33.7 percent.
Doug Ford ran under the banner of the Progressive Conservative Party, but many of his stances have been far more nationalistic than their official platform. He earned favor with the populace by aggressively denouncing the local and national press, and using their obvious antipathy as a means to discredit, with his supporters, all negative stories they produced… both those which were erroneous or slanted and those which reported factually. He also does not seem to hold strongly to much in the way of personal political philosophy, wavering back and forth between conservative, nationalist, and sometimes even liberal policies. (National Post)
He differs from other populists primarily in his efforts to actively distance himself from racist elements, instead of accepting them as either a necessary evil or a welcome ally.
The Liberal Party, which had previously controlled Ontario, didn’t merely lose. They didn’t merely get shellacked. They were destroyed… to the point where they no longer count as a recognized party in Ontario, and are relegated to the status of a fringe group. From CTV:
It was a difficult night for former premier Kathleen Wynne. She eked out a victory by a slim margin of less than 200 votes in her longtime Toronto riding of Don Valley West, but resigned as party leader after the Liberals lost 48 seats on Thursday.
The party’s remaining seven seats means they are a seat shy of the eight required to retain their “recognized party” status at Queen’s Park. Parties with official status are entitled to speak and ask questions during debates in the legislature and question period. They’re also given public money for party offices, research and organization.
It’s the first time in its 161-year history that the Liberal party has lost official status. The last time the party had such a dismal showing at a general election was in 1951 when they scraped by with only eight seats.
The Liberals were undermined by a combination of scandals in recent years, blowback against what is seen by many as sex and gender indoctrination at inappropriately young ages, and soaring costs for energy and other bills that squeezed the wealth from the population. All of those concerns threaten Trudeau’s status in the next national elections. (City News)
Doug Ford, as the leader of Canada’s most populous province, will have strong influence on the national government of Trudeau. Furthermore, the destruction of the Liberal stranglehold on Ontario – a bulwark of progressivism in North America – has focused the attention of many left-wing American institutions. His election is not a small thing.
Many reporters will point to the influence of Russia on the campaigns to elect nationalists, such as in this piece by The Atlantic. They are correct to place blame there; Russia is documented to have actively interceded in campaigns throughout the world with methods such as direct funding, running online advertisements, hacking opposition campaigns, and lending organizational human resources both directly and remotely.
By exclusively blaming Russia, however, they ignore the other great contributor to the rise of populist nationalism: egregious overreach by progressives. Populism is succeeding because it’s being presented as the only viable alternative to a forced redefinition of cultures and a perceived relegation of majority populations to not merely equal, but inferior status. Faced with what they believe to be threats to not just themselves but also their friends, family and history, people are being metaphorically herded into the one chute they are told is available that gives them a chance to survive.