My response to Liberal MPs misquoting my columns in Parliament

By Jonathon Van Maren

Whenever the Liberals are losing an argument badly, they fall back on a tried-and-true tactic: Demonize those they disagree with and demonize the Conservatives by association. During the debate yesterday on the Canada Summer Jobs Program, they consistently accused the Conservatives of being sympathetic to pro-life Canadians (which, as this kerfuffle has shown, there are quite a lot more of than they suspected). But then, to my surprise, several of them brandished printed-out quotes from this blog and quoted me by name describing Conservative leader Andrew Scheer as pro-life. These MPs were clearly led to believe that this was new and significant information rather than a simple matter of public record.

It is painfully obvious what the Liberals are attempting to do here. They wanted to bar pro-life organizations from accessing Canada Summer Jobs funding, and so they created a policy that would force groups to sign off on support for a whole laundry list of progressive causes. There was an immediate backlash from faith groups of every kind right across the country, and so they put out an explanation saying that that no one need worry, as long as you weren’t doing anything that conflicted with the current government’s positions, you were just fine.

Many churches, non-profits, businesses and charities—a number of them non-religious–responded by saying that they still couldn’t, in good conscience, sign off on the attestation—after all, it was the attestation they were expected to check off, not the supplementary explanation. Liberals responded by informing them that they were wrong, which unsurprisingly proves that they have no idea what “conscience” means in the first place—you don’t get to dictate to someone else what conflicts with their conscience.

In order to quell the backlash, the Liberals have desperately been trying to change the narrative by focusing on pro-life groups, even though the Conservative motion that was being debated explicitly accepted the government’s premise that activist groups could be cut out of the program, just like the Liberals wanted. And so they attempted to say that the Opposition Leader, Andrew Scheer, has a “longstanding relationship” with me due to the fact that I published an article during the leadership campaign advising pro-lifers to rank Scheer as their third choice—more on that later.

As an aside, funnily enough, I’ve never met Andrew Scheer or spoken to him—not even at a campaign event. Only a party that could straight-facedly insist that Justin Trudeau, who had not spoken to the Aga Khan in thirty years, was still somehow a “close family friend” of the Khan could spin a published statement on a blog as a “longstanding relationship.” On the other hand, convicted terrorist Jaspar Atwal, who shot a visiting Indian politician in an attempt to kill him and was subsequently photographed many times with Trudeau before being invited to a dinner with Trudeau in India, is apparently not a friend of the prime minister—although Atwal insists that they’re friends, and the trail of photographic evidence appears to indicate that they at least hung out. It would appear that Liberals conjure relationships in and out of existence, depending on what they perceive to be politically opportune.

Now, on to the column I wrote for The Bridgehead (which happens to be a political and cultural commentary website—I note this only because the Liberal MPs continually insisted that Scheer was chatting with the “Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform,” an organization which incidentally does not exist in this country. (The organization they were attempting to refer to is the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.) In fact, the society, culture and politics website and podcast I run covers a wide variety of topics—I’ve interviewed everyone from Canadian children’s authors like Kit Pearson and Jean Little to Holocaust survivors, as well as politicians. I do also write regularly for CCBR’s blog—which is a different blog entirely. The Liberals do not even attempt to get the basic details of any narrative correct—as flattered as I am by my supposed significance to various political goings-on. I’d wager that both the Liberals and I rather wish that I had the influence they claim that I do.

What I did find incredibly irritating was the fact that the Liberal MPs who stood up in the House of Commons to cite my blog as a talking point (considering the almost identical phraseology from an entire lineup of MPs squinting at papers they’d brought with them, it was obviously distributed to them with orders to bring it up beforehand) deliberately misrepresented what I wrote. While it appears that several corrections were made to their statements in the Hansard record, what each MP did was cite the second sentence of the article: “Like most of you, I’ve known who my top choices are for months.”

Each of them then skipped six paragraphs before they begin quoting again. Why? Because the following sentence said: “Pierre Lemieux and Brad Trost are two solidly pro-life candidates, and putting them in the top three sends the message that there is still an appetite for social conservative policies in the Conservative Party of Canada—especially since there are so many of us.” I then go on to explain why Andrew Scheer is not an untrustworthy backstabber like Patrick Brown. The Liberals, of course, break the column down by quoting me saying I’ve known my top choices for months, skip the fact that I was referring to Lemieux and Trost, and then zip down to where I make the case for Andrew Scheer as a solid third ballot choice for pro-lifers.

Only one of the MPs actually quoted me accurately—the others misrepresented the column in a way that approaches overt deceit, especially since the intention was to create a very specific impression. One MP seems to have flat-out lied, saying that I wrote that Scheer was my first choice for months.  I’m flattered that so many Liberals spend time reading my columns, but it would be nice if they could at least accurately repeat what I’ve actually written. I understand that they’re busy trying to create their “hidden agenda” narrative in the vein of Marci MacDonald’s hysterical Armageddon Factor by quoting my reportage of votes and policies that are already a matter of public record, but they should perhaps try to look a bit less overt in their frantic attempts to change the channel on their Canada Summer Jobs bungle.

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