MAY 1st, 2023 | RYAN TYLER

Canadians Have Nothing In Common With Their Affluent Leaders

Poverty and adversity aren't easy to find among our current federal leaders.
There is barely a politician in Ottawa who grew up in a normal, middle-class household, let alone in a low-income family. Although he can be considered wealthy now, Pierre Poilievre is the only current federal leader to have any understanding of what it's like to grow up without a trust fund. As Canadians struggle with record inflation and grocery prices, most of our ruling class have no idea.
The last Conservative to be prime minister was Stephen Harper, who grew up in Toronto's affluent Leaside community and once recalled a comfortable life in a safe neighbourhood. After him, Rona Ambrose would take the helm of the party as interim leader. She grew up abroad, mostly in Brazil, and speaks Portuguese and Spanish—which isn't something most adults from low-income families could say about themselves. After her, Andrew Scheer was elected leader. He comes from a childhood described as solidly middle-class. His father was an American who worked as a proofreader for the Ottawa Citizen, making at least $66,000 per year. Together with his wife, Jim and Mary Scheer earned more than $100,000 per year by the 1990s, when the median household income was only $68,000. Andrew's first job was at a family-owned insurance company.
Most average Canadian families don't own insurance companies.
Erin O'Toole is the son of John O'Toole, a member who served in Ontario's legislature between 1995 and 2014.
Jean Chretien grew up poor, but every Liberal leader after him grew up comfortably, or extremely wealthy. Stephane Dion, the Quebec separatist, grew up in Sillery, Quebec, which had a median household income above $100,000 in 2005. Michael Ignatieff was the son of a Russian Rhodes Scholar and diplomat named George Ignatieff. His family lived abroad due to his father's growing prominence. Michael Ignatieff's grandfather, Pavel Ignatieff, was Russia's minister of education from 1915 to 1916.
Bob Rae's father was Saul Rae, a career bureaucrat in Ottawa.
Jagmeet Singh's parents came from the most developed region of Punjab, called Ludhiana, and his grandfather was a well-known political activist. Jagmeet himself was born in Scarborough and raised in a high middle-class neighbourhood in Newfoundland. From grades 6 to 12, Jagmeet attended a prestigious private school in Michigan.
Can you afford to send your kids to a private school?
Maxime Bernier is the son of Gilles Bernier, a popular radio host and politician who served as the MP for Beauce for more than a decade. Maxime has spent the good part of the past 20 years as a career politician, earning a great salary and an exceptional pension.
There's no need to discuss or elaborate on Justin Trudeau's wealthy and privileged upbringing. We're all aware of our current prime minister's sense of entitlement and his habit of dressing up in racist costumes during his privileged childhood. As a kid, he spent time travelling the world with his father and mingling with world leaders and their families.
The average Canadian has nothing in common with their current federal leaders. The only leader who comes close to sharing a normal, ordinary childhood with Canadians is Pierre Poilievre. Even he grew up in a comfortable, middle-class neighbourhood in Calgary. When it comes to adversity, Poilievre's adoption by two school teachers might be the only thing that sets him apart. However, there are countless Canadians who continue to grow up in broken homes, unable to say they have two loving parents at all.
Working for Jason Kenney as a teenager may have had its share of unspeakable horrors for Poilievre, but we'll never know.
Every federal leader, including Elizabeth May, lacks any real childhood adversity or struggle. Jagmeet Singh claims to have suffered child abuse, which isn't shocking; and Justin Trudeau lost his brother in a skiing accident. Both of those things are tragic, but they're things experienced by millions of Canadians who are without a comparable level of wealth. Experiencing tragedy doesn't make anyone in our ruling class special.
Most of us have zero representation in Ottawa. But, does that mean we're hopelessly doomed to being ruled by a bunch of entitled, clueless aristocrats? Maybe, but maybe not.

What Can We Do?

Canada's political system is outdated, to say the least. We run on the old British Westminster system, which is one of the worst democratic systems in existence. It's so bad, no one else outside the old commonwealth countries ever adopted it. Our leaders are elected by party members, while our prime ministers have power to appoint senators and justices without any real oversight. Our hands are tied when it comes to electing a head of state, and our political system if a revolving door for lucky elitists born into the right families.
We'll need to work within the current system to elect less privileged leaders.
To start, we'll need to play a bigger role in electing local candidates for our parties. In the U.S., they have a primary system to elect a presidential candidate for each party, as well as local representatives. In Canada, our equivalent is nominating candidates through our local riding associations in a democratic process. This requires buying a party membership and registering to vote in the process. When it comes time to elect a party leader, participation is essential.
Alternatively, we can rally around independent local candidates without a party affiliation.
Basically, we need to participate in the democratic process, all the way down to the roots. Voting in a general election isn't enough. We need to join parties (sometimes multiple parties when allowed) and participate in the process of electing candidates and party leaders. We need to become a part of the process and cast a vote in every possible election. It sounds drab, boring and time consuming, but we can't expect to change the system without doing the work.

Why They Rule Us

Their privileged upbringings afforded them more opportunities. However, that's not what's keeping them in power.
The people who rule us are there for a reason. Our inability to participate, along with our time constraints, keep them in power. Unlike them, we have jobs, kids and careers that require our attention. This makes it difficult for most real Canadians to participate in the full democratic process of the Westminster system.
We have less free time than most of the rich, nepo babies of Ottawa and the retirees who control the EDAs. We also don't have a lot of time to research and fully understand the process on a local level—which is what creates the first obstacle that discourages most normal Canadians from getting involved.
The system requires more time and patience than most of us are willing to give, but nothing will change unless we do. On a local level, down to the EDAs, retired Boomers and people with too much time on their hands control the politics. The candidates they prefer will always win the nominations, because the rest of us are too busy working and raising families.
We need to learn how to multitask.
At the very least, we need to participate in every possible local nomination and national leadership contest. We need to upend the retirees and outnumber them during the nomination processes. We need to show up. That's really all we need to do. Aside from doing our research on each candidate, simply showing up to participate in the process is all it would take to get the ball rolling.
Even if a quarter more of us participated, or if we raised the lacklustre participation rates in local nomination contests by a single percentage, it might be enough to make a difference. Until then, we'll be stuck under the rule of an elite class of nepotists, retirees and megalomaniacs who count on our disaffection to stay in power.

Links And Info

Here is a list of Conservative Party EDAs. Sign up, get involved and participate.
Here is info on how to join and participate in the PPC.
Here is info for the Green Party.
Here is info for the Maverick Party.
If you're interested in infiltrating the socialist movement and messing shit up from the inside, join the NDP.
Don't be shy.
MAY 2023


APRIL 2023