For the life of me I can’t understand why any Russian internet trolls really give a shit if either Justin Trudeau or Andrew Scheer becomes Prime Minister next October. Either one or the other will. Of that, there is no doubt. Most of my friends won’t want to hear this, but Jagmeet Singh’s odds of getting there range from slim to none. Even so, they’re still better than Elizabeth May’s.
Acknowledging that either the Liberals or Conservatives will win the most seats and form the government should not be misconstrued. It is not a reason to vote for the party you dislike the least, so I’ll get two of my favourite old clichés out of the way early. The lesser of two evils is still evil. It’s always better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.
We still don’t know who the local NDP candidate will be, but I know I’ll vote for her. Or him. Or them, in the newly emerging world of non-binary public discourse. For all its warts and blemishes, the NDP is still far more preferable than the rest, although it could stand to lose its neo-liberal personality and emphasize its democratic socialist side. I have voted in every municipal, provincial and federal election since I became old enough to vote. That’s been over 50 years. I have never voted for either the Liberal or Conservative parties. I don’t intend to start now.
In all probability the coming election campaign will be much the same as past ones. That is to say, it will be predictable. There will be misinformation. There will be lies told and promises made only to be broken after the votes are counted.
Supporters of each and every political party will get on their laptops, tablets and smart phones bashing out Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. They will find things they agree with and like them, share them, and retweet them. They will insult and ridicule people who post opposing points of view.
All of that is old news. The difference this time around is that we’ll be inundated with rumours and speculation about internet trolls interfering in our democratic right to make foolish choices. If the Liberals win, the Conservatives will say the Russians made us do it. If the Conservatives win it will also be because of the Russians. Or the Iranians. Or, suddenly and out of nowhere, we are threatened by expert Venezuelan trollers and tweeters.
Why Venezuela, one wonders. It was recently placed on the list of foreign countries in which Canada wants to see regime change. As it turns out, Venezuela has the largest reserves of oil in the world. Larger even than Saudi Arabia. Not only that, but the oil is not controlled by any multi-national giant petroleum corporation. It used to be, until Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998. To make a long story short, he nationalized the oil industry and successfully led the United Socialist Party of Venezuela through several elections. His government survived an attempted coup in 2002.
Chavez died in 2013 and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, has been president of Venezuela ever since. The American president, Donald Trump, has been busting to get Venezuelan oil back under private ownership. Along with Canada and some of the more right-wing governments in Latin America Trump has been trying to get Maduro out and Juan Guaido in.
This brings us full circle, back to the creation of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol and its companion piece, the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE). These high-level watchdogs are tasked with keeping foreign meddlers from tampering with our election in October.
You might wonder why, if we are so determined to keep foreign noses out of our affairs, are we sticking our nose into Venezuela’s. It’s the same old story that bedevils North Africa. Wherever oil is involved, dirty deeds are sure to follow.
Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump are singing from the same hymn book. They want to save Venezuela from the Venezuelans. Their song goes something like: Do as we say, not as we do.