We live in dangerous times and after everything we saw play out in the United States in December and January, I would have thought that would have been pretty clear. Words matter and peddling conspiracy theories or outright lies about political opponents or just groups in general can lead to very serious consequences. You’d think that those who are elected to serve in our Parliament would be at the top of that list who understand that, yet to say that is to clearly not know some of those who serve there.

As someone who spent a decade working on Parliament Hill, I got to know many great parliamentarians from all parties, even those I heartily disagree with. Most MPs are good people who practice their politics in a responsible way. They treat their opponents as fellow citizens they disagree with, no enemies of the state. They disagree with opinions or ideas on the other side, not see conspiracy and while innuendo around every corner. And most of all, they tend to act like decent human beings. But that’s not the case for all, as there are exceptions to every rule, and how a party deals with those exceptions says a lot about them. Today another example of that exception rose to the surface, one that will raise legitimate questions for her leader:

Yep folks, that’s long serving Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant putting her foot into it again. This time it appears to be during a conversation with what looks to be campus Conservatives at Queen’s University in Kingston. Or at least that’s what this piece of information here would tell us:

Source: Queen’s University Conservative Association

What is it with Conservatives putting their feet in their mouths in front of campus clubs? What is it about that environment that leads them to make such statements? Erin O’Toole had his turn at this back in 2020, when he showed a truer side of himself as he tried to play “normal everyday campus dude-bro” with the campus club at Ryerson. And this time we get Mrs. Gallant doing the same. But let’s be clear about something here, this is not her first offense or close to it for that matter. This is far from her first strike, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

During this appearance, Mrs. Gallant throws out every trope and conspiracy theory about “progressives”, calling them “cultural Marxists” that have apparently taken over every single university administration except for one. She says that they’re trying to silence conservatives and “put their agenda to work before people catch on”. According to Gallant, during the pandemic we’ve seen governments try to “seize more and more power” and then accuses the media of being “bought and paid for” by Justin Trudeau, pushing a bigger government agenda. Oh and she’s not done yet everyone. She goes onto call Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a “radical environmentalist who has now  become censor in Chief”, going onto spew a whole lot of untruths about the governments Bill C-10, which updates the Broadcast Act in Canada. Because, you know, the internet is now a thing.

She claims that he wants to take Google and Facebook “every time you want to search for an article online”, which isn’t what the bill does but hey, this is clearly a fact-free discussion they’re having. She says then that if these tech giants have to pay their taxes that they will withdraw services in Canada and that would prevent people from getting news. And here is where the crazy coup de grace comes. She asks, apparently seriously, why would Justin Trudeau want Canadians not to be able to search the internet for news articles when an election comes? Hmmm, yes, you see the bigger picture now?

Christ man, this is nutty stuff, yet that collage of conspiratorial crap is exactly the kind of thing this MP has been peddling for years. To hear her say it, you’d think that there was no way at all of Canadians to read news if it wasn’t for Google or Facebook. She makes it seems like news outlets or networks online don’t have their own places where their stories or posted or these specific things call web addresses that you can just type into your web browsers. Or better yet, that Google is the only search engine on the planet. Sure I’m not a fan of Bing myself, but come on, at least act like it exists. There are so many levels to this insanity that it’s mind-blowing.

But it’s the last part of this that bothers me the most after everything that we’ve seen in the past four years, especially the last two months. According to Gallant, this is all a part of some big master plan by “progressives”, “Marxists” and Justin Trudeau to dupe Canadians into re-electing him. That all this non-sense is real and that it’s all organized by this big, shadowy organization with the sole purpose of taking out conservatives. That is the stuff of conspiracy theories and seeing things where they don’t exist. It’s either that or I must not be as important as I think because I never seem to get invited to these big planning sessions about the future and the demise of conservatives. No, it’s not that, it’s all conspiracy crap.

But for Erin O’Toole and his party, this presents another problem, not just for his leadership but for how he’s trying to present his party to Canadians as a whole. Cheryl Gallant has done and said crazy stuff before. She’s made no apologies for her approach and her distain for her fellow parliamentarians or fellow citizens that she disagrees with. She has no problem in demonizing them like this, and clearly has no problem doing it for the amusement of impressionable youth in a campus club, which is even worse. In talking to such groups, she’s supposed to be setting the example for this up-and-coming generation of politicos, not making disgraceful crap comments like that.

It’s that kind of crap that leads to what we’ve seen stateside and we’re seeing more and more here in Canada. And that leads me to wonder what, if anything, Erin O’Toole will do about this. Is he doing to discipline Mrs. Gallant? Strip a portfolio or committee assignment? Remove her from caucus or bar her from running for them again? If Mr. O’Toole’s past actions have taught us anything so far, it’s not likely any of those things will happen here. It took a donation from a white nationalist to get Derek Sloan tossed from the O’Toole caucus, so as much as I’d like to think that he will do the right thing here, I doubt that he will.

In the meantime, this is just another example of everything that is wrong about our politics these days. These are exactly the kinds of incidents that any responsible party or party leader would be policing themselves and dealing with appropriately. It shouldn’t fall to the public to demand better from them, they should be demanding better from themselves. And that goes for all parties. This is the kind of rot that leads to far worse, and continues to set a terrible example for the next generation. When we act like this crap is normal and acceptable, it becomes normalized in the younger ones that come behind us. If that isn’t a good enough reason for Mr. O’Toole to act here, then there isn’t likely one good enough for him. And that might be the saddest comment of all.