Dishonourable: The NDP’s Charlie Angus

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The aggressive and angry ambush by a protestor towards Chrystia Freeland and her young female staff in Alberta this past summer marked a new and frightening low in the level of political discourse in this country.

While leaders and pundits from all ends sides of the political spectrum were quick to condemn the actions of the protestor, it is clear that tone of politics in Canada is starting to mirror the toxic environment south of the border.

Among the voices speaking out against the angry outburst was New Democratic Party of Canada

Member of Parliament (MP), Charlie Angus – who took said on Twitter: “This kind of abuse is unacceptable. The growing toxicity of Conservative rhetoric is leading to a dangerous rise of threat and ignorant attacks… appalling behaviour.”

How ironic.

While quick to point the finger at the Conservatives, Angus’ own behaviour on Twitter and in parliamentary committees over the last few years has been among the most aggressive and toxic. This is the same man who in just three months before the Freeland incident referred to the now leader of the Conservative party, Pierre Poilievre, as “a total f***ing political snake.”

Angus is no stranger to hurling insults, particularly on Twitter where he has referred to opponents as “f***ers”, “moron” (again, a reference to Poilievre), “a**hole” (a reference to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper”) “jackass” (a reference to former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien), and “an irresponsible idiot”. In 2019 he called the Prime Minister Trudeau “a smug, mean, aloof ass”.

Nowhere is Angus’ hypocrisy regarding ‘elevating the political tone’ made clearer than in the book about the so-called “WE Charity scandal”, What WE Lost by Tawfiq Rangwala, which offers a behind the scenes accounting of the affair that captivated Canadian media and politicians for over a year.

As Rangwala painstakingly details in the book, Angus lobbed baseless, personal, angry attacks against WE Charity and its founders on a near daily basis, for months.

He promoted wild theories about shell companies, personal enrichment for the charity’s founders and their parents, and real estate empires, all of which were thoroughly debunked at the time, and in the book.

At one point, Angus found an obscure TV anchor from Las Vegas named Reed Cowan, and put him before the parliamentary Ethics Committee (ETHI) where he accused the charity of fraud. What the committee did not hear was that Mr. Cowan had tried to extort the charity out of $20 million before his testimony.

In another 2020 hearing of the ETHI committee, Mr. Angus demanded that WE Charity’s CFO, Victor Lee, testify in person before the committee despite being informed that Lee had recently been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Angus, was unmoved, mischaracterizing Lee’s potentially fatal condition as “feeling sick”.

One would think Mr. Angus would consider apologizing for the environment he has helped to create, but it’s quite the opposite. In a June 2022 column, Angus lamented the direction of political discourse in the country and its potential effects on democracy, writing “…poll(ing) suggests a major rewiring of the public mind is underway. We ignore this rewiring at our peril.”

Perhaps Mr. Angus has realized, now that he is in the crosshairs of the conspiracy theorists himself, just how dangerous it is to peddle in innuendo and falsehoods to advance a political agenda.

While it is positive that so many politicians across all parties are calling out the increasingly aggressive and dangerous attacks on leaders and journalists, politicians like Mr. Angus would do well to first look in the mirror when searching for the source for the problem.

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