Letter to the editor – populism


Dear Editor,

So, populism has become an item of interest now in the letters to this newspaper. Allow me to begin with the definition of populism. Populism is “a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups”. Presumably, these “elite” groups would include anybody with more money than they actually need, the millionaires and billionaires, which would also include the likes of Trump and Ford, who, while playing lip service to their right wing base, set about giving their elitist buddies even more tax breaks, and recovering that lost government revenue by slashing budgets for the social and environmental programs their “ordinary people” need.

The word populism is generally accepted as a catchall name for those who would like to see a far-right agenda in how we are governed. They are characterised in the media as anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-tax, xenophobic, nationalistic, and, from their reaction to the pipeline protests, aren’t averse to using a little muscle to make their point. One of your correspondents made the claim that people like Trump cannot be blamed for the rise of the far right. Really? The guy who branded all Mexicans as rapists and murderers? Who thought that there were good Neo-Nazis? When leaders make these sorts of remarks, it gives the far right license to come out of the woodwork, which is what we have seen the world over.

I also see where it has been posted that there is such a thing as left wing populism. I’m not so sure about that, and maybe someone should tell the media, who uniformly brand populism as right wing, inasmuch as it fits the definition.

The left is more interested in changing the neo-liberal system under which we have allowed ourselves to be governed. Taxing the rich and getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes to reduce the income inequity, and thereby have funding for social and environmental programs, is an important part of their platform, as is our changing climate.

Sure the right wing rants against the “elitists”, but then the governments that they elect turn right around and hand out even more tax breaks to these same people. Even the Liberals do it, which is why nothing ever changes. Liberal governments are just a trifle more subtle about it.

One last thing; I am getting more than a little tired of right wing attacks on local government, and on what are called special or fringe interest groups. To deal with the former, local government often comes under fire for how they are spending our taxes, and how much of an annual tax increase they need. My increase this year went from $351 a month, to $355, an increase of 1.1%, certainly not warranting the “Chicken Little” approach that I have seen some correspondents using . I happen to think that this council is doing a pretty good job. They are certainly a lot more engaged with the people that elected them than the previous council ever was, and, let’s face it, this isn’t a part time job any more, (though we are certainly paying them part time wages), ever since the Harris Conservative government instituted amalgamation, and now they are each doing the same work that it took four people to do before.

As for the attacks on fringe and special interest groups costing people “their freedoms and a lot of their economic resources”, my reaction to this statement was “get a grip”.

It is this sort of inflammatory statement, and the demonizing of those who dare to disagree with the writer, that only serves to increase resentment, and is obviously counterproductive, particularly as it gives the impression that the writer isn’t interested in finding any middle ground, and that it is “my way or the highway.” Not helpful, particularly as we are going to have to pull together to find a way out of the climate predicament that humanity is currently facing.

I can only assume that it was triggered by the actions of First Nations and their supporters recently, but the inconveniencies caused to others pale by comparison with what we have done to First Nations over the last 150 plus years.

It’s time that some perspective was added to these issues.

Colin Creasey,


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