Mark McQueen is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment after leaving CIBC. His Twitter feed lately has been heavy on variations on the theme of “Pro-Palestinians behaving badly.” He’s perhaps angling to be the first WASP leader of B’nai Brith. But in the midst of conspicuously emoting about the plight of Jewish Canadians and Israelis in early December, he also tweeted a photo of himself engaging in PDA with Henry Kissinger.
This is a reference to his time as a student politician at Western in 1987, when he invited Henry Kissinger to speak on campus. At a cost of US$19k. Many people feel that Kissinger was a war criminal and so the speech took place under some protest, including by faculty members. I have looked a bit into what Kissinger did and while “war criminal” is a legal term, I definitely think he was a bad hombre. Here’s the Washington Post assessing his record in Cambodia upon his passing:
From 1969 to 1973, as national security adviser and secretary of state under President Richard M. Nixon, Kissinger directed the carpet bombing of large swaths of Cambodia that U.S. officials at the time claimed were sanctuaries for communist insurgents from South Vietnam as well as North Vietnamese soldiers. Ben Kiernan, a historian at Yale University and a leading scholar of the U.S. legacy in Cambodia, has estimated that around 500,000 tons of U.S. bombs were dropped on Cambodia during this period and killed as many as 150,000 civilians. The scale of this bombing campaign, internally called Operation Menu, was kept secret from the American public for many decades, though leaked and declassified records have revealed that Kissinger personally “approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids.” Historians say his decisions led to decades of violence that have continued to haunt Cambodian society. […] Land mines planted during Cambodia’s three-decade-long civil war, which was driven in part by U.S. interference, are still exploding today.
What business did the US have to fly even a single plane in Cambodia (or for that matter, in Vietnam)? And Kissinger’s war mongering in Cambodia is only one aspect of his dubious record. What can we conclude from this? That Cambodians in this country haven’t attained, in sufficient numbers, positions of wealth, power and influence such that the likes of McQueen will make conspicuous displays of how deeply attuned they are to Cambodian sensibilities. There are fashions in thought as well as in clothing. Visiting Auschwitz is something to lord over to appear as a worldly humanist, but Cambodian lives are expendable fodder as part of Cold War grand strategy.
McQueen and I - we share many views. I would call myself a principled lover of freedom. We are both not impressed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Because they are whiny, woke and phoney. And maybe subconsciously because Meghan is a threat to the Patriarchy, of which I am perhaps the finest embodiment. But I found out that McQueen has an additional, illegitimate reason for being against the Sussexes: he is a monarchist! This is where we diverge. Having hereditary rulers, even with only ceremonial power at this point, is incompatible with a love of freedom. Of course, it hardly changes anything in my life whether we have monarchic rule. I bring up this difference to highlight how McQueen and I are different: he is not a principled lover of freedom!
As a dirty - very dirty - debater, it’s also useful for me to highlight how the McQueens are weird. McQueen senior writes on his blog about some statue of the Queen he felt was too tall or had a too masculine likeness and how he took time to complain to a government official about it. Rod McQueen is also, not surprisingly, a monarchist. I imagine McQueen has a basement full of decorative plates featuring the Queen. OMG, what a grandma. The pragmatic reason rational people pretend they’re big fans of the monarchy is because the Crown still controls the honors system in this country. A secondary reason is that it helps in getting invites to the right events, although that’s probably less of a factor in Canada.
Some additional details, just to round out his profile. Mark is an Anglophile. For example, he drives a Range Rover. Although it must be of some dissonance that the brand is now owned by Tata Motors of India. He named his firm Wellington, partly for the general who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. McQueen loves the military - that is of course, a necessary profession of faith for the partisan Tory he is. McQueen is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian navy. This is a Col. Sanders type office - earned by political appointment rather than on the battlefield. To be fair, McQueen is a 100% pure chicken hawk, whereas the KFC founder did see some action. There’s a reasonable probability that McQueen is a repressed jingoist. What proof do I have of this? They say an image is worth a thousand words, so I offer this.
The first inkling I had that McQueen was not principled is when I came across a testimony of his in Parliament where he advocated for government help for the venture capital industry. It may well be that the particular program he advocated for generated good ROI for the taxpayer. But that is merely the blind squirrel phenomenon in action. If the government spends billions in corporate welfare, surely some of it is bound to generate a good return. But principled people would say a working class person in the lowest tax bracket should not have their earnings confiscated to fund the delusions of some self-nominated entrepreneur or venture capitalist. McQueen understands this principle well, except when it comes to advocating for his own industry.
Given what a big deal I made of John Ruffolo’s own interventionist policy views, I had to be consistent and call out McQueen too. I admit I am easily irritated by what I perceive as intellectual dishonesty. Of course, an unusually principled, intransigent person might say that Kevin O’Leary and McQueen have the same underlying m.o.: using their persuasion skills to further their self-interest at the expense of the public. To be clear, McQueen’s advocacy for corporate welfare for the VC industry benefitted him indirectly. More VC money results in healthier, creditworthy borrowers. Here’s one nonsensical line McQueen used in Parliament:
If Encana is going to do research internally, it's tax deductible. Why can't Encana put money into a venture capital fund and have that be tax deductible too? It's a disincentive to create new innovations outside their own company to the betterment of everybody, not only their own shareholders.
Having exposed McQueen as being unprincipled, as having weird hobbies, inconsistent positions, I can finally get to the crux of how he landed on my polemical radar. OMG, I’m such a dirty and insecure debater. For weeks now, McQueen has been publicly emoting about the plight of Jewish Canadians and Israeli civilians. Like so much behaviour on social media, I find such conspicuous emoting to be phoney and suspicious.
Supposed Bay Street truth teller Mark McQueen seems to only find outrage in the conduct of some members on the Palestinian side. It’s as though only Jews and Israelis are suffering. Why is that? I don’t think any honest observer of the situation as it has existed for decades would only blame one side. There’s a very useful term to explain McQueen’s behaviour that emanates from woke discourse: performative allyship. The messy business of being truthful and balanced is bad for business, bad for Tory partisanship. Far better to write simplistic one-sided takes.
For whatever reason, right-leaning people tend to be pro-Israel while left-leaning people tend to be on the side of Palestinians. The irony is that McQueen can’t hold a candle to my own credentials as a right-wing nut. The only federal party I have ever belonged to is the People’s Party of Canada, generally considered to be to the right of the Tories. I was one of their earliest members, they sent me a certificate for that.
I joined the PPC because of its sound economic policies, including getting rid of corporate welfare. I am also a fan of PPC leader Maxime Bernier. I thought his reaction to the events of October 7th was exceptional. Here’s what he tweeted:
I decided several years ago I would stop commenting with “thoughts and prayers” or denunciations every time something horrible happened in another country that became newsworthy in Canada. It had become a silly race to see which politician was the fastest to express platitudes, with media talking heads dissecting the meaning and strength of every word.
I OBVIOUSLY abhor all forms of violence against innocent civilians EVERYWHERE. But as I noted earlier this week, there are atrocities committed almost every day somewhere in the world, and no one in Canada comments on them or is pressuring me to show empathy and take sides in a foreign conflict, even though there are surely some Canadians who have connections with these events.
I don’t see any reason to change this rule now. My main concern is to keep Canada out of this conflict in the Middle East and not help make things worse as we are doing in Ukraine. I also don’t want to be sucked into the debate about who is good, bad, really really bad, why, and which action by foreign actors is morally justified or not, when there is absolutely nothing I or even Canada can do about it. I want to focus on Canadian issues on which I can have an influence.
For example, I have commented on the fact that thanks to mass immigration with no values test and no demand that immigrants integrate into our society, there are people who live in Canada who want to bring their tribal hatred here and want to get us involved. That’s a comment on a Canadian problem, not on a foreign conflict.
So principled! It would have been so much more politically expedient for Maxime to just cater to his right-wing base. The real dichotomy is not between right and left but between principled lovers of freedom and humanity versus wishy-washy opportunist partisan hacks like McQueen.
I must concede that the PPC occasionally gets in trouble for attracting members with possibly xenophobic views, including islamophobes. Yikes! Conveniently for me, I recently came out as a Sri Lankan immigrant, so could I possibly be any type of racist? Not according to woke theory! Also, my dentist is Muslim. Everyone is quick to condemn islamophobia. As a stickler for words and truth, I would rather condemn Islamfeindlichkeit (hostility towards Muslims). Be honest with me: let’s say you’re on the subway and a young man enters your car and starts loudly reciting “Hail Mary”. You might be rolling your eyes. But let’s say instead of Hail Mary, this person screams: “Allahu Akbar!” Are you telling me you wouldn’t be pissing your pants? Having lived through the entire War on Terror, nothing would be easier than to understand the latest Israel-Palestine conflagration through the framework of “fanatical group of Muslims attack modern peace-loving democracy.” If only it were so simple, I wouldn’t have had to watch hours of YouTube videos. Today, there are so many sources to truly gain a balanced understanding of the situation. My conclusion is that picking a side in the Middle East conflict is a golden opportunity to embarrass oneself. Like predicting stock market moves, I don’t think most people come across as intelligent when cheerleading one side. Here’s scholar of history Captain Mark R. McQueen getting the basis of how we keep time wrong.
Maybe he was doing an impression of an opinionated cab driver. I hope you have a great 2057.
If you need some basic background on Mark McQueen, read the following: