Look, I know each week a conservative politician in Canada will open their mouth and say something stupid and be the Worst Politician In Canada (for that week). That’s how the news cycle works. But I don’t want people to lose perspective. Yes, Rob and Doug Ford are incompetent and ignorant. Yes, John Baird is a contentious blowhard who probably shouldn’t be in any diplomatic role, much less Minister of Foreign Affairs. Yes, Stephen Harper is a smug robot who has to work overtime to keep his contempt for Canadians’ general predilection for egalitarianism under the surface. Yes, Jason Kenney is an embarrassment who frequently says and does stupid things.
But not a one of these people is worse than Vic Toews, because as bad as they might be, they are all still occasionally capable of doing good things in public service. Not so Toews, whose track record speaks for itself: he has constantly and consistently advocated for bad public policy. When Vic Toews was made Minister of Justice, he attempted to pass a three-strikes law (which was obvious at that time to be extremely bad policy), advocated for lowering the age of criminal responsibility from twelve to ten, and added police representatives to judicial advisory boards (a move that practically the entire judiciary complained could cause severe imbalance in the judicial nomination process). He also very likely “forgot” to inquire closely into the Karlheinz Schrieber affidavit.
As President of the Treasury Board, his job was one of government oversight, which meant that Toews introduced the new Lobbying Act, which actually makes it easier for lobbyists to arrange unreported meetings between government officials and lobbyists’ clients. Toews also scrapped the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System, which was a useful and cheap tool for Canadian citizens to exercise oversight over public documents.
And now, of course, as Public Safety Minister, Toews is demanding that ISPs install equipment to track their users and that such information be available to the government without warrant. Why? Because of child pornographers, of course! The flood of child pornography that we all know threatens to drown the nation apparently demands it, according to Toews.
Again: Vic Toews is the worst politician in Canada. Any politician can say stupid or thoughtless things (Justin Trudeau does so regularly). It is quite another thing, however, to consistently advocate for and draft, and execute bad or actively harmful government policy. Vic Toews does so and he has done so for most of his government career, in service of an authoritarian ideology that is at odds with the right-wing small-government ethos for which he so frequently agitates (and which belies his political career, now in its seventeenth year). To use a line I have used before: if Vic Toews agrees with you about anything, consider strongly the possibility that you are wrong about everything.
UPDATE: And just as I write this, up pops Vikileaks on Twitter, making a point about personal privacy by publishing excerpts from affidavits in Toews’ divorce case.