In politics, they call summer the silly season. Hardly anything of substance seems to happen, and the politicians are typically in their ridings having BBQs and whatnot.
Such was the case on Sunday in Thornhill, Ontario, just north of Toronto. The outgoing MP, Peter Kent, was having a summer shindig in the parking lot of the Promenade Mall. I dropped by not so much for Mr. Kent, but to interview the replacement candidate for the federal riding of Thornhill, Melissa Lantsman.
I assume most people don’t know who Melissa Lantsman is, but they should. She was Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s war room director in 2018 and helped create slogans like “For the People” and “Ontario: Open for Business.”
Alas, we all discovered that when the COVID pandemic hit last year, the Doug Ford PCs were not “for the people,” and Ontario was very much closed for business. Oh, not all businesses, mind you. If you were a U.S.-based multi-billion dollar conglomerate such as Costco or Walmart, it was business as usual.
And speaking of Walmart, by 2020, Lantsman had resumed duties as a lobbyist. And she lobbied mightily for the Arkansas-based superstore chain. Lantsman went to Premier Ford and successfully ensured Walmart would be exempt from any lockdown rules.
So now that Lantsman is the Conservative Party candidate for Thornhill in 2021, I wanted to ask her a simple question: how can she possibly run to be the MP to represent the people of Thornhill when she was personally responsible for engineering a lockdown policy that caused so many businesses to fold and so many people to be thrown out of work? I mean, her nickname is actually “Lockdown Lantsman.” How do you recover from that? And it was hard to believe this woman is a professional communicator, given how tongue-tied she got when it came to answering hard questions.
And then I wanted to know how she became the representative for the Thornhill riding in the first place. You see, a few months ago, Ontario PC MPP Gila Martow was vying for this position. Martow is a veteran politician who is well-liked and well-respected. I think she would’ve been a slam dunk to win the riding in the next federal election. When Lantsman was declared the winner, it was a shock to everyone — including Lantsman herself, who did not have a victory speech prepared! So, either those exit polls were mightily flawed or this was a screw job of Herculean proportions.
So, I reached out to members of the Martow camp, none of whom want to be named. Why would the Conservative party go with a candidate who has more baggage than the Arrivals terminal at Pearson International Airport?
And the answer was this: it had everything to do with Melissa Lantsman’s sexual orientation.
You see, the Erin O’Toole Conservatives are obsessed with the party being a so-called “Big Tent” operation – it's not just a bunch of old white guys anymore, you see. They’re sick of the CBC calling them names.
And what better way to prove that point than to promote a LGBTQ candidate representing the Conservatives in the suburbs? Wow, look at that diversity!
Now, folks, I personally do not give a rodent’s rectum if a candidate is a lesbian or a Martian. I think it’s irrelevant. But Lantsman and the Conservatives can’t stop talking about her gayness — it was their main selling point. Is the Conservative Party now fully invested in identity politics and playing the race card and gender card and sexual orientation card? What about who is the best person for the job — no matter what
So, I asked Melissa: is she the candidate for Thornhill based on merit, or her sexual orientation? She sort of answered the question and didn’t object to it. I asked it again, and she ignored me. And that was that.
I had more questions about Walmart, but then I was interrupted — by police! The Lantsman campaign called the cops on me. But there is no crime of asking prickly questions, so they lied to the police, making accusations that I assaulted people. It was the other way around. They were purposely bumping into me and trying to block me. They knocked my hat off. They threw water on me. And for what? Asking questions
And how about this slice of unethical behaviour: while I was being arrested and handcuffed by police, one of them stole my clipboard notebook and took photos of my notes. What’s the deal with that? What kind of political party has a reporter arrested, and then steals their notebook and takes pictures of it?
It looked awful on the Conservatives — especially having me arrested. So after ten hours, they decided to revise history. They say I engaged in homophobic slurs against Lantsman? What? I did not — you can see my question and her answer to it. It wasn’t homophobic, and she obviously didn’t think it was at the time — until later, when her spin doctors needed a way to change the subject from having me arrested, throwing things at me and stealing my notebook.
My final question to Lantsman was this: when Erin O’Toole was running to be the Conservative leader, he was the pro-free speech/anti-cancel culture candidate. And then he becomes leader, and it turns out he is pro-cancel culture/anti-free speech. So I asked Melissa what’s the deal with that?
Could you imagine a real leader such as Donald Trump saying “no comment,” and even running away? Can you imagine a politician of substance calling the cops to have a reporter criminally charged? And that’s what Lockdown Lantsman did on Sunday — she or her minions called the cops. She later issued a press release saying it was a safety issue. A “safety issue” — yeah, my safety! I was pushed, shoved, splashed with a liquid and arrested.
And in the department of perverse irony, check out the tweet Mr. O’Toole issued around the same time I was being stuffed into a police cruiser based on lies from the Lantsman camp: “If you don’t support free speech, you have four parties to choose from. If you do, you only have one: Canada’s Conservatives.” Sorry, Mr. O’Toole. Sorry, Lockdown Lantsman. Actions speak louder than words. And just like Andrew Scheer, you are already blowing this election. Big time.