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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Take a manifesto with you, just in case

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Hey, when I go into a committee meeting, I like to be prepared.

I make sure I have a full cup of coffee. A working pen. Something to take notes on — though I usually end up taking notes I can hardly figure out.

I keenly reconnoiter the meeting room in advance: where are the snacks? How can I get the closest chair to the snacks? Are the snacks covered, or can I sneak one early without leaving an obvious hole on the tray?

Do I bring my trademarked bad attitude, the one everybody enjoys? Check.

My churlish doubting of the necessity of whatever new system management is introducing today? Absolutely — I have that in spades, always. It’s a given.

My 74-page manifesto from a mass murderer on the other side of the world?

Wait a minute — no.

Strangely, I don’t have that in my briefcase, ready to whip out the moment anyone questions the role of conservatism in the modern world.

But then again, why would I?

Why would anyone? It’s not the sort of thing that you just lug around on the off chance that you might need it. I mean, 74 pages is clearly shorter than the Unabomber’s 35,000-word epistle, but what kind of person packs a 74-page document with them just in case?

Yet someone apparently did.

Now, reading from the manifesto was stupid enough: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer yanked Cooper from the justice committee on Saturday, and Cooper apologized for both naming the shooter and reading from the document. But that’s only a small piece of the stupid here.

Last week, at a federal justice committee meeting, Conservative MP Michael Cooper took great offence at comments from a committee witness. Alberta Muslim Affairs Council president Faisal Khan Suri, speaking to the committee, had been laying out the role of internet hatred in the leadup to a number of violent attacks, including the Quebec City attack on a mosque by Alexandre Bissonette.

“The evidence from Bissonette’s computer showed he repeatedly sought content about anti-immigrant, alt-right and conservative commentators, mass murderers, U.S. President Donald Trump, and about Muslims, immigrants living in Quebec,” Suri told the committee, before adding that alt-right online hatred also played a role in attacks in Pittsburgh and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Cooper fired back at Suri, saying, “Mr. Suri, I take great umbrage with your defamatory comments to try to link conservatism with violent extremist attacks. They have no foundation, they’re defamatory, and they diminish your credibility as a witness…”

Cooper then read from the manifesto written by the Christchurch shooter, who is accused of shooting and killing 51 people.

Now, reading from the manifesto was stupid enough: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer yanked Cooper from the justice committee on Saturday, and Cooper apologized for both naming the shooter and reading from the document.

But that’s only a small piece of the stupid here.

Why would you even have the manifesto?

To get to the part Cooper read out loud, he would have already had to, at a minimum, have churned though at least 14 pages of racist, white power self-justification for murder.

If you listen to the audio of the committee, Cooper launches straight into his attack as soon as Suri finished his opening comments to the committee. Cooper had to have the manifesto at hand, had to have planned to have it with him, or at least have the relevant portions ready to use.

It’s a strange pick for a Canadian MP to be carrying around as potential supporting information for debate.

Even stranger was bringing it to — wait for it — the federal Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Was he thinking, “Hey, when you’re talking hate crimes and human rights, you never know when you might need a useful white supremacist manifesto”?

Let’s get past the stupid of using it to attack a committee witness.

What else does MP Cooper lug around with him?

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.


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