Is a Canadian Tea Party in the offing?
The Tea Party movement has already planted its seeds in Italy, Spain and Germany. (Will they wear lederhosen instead of tri-cornered hats?) In 2010 Tea Party favorites Pam Geller and Nachum Shifren, who spend most of their times verbally abusing Muslims while claiming they are not anti-Islam, tried establishing relations with the English Defense League, a far right group in the United Kingdom that focuses on street protests against mosques and Islam. Shifren traveled to England to cement the tie. Now it appears that Tea Party consultants are trying to peddle their particular brand of bigotry in Canada.
Michael Prell, who bills himself as a “strategist for the Tea Party Patriots,” has joined the campaign of Tim Hudak, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Hudak is part of a new generation of politicians pulling the Progressive Conservatives further to the right. He pledged to abolish the Ontario Human Rights Commission, for example, in a deal to secure his position as party leader. In 2009, while speaking to a Canadian Christian right group, the Association for Reformed Political Action, he declared that he was opposed to abortion and had signed petitions calling for the defunding of abortions. He has also supported taxpayer funding to religious private schools. Recent proposals for tax cuts and changes to the healthcare system are very Tea Party-esque.
Hudak’s campaign manager is Mark Spiro, who founded the Canadian company Crestview Public Affairs in 2004. According to the company’s website, “In 2009, Mark coordinated the voter contact strategy for the successful campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” It is apparently Spiro who managed to insert Prell into Hudak’s campaign. In turn, Michael Prell claims, in the Acknowledgments of his book, the Spiro is his “best friend and business partner.”
Michael Prell’s book, Underdogma: How America’s Enemies Use Our Love for the Underdog to Trash American Power, pillories the poor and those that take up the causes of the poor and disempowered. It reads like a 21st Century justification for Social Darwinism and American Exceptionalism. Prell proudly declares his allegiance to the Tea Party Patriots faction, and his website indicates that when people buy his book on site, “100% of Michael Prell’s royalties go to the Tea Party Patriots.” Not surprisingly, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots declared that “Underdogma is the first great Tea Party book. All Tea Party Patriots should read Underdogma.”
Opposition to the Tea Party is not a partisan issue in Canada. Alicia Johnston of the Liberal Party of Ontario warned that “the extreme right wing Tea Party movement in the US is routinely exposed for lying, being incoherent, vacuous and deeply divisive.” And former Progressive Conservative Premier Ernie Eves warned against Hudak’s wing of his party were becoming “the Tea Party version of Ontario politics.”