Why congressional Republicans are probably stuck with Trump


People waiting for the GOP controlled congress to act against Donald Trump are probably in for a long wait. The treasonous acts which Trump administration officials are suspected of are what is holding the Republican party together and the Republican base still strongly supports the Trump administration.

Analysts have written volumes about turmoil within the Democratic party since the last election. However, if things had gone slightly differently the talk would have been about the collapse of the Republican party which, just below the surface, is bitterly divided. And it is the email hacks at the core of the Trump/Russia controversy which allowed the Republicans to prevail despite internal differences.

And were it not for the email hacks which the Russians are suspected of launching, possibly in coordination with the Trump campaign, the election almost certainly would have gone differently.

To make things even more complicated, the Trump administration and its policies remain very popular with the Republican base. As of January 30, Trump still enjoyed the support of 86% of Republican voters in Republican congressional districts (and 81% of Republicans in Democratic districts).

It is not clear what it would take to change the minds of Republicans. Traditional media outlets have very little influence there. As of September of last year just 14% of Republicans had confidence in 'the media'. At Donald Trump rallies during the election, reporters were treated as the enemy and the constant stream of bad news for Trump since the election won't have endeared the media to conservatives.

No recent polling is available on how Republican voters feel about the allegations of collaboration between Trump campaign officials and Russia but it is a safe bet that it is different from the perceptions of the public at large. Between 2014 and the end of last year, support for Russia among Republicans had risen from 10 percent to 37 percent (23 points higher than Republican support for 'the media'. Republicans also seem to believe in the 'alternative facts' coming out of the White House. In a recent survey 51 percent of Trump supporters said that the, entirely fictional, 'Bowling Green Massacre' justified the travel and immigration restrictions. If the White House says that the Russia allegations are false most Republicans are likely to believe that they are false.

So how does all of this look if you're a Republican in Congress? The short answer is, scary.

Most GOP lawmakers are bright, educated people. They may perceive the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN as biased but know they are not 'fake news'. However, whatever they believe, their choices are not attractive.

If a Republican in the House or Senate decided that it was time for Trump to go it would mean that they were ready to admit that officials high in their party had committed treason. It would mean conceding the moral, patriotic and national security high ground to the Democrats for years to come. It would mean abandoning the congressional agenda at a time when Republicans control all three houses of government for the first time since the great depression. It would also mean launching a civil war within their party and it would likely mean the end of their personal career.

Republicans know that not acting against Trump could cost their party in 2018, 2020 and beyond. They also know that it is not the will of the people who elected them; the same people who elected Trump. Perceived by their base as disloyal or anti-Democratic and will struggle to survive the next primary battle for their seat or to advance to any higher office. Republican primary voters have been thinning the number of moderates in their party for years.

Congressional Republicans, at least those who concerned about possible connections between the administration and Russia, are literally facing a choice between their party (and their own career) and their country.

Unless the Republican base turns on Trump for some reason, those are the obstacles to overcome. Democrats will have to convince Republicans in congress that it's worth it and they will have to convince more than a few before there is any serious action.

Otherwise Republicans, who have been demographically losing ground for decades anyway, will simply have to live with the consequences in future elections.

Canada needs to respond to Trump with an emergency Safe Harbour immigration law


Given the turbulent times in the United States, Canada needs an emergency safe harbour law to protect vulnerable populations in the short term. 

The law would serve as an addition to our normal immigration laws and would serve as a test case for future global emergencies. 

It would grant a temporary version of permanent residency, with fewer entry requirements, to people who didn’t necessarily want to immigrate to Canada permanently but who did not currently feel safe at home.

It would also allow US companies to set up or expand offices in Canada for workers from outside the United States who are currently under threat. 

Safe Harbour would grant essentially the same rights and protections given to permanent residents to Americans or recent residents of the United States but for a period of two years and not longer than five years. It would not however, require applicants to meet the same criteria as potential Canadian citizens or asylum seekers. 

After the first two years in Canada, individuals would have to apply for a renewal of their safe harbour status and show that conditions at home had not changed. At the end of the second two year period, individuals would have 12 months to apply for permanent residency, a traditional guest worker visa or make plans to depart Canada. 

During their stay, refugees would be allowed to work and to apply for health coverage after meeting the same residency requirements that permanent residents must meet in the various provinces. 

This temporary measure would allow Canada to meet the requirements of the current crisis and maintain our position as a multi-cultural leader in human rights, without making permanent changes to Canadian immigration policies or quotas. It would also help strengthen the unique relationship that has historically existed between Canada and the United States. 

Since the American revolution, Canada has provided a safe harbour to vulnerable Americans. British loyalists came during the Revolution, escaped slaves and free black people came during the years prior to the American Civil War. Later in the century, hundreds of thousands of Canadian farmers helped to settle the Western provinces. During Vietnam draft-eligible individuals who objected to the war found a safe haven, many of them only temporarily and during the George W. Bush era as many as 10,000 Americans per year moved to Canada for ideological reasons. 

All of this has contributed significantly to Canada's relationship with the United States. Despite any temporary differences between the Canadian and U.S. governments, most Canadians have a very positive opinion of the United States and most Americans have a very high opinion of Canada. More than that, thousands of businesses have offices on both sides of the border and many Canadians have family members on both sides of the US border. 

Donald Trump is a new element on the American political scene and is, to many, a new threat. The United States has seen a rise in hate speech and hate crimes. People have been subjected to official harassment and worse over their ethnicity, national origin or faith and laws are being contemplated which could put people at risk over their sexual orientation or gender. 

This has understandably led to a great deal of confusion and fear among many Americans. This is not necessarily, however, a permanent situation. Many of those who are seeking refuge or who are contemplating doing so, do not necessarily want to become Canadian on a permanent basis. Some simply need time to assess the situation and weigh their options. By allowing them time to do so and to experience life in Canada.

By creating this special immigration provision, Canada would strengthen its historic relationship with America and individual Americans. It would also be a good test case for future crisis in the United States and elsewhere in the world. On January 28, as the response to Donald Trump's travel ban build up steam, Justin Trudeau Tweeted "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"
Now the Prime Minister needs to show the world what he meant. We must send a message to the voices of fear and division in Canada to let them know that theirs is not the Canadian way and a message to frightened and vulnerable people in the United States that their is shelter for them in the  North.