Where Things Stand: ‘Hoser-Extremism’ And The Rob Ford –> Canadian Anti-Vax Trucker Protest Trajectory

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TIL what a “hoser” is.

In Canadian pop-culture, it’s a term used to describe the type of personality that former president Trump tends to embody — the brand of bombastic extremism that makes up the personality of people who currently occupy the center of the Canadian populism movement: think loud, uncouth and skeptical of facts, precedent and the government in general.

The term “hoser” initially was used as a sort of offensive slang term to describe a poor or uneducated Canadian demographic of white, nationalistic man, similar to the connotations associated with problematic American slang words like “hillbilly” or “redneck.” It was popularized by characters in the Canadian sketch comedy called “Great White North,” which was introduced on SCTV in the 1980s and whose hyperbolically uneducated characters, Bob and Doug McKenzie, frequently used the catchphrase, “Take off, hoser!” to accentuate what could be described as their … routinely unsophisticated beliefs.

So what does this have to do with the late former mayor of Toronto and iconic TPM Golden Duke recipient, Rob Ford and the anti-vax “Freedom Convoy of 2022” protests breaking out in Canada, and increasingly spilling into America? Well, on its face, there’s a familial tie — Rob Ford’s brother Doug Ford is currently the premier of Ontario who declared a state of emergency on Friday over the protesters’ “illegal occupation” of Ottawa.

But let’s dive in a bit deeper. The Canadian news outlet The Globe And Mail published a piece today outlining the movement that Rob Ford sparked with his aggressively shameless, crack-smoking and delightfully corrupt political career in Canada and how that movement has ties to the outbreak in protests in recent days.

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Globe and Mail writer John Doyle describes the people on the front line of the protests as the embodiment of a certain racist, anti-progressive ideology and attitude in Canada that Rob Ford ignited during his time as mayor of Toronto.

But aren’t many of these protesters merely in costume? Look long enough at the coverage across various media and under the costumes of parka, plaid shirts and toques you’ll find extremism; white-supremacists, anti-Semitism and misogyny.

What’s happening in Ottawa is a sinister costume party; it’s malevolent theatre, and the trick being played in this theatre is the visual trick of making the truckers and pretend-truckers seem like the majority of Canadians. They’re no such thing. Any more than Bob and Doug were ever the majority of Canadians.

Rob Ford’s various political scandals and his flagrantly unashamed handling of said scandals were part of what made him the perfect character for TPM — we were founded on our obsession with reveling in the absurd, after all. In 2013, the man was embroiled in a number of drug, alcohol, groping and escort-related scandals, including being caught smoking crack twice on film. That, of course, landed him the coveted distinction as a TPM Golden Duke recipient in January of 2014, just before former TPMers Hunter Walker and Yumi Araki traveled to Canada to attempt to hand-deliver the award to Rob Ford in-person (they ended up getting his brother “Dougie” to accept the award on his behalf). The entire journey was documented by Walker ad Araki pretty incredibly. I summed it up for TPM’s 20th Anniversary here.

Doyle, the Globe and Mail writer, points out in his piece that Rob Ford’s time in the political spotlight helped play a role in the development of the country’s modern populism movement, while also helping to usher in a new era of Canadian who embraces the “hoser” title as a veil for various extremists beliefs, like white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Think: “Depolorables.”

And it’s these exact folks, he says, who are leading the demonstrations against vaccine requirements in the country.

In America, we tend to call this phenomenon Trumpism.

It’s no surprise these protests have gotten an audience with far-right Americans.

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