MONTREAL It is a sign of the times that a Canadian prime minister and an American president are cheering for different candidates in the upcoming second round of France s presidential election and that their contrary preferences are so transparent.
Donald Trump has all but given Marine Le Pen a formal endorsement. In an interview with AP just ahead of Sunday s first-round vote he described the leader of France s far right party as the strongest on borders, and the strongest on what s been going on in France. Their history is one of reciprocal admiration.
Trump likes the Front National s anti-immigration bias, its anti-free-trade stance and its determination to have France follow the United Kingdom out of the European Union. So did about one in five French voters. On Sunday they helped Le Pen secure the second place with 21.3 per cent of the vote and a spot on the May 7 final round of voting.
Le Pen has been one of the president s most vocal European cheerleaders. She believed his victory, coming as it did on the heels of the U.K. vote to leave the European Union, would give her campaign a big boost. It did not really turn out that way. Sunday s score was the best FN showing in a presidential vote but it fell short of the big breakthrough the far-right party had hoped for.
If this vote offered a measure of sorts of Trump s populist coattails those have been shrinking over his first 100 days in office.
Justin Trudeau has been discreet about the French presidential contest. But it goes without saying that the prime minister has no time for Le Pen. She has few fans among Canada s mainstream politicians.
It was considered a given that she would make it to the second round of voting. Until Sunday, it was not clear which of the other three main contenders in the French election battle would face off against the Front National leader in the make-or-break May vote.
From Trudeau s perspective, the first-round victory of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron with 24 per cent of the vote and the probability that he will be the next French president is a win-win.
Less than three percentage points separated Macron from his FN rival in the first round. But that narrow margin is misleading. The anybody-but-Le Pen vote is projected to propel Macron to a decisive victory on May 7.
If those projections pan out in two weeks, Trudeau will gain a like-minded ally in a strategic position on the international game board.
Macron resigned from France s socialist government to create his centrist En Marche movement less than a year ago. He campaigned on a pro-EU platform. On issues ranging from diversity to immigration, national security and the balance between the mitigation of climate change and the need for industrial development, he and Trudeau essentially sing from the same hymnbook.
There are other similarities. The presidential favorite is only 39 years old. Both he and Trudeau are rising stars of the new guard that is (belatedly) taking over from the baby-boomer generation. The contrast with Trump (and the rest of the recent American presidential slate) could not be more striking.
Macron built his victory on the ruins of the two parties that have successively run France for three decades. He campaigned as an outsider. Neither of the candidates running for France s main parties qualified for the second round. Beno t Hamon who carried the banner of the incumbent Socialists lost with barely 6 per cent of the vote.
Trudeau, by comparison, leads the Canadian party that has spent the most time in power federally. He could be described as an insider by birth. But both he and Macron similarly beat long odds to vault to the front of the pack and each campaigned on a variation of sunny ways.
Macron was the only presidential candidate to openly support CETA, the Canada-EU free trade agreement negotiated under Stephen Harper and subsequently nurtured by the Trudeau government. It still has to clear some hurdles before it is cast in stone. With Macron at L lys e, the odds of that happening would be better.
A note in closing: Quebec s Parti Qu b cois spent decades nurturing the goodwill of France s traditional parties for the province s independence project. Based on Sunday s vote, that section of its sovereignty infrastructure has also not aged well.
Chantal H bert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
In this feature which appears each week, we present a vintage photo from Salem County (along with a large number of other historic local photos in an earlier gallery) and local history tidbits taken from newspapers of a century ago.
SALEM COUNTY PICTURE FROM THE PAST
The vintage photo of Salem County shows three men and a young girl with a sheep in a field around Alloway. The girl is identified as Geneva Dolbow. The men are Jerry Watson, Charlie Dolbow and Willard Darlington, according to information provided with the photograph. The date is unknown but probably sometime around 1900 or earlier. This picture is from the Salem County Historical Society’s Robert P. Dorrell Photograph Collection and is part of the photographic materials acquired by Dorrell from 1969 until his death in 1997. The collection consists of approximately 1,200 glass plate negatives and additional film negatives. The photographs, primarily of Alloway and vicinity, were taken by Abraham Darlington and his son, Willard, from about the 1870’s or 1880’s through the 1950’s or 1960’s. The collection was donated to the Society and is in the process of being digitized. To learn more about the vast research archives available to the public at the Society, call 856-935-5004. (Photograph provided by the Salem County Historical Society)
SALEM COUNTY HISTORY
Looking back 100 years ago in Salem County for this week in 1917, these news items were included in the Salem Sunbeam.
Security boats are constantly patrolling the Delaware River near Carneys Point protecting the gunpowder industries there.
Mrs. Mary Knight of Bordentown made an address on suffrage in the Lecture Room of the Friends Meeting House in Hancocks Bridge Monday night.
A number of farmers in the Pennsville area finished planting potatoes this week. The weather has been ideal and farmers are expecting good stands when potatoes come up.
The garrison at Fort Mott has been reinforced and the First Company C.A.C. is now stationed at that place.
The Penns Grove Temple No. 282 Camels of the World has secured a special dispensation and reopened its charter for new members. The charter will remain open for a month.
The Day Cottage at Fortescue, well known to many Salem fishermen who have enjoyed its hospitality, was burned to the ground last Saturday. Only by hard work by firefighters were other nearby cottages saved from fire.
Russell Morton, son of Warren M. Morton, has been granted an amateur operator’s wireless telegraph license by the authorities at the League Island Navy Yard.
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack offered an apology for inappropriate behavior by he and his wife to members of their household staff and security detail, on April 12 in his Harrisburg capitol office. (Ed Hille/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)
Click photo for gallery
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Breaking decades of precedent, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is stripping the state’s lieutenant governor, Mike Stack, and his wife of state police protection following complaints about the Stacks’ treatment of troopers and other state employees who tended to their taxpayer-funded residence. Wolf released a three-sentence letter Friday addressed to Stack informing him of the decision. The move dropped jaws in the state Capitol, since lieutenant governors have had state police protection for decades in Pennsylvania, and have occasionally had to step in to serve as governor. Wolf also told Stack in the letter that he would limit cleaning, grounds keeping and maintenance staff at his fellow Democrat’s official residence near Harrisburg, and only under supervision at pre-arranged times.
“I do not delight in this decision, but I believe it is a necessary step to protect Commonwealth employees,” Wolf wrote to Stack, a former state senator from Philadelphia.
The governor hand-delivered the letter to Stack, his office said. Stack responded in a statement three hours later, saying that he agreed with the decision. He said he and his wife acknowledged that their behavior was “unacceptable” and called it a symptom of a larger problem that he was committed to addressing. He said he also apologized to Wolf for “any embarrassment this situation has caused.”
He did not say what that problem is, and neither Wolf nor Stack has given details about the complaints. However, media reports suggested they revolve around allegations that the Stacks verbally abused their state police security detail and household staff at the official residence, and pressured state police drivers to use lights and sirens to bypass traffic in non-emergency situations. Wolf and Stack were elected on the same ticket in 2014, but candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania run independently in the primaries and, once elected, hold what are considered independent offices. The men have never been close, and yanking Stack’s police protection all but seals that for the future, including 2018, when both men are expected to run for a second term.
“For it to get to this point is shocking and for it to get to the point of a governor to remove a (security) detail and staff is amazing, and it’s also very sad,” said Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana.
Stack, 53, and his wife, Tonya, live in the state-owned house at Fort Indiantown Gap, the state National Guard headquarters about 20 miles east of the Capitol. Built in the 1940s, the 2,500-square-foot home has a swimming pool and a five-car garage. In prior years, it has been tended by kitchen, grounds and cleaning staff, while state troopers provided around-the-clock protection to the lieutenant governor and his wife that included driving them around on public and private business. Complaints had spurred Wolf to initiate an inspector general’s investigation into the Stacks’ treatment of state employees. On Friday, the governor’s office declined comment about whether Wolf had received a report from the inspector general.
News of the inspector general’s investigation first became the subject of media reports earlier this month, prompting Stack to summon reporters to his Capitol offices.
In comments to reporters, Stack provided scant detail about what he felt he did wrong, but nonetheless he acknowledged he had said “things in anger or stress or frustration” that he wishes he hadn’t said.
PHOTO: Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack offered an apology for inappropriate behavior by he and his wife to members of their household staff and security detail, on April 12 in his Harrisburg capitol office. (Ed Hille/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)