This item is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians.
How’s this for an attention-grabbing bit of political oratory, delivered in the United States House of Representatives? A Wisconsin Republican opined that Canada and lots of other places are less successful than the United States and offered his theory about why they are “countries that fail.”
Rep. Glenn Grothman says it’s because of cultural divisions. In Canada’s case, he says, those divisions involve language. And he lumped it in with a long list of what he called failed countries.
“I never felt Canada was quite as successful as America,” he began in his Nov. 16 speech. “[That’s] because, to a degree, their elections pitted the French speakers against the English speakers.”
He went on to say it’s true in lots of other places, including the continent of Africa that contains 54 countries: “You look at elections in the Middle East, and it is the Sunnis against the Shiites. You look at elections in Africa, and it is one tribe against another tribe.”
In other words, he said, when people in these countries “go to the polls, they don’t say what is the appropriate money to spend on national defence or what is our roads policy or what should be appropriate criminal justice policy or the length of jail sentences.
“No, in these countries that fail, the elections are a contest of one ethnic group against another.”
What’s the context
Grothman was speaking against the big budget bill that Democrats are hoping to pass through Congress, and he complained that it includes spending measures aimed at minority communities.
He went on to suggest that it’s part of a plot to pit racial groups against each other as part of a long-term Marxist strategy to take over America.
Grothman, one of the more conservative members of the Republican conference, is a former state politician elected four times to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill is likely to pass the House of Representatives any day.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of the Canadian government aren’t happy with one of its provisions affecting electric vehicle production and are hoping it might be modified before it eventually passes the Senate.
As for tribal divisions affecting politics, Grothman voted against an inquiry into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when his place of work was attacked by a mob seeking to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power after an election.
That inquiry’s work is ongoing.