Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Where is Mustafa, Mr. Poilievre?

Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason has set off something of a firestorm by asking a very simple question: where is Mustafa?

But first, who is Mustafa? Mustafa appears in Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's latest designed-for-social-media campaign video. Poilievre has a penchant for hard-hitting anti-Trudeau videos. His supporters love them (mainly because they hate Trudeau too); most other people just roll their eyes. Mustafa is a guy in the video who arranged a resort wedding in Cuba despite not having a passport. Poilievre apparently encountered Mustafa in Ottawa airport by sheer coincidence, the day AFTER his wedding was supposed to take place. His wife-to-be and 20 guests were living it up in Cuba while he was languishing in Ottawa still trying to obtain a passport.

The point of the video is supposed to be that Justin Trudeau was personally responsible for Mustafa's pain, and the pain of thousands like him. In fact, according to Poilievre, everything that goes wrong in Canada is, almost by definition, Trudeau's fault. (In actual fact, the passport log-jam of a few months ago has largely been remedied, and most people are now able to obtain passports within a reasonable period.)

But several things about Mustafa's story ring false, and Mr. Mason set about trying to contact this Mustafa. And failed. Social media campaigns sprang up on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit (I don't use any of them, but take your pick), frantically searching for Mustafa.

So, is Mr. Poilievre playing fast and loose with the truth? Is Mustafa a plant, a straw man? Was he paid? Does he even exist? Are those clever Poilievre videos all a big con? Do you care?

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