John Oliver Takes on Canada's Election on 'Last Week Tonight'
"Stephen Harper doesn't care about Muslim people."
On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver addressed the impending Canadian election. The segment was so last-minute, Oliver noted, that Election Day was just under an hour away by the time he began.
He began with a quick run-through of some local candidates who couldn’t make it through the rigorous 78-day campaign. First, there was Conservative Party candidate Jerry Bance, who, for some reason, peed in a mug in a stranger’s home in 2012.
Bance, understandably, withdrew from the election. Next, Oliver turned to the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Alex Johnstone, who made a more public mistake in 2008 by posting an offensive comment on a friend’s photo from Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp. Apparently, she didn’t know what atrocities occurred there.
After getting the laughingstocks out of the way, Oliver focused on the three legitimate candidates to be Canada’s next prime minister: the NDP’s Tom Mulcair, the Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau, and Conservative Stephen Harper — the incumbent. Oliver dismisses Mulcair fairly quickly, simply declaring him uncharismatic. He spent a little more time with Trudeau, the son of Pierre Trudeau, a renowned and brilliant former Prime Minister. Unlike his father, Justin isn’t so bright. He is, however, “emotionally intelligent.”
Plus, he’s figured out how to fall down the stairs without hurting himself! A useful tool for any politician.
Oliver’s primary target was Harper, whom he referred to as Canada’s “dickhead” new boyfriend. He showed clips of Harper being blatantly sexist and Islamophobic — facts that speak for themselves as to how shitty he can be. He didn’t really dwell too greatly on Harper and focused mostly on his bigoted policies, nothing too economic, political, or boring. But those xenophobic beliefs are pretty big red flags on their own.
Oliver saved his big takedown for a silly bit of Canadian electoral law: that nobody outside of the country can actually tell people to specifically not vote for someone. So, briefly, Oliver paused on his Harper-bashing with respect to Canada’s policy. That pause, though, was just so he could invite a beaver, a moose, and Mike Myers dressed as a Mountie to give a big, legal middle finger to Harper.
Although his thesis was much less direct than usual (“Don’t vote Harper!”), Sunday’s episode could have been the peak of Oliver’s public engagement. The law that prohibits non-Canadians from speaking out against candidates also comes with a possible six-month jail term and a $5,000 CAD fine. He’s prepared to pay that fine and, who knows, maybe even go to jail. (He jokes about how weak that sentence would be, giving Canada an “Ottawa burn.”)
Depending on how the aftermath plays out, it could mean Oliver’s segment has real, Colbertian effects on a country’s politics.
The episode ends on a lighter note with Oliver taking down American politicians who earnestly misattribute quotes to Lincoln. In response, he announced he’s launched a website of Definitely Real Quotes where anyone can say anybody said anything.
If enough people say it, it must be true! It was a nice way to end the episode, and maybe give some hope that some quotes will stay fiction:
“I am still Canada’s Prime Minister.” — Stephen Harper, Tomorrow
The show has posted the full segment here: