02.22.2012 07:54 AM

Keeping it personal (updated)

The Citizen’s Dan Gardner and I, and precious few others, have been arguing for days that – however loathsome Vic Toews may be as a politician, and he is – it is unethical and unfair to dig for dirt in his divorce files. Among other things, it is unfair to his children and spouse, and exposes them to further pain and embarrassment.

Dan and I have been called every name in the book for the position we’ve taken. And otherwise sensible progressives have angrily defended “Vikileaks” for this loathsome invasion of privacy.

So here’s an idea: if you think what Vikileaks did is okay, will you agree to let me and a small opposition research team to go through your bankruptcy, mortgage, credit and other publicly-available records, and publish the results?  Your Internet activity, too.  When you post here, I get your IP address: we’ll use that to publicize where you go surfing on the Net.

There is much, much more readily available than you might think. We will then publish the results here and on Twitter, as Vikileaks did.

What say? Who’s game? This is a serious offer.  (I’d particularly like Jordan and Geoff to take me up on it, but I can guarantee you that they won’t.)

Come on, Toews-haters! You don’t have anything to hide, do you?

UPDATE: It’s two full hours since I posted this.  It’s odd, but no Toews-hating Liberals or New Democrats seem to want to take me up on the oppo offer, and let us plumb through, and publicize, the publicly-available material about them.  How interesting.


  1. andy says:

    ..so you are advocating that what’s o.k. for the “goose” (the Harper Conservatives), is not o.k. for the “gander” (‘progressives’)?? so that when he calls me a “child porn supporter”, I should turn the other cheek and let him also call me an “adulterer”, even though I’m not one (but he is)????? and that eventually all of this will sort itself out, and “in the end” (whever that is) ‘good’ shall prevail—so that either the Harper Conservatives will recognize how evil they are and change their behaviour, or enough of the 40% that voted for them will get sufficiently engaged in our democratic process to recognize that they elected a fascist party and not vote for them next time????

    • Aaron says:

      I have to agree with Andy’s point of view on this one. Sometimes, when all else fails, fire has to be fought with fire. Harper has proven that he is not interested in listening to anything anybody has to say, even conservative Americans are telling him he is barking up the wrong tree with much of his legislation, C-10 in particular. The problem is he has forced us to get to this point much faster due to his tactics in parliament. As for your Vikileaks challenge above, if I am going to run as a public figure, I should be above reproach in my public and private life otherwise I am destined to be a hypocrite. People who put themselves in the public light must be open to scrutiny public and private.

      • Warren says:

        No, no, sorry Aaron at if you use “fire” in this way on someone you hate, it’s fair for you to get burned, too. What’s your home address and full name, please?

        • Chris Prowse says:

          Just like a vicious marry-go-round.

        • Aaron says:

          Wait isn’t this exactly what the cons have invited by using the tactics they are using? They are inviting the “fire”. The difference between me and Toews is I am not pretending to be above reproach nor am I responsible for crafting laws that affect all of us. Maybe our system of not touching politicians personal lives is not doing us any favours…we end up with douchebags hypocrites like Toews. BTW you would find a lot more info about me by googling my email address than using my IP address!

      • I guess the question I have to ask is: what about the family of the person in public life? If Toews is a hypocrite then family members are fair game? What if it’s an ex-spouse as in this particular instance?

        • Warren says:

          Exactly. This is so bloody unfair to that woman. But the Vic-haters are prepared to toss her on the funeral pyre, too, to get at her ex.

          • George says:

            You are right Warren! What’s also being missed is that the idiot comment that sparked this whole circus did come from Toews but it was NOT directed at the public. It was directed specifically at the dude who asked the question in parliament. It still makes it a stupid thing to say but in context has been so over blown. A sure sign of that is the nonsense being spouted on some of those conservative blogs that see Toews as an innocent in all of this. He’s not, but they like some of those fellow Libs. and NDP are WAY OFF!

        • Philip says:

          Was the 17 year old babysitter a victim too, Sean?

  2. que sera sera says:

    The e-snooping champion got e-snooped. And the media & pundits got e-scooped. Get over it.

    I suspect the angst over what Vic Toews wrought is due more to citizens finally electing to control the dialogue, frame the issue and the debate, thus leaving their betters in the media & blogosphere wringing their hands in dismay at such a flagrant violation of accepted protocol and practices.

    It may not be pretty but democracy isn’t a one-way street all flowing downhill to the unwashed masses, all for our own good of course. Citizen feedback cannot be limited to tax dollars and voting every four years, however much the ruling elites fervently wish otherwise.

    • Warren says:

      Really? What’s your real name? Care to play?

      • que sera sera says:

        Email me Warren and I will provide you with my name address and phone numbers to do with what you will.

        Do you not find it interesting that the 34 million citizens who are *NOT* child pornographers and who are *NOT* interested in seeing people’s privacy invaded are being held to a higher account than the Cabinet Minister in question and the citizen who outed him? What’s up with that?

        If you wish to blog a “public expose” of a taxpayer to belabour the point that has already been made so beautifully & resoundingly with Mr. Family Values, it is well within your purview.

        But I wouldn’t call it “play”. It is a deadly serious game these Conservatives are at within this country. Hiding behind their civil liberties while legislating the destruction of ours. Nor would I trivialize the issue by categorizing as “Toews-haters” those of us laughing at the colossal arrogance of the ruling elites.

        It’s the Emperor’s choice (not Canadians!!) to wander about with no clothes. Pardon us “*NOT* child pornographers” for pointing and laughing!

        • que sera sera says:

          Thanks for the email, Warren but I regret I have to withdraw the offer of my identity (and my head!) on a silver platter. I suspect my personal history is no better/worse than most (divorce, finances, etc. etc.) but I do not trust the dangerous times we are living in with this vindictive government stomping in awfully big boots all over Canadians and the Charter.

          In the excitement of the fray I plumb forgot that Canada has a government that’s already proven its willingness to abuse its powers & make war on citizens that are not “ideologically” compliant.

          For example, abusing the RCMP by having citizens bounced out of public election rallys for nefarious activities such as being photographed with Ignatieff or for having an NDP bumper sticker on a personal automobile.

          This government has already proven its willingness, from the PMO through Cabinet and on down, to vilify and demonize citizens who have the audacity to exercise their democratic obligations and freedom of speech (ie: *NOT* child pornographers , environmentalists, First Nations, to name but a few).

          This government has gone on record as supporting torture and has participated in exporting Canadian citizens to foreign countries for torture.

          It is indeed dangerous times when law abiding but ideologically non-compliant citizens are hunted & persecuted by their own government.

          Sorry for wasting your time on that particular offer, Warren. I do enjoy your blog & the varied comments being posted, particularly on this issue

          • Warren says:

            I’m trying to make a point. We will beat these jerks with ideas and tough criticisms of their public record. Not swimming in the same gutter as them.

  3. william smith says:

    Sure I will let you have everything about me that is available if those records reveal me to be a two faced meanie. Vic Toews placed himself as the defender of family virtues and in real life was an adulterer who screwed the baby sitter who may have been underage conceived a child out of wedlock with a Parliamentary aide and was revealed as an MP who may have been fiddling his expenses. Now why shouldn’t he public know the contradiction.

    If he had only kept his gob shut we would have never known, because it was reported the first time around – but only just.

    What goes around comes around, hoisted on one’s own petard and a dozen other clihes apply to this situation

    • Warren says:

      No, sorry, William Smith at, that’s not how it works. If you are okay with it happening to your political enemy, you should also be okay with it happening to you. What’s your home address and full name, please.

      • william smith says:
        OrgName: Nexicom Inc.
        OrgId: NXCM
        Address: 5 King Street East
        City: Millbrook
        StateProv: ON
        PostalCode: L0A-1G0
        Country: CA
        RegDate: 1998-11-09
        Updated: 2011-09-24
        Ref: http://whois.arin.net/rest/org/NXCM

        you get a warrant and you can have my details until then this is all you get and I live nowhere near Millbrook

  4. Michael S says:

    Hi Warren, like i’ve stated before, i am normally 99% in agreement with you. But, i find your support of Vic unbearable. He has put himself in the public domain, and used his family for politcal gain. He calls law abiding canadians child molestors, then dares acts for privacy?

    • Warren says:

      I don’t support Vic Toews. I oppose people (like you, apparently) who think it is fine to dig through people’s private lives, because you dislike them.

      So will you agree to let us publish the stuff we find out about you? I presume you will say yes.

      • Michael S says:

        Of course not Warren, be real. I never said it was fine to dig through his personal life. He put himself in the public domain, i have not; he used his family for political gain, did he not? Was he not a champion of family values? I feel bad for his former wife and kids who are affected, but this is due to him.

        • Warren says:

          You have urged scrutiny of the private lives of public people. By posting here, you are a public person.

          Looking forward to receipt of your full name and address. We’ll have your credit history up in minutes, just to start.

          • Mandos says:

            No; he is not a public person by posting here. The wonderful thing about the Internet—and it is wonderful, and liberating—is that we can retain at least some simulacrum of privacy while contributing to public life. Otherwise, blogs, etc, have no political role at all. Vic Toews, on the other hand, is truly public—he has been elected to office.

          • Inge says:

            Nobody ever published Vic Toew’s credit history, nor have I heard of anyone intending to do so. You would have to limit yourself to divorces and babysitters, please, and if you do, I am fair game!

  5. Joel R says:

    Warren, I believe that the “vikileaks” episode was at the beginning a one-time protest, supported by Canadians from all political views, directed at Vic and the conservatives to show them that they are going down the wrong path. Thus, going after Vic personal life was justified as it was proving a point about C30. That point being – stay out of our personal lives unless you have probable cause.

    • Warren says:

      Joel, that’s nice. So I presume you, at, are okay with us knowing your full name and address, please?

      • Joel R says:

        Hi Warren, no, I would not be ok with this. I see your point.

        But don’t you think that there are times that these people in office need to be told by “we the people” with a two by four instead of a well-worded argument?

        • Warren says:

          Of course. It’s called a general election.

          • Joel R says:

            This is a good point, and I am sad that I didn’t think of this. Perhaps I had unconsciously assumed that the conservatives will be in power for a long time, and thus the only way to change legislation such as C30 is to stoop to these unethical practices, as they seem to have at least partially worked.

            You have given me a lot to think about. Maybe obtaining an objective is not worth it if we have to achieve it unethically.

      • Inge says:

        Do we know Vic Toew’s address, other than on Parliament Hill? Not very logical, is it now.

  6. C Schnurr says:

    It seems when the “progressives” did not respond to Harper’s personal attacks in the last election, they have now taken it to the other extreme, and in effect are no better than Harper, which leaves voters with two choices – Harper or Harper-Lite.

    Is this what being progressive means now? Playing down and dirty with the other kids in the sandbox?

    No wonder Harper has been slowly gaining and then securing a majority. There is no alternative.

  7. Mike says:

    When good people feel the need to do wrong to accomplish good, the good they do becomes morally bankrupt. It is wrong to drag Toews family into the public spotlight. As great as it feels to expose his personal hypocrisy, and I’m sure many relish that feeling, you are hurting innocents who have already been hurt by his actions. I have no remorse for Vic Toews but his ex-wfie and child(ren) deserve their privacy.

    • Warren says:

      That’s my view, too. I despise everything this creep does. But I don’t need to jump into a shitpit to defeat him.

      • Danny says:

        I too think that Toews has really stepped in it. Unfortunately, the Vikileaks episode has made him sympathetic, and has distracted from the real issue.
        There is nearly no discussion about C-30 and unwarranted police powers. I find that disheartening.

  8. kre8tv says:

    The fact that this story has somehow turned a guy like Vic Toews into a victim tells me everything I need to know about whether it’s a good idea to bring people’s personal lives into a political argument. Sure there are plenty who point out (with some justification) that this is proof that Con mudslingers can’t take a punch. But we all knew that already. It’s also missing the bigger point. By condoning vikileaks, this has further legitimized what is quickly becoming an all-too-common practice of engaging in politics of the needlessly personal. It trivializes the important issues and makes an ugly spectacle of everyone involved. Little wonder why so many people loathe politics and its my-party-right-or-wrong sycophants these days.

  9. Anne Peterson says:

    No I won’t. But then again I am not the Minister of Public Safety who set himself up as a family values person and spends his life pronouncing judgement on others. It makes a difference. If I was I would consider myself fair game for people to know about my personal life. This sort of thing has never come up before because we have never had so many sanctimonious, judgemental *&%s in power before. We seem to be the only country which doesn’t care about the character of its politicians. John Edwards and his ilk certainly make the headlines in the US. And I believe they should. And the French politician who assulted the maid. Headlines. I need to know what kind of people politicians are. They want me to trust them. To vote for them to lead my country for 4 years. They make decisions about my life. If I was choosing a financial advisor I’d want to know if he had ever been convicted or even accused of fraud.

    • Michael S says:

      Well said Anne. i wish i could’ve been as articulate as you. i’d like to see Warren’s response to you.

    • Warren says:

      You have posted here, publicly, about a very public issue. You are a public person.

      You should be fine, then, with having done to you what was done to the public person (Toews) you despise.

      • wsam says:

        Excuse me. Is posting on an internet forum the same as being a national politician, a position from where you can introduce and pass legislation which effects people intimately.
        Toews political persona is as a family values politician. He entered politics as a social conservative. That persona is clearly false. His personal hypocrisy deserves to be exposed.

        Where Vic Teows is similar to Clinton is he is yet another sleazy man who used a position of relative power to seduce a much younger woman. He is different from Clinton in so far as Clinton didn`t campaign as a social conservative. Unlike Toews, Clinton`s political agenda didn`t appeal to traditional family-based values. Toews is more like Newt Gingrich, though lacking Gingrich`s humility and intellectual sophistication.

        If I based my political career on my being the strongest man in the world while in fact I was a 98lbs weakling who cried at the end of the Titanic, would not the gap between the perception I have sought to weave around myself and my actual lived reality be fair game.

    • kre8tv says:

      Anne, the point here isn’t whether it’s okay to target Toews. It’s his ex-wife who now has to deal with the public humiliation of having all her failed marriage and her spouse’s infidelities and stories of baby mamas all made public. Rationalize all you want, but most of the people named in the vikileaks didn’t deserve to have this done to them. Had they (i.e., ex-wife & baby mama) wanted this made public, that was their business to do so. It sure was not the call to be made by some nameless all-tactics-no-strategy Hill staffer.

      Cons clearly do not have a monopoly on sanctimonious, judgmental behaviour.

  10. Ottawacon says:

    Just seems to me so unnecessarily ugly – Toews has done more than enough to merit demands for his resignation that is entirely in the public realm. Being surprised at the contents of his own bill, over which he issued the ‘child pornographer’ slur to begin with comes to mind.

    • JenS says:

      Yes, precisely. And honestly, the Vikileaks baloney and Anonymous threat are little more than playground bullying. This is a battle that could have been won with ideas and facts, but now, it’s become ugly mudslinging that is causing people to lose sigh of the point: that it’s crap proposed legislation, and its biggest proponent didn’t even understand its contents. Resorting to this may feel good in some sort of spiteful way, but ultimately, it’s undermined the battle.

  11. Honest Abe says:

    When any one of the Liberals claiming public figure’s private lives should be used to discredit them admits that the principles which they’re claiming would force them to take the side of J. Edgar Hoover against Martin Luther King Jr., then I’ll taken them seriously. Until then, they’re hypocrites.

  12. Tim Sullivan says:

    The moment I call you a child molester sympathizer, and it appears I don’t know what I’m talking about, for example, because I have not read or understand the bill I introduce, you are free to go through any publicly-availalble document and pronounce on my shenanigans.

  13. Rene Gauthier says:


    The Conservatives have been playing this game for years. They have been responsible for some of the most vitriolic, cynical rhetoric in the history of our great nation. If we don’t wish to stoop to their levels, how do we win the next time around?

  14. JH says:

    I get it about the terrible comment from Toews and also how dumb not to read his own bill.
    However, a reading of the Anne MacLellan bill of a while back might also prove interesting to some folks. And I agree with WK on personal lives as well. It would have been a fine how dee do for all parties if there was a vikileaks availability from the 60s on. Or even before. Imagine John A. and his drinking, the dirty money scandals etc., or Laurier and his law partner’s wife. Historians have it all documented, but not the stuff you teach in school. There wouldn’t have been a government in the country’s history with completely clean hands.

  15. WDM says:

    For all those siding with VikiLeaks, haven’t seen many willing to explain why, even if you take the MASSIVE leap (one I won’t take myself) and suggest Vic deserved it, what about his family? Why should they have their privacy violated?

      • Tim Sullivan says:

        There is no privacy when you elect to proceed with a court process. The court file is public information. In Ontario, income tax returns are filed for all the public to see.

        Here you have to decide who violated whose privacy .. the parties who put this dispute in the public, or the public who have accessed it, legally?

  16. andy says:

    ..your challenge Warren, isn’t apples to apples—Vikileaks did not publish bank statements, mortgage or credit ratings; Vikileaks published published factual public information which relates to the credibility, character and integrity of a public figure in power; the fact that the detaols are sodid is not Vikileaks fault, they are Vic Toews details;
    ..when I am in a position of power, where my competencies, values and behaviours directly affect the lives of milions of people,and I am being paid by those I am required to serve, then you my permission to publish factual information which might indicate I am being very much less than honest in my relationship with my constituents.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      Men (and women) are not angels. Should we be surprised that many of our public figures fail to live up to a perfect standard?

      I wasn’t aware that the divorce file was publicly available information. But these gutter tactics are not effective.

      Look at what happened when a news organization attacked Gingrich for cheating on his wife during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

      He got a huge amount of sympthy vote and won the South Carolina primary.

      There are better ways to oppose Vic Toews. By doing this, it actually creates sympathy for him.

  17. Riaz Khan says:

    I agree with you Mr. Kinsella. There is so much out there to criticize the CPC and Mr. Harper that bringing family thing is just plain wrong. Family affairs should be off limit. I was so angry when the CPC went after Ignatieff’s family. Serious debate on serious affairs does not family details in the middle.

  18. Riaz Khan says:

    I agree with you Mr. Kinsella. There is so much out there to criticize the CPC and Mr. Harper that bringing family thing is just plain wrong. Family affairs should be off limit. I was so angry when the CPC went after Ignatieff’s family. Serious debate on serious affairs does not need family details in the middle.

  19. G. Babbitt says:

    Put me in the surprised camp for the reaction to airing of Toews personal laundry. When I first heard about a leak (I still don’t know the details and don’t care) I admit feeling pleased that someone like Toews suffers, but it was a guilty feeling because the means of comeupance are so detrimental to the public good. Maybe for me, I find that his torture memo illustrates a lack of character and unredeemable nasty dispostion than anything in his personal life. Therefore I find it dubious to find progressives using Toews twisted logic that because the other side is so bad, we can do what we want no matter how ineffective and cruel. And like torture it is not effective. Everybody brings up his equating opposition to the bill as child molestors as a reason to reach deep in the muck so that he doesn’t get away with such an outrageous statement. The fact is that people were repulsed by his comments and it was nice to point out that this name-calling of opposition is standard Tory operating procedure, and putting this trick to the light had long term benefits. Now it just part of deeper moral morass.

  20. Heric says:

    This vikileaks stuff limits the people that want to run for public office.

    It is hard to recruit candidates when everything about them is fair game, few people would want to go through what Vic Toews has.

    Its too bad because we really need more good candidates for all parties.

    • Aaron says:

      Agreed we need more good candidates. These are ones who are above reproach in their public and private lives. If we preclude examination of private lives we get characters like Teows. We need fewer candidates like him.

      • Heric says:

        The point is no one is above reproach.
        Even Jesus was condemned and killed.

        Things that happen when young or if you make a dumb mistake should not limit a person.
        Nor should things that people might want to share, like sexual orientation or spousal information.

        If personal perfection is required there wouldn’t a single candidate left.

        • Aaron says:

          I would concede that nobody is likely above reproach, but their are a lot of very good people out there, strong actors in their field, community leaders who could easily stand up to the scrutiny of public life. Where are these people. By virtue of their ability to be such “good” people they would not be trying to hoodwink us, divide us, conquer by fear. I guess I live in the same wonderland that WK lives in believing that personal lives of public figures is untouchable.

  21. wsam says:

    This is the dumbest debate in history.

  22. W.B. says:

    If full disclosure of your identity is the way to go, a lot of people critical of the Conservative Government who fear reprisals from police or tax officials or PMO propaganda machine, are sure going to stop commenting on these sites. I certainly think the bill will be used to attack political opponents.
    I suppose you are saying if everybody goes public with name etc up front there will be too many to chase down.
    Question Warren. Were the reporters who covered Kennedy right to keep quiet about what they knew?
    For some reason Gary Hart and his nautical adventure springs to mind. It’s a tough issue.
    I’ll be honest I’m afraid to have my information posted on these comment sites like yours.

  23. Philip says:

    As long as we are talking about victims here, what about the 17 year old babysitter? It’s interesting to how quickly she gets dropped from the list.

  24. Mark Francis says:

    Look, this is a government that thinks using information acquired by torture to be ethical. In that light, I don’t give a crap about the ethics of Vikileaks’ actions.

    That issue aside, the point made by Vikileaks was that personal information will be accessed and used in ways people don’t like. Arguing over the ethics of Vikileaks publishing details of Toews private life is an irrelevant sideshow.

  25. Jason King says:

    Krauthammer? Wikipedia? Really? Cant you find a better source or at least one considered credible in high school?

    • Jason King says:

      Yeah Krauthammer coined the term. You’re missing the point about the validity of your source – Wikipedia, which is generally not acceptible for a high school paper.

      Lefties, getting into the name calling again. Guess we’ll have to bring this up when you try to play the nobel victim role in the future.

      Goodness knows we could find a lot of terms for what you’re afflicted with. Dunning-Kruger comes to mind.

      • JenS says:

        Just to clarify: are you calling Gord a lefty, Jason?

      • Jason King says:

        Not at all. Gord loves to play the noble victim role from time to time and cite namecalling and generalizations as something he is above. Just want him to remember that he isnt above it next time he tries that ill fitting role.

        Im not sure Gord actually understands what the left is, well not in a reality based scenario at least.

  26. Jim Hanna says:

    Well I’m with you Warren; so I hope you’ll keep my IP address private 😉

    Whatever Toews has done, it doesn’t deserve to be delivered upon his family, that ” anonymous” has spared his son is small comfort to the dozen or so other people they named. They are cowards and they will be held to account for that.

    An eye for an eye…just leaves everyone blind. Didn’t we learn that in kindergarten?

    You’re on the side of the angels on this one Warren…like I said, don’t be so hard on yourself; somewhere, your Dad is very proud of the man you became.

  27. James Bow says:

    For the most part, I’m inclined to go with your instincts, Warren. I mean, everybody, consider this: given Warren’s pit bull nature in politics, and how he slapped down Stockwell Day, when his gut instinct in this situation is not to go for the throat, LISTEN TO HIS INSTINCTS!

    That said, I do believe the situation isn’t as cut and dry as all that. Here are my points in bullet form as I try to organize my thoughts:

    – People aligned with the Conservatives have certainly acted in the way that you are suggesting that Liberals and New Democrats should NOT act. Things got very personal against Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. There were irrelevant questions raised over Dion’s citizenship and even Ignatieff’s wife was targeted. And what about the allegations of an affair that sank Adam Giambrone’s mayoralty campaign? We protested over the personal (and, more importantly, irrelevant and negative) nature of these attacks, but the Conservatives still used them to gain traction with the electorate. You have a fair comment about trying to stick to the moral high ground, Warren, but you’re probably going to have to explain a few times (to make it clear) the dangers of lowering ourselves to the Conservatives’ level. It’s just so damn tempting.

    – Would I appreciate it if you did opposition research on me? Probably not. But there is not much that I could say against it, really. I mean, my activity in public is in public. I’m sure you could find a number of publicly embarrassing (but not illegal) facts about me that would make it more difficult to run for public office (I wrote fan fiction). It’s one reason that I’ve chosen not to run for public office (other reasons including the fact that I’d lose, badly). But I did choose to engage in such non-illegal activities of my own free will. If called out for them, I could make a defence. Ultimately, that’s the risk all politicians make. If they can’t defend their actions in the court of public opinion, really, they either shouldn’t have engaged in those actions in the first place, or they shouldn’t have run for public office.

    It really is shocking how many people forget that the Internet is a public space, and speaking within it should be taken with the same forethought that one should have when speaking at top volume in a public restaurant with working tape recorders at every table. We’ve heard many a case of jobs lost due to embarrassing (but not illegal) revelations about a person slipping out to people who were not meant to hear them. We report on these incidents, but we don’t give these people much of a pass, because what’s been done has been done in public.

    It’s important to note that everything that Vikileaks brought forward was out in the public domain. He didn’t have to work very hard in order to produce the information, and none of it was illegally obtained. Take that into account when criticizing Vikileaks, here.

    – Finally, there is the question of relevance. The sudden reappearance of Jack Layton-in-a-massage-parlour story was disgusting for its timing, and its total irrelevance to Jack’s qualifications as a politician. If it highlighted signs of marital tensions between him an Olivia, it might have been news. If Layton had been arrested instead of cooperating with the officers at the scene, it might have been news. If the incident had happened six months before the news broke, it might have been news. None of this was the case.

    On the other hand, you have Vic Toews, who campaigned against same sex marriage as a threat to the institution of marriage, who has pursued “family values” as a mainstay in his political career, and who has backed a bill that calls for an invasion of privacy beyond what Vikileaks achieved. Allegations of an affair call into question his commitment to his own “family values” campaign, and the invasion of the privacy of ordinary Canadians is a strong parallel to what we saw in the case of Vikileaks. The message is: look at what Vikileaks was able to uncover without using the powers that Vic Toews and the civil servants beneath him have written into Bill C-30. Imagine the sort of thing that could be pulled out once Bill C-30 passes, this time aimed out from the government, at you. Do you still feel that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear?

    And Vic Toews won him self very little sympathy when he initially aligned the civil libertarians questioning the bill with the pedophiles he was going after. The goose and the gander have both been well and thoroughly sauced.

    I respect your experience, Warren, and I respect your instincts. I agree with you that this is a dangerous path to go down, especially considering how upset we were when others have tried similar tactics against the politicians we’ve supported. But issues of relevance and hypocrisy moderate things to a considerable degree. At least in the initial stages. I suspect that if revelations continued, it would start to backfire, but I also think that now that Vikileaks has shut down, he’s made his point.

    • wsam says:

      Does the fact the young women Mr Teows allegedly seduced subsequently had a baby mean we can drop the allegedly.

      The fact you write fan fiction means you can never in good faith campaign on a promise to eliminate the scourge of fan fiction. And Giambrone technically found himself in trouble for abusing city property (his office chesterfield).

  28. Mulletaur says:

    Toews put his name on the ballot, not the rest of us. Also, Toews wants to give the police the power to go trawling through the personal information you propose to use your research team to get and much, much more, without any control for reasonableness or legality by a judge. I think it’s only right that he gets a fair taste of what this means for him personally. Communication is all about bringing things down to personal experience, as you rightly point out. He says he didn’t even know about these outrageous and unconstitutional police provisions. So now he gets to have the experience that might enable him to see what he is really doing here.

  29. Bil Huk says:

    this thread has brought out the worst of some of the posters i read here on a regular basis, and the best in warren.

    i hate blind partisanship more than anything else in politics, and as a conservative supporter i’m digusted at the amount of partisanship i see from my side of the fence. this thread has highlighted EXACTLY what i hate about partisanship. It allows normally decent people to feel ok about advocating some disgusting things, because they’re the “good guys” and those people over there are the “bad guys” and no amount of scorched earth should stop us from giving the bad guys what they deserve.

    respecting the privacy of family members may sheild Vic Toews from what you want him to suffer through, but avoiding that kind of thing is exactly a measure of being one of ‘the good guys’.

    my conservative breathern forget that principle consistently, and its unfortunate that one of the things i admired about liberals/progressives, and its rough to see how quickly the faithful throw that principal aside, and defend it with either “they deserve it” or “well, they do it too”.

    • Cynical says:

      Bill, if there were more conservative commenters demonstrating your level of sanity, there would be far less temptation to go to the dark side on issues like this. I also don’t like the level of partisanship displayed by my side (loosely “progressive”, although I would not say “left”. It’s been a long time since I thought nationalizing anything was a good idea!).
      I can see merit in much of what your side advocates, and the ways in which my side makes opposition points sometimes disturb me. And the reverse. The curse of the mushy middle in my case.

      Thanks, Warren for staying on this issue, and thanks to Dan Gardner for the Citizen piece. I’ve changed my mind a couple times on this, and the discussion here (most of it) has helped a good deal. Now to go read Dr Dawg for a push in the opposite direction!

      BTW you can have my real name any time you want. I do feel accountable for my internet postings, such as they are. My life is a very boring open book, unfortunately.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      Partisanship is a feature of democracy. In fact, I like partisanship and it lets people know where politicians stand. (and no, I don’t like the gutter politics regarding Vikileaks)

      Whenever I hear the words “bi-partisan”, I immediately recoil at the thought of the establishment having bought the malleable sides of the political spectrum in order to enrich themselves and screw everybody else.

  30. Ted B says:

    Toews is on the public payroll and a cabinet member with access to and power over all sorts of government resources and money. Absolutely, he should be held to a higher standard than most others and certainly blog posters. He has absolutely forfeited some of his personal privacy. We have to be able to scrutinize him and that includes contrasting his personal and private behaviour with his public plans and ambitions.


    There is a fine line, a very fine line and most of these Vikileaks seem to cross it.

    1. The right to privacy of Toews is not the same as the right to privacy of his family members. Anything about them is totally off limits. Even if he uses his family and family values to get elected. Even if it shows him to be a huge hypocrit.

    2. The first rule should be private matters are strictly off limits. While it may feel good to go after a complete wastee of space, divisive, lying, hypocrit like Toews, it also punishes the country because decent and good people will choose not to subject themselves to that possible treatment and opt not to run for office.

    3. At the same time, there are – there must be – exceptions. It does not mean that his public records (including public records relating to his private life) are totally off limits. If they relate to specific actions he is taking in government (eg. new anti-lobbying rules while a spouse is a lobbyist against whom the laws are not being enforced) or if they “leak” is just a re-publishing of statements he has made that are in the public realm, then they are open for public scrutiny.

  31. GPAlta says:

    Excellent column by Gardner, and an excellent post by Kinsella. Sometimes the lessons that are hardest to learn are the most valuable, and the lesson Warren is illustrating here will be very valuable to the Liberals if it is reaffirmed now, as hard as that is to do. The Conservatives do not know that it is wrong to harm private individuals for political gain, and we should recognize that as their weakness, not their strength. And we should not teach it to them by attacking Toews this way, they don’t need any more strengths.

    The next important question, if it is realized that this personal approach is not the liberal’s strength, will then be what is the Liberal political strength? Liberals have been handed unimaginably easy political scandals–
    prorogation, voter suppression, Bruce Carson, Christiane Ouimet, Bev Oda, Public Appointments Commission, Canada EI Financing Board, Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, Canada School of Energy and the Environment, slandering the Chiefs of Police, undermining so many regulatory agencies, destroying so many women’s groups, making the illegal trade in firearms undetectable, lying to the Supreme Court about safe injection sites, making every vote a confidence vote for years, covering up torture, truly incredible patronage appointments that are still not being reported, undermining the constitution w.r.t. the Senate, throwing away the best justice system in the world in favour of following the model of the worst but most profitable, lying (!) about the state of the economy at every update, lying about the facts of climate change, lying about the facts of asbestos, lying about the facts of macroeconomics, bringing the government to its knees with idiotic (or evil) cuts in revenue even before the economic collapse, harassing charities, destroying habitats, rejecting the will of farmers about the Wheat Board, and so many others–
    virtually every one of which could easily be argued to be more costly to the nation than the sponsorship scandal, and nothing has hit the public radar, nothing has stuck, this Vic Toews thing is the first sign ever that the public can turn against the Conservatives, which makes it very tempting, but it should be taken as a sign that all those other things could have stuck as well, maybe some still could, and it should be taken as a sign that future scandals may stick too. Keep in mind that this was sticking before Vikileaks.

    There is hope, but Liberals have to do something very different than what they have done in recent years if they want to turn the public against the conservatives, and they can’t depend on the personal method. What if next time the person who introduces a foolish and harmful bill is a pillar of the community, not a snake? What will they do then? What if the conservatives learn their lesson and stop the personal attacks now, leaving this legacy in the Liberals’/NDP’s lap?

    As soon as possible, we need a new plan, and Vikileaks isn’t it.

    • william smith says:

      pity Gardners column doesn’t allow comments or else he would see that there are many that do not agree with him

  32. Neil says:

    Warren, So the question is then what is fair game? If Vic had been divorced and was sleeping with a parlimentary assistant and fathered a child, is that fair game. I would say so because “she” is working with him and that creates a serious issue about workplace harrasment. Then again even with the staffer working in politics, she is not a elected official but then again there is an innocent child involved.
    What about if Vic was a regular crack smoker or pot smoker, should that information be made public? What about if he is married with kids and is smoking pot but we release the information, publically embaressing the family, where does the line exist?
    Can we never issue anything about officals because it hurts the family or it it ok as long as it does not directly involve the family.
    As much as I loath what Harper did to Dion and Ignatieff, ultimatly I do not beleive that is why they lost, they lost because Harper made a better argument about governing then the Liberals did.

    • Pat says:

      I think you are half right about Dion and Iggy. It is not the extremely personal attacks that allowed Harper to win, and it is not the argument about governing that allowed him to win (though it certainly helped). It was the less personal attacks – “Not a Leader” and “Just Visiting” – that gave Harper the win. Neither of those narratives were particularly personal, but neither were about policy or ability either.

  33. Steve says:

    No, Warren, you MAY not browse through my credit history or internet browsing history. I’m not a public figure and I’m not a hypocrite. Not that there’s much of interest there anyway. My credit score is excellent and, as you’d expect, I occasionally download porn on the Internet. But here’s the thing: I’ve never billed myself and sought to capitalize on a reputation as an anti-porn crusader. I don’t care how consenting adults choose to live their lives. I don’t demonize people with different lifestyles than my own. Toews attacks gays as a threat to the family and tries to bill himself as a champion of “traditional family values” while carrying on an affair and fathering a love child (at least he’s not hypocritical when it comes to abortion). He champions fiscal responsibility while blowing piles of taxpayer money at restaurants. He’s just like these Republicans down south railing against gays and immorality while living secret lives of crystal meth and gay hookers. If you want to be a hypocrite, prepare to be called out on it.

  34. billg says:

    So what your saying James is, its wrong but in this case he deserved it.
    As a Conservative, what Toews said replused me, the Bill is flawed, the Cons need help with it and there is a House full of capable MP’s willing to help, but, the one thing that will eventually kill this govt is what stops them from asking for help…arrogance. Ironic that Arrogance and not Policy will be the eventual down fall, but, along come a group of people that say, although the messy details of his private life wouldnt normally belong in the public domain, this is one case where its warranted, and, poof, you find yourself in that same arrogant crowd.
    Its like saying your against the Death Penalty except for cop killers…doesnt make sense.
    If its wrong….its wrong.

    • Aaron says:

      Is binary thinking a characteristic of being conservative? With us or with (name your enemy of choice)…this world is not black and white, everything needs to be examined on a case by case basis based on the facts. Mandatory minimums take this ability away from judges. There are many shades of grey in our society, progressives seem to grasp this, what gives?

  35. Michael Teper says:

    I agree with you Mr. Kinsella. Mr. Toews should be refuted on the merits of his position, not scurrilous attacks on his personal life. If Canadians were to insist that all MPs have personal lives that are above reproach, there wouldn’t be more than half a dozen electable people in the whole country.

  36. Anne Peterson says:

    When I run for office and you can vote for me to run your country (or not) you are very welcome to know about and comment on any aspects of my life and you are entitled to. My actions and my character and my life should be a transparent story for you so that you can decided if I am worthy of your trust and worthy to run your country. A person’s action indicate their character and this is important when running a country. A person who will cheat in personal realtionships will cheat in other ways but if they are not running my country I don’t much care. If they are I do.

    • The Doctor says:

      My problem with this sort of thinking is that taken to its logical endpoint, the only people who would feel fully comfortable running for public office are the sort of people who never did anything wrong in their lives, ever. You know, that really irritating person in your 5th grade class who always obeys the teacher, never rebels, etc. etc.

      Personally, I don’t want only people like that in politics. I actually want real, fallible human beings, who can relate to and empathize with the rest of us real, fallible human beings.

  37. The Other Jim says:

    Vic Toews’ “child pornography” comment was gutter politics at its worst. It demeaned the debate and rightfully backfired on him in terms of the outrage that his comments generated.

    Bill C-30, in my opinion, represents a fairly serious intrusion into the lives of Canadians and I do appreciate that Vikileaks was inspired at least in part to hoist Toews on the “privacy” petard. I don’t agree with dragging his family through the mud like that, but I understand some of the thinking behind it.

    If one more person sneers “he called MEEEEEEEEEEE a child pornographer so he deserves what he gets”, though, I’m going to puke. Seriously, folks, get a grip.

    Toews made an ignorant comment at a very non-specific group (let’s call them “people who are generally opposed to government snooping into their lives and specifically bothered by bill C-30, a fairly complex piece of legislation that the vast majority of both opponents and supporters, apparently including the rather inept Minister of Public Safety, have never read”). Toews isn’t he first Canadian politician to ignorantly tar his opponents with a broad brush and he won’t be the last. Personally, I don’t find Toews comments even remotely as offensive as Tim Hudak’s attacks on foreign-born Canadian workers in the last Ontario election, but I digress.

    The point is that Vic Toews didn’t call Tim Sullivan a child molester sympathizer. He didn’t accuse Michael S of abiding child molesters. He didn’t call Andy a child porn supporter. Perhaps more to the point, NOBODY is going to see Tim Sullivan, Michael S, or Andy walk down the street and think “Hey, that dude thinks that exploiting children is okay!”. I don’t buy the mock personal outrage that is being used to justify the exposure of Toews personal life.

    Again, I don’t like Vic Toews and I find his style of politics to be reprehensible. I am opposed to bill C-30 and found his asinine comments about “standing with child pornographers” to be contemptible. It is ridiculous, though, for people to act as if they’ve been personally attacked by the Minister and then use that as justification for the Vikileaks nonsense.

    So, anyway, a question for all of those who use the “standing with child pornographers” comment as justification for Vikileaks.

    Where do you draw the line? It was okay to attack Toews personally because he accused his opponents of “standing with child pornographers”, what if he simply called them “un-Canadian”? Would it still be justified? What if he said that his opponents were dumb as a bag of hammers? Or that their mothers wear army boots. Yes? No? More to the point, do you want some anonymous person on Twitter deciding where that line is and imposing their own brand of justice on you?

    • The Other Jim says:

      Just one, additional point. I think that the #tellviceverything campaign was a far more clever and effective way to draw attention to the the bill and/or Toew’s ignorant support thereof. You can go on the offensive without delving into someone’s personal life.

      As others in this thread have noted, giving Toews the ammunition to play victim has obscured some really clever ways that people were opposing C-30 and the Minister’s asshattery.

  38. Brian says:

    I don’t think it was unethical, since it was public record material.

    I do think it was tactically self-indulgent and a mistake, since the combination of personal attacks and the decision to launch them anonymously distracted from the real issue of what was in the legislation.

  39. Derek Pearce says:

    This is why I could never ever run for public office. While I have no guilt whatsoever about the shenanigans I’ve gotten up to in my private life over the years, I wouldn’t last 2 seconds as an elected official if anybody ever got snoopy and/or blabbermouthed about my past!

  40. billg says:

    Well Aaron, it is that easy and it is that simple and there are no shades of grey on this subject.
    If Toews’s past is subject to public scrutiny then, all should be. It really is that simple.

  41. Neil says:

    So I just saw the anonymous video announcing the name of Toews mistress. They demand his resignation or they will release more. I probably shoould not have watched but I did. It made me sick.
    I think it makes Warren’s argument really well for him.
    When I was young I was going to sign a petition to not allow Sihks to wear turbans in the RCMP. I beleived it was bad for our traditions. I felt that no one was forcing them to join so they needed to follow the rules to join.
    I listened to what was being said by others waiting to sign the petition as well and was sickened. It was rascist and horrible.
    I walked away without signing and changed my mind right then. Sometimes when you look around and see who you are standing with you realize you are on the wrong side.
    Supporting these kind of attacks would have me standing on the same side as Vic Toews and that is the wrong side.

    • Warren says:

      Good on you, Neil.

      • John Goerzen says:

        Yes, good on you Neil.

        I have been reading some of the postings by those who support the personal attacks on Toews and, avowed Liberal and opposted to Harper/Conservatives/Toews that I am, I have difficulty being associated with people who justify stepping into the gutter because the other guys do it. I expect class and dignity in my personal, professional and public relationships. That is one of the reasons I have chosen to be a Liberal and not a Conservative. There are many of you who support these gutter tactics and to you I ask that you disassociate yourselves from the Liberal party, I know the NDP and Greens won’t have you either.

      • The Doctor says:

        I agree. The “look at what sort of company you’re keeping” rule is a good one.

        In my case, that rule is what changed my position, many years ago, on the death penalty. I used to be in favour, now I’m against it. And a big part of my reasoning is: look at which countries have it, then look at which countries don’t. In whose company would you rather be?

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      Could this be construed as blackmail, or defamation? What legal recourse does a politician have at this point?

      I’m opposed to the Lawful Access bill, but I can’t approve of this tactic.

      Should Toews resign, another will just take his place and try to push the bill again.

  42. kre8tv says:

    Witnessing Toews’s disgraceful handling of this file along with the crime bill convinced me that this government hasn’t a frickin’ clue what it’s doing. But reading comments in this thread (and elsewhere) remind me just how bush-league the Official Opposition has become.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      It reminds me of the same reasons Rob Ford one. His opponents couldn’t debate him on the (lack of) merit of his platform, and instead attacked him personally. Voter sympathy went up and he won, and we’re all worse off for it. If the Libs and Dippers don’t get their shit together we’ll have Tory governments– and crap legislation– for two decades to come.

      • Warren says:

        Good example.

        One I just used on Sun News: older politician has inappropriate relationship with younger staffer, story eventually spills out in affidavits, rumours, leaks and political games.

        The politician: Bill Clinton. Exited the presidency at 65 per cent approval rating, most popular in history of polling.

        The point: this stuff doesn’t work. Never has, never will.

        • The Doctor says:

          Good point re Lewinsky. The Republicans just looked petty and vindictive, except to their most rabid fans. And it took their eyes off the ball, which I find has been a constant failing of the Libs (especially) and Dippers under Harper’s rule.

  43. I’ll just offer these two observations:

    1) Toews invited this when he upped the rhetorical ante last week by reaching into his but and saying you’re with the government or the child molesters but he won the day because the news cycle no longer reported on the Bill and spent its time debating whether his personal life should or shouldn’t be off limits.

    2) For those who don’t have a problem with the legislation – when did the government EVER get anything right?

  44. Iris Mclean says:

    Even Rex Murphy on Cross Country Checkup admitted that Toews was way out of line. Now, that’s something!
    Time for Vic to start collecting his MP pension.

  45. Skinny Dipper says:

    Hi Warren,

    I think a significant thing about the Vikileaks affair (no pun intended) is that the concept of journalists as the gate-keeper of the news is diminishing. Yes, there seems to be an informal rule not to publish the private affairs of politicians or other well-known people. We’re not supposed to know who is sleeping with whom. Another significant point about being the gate-keeper of the news is deciding which news is important and who should be able to get their voices heard in a publication, TV, or radio event. The rise of internet news publications means that people who did not have a voice can have one now. People can make their comments immediately known to any event. Imagine the Meech Lake Accord event taking place now. It wouldn’t have even survived the three years of debate.

    One final point about the news gate-keepers is the blurring of news disseminators and news creators. I look at Sun TV News (Faux News North) and I have to decide if it just in the business of reporting the news, commenting on it, and /or trying to be the propaganda are for the Conservative Party. Even other organizations on the right, centre, or left can take the role as news reporters or propagandists. Think of the Fraser Institute, CD Howe Institute, or Rabble.ca. The divisions can be blury about those who create the news and those who report the news. The ethics of news reporting can be put into dispute when Vikileaks enters the fray.

  46. Mandos says:

    It’s really astonishing how many people have bought the fallacious “sauce for the gander” argument that WK is pushing here. Yes, it may be (tactically and ethically) a bad idea to vilify Toews personally. But that has nothing to do with the false equivalence WK is making between an elected public figure and sundry Internet commenters.

    On the tactical front, the Bill Clinton argument doesn’t work very well either—Clinton hadn’t committed hypocritical acts and statements regarding other people’s sex lives. That’s why people sympathized with him; he didn’t fail to live up to a standard that he set for others, especially not one he used to establish power and dominance over others (and I am too left to be a Clinton fan). Hypocrisy-vilification, on the other hand, has been reasonably more effective on US Republicans. It puts their followers backs up against the wall, yes, but quite arguably it’s what has made Newt Gingrich unelectable outside his own party’s primary.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      The 1990s was a time of Bob Packwood and a mass movement against sexual harassment. Clarence Thomas was made to answer questions regarding Anita Hill. The Republicans went after Clinton as sort of a Pyrrhic revenge hit for the Clarence Thomas hearings. It cost them in the end, made them look like a bunch of square moralists. There were more legitimate reasons to go after Clinton rather than expend so much political capital just to legally prove that he cheated on his wife.

      So many on the left who took sexual harassment as a political cause were also political hypocrites by excusing Clinton while they attacked Thomas so vociferously years earlier.

      It’s true that Bill Clinton is a very charming and affable fellow, and a lot of women probably wouldn’t mind having him hit on them. But as smooth as he was with the ladies, he certainly could not bat 1.000 all the time.

      Hence l’affaire Paula Jones.

      • Mandos says:

        But most of the opprobrium that fell on Clinton came during l’affaire Lewinsky, and that was the only scandal that had traction, while apparently being the least problematic on the hypocrisy file. That’s why the criticism fell flat.

  47. Conservative Socialist says:

    I despise the Lawful Access bill. While I appreciate the public outcry against it, and the idiocy of the “you are with us, or you’re with the child pornographers” line that even the Tory-friendly National Post decried, I think that going to in the skeletons of somebody’s closet to expose his dirty laundry is going too far.

    Vikileaks has made Vic Toews into a martyr. Using stupid rhetoric (which backfired, by the way) does not merit having this done to him.

    • Philip says:

      I take your point CS but I don’t think Vikileaks has turned Vic Toews into a martyr, to the larger population of Canadians. Certianly to his personal supporters and even some Conservatives but that seems to be the extent of it. Had it been anyone other than Vic Toews (after his statement in particular) the backlash against Vikileaks would have been much more pronounced.

      In the general sense your point about creating martyrs is right on the money. In the particular, Vic Toews case, his general assholicness and perceived crossing of an acceptable line seems to have blunted any widespread outrage at his treatment. It’s certainly not fair, ethical nor rational but it does seem to be the case.

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