, 05.23.2018 03:26 PM

Can a politician block a citizen on Twitter?

A U.S. court has now said no – in an, ahem, huge judgment, here.

Which moves to reprise my column on Canada’s worst-ever minister, Melanie Jolie. Here it is.

Dear Minister Joly:

May I call you Melanie?

You’ve blocked my access to your ministerial Twitter account, so please forgive the formality of an open letter. I sense that I’ve upset you, which concerns me deeply.

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the propriety of a public servant (that’s you) blocking the access of one of your employers (that’s me) to one of the official platforms you (a public servant) use to communicate with the likes of me (one of your employers). Let’s leave all that aside for a moment.

Let’s get to the pith and substance of the matter, shall we?

Have I been critical of your performance as a cabinet minister? Well, yes, you could say that. Among other things, I think you are possibly the worst cabinet minister in the history of Confederation. You make Bev Oda look like Margaret Thatcher. You make Stockwell Day seem positively Churchillian. You stink at this politics stuff, you know?

The evidence before the court of public opinion is myriad and multiple.  It is overwhelming.

Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, for example.  In my experience, countries only get one opportunity to celebrate their 150th birthday.  Governments, meanwhile, get plenty of notice that a 150th birthday celebration is coming.

You rendered our 150th in Ottawa a fiasco, however.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s just a sampling of the bon mots sent to you by other citizens (who, again, are your employers):

• “Shame on you Ottawa. Shame on you Heritage Canada and the organizers. You failed us!”

• “I have never seen such a poor, chaotic display. Shame on you Ottawa.”

• “The organizers of Canada Day 2017 should be ashamed of themselves for the shoddy work that went into this year’s event.”

• “Please, [Minister Joly], I beg you to step out of your protective shell and acknowledge what a mess Canada Day was and take some responsibility for it.”

• “Time for you to resign!”

But you weren’t done.  Nope.  The Netflix announcement – which essentially saw the streaming behemoth being granted tax-free status for a piddling amount of investment in Canada’s cultural sector, and most particularly in the province you profess to represent – was also a debacle.

A sampling of commentary about the Netflix mess:

• Globe: “[Joly’s] fall from grace in her home province has been swift and merciless, sped by her maladroit attempts to sell a deal with Netflix…”

• National Post: “[Joly] she has been savaged in Quebec media, artistic and political circles.”

• Journal de Montreal: “[Joly sounds] like a living answering machine having a nervous breakdown.”

But there’s more!

As you will recall, there was the matter of the plaque affixed to the new Holocaust Monument in Ottawa.  It didn’t mention the six million.  Or the word “Jews.” Or “anti-Semitism.”  You hurriedly ordered the plaque replaced, but not before just about every Jew in Canada noticed.

The resulting headline in the Washington Post, then, actually made me wince: “Canada forgot to mention Jews on new Holocaust monument dedication plaque.”


Anyway.  Let’s forget about the Holocaust Monument, and the Netflix thing, and Canada 150.  Let’s forget about all that.  Let’s turn the page. Let’s focus, instead, on your latest decision, which I will render all-caps, because I think it merits it:


And it’s not just any $5 million hockey rink.  No, not in Joly World.  It is a $5 million hockey rink that:

• Prohibits the playing of hockey.

• Will be in existence for less than a month.

• Is a block from the biggest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal.

Oh, and the Toronto Star reported this: “The rink, which will be available for free public skating from Dec. 7 to Jan. 1, is budgeted to cost about $215,385 per day that it’s open.”

One of my readers informed me that works out to about $300 per skater, per leisurely skate.  I’m not sure Wayne Gretzky made that much in his prime with the Oilers, Melanie.

And here’s what you had to say about Skate-gate: “We believe that it is really good news because this will be here for a month, and this will support, of course, important programming.”

“Really good news.”

It isn’t, Melanie.  It isn’t.  It is a disgrace.  It is disgusting.  It is an actual scandal. It is.

Melanie, it is also time for you to go.  You aren’t helping your reputation – and you are regularly hurting the reputation of this government, which is a not-bad government, as governments go.  Resign, for the love God, resign.

Oh, and I’d tell you that on Twitter, too.  If you weren’t, you know, blocking me.

Your friend,



  1. Karl-Milton Marx-Friedman says:

    Dear Warren,

    Very amusing, I particularly like the Stockwell Day bit. More a kin to that grand statesman Fred Flinstone in my estimation.

    Anyway, it is fortunate that relatively few people care about a poorly organized July 1 party or a skating rink in “the city that fun forgot/une ville très ennuyeuse et gouvernementale”.**

    Regarding the Holocaust memorial sign: embarrassing and just…embarrassing, leave it that.

    Netflix contract: what were the pros and cons there? Netflix definitely does not negotiate good licensing agreements in Canada. Comcast may take 21st Century Fox out from under Disney so streaming services are gonna get even more fragmented ’19 to ’22*** and Canada is punching WAY below it’s weight because the talent moves south from Mike Myers to Trebek. It’s easier to create Canadian content with American capital! There are more Canadian passport holders on the Golden Knights then were on the Winnipeg Jets as a semi relevant side note!

    More information on what is wrong with the Netflix deal please!

    **not my opinion, but I hear things.
    ***after which the Netflix gets acquired by Amazon, probably

    • doconnor says:

      Canadian networks have to spend a percentage of revenue on Canadian programming (which means shows set in Canada (or outer space)). The percentage of revenue Netflix has to spend is lower and they can be American shows shot in Canada.

  2. Hector D. says:

    A refreshing critique! We like to call it Elena Ceaușescu syndrome i.e. astonishingly incompetent people have been promoted to the highest levels. Mind, the shadowy Green Light Committee – which answers directly to Trudeau – green-lighted Joly – protégé of Lucien Bouchard – of the Yes side. In that context, scuttling Canada Day follows a dark logic. On the plus side, when the Nation is bankrupted through golden ice rinks, Joly is a specialist in bankruptcy and insolvency law…

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    IMHO, that judgment is bullshit. It’s one thing to be sufficiently accountable to one’s electors but no one has to become servile over it.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      Agreed. I mean, what if a politician hypothetically wanted to shut down their Twitter account? Would they be forced to leave it up and running? If a politician wants to block someone who is genuinely abusive toward them are the courts going to become even further clogged having to judge every single blocking based on how-bad-is-the-abuse-or-not? Silliness.

  4. Charlie says:


    Please tell that picture of her boxing isn’t real.

    Please tell me she didn’t totally copy Trudeau in the most unoriginal and transparent fashion possible.


    I say this as someone who supports Trudeau as leader and PM, but Joly is the embodiment of all the worst parts of Trudeau’s vanity.

    Totally looking forward to her running for leader post-Trudeau and getting swatted by the likes of Freeland and Wilson-Raybould.

  5. Karl-Milton Marx-Friedman says:

    Thanks doconnor.

    Be It Resolved that:
    Any Canadian passport holder who mixes their creative input into any project should automatically convert that content as Canadian. Am I right?

    The CRTC rules are too onerous. Example, I have to finance in Canada? Why would I finance in Canada when capital is easier to raise in Hollywood? Every movie made in Hollywood = American but tell that to all the foreigners who make their movies with US finance.

    I guess the problem is that policy makers are trying to make tangible (measurable) something that is mostly intangible, the Canadian-ness of content.

    In applying a tangibility to Canadian-ness you close great Canadian creativity where-ever it is applied from being considered Canadian if it fails to meet CRTC guidelines.

    Terminator (dir:Cameron) and Rollerball (dir:Jewison) are Canadian films….Doris Day and the hand grip on Jaws. Canadian films. It’s a stretch yes but…

    The Canadian-ness of a hockey team rooster, like I mentioned Jets had fewer Canadian nationals on the team versus Golden Knights, illustrates that territories are misleading measures of the Canadian-ness of things; CRTC should lower the threshold and subsidize Canadian creative individuals not the production companies or the location or the source of finance behind Canadian passport holder projects.

    I’m probably wrong.

    • doconnor says:

      It’s not just about helping Canadian creators. It helping maintain a Canadian identity. Most countries have government subsidies and regulations to try and defend themselves from the overwhelming power of American media and they don’t have a shared language and border that we have.

      • Chris says:

        All of this “Canadian content” and “Canadian culture” can be viewed every single day from 6:00am to about 10:00am EDT on basic cable TV in Canada. In this time slot you will find a cornucopia of “made-for-TV” movies shot in a Vancouver dressed up as Seattle or Portland, Toronto dressed as New York City, or Halifax standing in for New England, filled with Canadian crews and casts with an obligatory D-List American celebrity thrown in for name recognition (every American member of the 1990’s “Melrose Place” cast has found a solid profitable semi-retirement in a never-ending string of bland, boring “Canadian stories” to star in.) This is what Canadians are paying for in taxes, and now just this week I hear the Liberals are going to try to regulate the entire internet in a similar manner. No Canadian, except for those so employed by this arrangement, finds in their Canadian Identity very much appreciation for the (mostly, with a few notable exceptions) dreck produced.

        *French-language, Quebec-centred media excepted from this rant.

  6. Peter says:

    She may be a disaster, but I’m not sure I’d lay all the blame for making the 150th a lunch bag letdown on her. I’m old enough to remember the Centennial and, although sparked by Ottawa (and Montreal), it was very much a “from the bottom up”, semi-spontaneous celebration with individual communities across the country finding creative and impressive ways to mark the occasion. It was, at that time, an unexpected and unCanadian display of national pride that surprised us all. From the beginning, the 150th felt like the Government was trying to commandeer us all to gather for a party, repeat 1967 and bask in the glory of Justin’s bromides about diversity and tolerance, etc. (Yes, I know, Harper had been planning his version). The truth is that 150 years is just not that symbolically special and couldn’t compete with a weekend at the cottage or camping.

  7. the salamander horde says:

    .. well said ..

    its going to take very loud voices
    to drag government back
    from the buffalo jump
    off the cliffs

    But hey.. if they gotta go
    they gotta go

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