“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”

- The Washington Times

“One of the best books of the year.”

- The Hill Times

“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”

- National Post

“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”

- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV

“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”

- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics

“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”

- Huffington Post

“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”

- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio

“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”

- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory

“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

“I absolutely recommend this book.”

- Paul Wells, Maclean’s

“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”

- Calgary Herald

I don’t believe in heroes, per the song. But if I had one from my Carleton J-school days, it would have been Joe Scanlon. With his blunt assessments, with his dry humour, he drove many of my classmates crazy. But to me – just arrived from Calgary, wearing homemade punk T-shirts and ripped skinny jeans – I thought he was awesome. He clearly shared my approach. 

“You like pissing people off, don’t you?” he said to me one day, from under that toque. 

“I’m not the only one,” I said. He grinned. 

He was my HRP advisor – I did it on third party election advertising, which every other prof but Joe thought would never become an issue – and he would often quietly warn me when he felt I was picking too many fights. “Irishman,” he’d say. He got me.  

We lost track of each other when I went back home for law school. But when we got back in touch, he revealed himself to possess that same sense of humour. Said I was an “interesting student,” which was high praise indeed. 

Joe died suddenly yesterday. I will miss him a lot.

From one of our exchanges, a few weeks back:

RIP, Joe. You will be missed by this Irish troublemaker. 

May 15 at the Garrison in Toronto! Tickets right here. Hot Nasties tunes will indeed be played. 

(Kind of a big deal for us old farts, so we’d be honoured if you could come.)


Seems like just yesterday – the Daisy Group opened its doors on May 1, 2006, on Yorkville.  Our very first visitor, on the very next day? The best Liberal Party leader since Jean Chretien: Stephane Dion.

Lots of changes since that day, on which I was simultaneously scared and excited. And there are a lot of things I would have done differently, knowing what I know now.

But that’s all stuff in the rearview mirror. Looking forward to the year that is ahead, and our tenth anniversary!

Oh, and here is how we got our name.  My daughter liked it, and that was good enough for me.

Just got word: I won’t be back at the Sun papers. They wanted to make a change, and I was one of the changes.

I wasn’t surprised, at all. They’ve brought in someone who is close to CEO to be the “Liberal” voice, and I wasn’t very close to the CEO.

It was a fun four years, but as I predicted more than once, it wasn’t going to last.

Now, at least, I get to write about how bloody outrageous it is that a New York hedge fund owns most of the English-language newspapers in Canada, and how it accelerates the end of journalism in this country. And I will.

So stay tuned here, and elsewhere. With nearly three million views a year, this web site reaches more folks, anyway!

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…although, truth be told, a significant number of them are likely robots, as Tim Powers pointed out in Ottawa on Monday.  But Katy Perry and Justin Bieber better watch out – I’m in their rear-view mirror.

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When polled, voters will always say that they dislike attack ads.  Always.

But political attack ads are like car crashes on the side of the highway.  Nobody likes those, either, but everyone always slows down to take a look, don’t they? 

As reviled as they may be, attack ads are the ads that voters remember.  They’re the ads that have the greatest impact on Election Day.  Disliked as they may be, attack ads are extremely motivational.  

That is, they motivate wavering supporters of the authors of the ads (say, the Conservative Party of Canada) to get out and vote.  And they motivate those affiliated with the target of the ads (say, the Liberal Party of Canada) to stay home on Election Day, and contemplate the wallpaper.

That’s what happened in 2006, 2008 and 2011, of course.  The Conservatives blanketed the airwaves to motivate their core vote, and de-motivate traditional Grit voters.

Thus, Paul Martin was depicted in 2006 as a multi-millionaire who flew his steamships under foreign flags to avoid paying Canadian taxes – while, with Stephen Harper, “they see a leader who is more like one of them,” as it was famously put in one Conservative ad.

Thus, Stephane Dion was depicted in 2008 as an out-of-touch academic elitist with a foreign passport, someone who was “not a leader, not worth the risk.”  While Stephen Harper was a sweater vest-wearing hockey Dad, one who believed that “family is everything.”

Thus, Michael Ignatieff was depicted in 2011 as a literal foreigner, a cold-blooded artistocrat who had not lived in Canada for three decades, and who was “just visiting.”  While Stephen Harper was working long hours, photos of his family over his shoulder, sipping Tim’s from a Beatles coffee mug.

The objective, every time, was to depict successive Liberal leaders as foreigners – foreigners to Canada, and (in particular) foreigners to the values of everyday Canadians. While Stephen was just like them, a Tim Horton’s-drinking hockey Dad.  The Everyman.

In a contest between the Everyman and the Elitist, the Everyman will win, ten times out of ten.  And, in the coming contest between Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau – with a supporting role being played by Tom Mulcair – the Conservative Party plans to again do what they did so successfully before.  Make it a choice between the Everyman and the Elitist.  The Regular Guy versus the Rich Guy.  The guy who is Middle Class, taking on the guy who Isn’t.

Justin Trudeau talks about the middle class a lot.  He has done so going back to his very first speech as a Liberal leadership aspirant, in his home riding of Papineau. He mentions the amorphous “middle class” every chance he gets, in fact.  He did it again, in both official languages, when responding to last week’s federal budget.

The problem, of course, is that many Canadians suspect that Justin Trudeau isn’t middle class. He may know how to say those words, but they believe he’s never actually lived those words. And that’s clearly why, inter alia, Stephen Harper has taken to reminding Trudeau in the Commons that he is a trust fund kid – and why they positively love it when Trudeau claims to be preoccupied with the middle class.

“Mitt Romney talked about the middle class a lot, too,” one smart Conservative said to me over lunch, recently. “But he sure didn’t look or sound very middle class, did he?”

TV is about pictures, and all of the best political ads therefore make effective use of pictures to make their point.  As such, get ready for lots of visuals of the Tim Horton’s-loving Hockey Dad Everyman, schlepping his son’s hockey bag to early-morning hockey rinks.  

And lots of footage of the trust fund kid motoring around town in an inherited Mercedes Benz 300SL, worth somewhere between $1 and $2 million, locks flowing.  Or growing up in that mansion on Sussex Drive, the one with the subsidized rent. Or looking less like an average Canadian, and a bit more like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

In effect, the Conservatives plan to remind voters, over and over, that Justin Trudeau has never had to worry about paying the mortgage or putting food on the table. While Stephen Harper is – to recall the words that 2006 ad, in which they spoke directly to the Canadian middle class – “a leader who is more like one of them.”

The Conservatives are readying to do to Trudeau what they did to Martin, Dion and Ignatieff: they getting ready to turn Trudeau’s own words/life against him, and at precisely the wrong time, too.  They are getting ready to say that Justin Trudeau is a risk, and that he’s just visiting the middle class.

Will it work? Well, it sure did in 2006, 2008 and 2011.  The Conservatives think it will again in 2015.