Categories for Feature

Racist is as racist does

Firstly, sincere congrats to Andrew Scheer for expelling the extremist Senator Lynn Beyak. Delighted to hear that he objects to his Senators being so defiant about their bigotry – but that he’s a-okay with his Senators being discreet about their racism! Well done, Blandy!

Secondly: in my 30 years of writing about the racist Right, my experience is that committed racists eventually out themselves, no matter how hard they try not to. They just can’t help themselves.

I give you, then, the heroine of the alt-Right and conservative columnists everywhere, Lindsay Shepherd.

L’Affaire Boyle: who knew, and when did they know it?

…and if they didn’t know, why didn’t they know?

A snippet from next week’s column, about this mess:

Sure, it seems likely that Joshua Boyle was under criminal investigation when he and his wife and kids met with Justin Trudeau.  It’s obvious, however, that Trudeau didn’t know that: there isn’t a political advisor alive – outside of Donald Trump’s circle, that is – who would knowingly put his or her boss in a meeting with a criminal, or a soon-to-be-alleged one.

It was in Joshua Boyle’s interest to get those photos published, because they potentially put a Crown prosecutor in a bit of a bind.  So we know Boyle didn’t tell Trudeau what was coming, in just two week’s time.

But what of the RCMP?  What of the Privy Council Office, Trudeau’s personal bureaucracy?  Didn’t they know?  Why not, if not?  And if they did, why didn’t they warn Trudeau not to meet with Joshua Boyle?

If the Mounties knew Boyle was about to be charged, and declined to tell Trudeau’s staff, it would be a massive scandal – but not the first time it has happened.  During this writer’s tenure on the Hill, it was well-known that the RCMP, CSIS and/or the uniformed guys and gals at the department of National Defence would sometimes place their political masters in harm’s way, so as to (a) be rid of them or (b) acquire leverage to be deployed at budget time or whatever.

What do you think, O Smart Readers? A grand conspiracy, or a garden-variety cock-up?

Did Justin Trudeau just give Patrick Brown a gift?

It sure looks that way. Check this out:

Minimum wage hikes across Canada this year could cost about 60,000 jobs, despite the benefits they would bring, the Bank of Canada says in a new report.

The central bank published a report over the winter break, attempting to calculate what sort of economic impact a series of minimum wage hikes set to come into force this year will have on Canada’s economy.

As of Jan. 1, Ontario’s minimum wage is now $14 an hour, up from $11.60. By the end of 2018, Alberta, Quebec and Prince Edward Island are also expected to hike their minimum wages.

At Daisy, we have always paid more than that – and also covered cell phone costs, transit passes, and whatnot.  Toronto, we believe, is an expensive place to live in.


When the angry phone calls from Queen’s Park start heating up, Trudeau’s guys will be able to say (rightly) that they cannot control what the Bank of Canada does and says.  That’s true.  It’s also true that you are not going to see a single Trudeau cabinet minister contradicting the Bank of Canada’s stated view: they can’t.

The political bottom line therefore remains the same: the Ontario PC leader now has a very useful talking point to deal with what was becoming his biggest vulnerability, the minimum wage.  He’ll be able to shrug and say: “Look, it doesn’t matter what I think.  What matters is the Bank of Canada agrees that thousands of jobs are going to be lost.  I’m not against raising the minimum wage – I’m against doing it in a way that costs Ontario jobs.  I’m against doing it as an election stunt, to save a tired old government.”

Will it work?  Probably.

And that’s why we say Mr. Trudeau arguably has given Mr. Brown a very valuable post-Christmas gift.

The new world disorder

2017 was bad; 2018 will be worse.

That’s been my view for a while. It’s centred on a three-part thesis: one, that the West’s enemies will take further advantage of the anarchy Trump has caused; two, that Trump’s Mueller problems will dramatically increase in 2018; and, three, that the midterms will make impeachment a more vivid prospect than President Pisstape ever imagined possible.

So, he will be besieged. He will lash out like never before, and not just on Twitter.

And he will do what every unpopular president does, but he will do it in a way no other president has ever done before: he will whip up distractions abroad. He’s rather good at creating distractions, after all, and he will therefore try and create chaos internationally to save his orange ass domestically.

Does that mean war is coming this year? Why, yes, actually, I think it does. I think it is inevitable.

And this important Politico essay – the whole thing is here and you should read it all – by Susan Glasser persuades me that I’m not wrong:

By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. “Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,” the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”

2018: the coming provincial and municipal elections

My former Sun colleague Antonella Artuso got in touch with me to seek my opinion on the coming Ontario and Toronto elections. Her story is here.

And my full response to her excellent questions are here:

Provincially, the Ontario Liberals have a very unpopular leader but a very durable party brand. The Ontario PCs have a not-bad brand, but not nearly enough people know their leader. And the Ontario NDP have a very popular leader – but few folks trust their party in the role of government.

The election will come down to the campaign. Campaigns matter. And I’d say any one of the three parties has a shot at winning – if they have the best campaign.

Municipally, I know both John Tory and Doug Ford and like them both. Doug’s problem is that John is seen as a decent and honest guy – and an antidote to the crazy Ford Nation years. John’s challenge is that the Ford Nation is still a factor.

On balance, I think John will win. There’s no progressive challenger – and Doug needs one in the race to have a fighting chance.

People like John, and likeability matters in this business!

Publishers Weekly: Recipe for Hate “riveting…an unflinching page-turner”!

Publisher’s Weekly is the book trade publication in the United States.  As Wikipedia notes, it is the “American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents. Published continuously since 1872, it has carried the tagline, “The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling”.

And I have never had one of my books mentioned in it.  Like, ever.

But here’s what they have said about my new one, Recipe for Hate:

“Riveting…Tension starts high and stays there in this unflinching page-turner, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the early punk scene and a moving testament to the power of friendship.”

Link is here.

Quill and Quire, now Publisher’s Weekly.

For those of you who have asked, yes: Daisy and Dundurn are working on a book launch in Toronto, to which all of you will be (somehow) invited.  And we are also putting together book events/media in different places in Canada in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, feel free to order your copy (or copies!) here and here!

Globe and Mail: Recipe For Hate “shines…Kinsella nails it…absorbing, jarring and raw”!

Wow! This is a great way to end 2017.

And, I am honoured. The Globe and Mail has reviewed Recipe For Hate – and they like it! Their review:

Recipe for Hate

by Warren Kinsella

Dundurn, 304 pages, $14.99

Warren Kinsella’s many professions include author, political strategist and commentator. Is YA author now on the list? Yes and no. Kinsella’s latest book is published for teens and, in many ways, shines as a book for mature younger readers. It focuses on two teenage best friends – Kurt Blank and X – leaders in Maine’s burgeoning 1978 punk scene. When their friend is brutally murdered outside of a club, it’s the beginning of a very dark, violent time for Kurt, X and their punk crew. Portrayals of rebellious and non-conforming teens can feel reductive or contrived but Kinsella nails it without any stereotyping or embellishment. Though this authenticity will have big teen appeal, the novel is also part police procedural, part detailed history on the emergence of punk and part gritty murder mystery, all elements that skew more adult. Classification aside, it’s absorbing, jarring and raw.

The best and worst of Canadian politics in 2017

It’s a cliché, sure. It’s hackneyed and overdone, true. It has been done a million times, agreed.

But it’s fun: the columnist’s year-end political winner/loser list! And, this year, regular readers got in on the act!

But. However.

Just as Yours Truly was typing up this one, a bombshell landed. The federal ethics commissioner ruled that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke multiple federal ethics rules when he hopped onto the Aga Khan’s private helicopter—and stayed on his island retreat—over the holidays in 2016.

In her 74-page ruling, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson ruled that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he and his family accepted the trip.  She also dismissed various complaints about l’Affaire Aga Khan, but so what. She had found him, a sitting prime minister, guilty of a serious conflict of interest.

Now, this writer had previously and vigorously defended Trudeau on the Aga Khan mess, but none of that particularly matters anymore. While the penalty is puny, Dawson’s decision is something we will be hearing about for years to come. I don’t think this has ever happened to a prime minister before. Ever.

A very unhappy-looking Trudeau accordingly had no option but to accept the report, apologize, and promise never to do it again.

That, then, is the political screw-up of the year, and it came at the very end of the year, too. The other contenders, up until that point, were (a) Trudeau et al. sucking up to Donald Trump, and having nothing to show for it; (b) Andrew Scheer’s relationship with the racist/anti-Semitic luminaries at The Rebel; (c) Jagmeet Singh and his party going into the witness protection program right after their leadership vote, and, naturally, (d) Melanie Joly with her serial screw-ups: Netflix, Canada 150, Holocaust memorial, $6 million non-hockey hockey rink, and doing nothing about the death of dozens of Canadian newspapers.

Those were all solid contenders, but the Trudeau-Aga Khan mess is, indisputably, the political screw-up of the year. (And the PMO staffer who let this happen? You need to be fired, pronto.)

But what about the biggest political win in 2017? Trudeau had a pair, with flipping two CPC ridings in by-elections; Scheer had his come-from-behind leadership victory, narrowly beating out a cocky frontrunner; and, a turban-wearing Sikh man won a party leadership. Write-in candidates included Chrystia Freeland thumbing her nose at the dictator Vladimir Putin—as well as Jason Kenney creating, then taking over, the United Conservative Party in Alberta.

But my regular readers (and me) were nearly-unanimous: something wonderful was said—about us (as a people), and about the victor (as a man) —when Jagmeet Singh won the New Democratic Party leadership on the first ballot. In the Trump-Brexit era, where ignorance and bigotry seemingly hold sway everywhere, Canadians—of every political persuasion—were quietly proud that a bearded, brown-skinned man with a turban could be considered a possible prime minister. A huge win for him, and for us as a people, too.

Most and least-successful politicians varied. But, for the most part, regular readers and commenters agreed: Brad Wall and Justin Trudeau were the top two most-successful politicians in Canada in 2017. Popular write-in candidates, however, included the aforementioned Freeland and Kenney, but also Jane Philpott, and Montreal’s new mayor.

Least-successful politicians?  There were plenty of those. Melanie Joly always ranks high on everyone’s naughty list—and particularly among Liberals, who remain privately livid that such a lightweight could be shoe-horned into cabinet. Bill Morneau, the Liberal Party’s human piñata, also received his fair share of brickbats. Singh, too, for winning the leadership on a wave of expectation and promise—and then promptly disappearing into a witness protection program somewhere.

But it was Andrew Scheer who was seen, almost-universally, as a dud. Some correspondents critiqued the Conservative Party leader for turning invisible (à la Singh) right after his leadership win —and others criticized him for being far too visible (as in his Lynchian, saturnalian “I’m Andrew” ad). Either way, Scheer has underwhelmed many. He is, as my wife put it, remarkably unremarkable.

And the story that will dominate Canadian politics in 2018? Will it be the end of NAFTA? Election upheaval in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec? #MeToo finally landing on Parliament Hill and exacting divine retribution?

Respondents were all over the map on this one.  Some thought the, ahem, potpourri of pot laws will be the big story. Others: “God knows, but something Trump-related.” On the provincial front, some ventured to say that Liberals would be returned in New Brunswick—but lose narrowly in Quebec and Ontario.

Personally, this writer remains in awe of #MeToo. It has swept aside the rich, the famous and the powerful—and it shows no sign of slowing down. When it hits Ottawa in 2018, as it will, it will strike with righteous (and overdue) fury—and it will claim the political careers of many creepy little men.

Lots of opinions, lots of dissent. At the end of the year—at the end of the column—one thing unites us all:

Thank God we live in Trudeau’s Canada—and not Trump’s America!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a wonderful 2018 to all.