Categories for Feature

Can a newspaper publish without a publisher?

A Toronto judge apparently thinks so. Disappointing.

Betsy Powell’s story for the Star below.

Judge rules there’s no evidence Your Ward News publisher threatened political strategists with death

A Toronto judge has discharged one of two men charged with uttering death threats against political consultants Warren and Lisa Kinsella.

Ontario Court Justice Dan Moore agreed to a “directed verdict” request finding no evidence that LeRoy St. Germaine was guilty of the death-threat Criminal Code charge, defence lawyer Chris Murphy said Friday.

St. Germaine, 76, is publisher of Your Ward News, an east-end Toronto based newsletter criticized for being homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist and misogynist. His associate, James Sears, 55, a former doctor who had his licence revoked for sexual impropriety, is still facing the charge and is expected to making his closing submissions next week.

The pair were charged with threatening death in 2017 after the Kinsellas initiated a private prosecution over an article that appeared in the newsletter. The Crown has taken over the case. St. Germaine and Sears are also charged separately with wilful promotion of hatred against identifiable groups.

This week, Warren Kinsella testified a piece written by Sears called for the couple to be “bludgeoned to death,” prompting them to take security precautions.

On Friday, Kinsella, who is a lawyer, wrote that he and his wife are disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“The hateful, threatening words couldn’t have (been) published by Sears without the support and involvement of St. Germaine,” he wrote in a direct Twitter message to the Star.

The couple is also concerned about the impact on the upcoming promoting hatred case.

“Does this mean, now, that the publisher of this neo-Nazi rag walks away from that, too? The judge’s ruling sets a very disturbing precedent, one that affects not just us, but persons of colour, women, as well as the Jewish, LGBTQ and Muslim communities.”

Scenes from Chretien’s 25th anniversary party

At one point, Chretien missed a punchline, and everyone laughed anyway. He then re-did the joke, and everyone laughed even harder.

“I’m getting old, you know,” he said.

No one cared. We’re all older, too, but not on that night at the Chateau Laurier. Not even 25 years later.

He made us feel younger again. He made us laugh at the lines we’d all heard before. He made us remember why he – more than any other – remains the most-loved Prime Minister. Still.

There is a joy in politics, but it can be fleeting. The lows are deep. The losses, keenly felt.

For those of us who had the privilege to work for him, Jean Chretien lifted us up. He suffused politics with pure joy. And fun, and camaraderie, and achievement.

Want to be Prime Minister for a long time, Petit Justin? Then pay close attention to what Jean Chretien did. Watch his moves. Learn.

He was the great one.

It’s Day Three of the neo-Nazi death threats trial

What the trial is about:

The trial continues 10am Wednesday at College Park Courts, 444 Yonge Street, Second Floor.

If you oppose anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and the promotion of Holocaust denial – like we do – please drop by. We would be grateful for the support.

Background from some of the media coverage:

Warren Kinsella tells court that Your Ward News called for him to be ‘bludgeoned to death’


Political consultant and author Warren Kinsella testified Tuesday that he and his wife, Lisa, had ample reason to feel intimidated and frightened that the editor and publisher of a controversial publication were making death threats against them.

“We regarded the article as a call to action, that we should be bludgeoned to death,” Kinsella told Ontario Court Justice Dan Moore on the first day of trial.

James Sears, 55, and LeRoy St. Germaine, 76, respectively editor and publisher of Your Ward News, have pleaded not guilty to uttering death threats against the Kinsellas in the summer 2017 issue of the publication.

They are also charged separately with two counts of wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, namely Jews and women.

Less than 24 hours after helping John Tory’s relatively easy coast to re-election as Toronto mayor, Kinsella — a lawyer and author of several books about extremism — described the escalating conflict with Sears and St. Germaine that began after the Kinsellas began receiving Your Ward News at their east-end home.

They persuaded advertisers to stop advertising in what Kinsella described Tuesday as a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and offensive rag, and organized a group, called STAMP (Standing Together Against Mailed Prejudice) that successfully pressured Canada Post to stop delivering the publication.

However, the Kinsellas continued to receive copies, though with less frequency, and found themselves increasingly as targets both in words and images inside.

Crown attorney Matthew Giovinazzo showed Kinsella several issues featuring Kinsella’s image, including caricatures of him drinking the blood of Christ and his head superimposed on the head of a snake.

“We were concerned. We have six children between us, we enhanced the security system we had placed, we spoke to all of our kids about taking prudent steps,” Kinsella said.

Neo-Nazi rag depicting Jews as serpents and Satanic. their lawyers call this “satire.”

Help us fight hate

Lisa and I will be in the criminal courts starting today, Tuesday, October 23 for the start of the prosecution we initiated against the editor and publisher of the neo-Nazi rag, Your Ward News. If you can attend – or if you can indicate support in some other way – we would be most grateful. We expect media turnout, and of course the bigots’ usual cabal.

Background you can read and share is here:

The trial runs from October 23 to October 25, starting at 9:30 am at College Park Courts, 444 Yonge Street, Second Floor.

They have arranged for one of the larger court rooms for this trial.

If you can be there, we would be honoured.

Why Tory won (bigly), why Keesmaat lost (badly), and who was behind the scenes

What, presently, is the biggest election in Canada?

It’s big, really big. Close to two million voters, and close to three million citizens. A budget of $13 billion. Greater population density than metropolitan New York City.

And – most critically – it involves all of the major political parties, and has lessons to offer all of them.

Toronto, come on down!

Now, before we get started, full disclosure: this writer is volunteering for one of the mayoral candidates. Been doing so for many months. So, bias spoiler alert.

But the Toronto municipal election perhaps provides some helpful insights about the federal election that will be concluding one year from today. Three points.

One: the so-called Left – New Democrats and orangey-red Liberals – is in trouble.

Consider their candidate, Jen Keesmaat. Toronto’s former chief planner jumped into the race way back in July. She was, and is, smart, articulate and telegenic. She attracted a top-notch team of professionals to advise her: former NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp, senior Ontario New Democratic comms guru Chris Ball, former federal Liberal ministerial advisor Beth Clarkson, Jack Layton muse Brad Lavigne, and a former Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Adam Vaughan. Among others.

Keesmaat gave as good as she got in debates. She knew the issues. The camera loved her, the media gave her plenty of attention, and she could speak in pithy soundbites on command.

But her campaign – despite all of that – never caught on. It stalled, and then it ground to a halt. When the Toronto mayoral campaign concludes, a week from today, Jennifer Keesmaat may well end up more than forty percentage points behind her main opponent, Toronto mayor John Tory. As such, she is days away from the most humiliating municipal loss the Left has experienced in Toronto in decades.

Not everything that ails the Left can be pinned on Jagmeet Singh, folks. If the disastrous Jennifer Keesmaat has shown us anything, it is that voters remain suspicious of political options on the Left. Even in Toronto, where the political Left has traditionally found a foothold, things have gotten decidedly frosty.

Two: the centre is still the place to be.

In the Trump era – post-Brexit, when so-called “populist” candidates are seemingly winning public office across the Americas and Western Europe – we have become accustomed to centrist candidates being squeezed out by the political extremes. In these nasty, brutish and short-sighted times, voices of moderation seem to be outnumbered.

But, again, consider Toronto’s mayoral race. John Tory, the incumbent, may have a Progressive Conservative pedigree – he was formerly the provincial Tory leader, and has been a federal Progressive Conservative strategist – but he and his campaign have hewn closely to the political centre. And it has paid rich political dividends.

Tory’s mayoralty has been characterized by moderation and balance. He has held the line on taxes, but also championed a transit discount for seniors, and a Kids Ride Free transit program. He’s pushed to hire more police (which has pleased the political Right) – while also becoming a national voice for a handgun ban (which has delighted the political Left). As a result, polls show Tory is supported by as much as 70 per cent of traditional Liberal voters – and a majority of Conservative voters, as well. Not many politicians can claim to do that.

As such, his team – campaign and/or mayoral – has been always comprised of advisors from across the ideological spectrum. Luke Robertson, Vic Gupta, Amanda Galbraith, Vince Gasparro, Keerthana Kamalavasan, Don Peat, Deb Hutton, Andrew Tumilty, Courtney Glen, Chris Eby, Amanda Galbraith and (of course) Nick Kouvalis – they were brought together, and kept there, by Tory’s centrist approach. (Me, too.)

The mayoral race has itself become a microcosm of the wider political clashes now taking place across Western democracy. On Tory’s Left was the aforementioned Jennifer Keesmaat, around whom the ideological Left has rallied. On the mayor’s Right were assorted candidates of the Right and far-Right – among them Faith Goldy, a white supremacist with a formidable social media presence, and James Sears, the publisher of a neo-Nazi newspaper.

In Toronto, the ideological extremes essentially reminded voters why they wanted to vote for John Tory. The attacks that Keesmaat (in particular) levelled at Tory – that he was dull, that he delayed, that he dithered – rebounded on her. Voters rallied around him, preferring Tory’s calm, methodical and decidedly centrist approach.

Three: campaigns still matter.

In Trump times, again, it had seemed that running a chaotic, shambolic election campaign – as Trump did in 2016 – won’t hurt your chances, so much. The candidates who seemed to be winning seemed the be the ones who didn’t run campaign ads, didn’t prepare for debates, and didn’t have staff with any experience. Donald Trump, in other words.

The outcome of the Toronto municipal race suggests all of that was the exception, not the rule. John Tory’s campaign was staffed by experienced Conservatives, Liberals and even a few New Democrats – and the experience showed. On election night, Tory will not merely win: polls suggest he will win in a landslide against a capable and smart opponent.

It’s never a good idea to read too much into by-elections. So, too, municipal races, and what they mean for politics generally.

But this Toronto municipal race has been significant – for what it means for Canada’s political Left, for centrist politicians, and for traditional election campaigns.

It matters.

White supremacist congressman endorses white supremacist mayoral candidate


Who is Steve King, you ask?

Here’s Steve King:

  • “Diversity is not our strength. Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”
  • “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by [non-whites] that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
  • “For every [migrant] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
  • “With the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”
  • “It’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying people that are violating the law.”
  • “There’s been legislation that’s been brought through this House that sets aside benefits for women and minorities. The only people that it excludes are white men… Pretty soon, white men are going to notice they are the ones being excluded.”
  • “When you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States – I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? If he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11.”

Steve King is a white supremacist.  So is Faith Goldy.

Oh, and she got her ass kicked yesterday.  She’s so goddamned dumb, she was literally in the wrong court – and it’ll cost her thousands.

She and King deserve each other.