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What to do when a hatemonger says he supports you


You reject his support. And then you denounce him the clearest terms.

To put a fine point on it: Kevin J. Johnston is a notorious Muslim-hating bigot who has been charged with hate crimes. Doug Ford must denounce him and reject his support – now.

More about Johnston’s hate charges here.

Doug Ford needs to address this right now. It is the kind of thing that will sink his campaign. And deservedly so.

Adler-Kinsella: trade, Trump and Trudeau’s troubling trip

As in my Hill Times column next week, I was pretty tough on Justin Trudeau about the Indian imbroglio.  Charles Adler said he’s never heard me be this tough.

To me, a Prime Minister’s job is essentially threefold:

  • communicate to, and on behalf of, Canada
  • promote policies that are developed by his or her cabinet, caucus, officials, staff, political party (and, very rarely, by him or her)
  • articulate a vision that brings Canadians together

That’s it.  And the thread that runs through all of that, as you can see, is communications.  That isn’t what the job is mostly about – that is the job.

Justin Trudeau is one of the best retail politicians this country has ever seen (Messrs. Chretien, Mulroney and Trudeau Sr. were also amazing at the retail stuff, in that order).  He has an ability to connect with people that is extraordinary.

But there is a danger inherent in being a great communicator: sometimes, when you are that good at the retail stuff, arrogance slips in, like an unwanted guest at a crowded party.  You start to delude yourself into thinking that charm and conviviality will get you out of any mess. You start to think that you can win the people over with a big smile, and nothing else.

Justin Trudeau, in just about everyone’s view (if they’re being fair), is a terrific communicator.  He has clearly convinced himself that the whole job is about communications, too.

But here’s the thing: when you get too cocky, too arrogant, too full of yourself, you start to forget that you need to be communicating/articulating/promotion ideas and vision, too.

In the most simplistic terms, I am now convinced this guy thinks it’s all sizzle, and no steak. It’s all about pictures, and forget about the words.

In that, he is gravely mistaken.  And – as in all things in politics – his main strength is also his main weakness.

The thing that got him elected is the same thing that will defeat him.  I’m convinced of that, now.

Here’s me and Charles.

Survey says: Elliott won the debate

But you can still vote now, vote often!

(If I were Ms. Mulroney, I would be a bit worried that I’m getting clocked by Ms. Windmill Sex Corrupt Patrick Brown Crazypants.  But that’s just me.)

As my wife predicted four years ago, the next election is going to be Ms. Elliott vs. Ms. Wynne vs. Ms. Horwath.

India to Canada: your Prime Minister’s claims are “baseless and unacceptable”

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

India’s government formally says your claims are “baseless and unacceptable.” That’s a quote. Are they lying or are you?

India is only the world’s largest democracy, with whom we are trying to boost trade. No biggie. Keep insulting them, Prime Minister, instead of taking responsibility.

For once.


Canadians Mystified By Why You Prefer A Diplomatic Incident To Admitting You Made A Mistake

P.S. Way to stomp all over your budget’s most important full day.

Ten bold and boldface observations about Ontario politics

  1. Patrick Brown‘s entry into the PC leadership race meant chaos, controversy and Kathleen Wynne‘s likely re-election.  Now that’s he’s gone (again), an Ontario Liberal victory becomes a lot less certain.
  2. Eric Hoskins‘ sudden resignation is very bad news for Wynne, too.  He joins departing senior ministers like Brad Duguid, Liz Sandals and Deb Mathews, all of whom Wynne needed in a tough re-election battle – to help spread the Ontario Liberal gospel.
  3. That’s not to say that Hoskin’s riding is at risk.  Even if there is a grit-dammerung, and Ontario Liberals are wiped out province-wide, Hoskin’s old riding of St. Paul’s and Toronto Centre are safe. (Josh Matlow might put that prediction at risk, however.)
  4. Andrea Horwath is still in a witness protection program somewhere, and Wynne is still the main beneficiary.  As long as Horwath lets Wynne style herself as the only progressive choice in the race – just as Wynne did in 2014 – the Ontario Liberal leader remains competitive.
  5. Doug Ford continues to impress card-carrying PCs, and surprise journalists.  Everyone had expected that, by now, he would have pulled the pin on one or two verbal hand grenades, and swallowed them.  But he hasn’t. Ford’s been disciplined, genial and hard-working.  His smart campaign guru Michael Diamond deserves a lot of credit.
  6. Caroline Mulroney has greatly improved.  At the start of this abbreviated race, she was a political newbie, and it showed: she looked and sounded nervous and uncertain, and had a penchant for repeating talking points over and over.  In recent days, however, she’s stepped up her game – but many PCs are still saying (as party leadership partisans often do) “she’s my pick next time, not this time.”
  7. Christine Elliott has momentum.  Under the able guidance of Fred DeLorey, Elliott has acquired frontrunner status in this crazy-short campaign, and she’s showing a lot more energy than she did in 2009 and 2015’s PC races.  If Doug Ford doesn’t win on the first ballot – and that’s a tall, tall order for anyone – his support would mostly go to her.  She, I know, is the candidate the Ontario Grits fear the most.
  8. With the departure of Pat Sorbara, I’m told the infighting in the Ontario Liberal campaign team has stopped.  Under smart folks like Chad Walsh, Rebecca MacKenzie and Alexis Levine, Wynne’s campaign effort is looking stronger.  (The well-compensated Board members around her, meanwhile, are busily making quiet plans for their next political gigs – subtly burying Wynne prematurely, just as they did with Paul Martin.)
  9. Justin Trudeau presents a bit of a dilemma for Ontario Liberals.  A few short months ago, he would have been an asset to any provincial Grit campaign.  Now – following many months of controversies and missteps, most recently the Indian Imbroglio – the bloom is decidedly off the dauphin’s rose.  Expect to see him less on the hustings.
  10. The pollsters still say the Ontario PCs have the advantage – notwithstanding all the Patrick Brown-related scandal and controversy.  Personally, I think the PCs are well-advised to never, ever count out Kathleen Wynne – under that kindly, grandmotherly exterior, there is a spine of political steel.  Wynne, in my experience, will do whatever it takes to win.  PCs would be well-advised to avoid underestimating her yet again.

Column: the Ontario election is in 73 days. Who’s gonna win it?

The Patrick Clown Show continues to be the biggest political story in Canada – but the biggest provincial conservative party, the Ontario PCs, are still competitive.

How come?

The papers are brimming with stories about Patrick Brown. For instance: on Wednesday morning of last week, out of 13 provincial-politics-related clippings landing on staffers’ desks at Queen’s Park, fully 12 were about the man-boy who wants to lead a PC caucus that wants nothing to do with him.

There was a news story about Patrick, dating an intern in his office – and then taking her along on international trips, paid for by God-knows-who. There was another news story about Patrick, scheming to sell off some Aeroplan points and a miniscule share in a bar for a whopping $375,000 to a pal – and then said pal somehow thereafter winning a coveted PC nomination, uncontested. There’s social media stories Patrick, “liking” softcore porn shots, or drawing pictures of a woman’s breasts in the sand on a beach. Seriously.

You’d think that all that controversy would be taking a toll on Ontario Progressive Conservative fortunes, right? You’d think that – but you’d be wrong.

  • Ipsos: Notwithstanding the Patrick Clown Show, nearly 40 per cent of Ontarians still plan to vote PC – with the Liberals and NDP effectively tied, at 29 and 26 per cent respectively. Said Ipsos spox Darrell Bricker: “If [the PCs] are leading by that much, they’re poised to form a majority government.”
  • Forum: Despite all the Brown-related follies, almost 50 per cent of Ontario voters say they support the PCs – with the Liberals getting less than half that, at 24 per cent, and the NDP 19 per cent. Said Forum boss Lorne Bozinoff: “The Premier doesn’t seem to connect with the electorate…The constant stream of media attention and fervor surrounding the leadership race has done nothing but help the Progressive Conservatives.”
  • Campaign Research: Campaign Research (who my firm uses, full disclosure) had the Wynne-helmed Liberals competitive with the Brown-led PCs for months. As soon as the PC caucus dumped their libidinous leader, their party rocketed ahead – with 43 per cent support, and the Grits and the Dippers rounding out the bottom at 28 and 20 per cent, respectively. Said smart Campaign Research guy Eli Yufest: “When you’ve got the stark contrast between Patrick Brown and Kathleen Wynne people were on the fence – or at least tied between the two leaders. Now that people have been given more options – namely Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, and Christine Elliott – they’re giving the PCs a more serious second look.”

Amazing, no? Welcome to the Trump polling era, folks: wherein a party’s brand can be linked to sexual assault, corruption and appalling behaviour – and still be way ahead. Way, way ahead.

So what accounts for it? No less than three much-cited polling firms are confidently predicting that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives will win a majority if they pick Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney or Doug Ford (with Elliott providing the biggest electoral payoff). How can this be?

Two reasons, in this scribe’s opinion. (And neither have to do with corruption or scandal. Scandal stuff suppresses voters, sometimes. But it doesn’t motivate voters.)

One: change, versus more of the same.

That was the ballot question in 2003, when Dalton McGuinty scored a massive majority win – and helped to elect a newcomer named Kathleen Wynne: change. “Choose change” was the pithily brilliant slogan selected by Don Guy and Laura Miller in 2003, and it worked. Bigly.

It worked a decade before that, too, for Bill Clinton. Those words were affixed to the war room wall in Little Rock by the legendary James Carville: “change versus more of the same.” When that is the frame for an election, Carville later told me, the challenger will always beat the incumbent. Always.

That, increasingly, is the frame here in Ontario. That’s what the aforementioned polls clearly say, too.

Two: alternation.

This theory holds that Ontario voters prefer to have different teams occupying the government benches in Toronto and Ottawa. So, when the wonderful Liberal Pierre Trudeau ruled the roost in Ottawa, Progressive Conservative Bill Davis dominated here in Toronto. In the glorious, great Jean Chretien federal years, the NDP’s Bob Rae and the PC’s Mike Harris and Ernie Eves presided over the Ontario provincial scene. And, shortly after McGuinty commenced his near-decade-long hold on power, Stephen Harper would commence his near-decade-long hold on power, too.

Some pundits and prognosticators dispute the Kinsellian Alternation Theorem™, but none of them know what they’re talking about, as usual. The minute Justin Trudeau scored a huge win in 2015, Kathleen Wynne started to track ever-downwards. She is now (and has been for some time) the least-popular Premier in Canada.

Whether it’s alternation, or choose change, one thing can’t be disputed: the 2018 Ontario election is kicking off 73 days from today.

And, the Patrick Clown Show notwithstanding, the Ontario PCs are still the ones favoured to win it.

Review: Recipe For Hate “a complex, multilayered mystery”!

“The Canadian Review of Materials is published weekly from September through June and is an all-volunteer online publication which features reviews of books and other materials that are authored, illustrated and/or published by Canadians and that are produced for/of interest to children and adolescents. CM’s reviewers are teachers, teacher-librarians, public librarians and university professors…”

And here’s what they say about Recipe For Hate in their review!

“[Recipe For Hate is] a complex, multilayered mystery that highlights the energy and passion of youth while pointing a finger at issues like police misconduct, irresponsible journalism and the rise of the alt Right.”

Not bad! Other reviews, to date, are below:

  • Quill and Quire: “Kinsella skillfully blends convincing depictions of both the punk scene and the racist underground with the hoary trope of a band of kids setting out to solve a mystery. The novel is a suspenseful page-turner that also gives considerable food for thought, anchored in realistically drawn characters and an eye for significant detail.” 

  • Publisher’s Weekly: “Adult author Kinsella (Fight the Right) sets this riveting murder mystery in Portland, Maine, in the late 1970s…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.”

  • Globe and Mail: “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.”

  • Toronto Star: “Warren Kinsella is known mostly as a political operative and pundit, but he also has estimable punk-rock credentials (as punk historian and as bass player in SFH, which bills itself as Canada’s best-loved geriatric punk band). This YA novel is loosely based on real-life events, and concerns the murder of two teenagers in 1979 in Portland, Ore., then the epicentre of the punk scene. It will be of interest to anyone interested in punk culture — not just the music, but the fanzines, art and writing of the period.”

  • Booklist: “Kinsella’s book explodes off the page from the start…a dark and engrossing tale of punk-rock heroes fighting for justice.” 

The night the pigs attacked a Muslim woman in a church

Here’s the scene:

We were in a church. There was a choir singing upstairs. People were sitting, quietly, with their kids.

And then the pigs got up on their hind legs and started squealing.

They started squealing and screeching, their little pig eyes all red, about “sharia law” and Muslims “raping” children and the need to “separate the races.”

The pigs looked human, but they weren’t. They were racists and anti-Semites and haters who roughly resembled humans, but weren’t human. They were pigs.

They started in when my wife Lisa stood up to talk about our efforts – along with many others – to fight the neo-Nazi Your Ward News. They started taunting her. She kept her cool, but I was getting a bit mad.

When it came time for Iqra Khalid to speak, the racist pigs started lunging forward. They were in a spit-flecked fury. She was everything they hated the most: a Muslim. A woman. And a Muslim woman with power.

And she wasn’t afraid of them.

We were concerned, however. So Lisa went and stood beside her, as did a young man with the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church. And MPP Arthur Potts and me stood up, between the pigs and Iqra Khalid.

The Liberal MP said the cops had been called, but they never came in. I, and my pal Joe Warmington,, found that very odd (if you look at the video, you’ll see me taking my jacket off and “getting ready to go” as a Jewish friend said to me – and I was).

Anyway. It was bad. It was really, really bad. A woman being attacked by a bunch of pigs – because she’s a Muslim, and because she opposes bigotry.

In a church. That part I can’t get out of my head, I told her later.

When racist pigs are prepared to do that in a church, they’re prepared to do anything.

Our fight against that neo-Nazi hate rag

Story link is here, and a bit of it is below. Meanwhile, Lisa will be speaking tomorrow night at an anti-hate forum being led by a great leader in the fight against bigotry, Liberal MPP Arthur Potts – more details here.

They know it won’t be easy and expect to be in it for the long haul, but Beach residents Lisa and Warren Kinsella say they’re prepared to do everything they can to put a stop to an extremist newspaper published in the Upper Beach.

During a recent interview, Warren, a lawyer, political consultant, pundit and author who has written extensively about racism for more than three decades, called Your Ward News (YWN) the most hateful publication he’s come across. 

“(It’s) unprecedented and it’s right in our neighbourhood,” he said, adding no one should be subjected to it. 

“We’re doing everything we can to choke off the air for this neo-Nazi rag.”

His wife, Lisa, a prominent Liberal consultant and commentator, cannot believe the “blatant misogyny” in Your Ward News and how many women feel concerned for their personal safety because of what is written within its pages.

“Your Ward News is not free speech. It is hate propaganda,” she charged. “(Standing up) is the right thing to do.”

The couple, who have a blended family of six children and a grandson, first sprung into action in the spring of 2015 when a copy of the paper arrived at their home.