Categories for Feature

I can’t comment on this

But the fact that I’m posting it here should tell you plenty.

From Canadian Lawyer Magazine:

Toronto lawyer Warren Kinsella has settled a claim he launched against a Twitter subsidiary for refusing to take down an allegedly defamatory tweet.

Kinsella sought $200,000 in damages from the social networking service after it declined to remove a tweet sent by a columnist of Your Ward News — a publication described as being racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

“The defendants condoned the tweet by allowing it to remain visible on Twitter and/or by failing to have it removed in a timely manner,” said a statement of claim filed at the Ontario Superior Court.

“Mr. Kinsella pleads that the defendant is responsible for this publication and any other republications.”

The tweet in question was sent by Your Ward News columnist Lawrence McCurry and included an image of a doctored photograph of Kinsella sitting on a porch with text that said he had killed a student who was delivering Your Ward News, according to the statement of claim.

Your Ward News had made headlines recently as the Toronto Police Service arrested the publication’s editor, James Sears, and its publisher, Leroy St. Germaine, in November for promotion of hatred against an identifiable group.

Kinsella and his wife, Lisa, were part of a push to get Canada Post to stop delivering the publication. The couple also later started a private criminal prosecution against Sears and St. Germaine for allegedly uttering threats against them in Your Ward News.

In his statement of claim, Kinsella says McCurry tweeted the allegedly defamatory material to voice his distaste for the private prosecution after court proceedings in September.

Kinsella said the tweet was defamatory, libellous, and “falsely and maliciously implies that Mr. Kinsella murdered another human being.”

Kinsella said he reported the tweet to Twitter the same day it was posted and that the website blocked it from his view. But Twitter refused to take it down entirely and it was still visible to the general public, according to the claim.

Kinsella claimed that Twitter was liable for the publication and republication of the tweet, and that any re-tweets constituted republication. In addition to the $200,000 he sought in general, aggravated and punitive damages, Kinsella requested an order forcing Twitter to remove the Tweet.

It is not clear what the terms of the settlement were, as it was confidential and Kinsella’s lawyer in the matter, Jeff Saikaley, declined to comment on the case.

But since the statement of claim was filed, the tweet in question has been taken down. McCurry says he was locked out of his account until he removed the tweet. He adds that the tweet’s contents were satire.

Toronto lawyer Gil Zvulony, who was not involved in the matter, says the law around the question of whether internet intermediaries can be held liable for the defamatory statements of their users is a grey area, as these types of claims often settle.

“There are a lot of different views and not a lot of common law decisions that take a united approach to the issue, which means there is a lot of wiggle room for parties to argue one way or another, and that leads to uncertainty in the law,” he says.

He adds the Law Commission of Ontario is currently looking at the issue in a review of the provincial defamation laws and how they should be updated for the internet age.

Twitter Canada did not provide comment by deadline.


The Ballad of the Social Blemishes, 40-plus years later

Forty-one years.

Forty-one years ago tonight, the Social Blemishes – me, Ras Pierre, Rockin’ Al and a few others miscreants – took to the makeshift stage in the gym at Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary for the first-ever performance of a punk band in our hometown. In all of Alberta, too.

We were opening for local luminaries Fosterchild, and we were terrible. But we were hooked: maybe this punk rock stuff would never win us fame or riches or groupies, but could there be any better way to alienate our parents, teachers and peers?  Nope.

And, besides: it was fun. Case in point: we even got our picture in the Calgary Herald, up above.  The guy on the far left (ahem) was John Heaney, who went on to be Rachel Notley’s Chief of Staff; beside him, Ras Pierre, now a multimillionaire engineer in Alberta (and my best friend, still); Yours Screwly, in shades, homemade Sex Pistols T-shirt and (seriously) a dog collar; Rockin’ Al, a standout stand-up comedian and performer; Allen Baekeland, later a famous Western Canadian DJ; Pat O’Heran, an award-winning Hollywood filmmaker; and, behind the skins, Ronnie Macdonald, another successful engineering technologist type, but in B.C.

Me and Ras Pierre would leave the Blems to form the Hot Nasties – and Al and Ronnie would go on to the Sturgeons or the Mild Chaps or Riot 303.  Along the way, one of the songs we wrote, Invasion of the Tribbles, wasto be covered by British chart-toppers the Palma Violets. Another one, Barney Rubble Is My Double, ended up covered by Nardwuar and the Evaporators.  And Secret of Immortality was to be covered by Moe Berg of Pursuit of Happiness.  Not bad.

Anyway, because I’m going to taking a dirt nap any day now – or so says one of my sons, now the same age I was in that photo, up above – I’ve immortalized the Social Blemishes in Recipe For Hate and its sequel, New Dark Ages. Meanwhile, The Ballad of the Social Blemishes is a song about our departed-too-soon former manager, Tom Wolfe, and came out earlier this year on Ugly Pop Records – the video, showing rare Blems footage, is here.

Forty-one years: I can’t fucking believe I’m so old.

The only solution is to continue acting like I’m seventeen.  (Sorry, Lisa.)

Gabba gabba hey!


Watch this Rosemary Barton exchange with Justin Trudeau. Wow.

It is truly something else.  Among other things, it means that Trudeau needs to get better prepared before he scrums again on this mess.

And it means CBC needs to get Barton back to the Hill, where she can do more of this sort of grilling. Fearless. Wow.

The first thirty seconds here are brutal.  This is an election ad.



Trudeau broke ethics rules?

Yes. So says the Ethics commissioner:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke multiple federal ethics rules when he accepted a ride on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter and stayed on his private island over the holidays in 2016, the ethics commissioner has ruled.

In a ruling posted on the website of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Wednesday morning, Commissioner Mary Dawson said that her investigation into two complaints about the trip found that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he and his family accepted the trip but also dismissed several of the specific violations brought within those complaints.

Well.

I have previously defended Trudeau on this “controversy,” but that doesn’t matter anymore. While the penalty is puny, this decision is something we will be hearing about for years. I don’t think this has ever happened to a Prime Minister before. Ever.

Trudeau has no option but to accept the report, apologize, and promise never to do it again. And staff heads need to roll at PMO, I think. Who let this happen?

Anyway. Those year-end interviews aren’t going to be a lot of fun, now.

Nope.


Best and worst of Canadian political 2017

For my bestest-ever editor, the Hill Times‘ Kate Malloy – who oversees one of the few truly still-successful newspapers in Canada, by the by – I’m doing my clichéd year-end roundup of the year in Canadian politics.  It’s fun, if nothing else.  And, um, I need to file it later today.

But – because I am for, by and about the people – I want to open it up to the people.  So, I am asking you, O My Readers, to offer your votes and commentaries in comments.  The best ones will be tucked into the aforementioned year-end column.

So here goes:

  • Most successful Canadian politician:
    • Justin Trudeau
    • Brad Wall
    • Jagmeet Singh
    • Um, that’s it, because I literally can’t think of anyone
  • Least successful Canadian politician:
    • Bill Morneau
    • Melanie Joly
    • Max Bernier
    • My God there are so many possibilities
  • Best political win in 2017:
    • Trudeau flipping two CPC ridings in by-elections
    • Scheer’s come-from-behind leadership victory
    • A turban-wearing Sikh man winning a party leadership in the Trump era
    • Something Warren hasn’t thought of, which frankly happens a lot as he gets older
  • Biggest political screwup:
    • Trudeau, Butts et al. sucking up to Trump with nothing to show for it
    • Scheer’s relationship with the racist/anti-Semitic luminaries at The Rebel
    • Singh and his party going into the witness protection program
    • Warren doesn’t want to in any way influence your vote, but please don’t forget Melanie Joly: Netflix, Canada 150, Holocaust memorial, $6 million non-hockey hockey rink and doing nothing about the death of dozens of Canadian newspapers
  • Story that will dominate Canadian politics in 2018:
    • The end of NAFTA
    • Election upheaval in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec (and municipal elections too)
    • #MeToo finally landing on Parliament Hill and exacting divine retribution
    • Lisa Kinsella running for Toronto city council and Warren being forced to start acting his age, for the first time ever

Booklist: Recipe For Hate “explodes off the page…a dark and engrossing tale”!

Wikipedia: “Booklist is a publication of the American Library Association that provides critical reviews of books and audiovisual materials for all ages. Booklists primary audience consists of libraries, educators, and booksellers. The magazine is available to subscribers in print and online. Booklist is published 22 times per year, and reviews over 7,500 titles annually.”

My publisher Dundurn Press has told me Booklist is “hugely influential.”

Wow.

I can’t quote the full review – it isn’t out until next month – but I’m allowed to offer up a couple of lines.  So here you go:

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

Now, when is Lisa Kinsella going to get me a movie deal, so I can meet her long-ago friend Brad Pitt?


Premiers: who’s up, who’s down, who cares

I don’t put much stock in Angus Reid’s little Premier’s popularity poll thing, and neither should you.  I think the Reid folks do it mainly for fun, and to get some free publicity, and it unfailingly it provides both.  Their release is here.

That said, a few observations:

  • Brad Wall, unless I’m wrong, will go down as perhaps the most-liked provincial Premier in recent memory
  • John Horgan should be enjoying more of a honeymoon
  • Dwight Ball, once politically DOA, is somehow back – how come?
  • Brian Pallister, who has fallen figuratively and literally, could very well be a one-term wonder
  • Philippe Couillard has been trying to please everyone, and has ended up pleasing no one – he’s in trouble
  • Rachel Notley up? Jason Kenney needs to consider the possibility that his extreme social conservatism is driving partisan Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party folks to the NDP Premier
  • Brian Gallant must be happy he didn’t go through with that snap/surprise early election this Fall, eh?
  • Stephen McNeil: I have no comment, and you likely don’t either
  • Kathleen Wynne rounds out the bottom, again, but is up for the third consecutive Reid poll – she’s headed in the right direction

What does it all mean, O Smart Readers? Comments are open!


Column: #MeToo, Ottawa, and what to do if it happens to you

That didn’t take long.

Last Monday Monday morning, this space wondered why the #MeToo movement had yet to alight in Ottawa.  Seventy-two hours later – and just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was about to take the stage at his annual Christmas party – TVA broke a major story: a senior staff person in Trudeau’s own office was under investigation.

TVA was the first to disclose that Trudeau’s deputy director of operations, Claude-Éric Gagné, was being investigated for “inappropriate behavior.”  Gagné has been on leave since November, TVA reported.While Gagné’s name is known, Trudeau actually refuses to name him. The Prime Minister is also refusing to provide any details about the allegations, but CBC News has confirmed what TVA first revealed – that the alleged wrongdoer was Gagné, and that the allegations involved “inappropriate behaviour.”

Problematic, here, is this: (a) we don’t know who the investigator is (b) we don’t know his or her mandate (c) we don’t know who is paying him or her and (d) we don’t know what powers the independent investigator actually has.  We need to.

A principle of natural law is that you cannot investigate yourself. For this probe to be meaningful, the independent investigator needs to truly investigate – and truly be independent.

That said, Gagné – who is innocent until proven otherwise, of course – is perhaps the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  For days, Ottawa’s corridors of power having been buzzing about a coming media bombshell.  A major news organization has been probing sexual misconduct by elected and unelected officials.  And the expectation is that the revelations will bring to a speedy (and deserved) end to many political careers.

That, too, is one of the most positive outcomes of the #MeToo cultural revolution: since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, many victims have felt that they can finally step forward, and name names.  They have finally felt that they will be believed.  They need to be.

Case in point: after the Hill Times published my column, this writer received multiple calls, emails and direct messages about the two men I’d written about.  Two women stated that they, too, had been harassed by the nameless former journalist, and provided new details about what had happened to them.  And one individual – with intimate knowledge of Ottawa’s journalistic and political heavy-hitters – confirmed that statements about the other man, apparently in the form of affidavits, exist.

Hollywood, major media organizations, Capitol Hill in Washington: in recent weeks, all of these places have seen harassers, abusers and rapists driven out.  It was highly unlikely, then, that Ottawa would continue to be immune.  During this writer’s days on the Hill – working as a Special Assistant to Jean Chretien and then as a Chief of Staff – stories about sexual misconduct were endemic.  It is highly unlikely, in the intervening years, that the problem has disappeared.  The names of these “men” were known.

Why not name names, then?  Because it is up to the victims to decide that, and not anyone else. One of the women I heard from told me a horrible story about a man still working on Parliament Hill.  She provided a great deal of detail.  But she made clear that she did not want her name used, or the story told now.  Her wishes need to be respected.

But, for the many other women who have endured in silence, and who are now considering whether it is time to tell their story, we say: it is also your decision.  It can only be your decision.  But you are not without options.

Here is a list of places you can turn to:

  • House of Commons Chief Human Resources Officer: Pierre Parent oversees the office that investigates abuse complaints on the Hill. His phone number is 613-992-0100.
    His email is parent@parl.gc.ca.
  • House Respectful Workplaces Program: Myriam Beauparlant manages this program, and ultimately reports to Parent. Her phone number is 613-996-2068.  Her email is beauparlant@parl.gc.ca.
  • Party Whips: Some complaints originate with the main party whips – which can problematic for women who want to make complaints about the whip’s partisan colleagues, of course. That said, there is no evidence that any of the whips have been anything but diligent during the lifespan of the current Parliament.  The Liberal whip, then, is Pablo Rodriguez, at 613-995-0580.  His email is rodriguez@parl.gc.ca.  The Conservative whip is Mark Strahl, at 613-995-2291 and mark.strahl@parl.gc.ca.  The NDP whip, finally, is Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, and her number is 613-992-0336, while her email is marjolaine.boutin-sweet@parl.gc.ca.
  • Police: Many cases of sexual harassment constitute a crime.  For those who have been the victim of one, the mandate of the RCMP’s Parliamentary Protective Service includes providing police services to Parliamentarians, Hill employees and visitors.  They have policing jurisdiction over the Hill.  Their inquiries number is (613) 943-6530; their email PPSCommsSPP@pps-spp.parl.gc.ca.

For those who have heard or experienced something, there is always the news media – who, in Canada and the United States, have been at the forefront of exposing sexual harassment and sexual violence cases.  And, in official Ottawa, a good media listener is never hard to find.

Whatever route you choose – and however much you wish to keep confidential – is up to you.  And only you can now if it is time to tell your story.

But if this man can provide two pieces of advice, it is this: if you do not act, the abuser will almost certainly continue to abuse other women.

And, of course, there has never been a better time than now.

Because #MeToo is working.