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Remembering my Dad on Remembrance Day

Here he is, age 20, at officer cadet training in the Summer of 1952. Front row centre.

He went on to join the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps but the war ended before he could go over. He always regretted that, but us, not so much.

We miss him every single day – and on this day, even more.

God bless him and everyone who serves.

My latest: We’re gonna lose so much, you may even get tired of losing

Trump lost.

His name wasn’t on any ballot, true. He wasn’t in any race, agreed. This morning, he is what he was yesterday: Donald J. Trump, private citizen.

But make no mistake. The stunning outcomes in Tuesday’s midterm elections were a short, sharp repudiation of the once and future Republican presidential candidate. In every corner of the US, across the land of the free and the home of the brave, Americans considered Trump, and said: nah. No thanks.

Early in the evening, one of Trump’s repellant sons tweeted: “Bloodbath!” But if there was any blood figuratively spilled, it was of Republican expectations. No Red Wave materialized, at all.

It was left to Trump’s loyal man-servant, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, to acknowledge the unhappy reality: “[It was] definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure. Hats off to the Democrats.”

Hats off, indeed. Consider these results, none of which are good for Trump or Trumpists:

• In the House of Representatives, where Trump loyalist Kevin McCarthy had been predicting a big GOP majority and absolute control, the Trump party will gain – best case – 15 seats. That’s a huge failure, by every standard. Why? Because it’s just a fraction of what has been achieved by the opposition party in past mid-term contests. If mid-terms are referenda on sitting presidents – and they are – Joe Biden won.

• In the Senate, too, cocky GOP types had been predicting total control. But, so far, that just hasn’t happened. The Republicans lost a seat they held, Pennsylvania, to a bald guy who wore hoodies and had suffered a speech-impairing stroke mid-campaign. And in Georgia, the outcome still isn’t known – but there, a football star and Trump favorite, Herschel Walker, remains behind his Democrat opponent.

• Republican hopes were dashed everywhere. While they now dominate Florida – more on that in a minute – GOP claims to capture the monolithic Hispanic vote didn’t materialize. Fantasies about expanding their base in House races, from Maine to Arizona, didn’t happen either. And Democrats prevailed in Senate races Republicans had been counting on, in New Hampshire, Washington and Colorado. New York, too: despite untold millions spent to prop up the Republican champion, a Democrat remains governor.

• Trump-endorsed election deniers were denied across the election map. In the Senate, the House, governor and Secretary of State races, at least 16 prominent deniers of the 2020 election outcome lost. Some, like the rebarbative Colorado Trump fanatic Lauren Boebert, blew a massive lead and was behind on Wednesday morning. And Republicans who defied Trump, and certified the 2020 outcome like Georgia’s Brian Kemp, won big.

• Most ominously for Trump, his likely opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, swept his state, turning it into a Republican stronghold for the first time in generations. DeSantis did that not just despite Trump’s attacks on him in recent days – he arguably did that because of those attacks. After Tuesday night, DeSantis is the strongest Republican politician on the national stage. Not Trump.

Trump was the loser on Tuesday night. But what of the man who beat him in 2020 for the Oval Office? Joe Biden, won, as well. Despite inflation, despite the price of a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread, despite a Democratic Party that has moved too far to the left, Biden did not suffer the humiliating defeat that many were predicting.

He won, last night. DeSantis won. Democrats won.

Trump lost.

[Kinsella volunteers for Democratic Party campaigns.]

My latest: Disney cake

Let them eat cake.

In fairness to Marie Antoinette, who was the last Queen of France prior to the Revolution, she probably didn’t even say that. Jean-Jacques Rousseau published an autobiography in 1767, and attributed that infamous phrase to an unidentified “great princess” – and, what’s more, Rousseau actually claimed she said: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”

Brioche” is bread. And there’s no evidence, none, that Marie Antoinette ever said “let them eat cake,” shortly before her head and her body were sent to separate locations by a guy wielding a guillotine. So let’s give the old gal a break, okay?

Chrystia Freeland, meanwhile, did say this to the media (who frankly resemble revolutionary executioners, some days):

“I personally, as a mother and wife, look carefully at my credit card bill once a month. And last Sunday, I said to the kids, ‘you’re older now. You don’t watch Disney anymore. Let’s cut that Disney+ subscription.”

She went on, digging herself ever-deeper: “So we cut it. It’s only $13.99 a month that we’re saving, but every little bit helps.”

Oh, boy. Where to begin?

She personally – don’t you love that she employed that Antoinette-ish flourish, “I, personally” – didn’t rely upon one of the 30-plus staff members assigned to her to break the heartbreaking news to the kids. She, the Minister of Finance of All of Canada, did it herself. She, personally.

There she was, squinting at her credit card statement all on her own, personally, and wrestling inflationary spirals to the ground. With a stroke of a red pen – there’s a lot of red pens to be found in Ottawa, in the Justin Trudeau era – voila! No more Disney Plus! Problem solved.

No more American Horror Story (Justin and Chrystia have been producing a Canadian horror story)! No more Kardashians (we get that already, when Trudeau and entourage travel abroad)! No more Lost (which the country kind of is, under the aforementioned Justin and Chrystia).

All those fine Disney-Plus shows, gone, much like Chrystia Freeland’s sense of self-awareness.

To get serious for a moment – just for a moment – did the Minister of Finance not notice the kerfuffle about her boss, the Prime Minister, staying in a $6,000-a-night palatial London hotel in the lead-up to the Queen’s funeral? Did she not note that the President of the United States, him personally, setting an example by staying at the U.S. Embassy and thereby saving his taxpayers a small fortune?

Or, has she looked at any polls – and God knows her department is addicted to polls – which tell her what Canadians are preoccupied with, these days?

It’s the cost of living, Ms. Freeland. And not Simpsons re-runs on Disney. Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, are focussed on how hard it is to get by.

Nanos: the top issue for Canadians is the state of the economy, far ahead of any other issue, with inflation not far behind. Abacus: 73 per cent say the cost of living is the most important issue they’re facing – followed by economy (45 per cent) and housing affordability (36 per cent).

Also Abacus: when asked what inflation and rising interest rates have made “much more difficult” to get, half said food. Thirty-five per cent said housing. And 34 per cent said energy – heating their home or fuelling their vehicle.

This, of course, is why Chrystia Freeland’s Disney-Plus gaffe was so plus-sized: it reminds everyone how utterly and completely out of touch the Trudeau regime is. They are tired, they are old, and they just don’t get it, any more.

Half of Canadians are trying to figure out how to properly feed themselves, says one of the government’s own pollsters. And the Minister of Finance thinks cutting some Disney cartoons will help?

Marie Antoinette probably never said “Let them eat cake.” But history says she did, so that’s that.

Chrystia Freeland, meanwhile, actually did – she, personally – suggest that cutting back on cartoons would help to put bread on the table.

You want cartoons? Watch the Trudeau government. They’ve become one.

My latest: Poilievre’s good week

Pierre Poilievre had a good week. Nay, a very good week.

And he didn’t even have to do anything to get it.

The application of the Emergencies Act. The rise in interest rates. And a trip to London.

Events, dear boy, events: long-ago British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was asked by a journalist about his biggest political challenges. “Events, dear boy, events,” was Macmillan’s pithy reply.

Events cut both ways, however. What’s bad for Liberal Justin Trudeau is, most days, good for Conservative Pierre Poilievre. And those three events have arguably nudged the freshly-minted Tory leader closer to power.

Let’s look at each.  First, the Bank Canada.

On Wednesday, Canada’s central bankers stepped back from the abyss, somewhat, and raised key interest rates by 0.5 percentage points.  That’s better than what some had been expecting, which was .75 per cent.

But, still.  It’s the sixth interest rate hike in 2022.  The so-called policy rate is now 3.75 per cent – the highest it’s been since 2008.  And the Bank of Canada is all but promising that more interest rate hikes are coming – their size to be determined by “how inflation and inflation expectations are responding.”

For most Canadians, that sounds decidedly ominous.  It means that, if inflation isn’t presently hurting you, interest rates will.  Because the cost of borrowing for anything – to buy a house or a car, to use a credit card – is going up and up.

Inflation, and rising interest rates, both help Pierre Poilievre.  For months, he’s been hammering away at the Bank of Canada’s fiscal policy.  At the start, his rhetoric was overheated – and his swipes at Bank of Canada officials, who can’t defend themselves, was unfair.

Now, Poilievre looks prescient.  If the central bankers don’t do enough, the cost of living will get worse.  If they do too much, we could be pushed into a recession. Either way, the Tory leader can’t lose.

The second “event” that assists Poilievre is the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act, presided over by Justice Paul Rouleau.

Rouleau has ruled the inquiry with professionalism and restraint.  But the inquiry is more likely to be remembered as a lot of blame-shifting by the people who let the Ottawa occupation go on for weeks.

Police agencies, in particular, look terrible.  After previously nudging the government into applying the Emergencies Act, the police – from the RCMP to the OPP – are now claiming they didn’t.  The record suggests otherwise.

For Poilievre, this also amounts to a win.  While he got far too close to the “freedom convoy” types – whose leaders are now facing criminal prosecution for multiple serious charges – Poilievre’s earlier insistence that the Act was overkill may end up being seen as true.

The inquiry may well find that the Trudeau government used a legislative sledgehammer to kill a housefly.  And Poilievre, again, would be vindicated.

The third event happened in the pages of this newspaper: my colleague Brian Lilley’s revelation that taxpayers shelled out $6,000 a night for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – or Governor-General Mary Simon, we’re not sure who – to stay at London’s Corinthia Hotel.

Trudeau and Simon were in London for the funeral of the Queen, as they should have been.  But, by any reasonable standard, $6,000 a night is outrageous. Given that U.S. President Joe Biden stayed at his country’s embassy for the funeral – costing American taxpayers little to nothing – makes Trudeau and Simon’s profligacy completely unacceptable.

At a time of surging inflation, and rising cost of borrowing, $6,000 a night looks very, very bad.  As Tory ethics critic Michael Barrett told Lilley:

“At a time when Canadians are being forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families, this type of excess is shocking. Prime Minister Trudeau should explain to Canadians why he is living a lifestyle of luxury at their expense.”

Three recent events, all unhelpful to Justin Trudeau.  And therefore all quite helpful to Pierre Poilievre.

Sometimes, in politics, you don’t need to do anything – just stand there and reap the rewards.

For Pierre Poilievre, this has been one of those weeks.

My latest: the new Neville Chamberlains

Remember the good old days – you know, when conservatives unambiguously opposed Russian aggression and tyranny?

And, for that matter, remember when progressives deeply cared about the fate of the oppressed people of the world?

Ronald Reagan, who conservatives used to venerate, once said that Russia was “the focus of evil in the modern world” – and that Russia “runs against the tide of human history by denying human freedom and human dignity.”

Remember those days? And then, remember the time that Reagan stood at the Berlin wall, and demanded that Russia’s leader tear it down – and how, not long afterwards, it actually was torn down? Remember that?

Even progressive champion Pierre Trudeau, who was too cozy with the former Soviet Union for too much of his life, in 1980 ordered Canada’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics – to protest precisely the tyranny and expansionism about which Reagan had warned the world.

Announcing the boycott, Pierre Trudeau said it was “the clearest and most effective way available” to condemn the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Anyway. That was then, this is now. Nowadays, Russian warmongering and human rights abuse are met with a shrug by too many on the Right – and, still, some on the Left.

Just this week, video of unelected Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was discovered online, in which Smith falsely claims Ukraine possesses nuclear weapons – and that it should be “neutral,” even after Russia invades it and rapes and murders its citizens.

Smith also seemingly suggests, in a now-deleted post, that Ukrane and NATO are to blame for the war. Said she: “I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.”

Smith’s extraordinary statements – which are deeply cowardly and wholly immoral – were immediately condemned by pretty much everybody, including the Alberta branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Said Orysia Boychuk to Global News: “[Smith’s] comments were misinformed. Russia invaded Ukraine, not because of NATO and what Ukraine did or didn’t do…Russia invaded Ukraine because it seeks the destruction of the Ukrainian state and the annihilation of the Ukrainian people.”

But Smith is not alone in her craven Neville Chamberlain-like servility. Around the same time Smith’s video was discovered, the People’s Party of Canada issued a fundraising appeal – and demanded the end to any support for Ukraine.

Wrote the PPC leader, Maxime Bernier: “We must stop sending money and weapons to [Ukrainian president Volodomyr] Zelenskyy.” Bernier went on to describe support for Ukraine as “crazy,” quote unquote, and “virtue signalling.”

When this writer tweeted that the PPC position was disgraceful, I was bombarded for days with suspiciously-similar bot attacks on Twitter, calling Zelenskyy a Nazi (he is Jewish) and calling the war a money-laundering front (tell that to the 15,000 Ukrainians who have been killed, tortured or wounded by Russia).

This appalling indifference to Russian tyranny and expansionism would have never been tolerated by Ronald Reagan or any U.S. president – until 2016, that is. In 2016, however, Donald Trump came to power – and his victory only came after “multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” the Mueller Report found.

Thereafter, the talking heads on Fox News and other Republicans took up Trump’s pro-Russia refrain. As the New York Times reported in front-page story on Sunday, Republican candidates “are embracing anti-interventionist military and foreign policies that…have been associated more with the Democratic Left.”

And, yes, there are still some on the Left who sound like Smith, Bernier and Trump. The leader of the Quebec Green Party has called Putin’s demands “reasonable” and – like Bernier – demanded the end to Western support for Ukraine. Similarly, progressive Toronto-area municipal candidate Alejandra Bravo has said she is “terrified” Canada is “training neo-Nazis in Ukraine” (we aren’t) – and that everyone should “stand against the war” (sorry, not until Putin is defeated).

So, yes, some on the Left continue to be unmoved by Russia’s war against the Ukrainian people, and the destruction and death that has attended it. But, increasingly, it is some Trumpist-style conservatives who are the ones who are most visibly unsympathetic to the documented carnage and murder.

Graham Greene once wrote that we must sometimes choose sides. Said the great British author: “Sooner or later, one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.”

Ukraine is the side of democracy and decency. Those who choose the other side risk losing much – their humanity, for starters.

Were he still with us, Ronald Reagan would agree.