Categories for Feature

“Crickets:” Huge news for Toronto and the city-province relationship, across Canada

From the actual judgement from Justice Belobaba.  Read to the last line.  That’s something I’ve never seen before:

Pro tip: when you call your opponent too negative, don’t promote the stuff you’ve called negative

So, the John Tory folks put together a fun little video about the expressed desire of Tory’s main opponent, Jen Keesmaat, to secede from the province and country.  Here it is.

Okay. So, Keesmaat’s folks didn’t like it. They’d been calling John Tory all kinds of nasty names for weeks, but they’re not too good in the dishing-it-out-and-taking-it department. They got all sniffy and told CITY-TV that John Tory “doesn’t want to talk about his record,” blah blah blah.

Anyway. Keesmaat’s comms guy is a good friend of mine, Chris Ball. I like him a lot. In this campaign, we’ve taken good-natured shots at each other, and at our opposing candidates. I tweeted (what I correctly thought was) a funny picture about Keesmaat’s transit and traffic plans, Chris responded with what he (erroneously) thought was a funny picture about Tory.

So I responded with the secession video above. Someone immediately favourited the video. Guess who it was?

I’ve been doing this for a long time, boys and girls, but that’s the first time I’ve ever had an opponent help promote an attack ad about that selfsame opponent.

Anyway, it’s never dull on the old campaign trail!  And, at the very least, it also heretofore eliminates Ms. Keesmaat’s ability to say her opponent is being too negative!

The White House resister’s tale has saved thousands of jobs in Canada. Here’s why.

The I AM PART OF THE RESISTANCE INSIDE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION story was shocking for this reason: it details a high-level mutiny against a sitting President of the United States.  It describes what can only be fairly regarded as a constitutional crisis, one that will shake the world’s most powerful democracy to its foundations.

As a leak of Bob Woodward’s book Fear detailed the day before the resister’s tale was told, senior officials are now actively and regularly bypassing and overruling the decisions of the President.  They are even snatching documents off the top of his desk in the Oval Office, so he doesn’t see them.

The ramifications of the New York Times’ bombshell will be felt beyond the United States.  With the mid-terms just weeks away, with the Democrats maintaining a double-digit lead over Republicans, and with the Trump Administration falling apart at the seams, the resistance story will oblige Donald Trump to mostly give Canada what it wants in the byzantine NAFTA negotiations.

Ten days ago, Donald Trump was promising to exclude Canada from a trade deal, and mocking us.  Ten days later – and after the revelation in Woodward’s book, and the Times’ account of the resister’s palace coup – Trump cannot afford to lose the few Republican allies he has left in Congress.

`The moment that leak was published, Canada’s trade ambitions were rescued.


Apparently, I should be dead

‎So, I should be dead.

There I was on the 401 outside Woodstock, driving back to TO in the fastest lane. The highway was clear and smooth. No potholes or anything like that.

The Jeep was new, too, less than 10,000 km – and that’s even after driving to Maine and back. Brand-new Goodyears, came with the vehicle.

Heard the sound first – always listen to your vehicle! – and then saw indicator showing rapid tire pressure loss. Driver side rear tire.

I can’t remember exactly how, but I got across three pretty busy lanes to the far side of the 401, and then up onto the grass.

My first feeling was irritation. Irritated with Toronto Dodge Chrysler (the dealer), Goodyear (the tire manufacturer), the roadside assistance outfits (both useless). Changed the tire myself without getting hit, and drove back home in the slow lane.

It was only when I got home, and was able to post a photo of the tire, that I started hearing from many, many folks. Messages I received many times: Warren, your tire shouldn’t have done that. A new tire shouldn’t ever do that.

And: Warren, you are lucky to be alive. You should be dead.

When I looked at that tire, I couldn’t really disagree: like, how did I get across three busy lanes of highway traffic after a blowout like that? Should I be pushing up, er, daisies?

I’ve always believed – actually known, but it’s a long story – that I wasn’t going to go out with a whimper. I’d be slipping this mortal coil with a bang. No hospital rooms for me, man.

When I was a punk rock teenager, I couldn’t picture getting to 20. Now that I’m a punk rock geriatric, I can’t believe I’m in my fifties. Feels like I’m running out of runway, you know? Losing Gordie this Spring brought all of that into pretty sharp focus.

Anyway. For now, still here. Still breathing. Still kicking. Sorry about that, haters.

Looking at that tire, my two-part piece of advice to all of you is this: one, live the cliché, and live each day like you don’t have any more days.

And, two: get good tires.

Column: when you lie down with dogs

The short, stout woman bobs through the crowd like ‎a hungry dog, jockeying for position at a dish of meat. She screams and yells, waving a plump finger in the air.

Every so often, she looks back behind her, in the direction of the cameraman recording her every move. The cameraman encourages to get louder and get more aggressive. She does. ‎

The woman‎ is Diane Blain. She previously achieved infamy by refusing to let a Muslim near her. Today, she is with her friends in the Storm Alliance to disrupt an event in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, where Justin Trudeau is speaking. She’s trying to get near Trudeau, who she hates.

For the Storm Alliance, the Trudeau event is a pretty big deal. It is an opportunity to get lots of free publicity, and not just in Quebec, either. They are successful, in this, beyond their wildest dreams. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu event proves to be a ratings bonanza for the white supremacists. ‎

‎They’ve existed ‎since 2016, the Storm Alliance has. Before that, they were part of another organization, something called the Soldiers of Odin.

‎The Soldiers of Odin is neo-Nazi group. They were founded by a proud neo-Nazi, in fact, a guy in Finland, Mika Rinta, in 2015. They deny being a neo-Nazi group, of course, as all neo-Nazis do. But that’s what they are. ‎

‎The Soldiers of Odin are one of the biggest neo-Nazi groups in the world, now. They’re everywhere, from ‎the U.S. and the U.K. to Estonia and Germany and Canada. They got their start in all of those places by opposing immigrants and refugees who aren’t white like them.

‎Like lots of neo-Nazis, they’re big on Viking mythology. Fittingly, the Soldiers are named after Odin, ‎the Norse god of death and war. They see themselves as at war with refugees and immigrants with darker skin.

‎They conduct themselves as a vigilante group, more or less, popping up to “protect” white women from being raped by hook-nosed, dusky-skinned foreigners, or to forcibly eject migrants who have been forced to live under tarps at the side of roads. ‎

‎In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin are everywhere, pretty much. They have chapters in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and – especially – in Quebec. In Quebec, they’ve been very active, and have become the dominant neo-Nazi/white supremacist group in the province.

‎They pretend to do street-level charity work, but their real expertise ‎is knocking heads. A classified Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report, obtained by the unstoppable Global News reporter Stewart Bell in June, states that the group’s raison d’etre is “anti-immigrant vigilantism.” Said the report: “They are not afraid to use violence to achieve [their] objectives.”

‎It was violence, in part, that prompted the creation of the Storm Alliance a couple years ago. The leaders of the Storm Alliance – and Diane Blain, Justin Trudeau’s heckler, is one of them – felt the Soldiers of Odin were attracting too much negative publicity. So they set up their own group.

‎The Storm Alliance may disapprove of the Soldiers of Odin’s approaches, but they’re not all that different. Their logo, for example, is a clinched fist, the words “you are not strong enough to withstand the storm,” around it. The fist is framed by a pair of Nazi-style SS lightning bolts.

‎The Storm Alliance are led by a former Soldiers of Odin leader, Dave Tregget. Like David Duke did for the Ku Klux Klan forty years ago, Tregget’s strategy is to project a kinder, gentler image for anti-migrant, anti-refugee agitation. It’s attracted the same sorts of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and bigots that Soldiers of Odin did and do. But it’s more media-savvy. ‎

‎Thus their presence at the Trudeau event, video cameras in tow. They were after uncritical media coverage, and they got lots of it.

‎The Storm Alliance’s previous media event hadn’t gone as well. In July, the Storm Alliance teamed up with another Quebec-based refugee-hating group, La Meute‎ (The Wolf). The two groups gathered on Canada Day at Hemmingford, Quebec, to intimidate migrants and prevent them from crossing the border. ‎

‎White supremacist Faith Goldy, now a Toronto mayoral candidate, showed up to offer Storm Alliance her support. She whips up hate, and she’s good at it. ‎

‎Storm Alliance’s Blain was the right choice to whip up hate at the Justin Trudeau event, too. She is a member of another anti-immigrant group, the Front Patriotique du Quebec, and is a separatist. A few months ago, a Front Patriotique admin opined on Facebook the need for a “terrorist attack to wake up people.”‎

‎Blain seems to dislike Muslims, a lot. ‎A few months ago, she refused to be touched by a Muslim student at a dental clinic at the University of Montreal.

‎At the Trudeau rally, she started screaming about illegal immigrants, and she got the attention of both the media and the Prime Minister of Canada. The cameras followed her at the event, and Justin Trudeau even engaged with her – forcefully but not inappropriately. ‎

‎The Conservative Party of Canada, right up to and including Andrew Scheer, loudly denounced Trudeau for abridging Blain’s “freedom of speech.” On Twitter and elsewhere, Conservatives condemned Trudeau for the sin of opposing Diane Blain. They sounded like they thought Diane Blain was a hero. ‎

‎She isn’t. She’s a racist.

‎Five minutes on Google would have shown them who Diane Blain really is. The Soldiers of Odin/Storm Alliance connections, the Muslim-hating, the Front Patriotique “terrorist attack to wake up people.” All of it was there to be found, if the Conservatives wanted to look. ‎

‎But they didn’t look. Or, if they did, they didn’t care. For instance: Maxime Bernier has been in a spit-flecked fury on Twitter, lately, loudly opposing diversity and tolerance, just like Diane Blain does. And he remained a member of the Conservative caucus. ‎

‎Here’s some free advice, Conservative friends, from a guy who has been writing about, and researching, the racist Right for decades. No charge.

‎When you lay down with dogs – foul, stinking, loathsome dogs like Storm Alliance and Soldiers of Odin – you’ll get fleas, Conservatives. ‎You’ll get fleas, big time. ‎

‎But you won’t get many votes. ‎