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Who is going to win the Ontario election?

CBC News’  guy, Eric Grenier, has poked through the entrails.  His column is here.  His chart averaging the main provincial pollsters is below.


I like people in politics who say “I don’t know,” so I like Grenier. He’s saying he doesn’t know who is going to win in June.

I don’t know either.

I’ve worked with the guys behind Campaign Research and IRG.  They’re really smart and effective.  But I still can’t tell you who is right.

Here are the variables that I think will affect the outcome.

  • Organization > money. Patrick Brown’s PCs have more money and are (presently) better-organized than Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats.  Money and organization matter, but the former matters less than the latter.
  • Ideas > campaigns.  The Ontario Liberals won in 2003, 2007 and 2011 because they ran better campaigns, and (in 2007 and 2011) also because the PCs had bad ideas.  The Ontario PCs ran a better campaign in 2014, but they lost again because they had a really bad idea.  Ipso facto: a bad idea can torpedo a good campaign effort.
  • Left > Right. The Ontario Liberals won in 2014 (like Justin Trudeau won in 2015) because they banked left and stole lots of NDP votes.  Wynne’s doing that again.  To win, Brown needs Horwath to get out of the witness protection program and start getting seen and heard again.
  • Leader = brand. The Ontario Liberals have an unpopular leader, but a very strong brand.  The Ontario PCs have an unknown leader, and a brand that is less strong.  The Ontario NDP have an always-popular leader, but a brand that is very weak.
  • Alternation > incumbency. The second that Stephen Harper won, the writing was on the wall for his provincial cousins: Ontarians don’t like one party running both levels of government.  They just don’t.  So, the minute Justin Trudeau won, big, in 2015, the writing was on the wall for his provincial cousins.  For Ontario Grits, The Alternation Theorem is not helpful.

Anyway.  I could go on (and God knows that I often do), but all of this is to say: I think Brown has the pole position, but the polls say the other two are still pretty competitive.

What do you think, O Smart Readers? Prognosticate away!


Have the Conservatives scored on Morneau?

I don’t think so.  It’s been bumpy, to be sure.  But – at the end of the day – the Finance Minister is still standing.  And the government would still win as many seats today as they did in 2015.

Warren Kinsella, president of Daisy Consulting and a former Liberal strategist including to former prime minister Jean Chrétien during his time in opposition, said he thinks the Conservatives have misplayed their hand in calling for Mr. Morneau’s resignation last week.

“You don’t haul out your leader to demand a resignation unless you’ve got all the proof you need to justify that, because you can’t make that request twice,” he said. “Their evidence was kind of a lot of the same evidence that they’ve been rolling out for some weeks…where’s the smoking gun?”

 Mr. Kinsella said he thinks while Mr. Morneau has been “knocked around” by the opposition’s line of attack, he thinks calling for the minister’s resignation at this point “actually hurt Scheer.”

“They called for an investigation [by the ethics commissioner] and before it’s even complete they’re demanding the resignation,” he said.

The Conservatives for weeks have levelled criticism and questions over Mr. Morneau’s ethics disclosures, and now the sale of Morneau Shepell shares. Mr. Kinsella said he thinks the sustained, intense focus in part comes down to a lack of positive movement in polls.

“A new leader is supposed to have a honeymoon [in the polls]—Scheer didn’t get one,” he said. “They needed to take a swing.”


Column: supremely unexpected

‎Talk about life imitating art.

When this writer started typing up what would become the novel Recipe For Hate, several things were not anticipated. ‎Positive reviews, for example: not used to those. But then Publisher’s Weekly went and called it “riveting, an unflinching page-turner” – and Apple IBooks called it a “book of the month.”

‎Not expected, at all.

Also not expected: Donald Trump. When one is writing a novel about the clash between progressive punk rockers and dangerous white supremacists in positions of power, one does not expect an actual dangerous white supremacist to be elected President of the United States by Russia.  But it, you know, happened.  Was in all the papers.

Also completely unexpected: one of the book’s major characters getting named to the highest court in the land.

But that happened, too. Seriously.  Let me tell you all about it.

Last week, Justice Sheilah Martin was elevated by the Prime Minister to fill a coming vacancy on the Supreme Court‎ of Canada. The announcement was greeted with near-universal acclaim.

This writer greeted it with shock.

Here’s why: way back at the beginning of time – before Al Gore invented the Internet and President PissTape was still busy chasing coeds and going bankrupt a lot – this writer was a first-year law student at the University of Calgary‎. More hair, less waist, boundless horizons, etc.

Day One. In walks our contracts law prof: not too tall, youngish, actually quite beautiful. Nice. Name: Sheilah Martin.

She was born in Montreal (like this writer) and had ‎somehow ended up in Cowtown and loved it (ditto).

And: she was smart. As in, really, really smart. Scary smart. Genius smart. Take-your-breath-away smart.

She didn’t suffer fools gladly, and this writer was indisputably one. She gave me the worst mark I’d ever gotten, anywhere, ever – and it taught me a lesson I never forgot.

Another time: she eyeballed my split lip‎ one Monday – the product of a fight with a couple mountian-sized Armed Forces guys at a Calgary bar on Saturday night , both of whom later bought me a beer – and shook her head. “Don’t be an idiot, Kinsella,” she said. ‎”Grow up.” (Never did. Sorry, Prof. Martin).

I, like most of my classmates, tried to impress her. We worked harder. We paid attention. We persevered.

Did she change my life? No, she didn’t. But she changed the way I thought about things, which actually matters a lot more. When you think about it.

I graduated. Headed East, didn’t stay in touch. I heard she’d started to practice constitutional and criminal law. Heard she got elevated to the bench. She got to the Court of Queen’s Bench, even – moved up when Stephen Harper was PM. Was proud of her. Admired her, from afar.

Now, much has been made of the fact that Sheilah Martin was and is a feminist. Much has been made of her commitment to equal rights for all. In my experience, she was certainly all that, but she was also more.

She was this: she was one of those people you meet in your life who measurably changes you. Who makes you better. Who you remember, always, because she altered the course you took.

Thirty years later: the book. A novel, about some progressive punk rockers confronting neo-Nazis and white supremacists who ‎have insinuated their way into positions of power. There’s murder, and mayhem, and mystery.

There’s also Sheila Martin. She’s in there, and she’s a major character in Recipe For Hate. She’s one of the book’s few heroes, in fact.

Sheilah Martin isn’t hard to spot in the plot: she’s Sharon Martin, District Attorney. And she kicks ass.

I won’t be appearing before the Supremes anytime soon, so I doubt I will be able to thank her for changing me – for the better – in person.

So, the book will have to do.

Send a clerk over to Prospero Books on Bank Street, Madame Justice Martin, and you’re right there, starting at Chapter 35 and in the pages that follow.

Sharon Martin is described therein as brilliant, and ethical, and a kick-ass lawyer.

The real-life one is, too.


A Ford Nation poll, inaccurate 21 times out of 20

Look, I get along well with Doug Ford. I shouldn’t, given that I am a Bolshevik, in comparative terms. But we get along.

So.

There’s this poll that mysteriously appeared tonight, dropped on a Sunday night for what is called “rip and read” – designed to secure lots of uncritical play on Monday morning.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the “poll,” because life’s too short. But here’s some of the stuff it says:

  • “When asked, if the election was held today who they would vote for Mayor, 38.66% of respondents support John Tory, compared to 32.91% for Doug Ford, 28.43% of voters are still undecided.”
  • “With John Tory’s lead of 5.75 percentage points what is significant from this massive sample is that in 2014 Toronto mayoral election John Tory won with a 6.55 percentage points lead with 40.28%, to Doug  Ford’s 33.73% and Olivia Chow at 23.15%.”
  • “With such narrow percentage difference between John Tory, Doug Ford and the undecided falling within the margin of error, the race to become the next Mayor of Toronto is up for grabs with less than one year before Election Day.”

Hmmm.

Along with being ungrammatical, and ridiculously self-promoting, here’s what is odd about this “poll.”

  • The outfit who cooked this thing up calls itself “The Firm Digital.” Ever heard of them before? Neither has anybody else.
  • Reputable firms always carefully describe their methodology. These guys don’t.
  • They get some pretty basic stuff wrong. For example, with a sample of this size, their margin of error is actually 0.78 per cent, not 4.1 per cent.
  • They claim to have done this gargantuan poll by telephone. But most Fortune 500 companies couldn’t afford to pay for a telephone survey with that many respondents. So who paid?
  • They haven’t included any tables. Why not? Every reputable polling firm always includes tables. What are they hiding?
  • Go to their website. It’s a splash page, basically. Nothing else. And if you Google Firm Digital, you see that the firm only started this year.
  • Oh, and this: their “CEO,”‘ Ramona Benson, has appeared for months playing a “reporter” in the videos of the rabidly anti-Wynne group, Ontario Proud. Not exactly neutral behaviour for a “pollster.”
  • Any reputable polling agency that my firm works with are registered with the MRIA – the Market Research and Intelligence Association. These guys aren’t.

Anyway: it doesn’t add up, folks. At all.

I’d say that something is rotten in Ford Nation, but you knew that already.


Lisa who?

Well, this is kind of interesting.

What do you guys think?

Prominent Liberal commentator and consultant Lisa Kinsella is “seriously considering” running for the soon-to-be-vacant Ward 32 seat on Toronto council.

“I’ve been encouraged to run in Ward 32 and I’m taking my time to decide,” said Kinsella in an interview Nov. 28. “It’s a big decision — not anything I take lightly.”

Ward 32 (Beaches-East York) will be an open ward in 2018, as incumbent Mary Margaret-McMahon has announced that she will not seek re-election.

Kinsella with her husband, author and political consultant Warren Kinsella, have made headlines recently in their legal battles with the publishers of the Your Ward News free newspaper, who are facing charges of hate speech in connection with articles they’ve published there.

Kinsella said that fighting against hate speech in the ward remains a passion, and “I think everyone is aware that I am a Liberal,” but she said if she were to be a member of council she would put the needs of the constituents in Ward 32 (Beaches-East York) first.

She said that she’s concerned about “increase in crime in the ward, and the safety of young people. You see young men being injured or killed on the news all the time, and every time I hear about it I think of my sons.”

Kinsella said that she’s also concerned about affordability in the city.

“It’s really sad when I hear about young people talking about leaving the city because they can’t afford to live here,” she said.


He was just the office boy National Security Advisor!

Totally unimportant. Nobody remembers him. Michael Who?

To wit:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, is expected to plead guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about two conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition.

The charges were the latest indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperating with the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Flynn was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington at 10:30 on Friday morning.

A plea deal with Mr. Flynn brings Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s inner circle. Such an agreement suggests that Mr. Flynn provided information to prosecutors, which may help advance the inquiry.

In all seriousness, two things: one, remember this little shithead leading chants of “lock her up”? Remember all that? Schadenfreude doesn’t begin to describe it.

Two, I hope the rest of these racist, sexist, fascistic bastards – and President PissTape in particular – have a really, really miserable weekend.

I know the rest of us won’t!


Punk rock, reaching across borders and the ages

Our record label CEO, Simon Harvey, sent me a note:

Well, this is cool. A friend in Vancouver just posted a picture, of a stack of great old singles he’s recently scooped, in the ’70s punk collector group. Joe Kidd– an early ’80s fixture who played in the most important Philippine punk band and is to that country’s scene as Biafra is to the US or Shithead is to Canada– posted this reply. I’m sending him both the Nasties EP and an SFH LP, of course!

You can read more about Joe Kidd here. And here’s his note to Simon!


My U of C law prof is being appointed to the Supreme Court – and she is in my new book!

Amazing!

The newest addition to the Supreme Court of Canada will be Sheilah Martin.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday morning his nomination of Martin to fill the seat on the Supreme Court that will be left vacant when Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin retires on December 15.

Sheilah Martin was a great inspiration for me at the University of Calgary – even if she was a tough marker.

And get this, heretofore never revealed: that isn’t the only thing she inspired. Swear to God: one of the main characters in my book Recipe For Hate is based on Sheila Martin!

If that doesn’t spur book sales amongst the high court bar, I don’t know what will!

(This book tour, kicking off in Ottawa today, just got a lot more interesting.)