Categories for Feature

The pith and substance of the s. 33 debate, in ten pithy points

  1. The courts should not be supreme.  The people’s representatives should be.
  2. Most judges think they are smarter than all politicians.  They may well be, but elected people should have the final say.  Not unelected ones.
  3. Legislatures, and Parliament, have the right to use section 33.  Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec have done so.  No Prime Minister – including Conservative ones – has ever done so.
  4. Pierre Trudeau didn’t like section 33.  Neither did Jean Chretien.  But Chretien told Trudeau the truth: if he didn’t agree to it, the Conservatives Premiers – and they all were Conservatives, pretty much, back then – would never sign on.
  5. The notwithstanding clause is not permanent, by the way.  You have to renew its application, every five years.  An election is how it is reviewed.
  6. When you use it, you have to explicitly state you are disregarding the Charter of Rights.  Not a good thing to ever do on paper, politically.
  7. There is a disallowance clause in the Constitution, true.  It hasn’t been used in a 100 years or something like that.  If it ever was, it would be swiftly struck down by a Court for that very disuse.
  8. Using section 33 for a few city council seats is overkill.  It is a mistake.  If the Ontario PCs had simply promised to reduce the size of council in the election, all of this could have been avoided.  They didn’t.
  9. Toronto city council should be smaller – it should have no more seats than the provincial and federal legislatures have to represent the same piece of real estate.
  10. So, Ontario has the right to do this.  So, elected representatives should be supreme, not unelected judges.  So, city council will benefit from being smaller.

But this was an avoidable mistake.  And it will follow its authors around for a long, long time.

 


The constitutional beast is back

From next week’s Hill Times:

And that, to me, is Doug Ford’s biggest problem. Not that he overturned a court decision everyone expected him to win. Not that he used a constitutional provision no one knows about. Not any of that.

No, Doug Ford’s big problem is this: he has done the thing that Canadian voters most dislike – he has put the Constitution back on the agenda.  He has sent the constitutional cottage industry into overdrive. He has gotten us talking about the thing that most often divide us. That brings out the worst in us.

Trust me here. I was privileged and honoured to work for the greatest politician this country has ever seen, Jean Chretien. He didn’t lose a single election in 40 years. He did that, mainly, by saying this: “Vote for me, and we won’t talk about the Constitution.”


Recipe for Hate is a finalist in a national literature contest!


I don’t think I could ever win against such amazing authors, but it’s an honour to have Recipe for Hate described thusly:

“Welcome to the birth of Punk – when ‘misfits’ took to the streets to speak up for themselves and others like them, through art, music and clothes…. Recipe for Hate is an intense and sometimes uncomfortable read, especially knowing the story is based on real events… A great look into the history of music and what it means to be an outcast.”

Wow. Gala is at the end of October. Pretty cool.

Get your copy here!


Column: Leaky McLeakface

There’s leaks, and there’s leaks. And then there’s the leak the New York Times got.

It was splashed across last Wednesday’s paper, to the extent that the Old Gray Lady “splashes” anything on its front page: “I AM PART OF THE RESISTANCE INSIDE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.”

Wow. Like, wow.

To ensure that no one missed the significance of the piece, the Times’ editorial board – who are the only ones who reportedly know the identity of the leaker – topped the resister’s tale with this:

“The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

You don’t get onto the front page of the most influential newspaper on the planet by being the West Wing janitor. While we don’t presently know the author’s name, we can be reasonably assured that he or she holds a position of power.

And his or her essay spilled the proverbial beans, and then some. Here are some of the juicier bits:

“Senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them.”

And:

“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”

And:

“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”

And:

“The president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.”

It was the biggest White House leak since Watergate, pretty much. And its significance was underlined by the reaction of no less than the Mango Mussolini himself. On his cherished Twitter, Donald Trump screeched: “Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

There was time when it would be news for a President of the United States to invoke “National Security” to justify “turning in” an American citizen who had exercised their First Amendment free speech rights. We are in those times no longer. President Pisstape has violated so many political conventions – he has moved so far from the most basic societal and legal norms – no one is surprised anymore.

But the White House resistance leak? That should surprise us all.

Not because a senior official is the source: senior officials leak all the time (some would say that’s all they do, along with planning their next junket). Not because it was on front page of the august New York Times (leaks have made their way onto that coveted piece of news real estate before). And not because the leak contained salacious, get-even stuff (that’s what leaks are, most of the time: the bleatings and screechings of someone who lost a political fight). Not because of any of that.

No, 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 resisrtance 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.

There’s leaks, and there’s leaks like the one the Times had. And it’s a leak that has helped Canada, big time.


“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.