Categories for Feature

From next week’s column: I’m pissed off

And this is the part where I’m actually calm.

Justin Trudeau said he’d support indigenous leaders. 

He didn’t. 

Justin Trudeau said he’s a feminist. 

He isn’t. 

Justin Trudeau is a terrific actor, however. There he was, after his latest cabinet shuffle, and butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. He almost sounded offended. 

Demoting a competent, smart, inspiring indigenous woman like Jody Wilson-Raybould – as the Liberal leader had literally done, just minutes before inside Rideau Hall – wasn’t a demotion at all, he huffed. There can be no greater honour than working with Canada’s veterans, he insisted. 

And if some other Prime Minister had said it, it’d be partly true: it is an honour assisting the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces. But under Trudeau, it was a lie. Under him, Veteran’s Affairs has become a political landfill. Under him, veterans have been disregarded, disrespected, and litigated against in the courts. 

So, everyone recognized Trudeau’s claim for what it was, which was unadulterated bullshit. 

Federal political leaders, reviewed


And that’s just this week.

Meanwhile, the commentariat wonder why some of us are thinking about voting Green. Wonder no more, etc.

Jagmeet Singh and the first Kinsellian Political Rule™

The puzzle that is Jagmeet Singh: what are we to do with you, Jagmeet?

Andrew Coyne has a typically thoughtful piece in today’s National Post about the erstwhile New Democratic leader.  Mr. Coyne:

It is safe to say Singh has not proved quite the rock star New Democrats hoped when they elected him leader in October 2017. Undertaker would be closer to the mark. While the party trundles along at a little under 17 per cent in the polls, about its historic average, Singh himself is in single digits, slightly behind Elizabeth May as Canadians’ choice for prime minister.

Singh’s trajectory is a cautionary tale on the importance of experience in politics. With just six years in the Ontario legislature, Singh was barely ready for the job of provincial leader, still less the much sharper scrutiny to which federal leaders are subject. It has showed.

He appears frequently to be poorly briefed, on one memorable occasion having to ask a member of caucus, in full view of the cameras, what the party position was on a particular issue. He badly mishandled what should have been a softball question on where he stood on Sikh terrorism, and alienated many in the party with his knee-jerk expulsion of Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir for what appeared to be no worse a crime than standing too close to women at parties.

I write about him in next week’s Hill Times, too.  This what I say:

Jagmeet Singh is the worst federal party leader since Stockwell Day.  He has led his party to historic lows in public opinion. And his political instincts – as seen in his caucus relations, his policy stands, and his byzantine approach to securing seat in the House of Commons – are  non-existent.

So, we’re all agreed on one point: Jagmeet Singh has been a disaster.

Another point of agreement: the Conservatives tend to win when the NDP do better than they’re doing under Singh’s reign of error. Conversely, the Liberals tend to win when the NDP do what they’re doing now, which is dropping like a proverbial stone. That’s a Canadian political truism.

Anyway, those are the points of agreement.  Where I diverge with Professor Coyne is here: I divine no logic – none – in the way the parties are treating the Burnaby South by-election. Unlike the learned Coyne, I cannot observe the outlines of any brilliant strategy at work, here.  To wit:

  • If the Liberals really thought Singh was a disaster, why have they taken so bloody long to call the by-election in Burnaby?  Why haven’t they extended the “leader’s courtesy,” like the Greens have, and pledge not to run someone against him?  Why not get him in the House, to further advertise his failings?
  • If the Conservatives really wanted to help the New Democrats out, why are they even contesting the by-election? Why not make his life easier, instead of harder? Do they really think they’re in any way assisted by Singh being marked up – or defeated – in a nasty by-election contest, thereby throwing the Dippers into further leadership chaos in the 200-plus days remaining until the October election?  (Similarly, if the Cons think a new and better leader is warranted, who would that be? Why do they think that guy – Messrs. Cullen or Angus, I surmise – would do any better? I don’t.)
  • If the New Democrats really wanted to get their act together, why the sweet Jesus did they let their leader even contest Burnaby, where they’re in third place – instead of Singh’s hometown of Brampton, which he easily won, and represented, for years?

None of it makes any sense to me.  It’s all stupid. Unlike Mr. Coyne, I can attribute no grand strategic vision to any of this.  It’s a shambles, for all the parties.  And it recalls the very first Kinsellian Political Rule™:

Never discount the possibility they did it because they’re just, you know, stupid.


Recipe For Hate: a look at the crime scene

My first book in the X Gang series, Recipe For Hate, is up for another award this year – the White Pine Award – and I’m honoured to be considered with so many amazing authors and books.

Also amazing: the kids at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary in the Hammer did a display depicting scenes from Recipe For Hate, and it is totally awesome. Their tweet is here and some photos of their work are below. (Another book, Black Chuck, also provided inspiration.)

The White Pine Award gets decided in May. Win or lose, it is so cool to see something you write get interpreted in this way by others.

Some of the reviews of Recipe For Hate are here.

Ten years? Ten years.

As the new school year begins, I was wondering where I was a decade ago this week.

For one thing, I was getting ready to square off in court against a far-Right former diplomat who had sued the CBC and me for libel.  We – assisted by the amazing Scott Hutchinson – won at trial, we won at appeal, and we won all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

But I was also starting to work for Michael Ignatieff as an outside advisor (but not for long).  And one of the things we were doing, ten years ago, was making full and frequent use of the Interweebs – in a way that the Conservatives simply weren’t.

Here’s one such effort, posted under our GritGirl moniker.  Wonder if this sort of message could be reprised in 2019?

Donald Trump is an asshole and a you-know-what

Is he a motherfucker, too? For sure. He’s an asshole and a motherfucker.

Those are just the facts. So, here’s the song my band did about him. It’s catchy. Sing along. Download it.

Now, I can safely say that Donald Trump is an asshole and a motherfucker because I’m not (a) a newly-elected Democrat member of Congress who (b) got elected promising to talk about healthcare and stuff like that and (c) not impeachment. Anyone who has worked with me on a campaign (and Lisa, too, which was part of the reason I liked her right away, but I digress) will tell you that I swear like a proverbial trucker, 24/7. But they’ll also tell you I get really pissed off when my candidate swears in public.

Why? Because the media can’t help themselves. You could be holding a press conference to announce you have discovered a cure for cancer, but if you also say “I’m really fucking excited,” the media will focus on mostly (or only) that. It’s how they are wired. If it bleeds, it leads; if there’s a curse, it goes first. They can’t help themselves.

Calling Trump an impeachable motherfucker is what that newly-elected Democrat did, and it was a big mistake. I said so. When her team was trying to fight Trump on the shutdown and his racist wall, calling Trump a motherfucker who is going to be impeached was dumb, dumb, dumb. It allowed a relieved GOP to change the channel. (The fact that the Democrat was a woman and a Muslim made it even better.)

Anyway. Moral of the story, here, is that when you are in a punk band – like my guy Beto was, check it out – swear like a motherfucker. But when you get elected to something?

Fucking don’t.


Lady approaches me at Shiatsu place.

SHE: I love your hair! What do you do to hold it up?

ME: Pardon?

SHE: May I touch it?

ME: Um, okay.

She touches it.

SHE: What product do you use?

ME: Hand soap.

SHE: Hand soap?

ME: Yeah. It’s punk rock hair gel.


2018, the good and the bad

While Lisa and all of my kids slept, I sat down at the kitchen table and tried to think of ten good things in 2018, and ten not-so-good things in 2018.

I failed.

• New Dark Ages, second book in X Gang series comes out – and Hot Nasties put out first record in 38 years, Maximum Rock’n’Roll likes it
• start teaching at U of C Faculty of Law
• Daisy Group has best year yet, has a rockin’ midterms party
• get signed to Newstalk 1010/Bell Media
• finally get to see MC5 play Kick Out the Jams live, see L7 in London at Electric Ballroom
• work for Democrats on winning midterm campaigns, help John Tory win massive mayoral victory
• help persuade government to stop postal service from delivering neo-Nazi rag
• get a cool place in the county that’s older than Canada
• family all healthy and all doing swell
• married still to genius supermodel who bizarrely loves me