Categories for Feature

Gordie

At Carleton, my closest political pals were James Villeneuve, Bob Richardson, Jim Watson and Gordie Brown.  I haven’t stayed in touch with the other guys as much, over the years, but I always did with Gordie.  Despite our different political allegiances, despite living in different places, we always remained very close friends. He was loyal to me, and me to him.

I last saw him on November 30, when he came to my Recipe for Hate book launch in Ottawa.  He was the only Ottawa friend who remembered and who came.  That was the kind of guy he was.

A few days ago, Gordie called me, after visiting James in L.A. I didn’t call him back.  I kept putting it off.  I was busy.

This morning, Gordie died of a massive heart attack.

I am in shock and don’t know what to say, other than just two things. One, I loved him as a friend and will miss him as a brother.

Two, when you reach a certain age, and your friends call, call them back.


Statement by Lisa Kinsella

It’s May 1 – the first day you can register as a candidate in Toronto’s upcoming municipal election.

I am a strong proponent of urging women to run for office. We women – and particularly women of colour – are gravely underrepresented in politics. Municipally, just 14 of 45 seats are held by women. In a city our size, with such a diverse community, where women represent half the population, it is just not good enough that we fill only 31 per cent of the seats.

I have been seriously considering running in this election – and I’m grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received from neighbours, friends, family and even strangers. I’m grateful to all of those who have offered to work on my campaign, and offered to donate money and time, too. But it’s a hard decision to make. Women often have more considerations to weigh – myself included.

I am a new grandmother and I want to be there for the baby, watching him grow and taking his first steps. I have begun studying for my MBA. I am a business partner in a consulting firm, which frequently takes me away to Ottawa to advocate for clients, like the many First Nations communities we proudly represent. And I am active locally in efforts to shut down a racist, anti-Semitic and misogynist tabloid that is distributed throughout Toronto – it’s this kind of hate that has no place in this beautiful, strong and resilient city.

Ultimately, my decision came down to whether I can be a more effective advocate as a private citizen or as a city councillor. And I believe that the answer is – for now – the former rather than the latter. One day I’m sure I will run; for what level of government, I don’t know yet. But, right now, is not my time.

I hope that my family in Ward 32 is well-served by a strong, capable woman. I hope women all across Toronto step up and run. This is how we change the culture of politics.

While this time it won’t be me, I will be sure to support women in this upcoming campaign.  And I hope you will, too.

Lisa Kinsella


Column: men who hate women aren’t men

It is a Monday, April 23, and it is beautiful.  Clear, warm.  A big blue sky.

Exiting a Traveler’s Canada panel on distracted driving at the Economic Club, I stepped onto Yonge Street and ran into Mark Warner, one of Canada’s best trade lawyers.  We talked about how Chrystia Freeland and team were doing with NAFTA (exceptionally well), and how Kathleen Wynne and team were doing with avoiding a third-place finish (exceptionally badly).  I then went down into Toronto’s subway system, heading North, towards Sheppard.

We hadn’t gotten very far when a female announcer came on.  Everyone would have to get off before we got to the Sheppard-Finch area, she said.  Buses would take us where we needed to go.  “Police action,” she said, giving no other explanation.

On the subway, we all looked at each other.  Some of us had never heard an announcement like this before.  Switch trains, sure.  But get off the Yonge-University line altogether?  That was unusual.

What was happening a few minutes to the North, of course, is now known to the world.  A homicidal monster – a “man” who wasn’t a man, a “man” who apparently hated women because they wouldn’t have sex with him – had commandeered a rental van and used it to kill ten people, and maim many more on Yonge Street.

Most of those he killed, most of those he hurt, the police would later say, were women.

Twenty-nine years earlier: it is around four o’clock in the afternoon, on a bitterly-cold Wednesday. I am a lawyer at an Ottawa valley law firm, and volunteering for Jean Chretien, who is also working as a lawyer, at the firm next door.  We are preparing for Chretien’s announcement, in just over a month, that he is going to seek the Liberal Party leadership.  And then the news starts to trickle in.

A “man” with a rifle has started shooting up the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.  He has wounded dozens of people – and he has slaughtered 14 young women.  Because they are women.

Stunned, we listened to Michael Enright interview a student at the school, Genvieve Cauden, on CBC Radio.  What happened, Enright asks her.

“We all go on the floor and we go under the desks. After, he shot people. He shot girls. I just closed my ears and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to know what’s going on. I received a shot in my head,” and then she paused. “But it’s not bad. It’s OK.”

“It just grazed your head,” Enright says.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Cauden says.  “After, the guy killed himself.”

The guy in Toronto, who was apparently following the precisely same Satanic, women-hating manifesto, didn’t kill himself.  As the entire world saw, he wanted a Toronto cop to do that for him.  The cop – amazingly, bravely – refused, and arrested the alleged mass-murderer without firing a shot.

After his arrest, the usual bullshit happened.  Politicians offering “thoughts and prayers,” instead of actual policies and measures to prevent something like Ecole Polytechnique and Yonge Street from happening again. Online losers, sitting in their mom’s basement and calling it Muslim terrorism – when it was decidedly neither.  Media lavishing attention on the alleged killer, instead of his many victims.  The usual bullshit.

So, on Wednesday, seventy-two hours later, another Economic Club panel takes place.  It has been organized – full disclosure – by my Daisy Group firm, and is called “Standing Together: Highlighting the Voice of Women in Canada.”  The panel is moderated by my partner Lisa Kinsella, and includes radio host Supriya Dwivedi, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation Chief and lawyer Kelly LaRocca, and Conservative MP Michelle Rempel.

The subject of the Monday massacre in Toronto – and the killer’s apparent desire to kill women – doesn’t take very long to come up.  All four of the women have something to say about what happened, but it is clear they are also still processing it.

A “man” – the alleged killer – was angry that women wouldn’t have sex with him.  So he declared that he was something called an “incel” – an involuntary celibate.  And, on an apparently-genuine Facebook post made just before the slaughter, he declared his intention: “The incel rebellion has already begun!”

All of the women sound, in turns, angry and upset and shocked.  They struggle, a bit, to describe it.  Michelle Rempel, the MP, says it best.

“I am so, so sick of this,” she says.  “Sick of it.”

We all are.

ENOUGH.


The women-haters

From next week’s column in the Hill Times.

Twenty-nine years earlier: it is around four o’clock in the afternoon, on a bitterly-cold Wednesday. I am a lawyer at an Ottawa valley law firm, and volunteering for Jean Chretien, who is also working as a lawyer, at the firm next door.  We are preparing for Chretien’s announcement, in just over a month, that he is going to seek the Liberal Party leadership.  And then the news starts to trickle in.

A “man” with a rifle has started shooting up the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.  He has wounded dozens of people – and he has slaughtered 14 young women.  Because they are women.

Stunned, we listened to Michael Enright interview a student at the school, Genvieve Cauden, on CBC Radio.  What happened, Enright asks her.

“We all go on the floor and we go under the desks. After, he shot people. He shot girls. I just closed my ears and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to know what’s going on. I received a shot in my head,” and then she paused. “But it’s not bad. It’s OK.”

“It just grazed your head,” Enright says.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Cauden says.  “After, the guy killed himself.”

The guy in Toronto, who was apparently following the precisely same Satanic, women-hating manifesto, didn’t kill himself.  As the entire world saw, he wanted a Toronto cop to do that for him.  The cop – amazingly, bravely – refused, and arrested the alleged mass-murderer without firing a shot.

After his arrest, the usual bullshit happened.  Politicians offering “thoughts and prayers,” instead of actual policies and measures to prevent something like Ecole Polytechnique and Yonge Street from happening again. Online losers, sitting in their mom’s basement and calling it Muslim terrorism – when it was decidedly neither.  Media lavishing attention on the alleged killer, instead of his many victims. 

The usual bullshit.


Questions about April 23, 2018

  1. Why do some people always bicker over whether it was terrorism or not? It was mass murder. Isn’t that enough?
  2. How could he be driving for as long as he did on Yonge Street (half an hour) – as far as he did (more than a kilometre) – and no one shot him, or rammed his van, or both?
  3. What do those early stories mean, when they say that he was known to police?
  4. Why do politicians always offer thoughts and prayers? Why don’t they instead offer policies and ideas that would prevent something like this?
  5. Who was that truly amazing cop who caught the killer without firing a shot? Where does bravery like that come from?
  6. Who are the ones who took pictures of victims to post on Twitter? Can we find them and shame them?
  7. Why do we always give these mass murderers what they want, and profile them? Can’t we, just once, lavish that much attention on the victims alone?
  8. Has anyone started a fund to help the families?
  9. Why do we need to hear from anyone other than the mayor and the top cop? Why do federal and provincial politicians insist on being seen at the press conferences?
  10. Why did this happen, and how can we make sure it never happens again?

Column: Liberals and sexual harassment

Forgiveness.

When is it owed, politically? By whom, and when? Who should dispense it, and who should receive it?

Not abstract questions. Not, certainly, on the weekend that federal Liberals were gathering in Halifax for their annual convention.  Not in the case of Liberal MP Francis Drouin – who stands accused of sexual assault in downtown Halifax, just hours before a workshop on sexual harassment was about to get underway.

Not abstract, either, in the difficult and ongoing case of Droin’s colleague – and former cabinet minister- Kent Hehr.

The Drouin case is still being investigated by Halifax police – so we should wait to see if charges are laid. But the facts in the Hehr case are notorious and well-known – and (full disclosure) indirectly involve this writer.  In the same week in January that CTV News unleashed its blockbuster story about former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, a regular reader – one who had asked me to speak at a #MeToo rally in Edmonton – tweeted at me. This is what she tweeted:

“My political #MeToo moment @kinsellawarren: I’ve debated this. But that’s the power of sexual harassment. My first day working at the Alberta legislature I was told to avoid being in an elevator with Kent Hehr. He would make comments. He would make you feel unsafe.”

I retweeted what she said. Within hours, hundreds of others retweeted or liked it, as well. It went viral.

The next day, as revelations about Patrick Brown‎ were still landing – and revelations about the just-dumped Nova Scotia PC leader, as well – Kent Hehr abruptly cancelled a funding announcement in Toronto. Shortly afterwards, Hehr resigned from cabinet.

For reasons that are unclear, the Prime Minister kept him in caucus, however.  And an ostensibly arms-length investigation remains ongoing into the various allegations against Hehr.

Fast-forward to this week:  the federal Liberals are holding their 2018 national convention in Halifax.  On Saturday morning, they scheduled a workshop called “Ensuring Safe Spaces and Ending Harssment.”

One of the attendees at the convention – a survivor of abuse – contacts this writer.  “I’m concerned that [Kent] Hehr’s attendance at the sexual harassment workshop will hijack the discourse and make people feel uncomfortable,” she wrote. “But it’s a great PR exercise for him.”

She continues: “I agree that men are the target audience, but NOT one under active investigation!”

The CBC’s Katie Simpson reports that Hehr has been invited to the workshop by Julie Lalonde, described by the Liberals in their online program as a Women’s Rights Advocate and Public Educator.  In her story, Simpson writes: “Julie Lalonde is not afraid of uncomfortable conversations. As a public educator, she embraces them for the teachable moments they offer.  That’s why she invited Liberal MP Kent Hehr to one of two workshops on sexual harassment she’s hosting this weekend at the Liberal Party of Canada convention in Halifax.”

Said Lalonde to Simpson: “I would love to see Kent Hehr attend.”

The women who have contacted this writer, however – as well as one of the Alberta women who came forward to accuse Hehr of inappropriate behavior – are not happy to hear about that.  At all.

One of Hehr’s accusers tells me: “[Lalonde] is giving him redemption when he has not earned it.”  Another woman at the conference is similarly outraged: “TVO removed Steve Paikin from covering sexual misconduct/harassment stories pending the investigation. That is smart and respectful.  I feel very shaken as a rape survivor [by Hehr’s planned presence at the workshop].”

Lalonde, however, strenuously denies that she invited Kent Hehr, and insists that CBC got it wrong.  “I didn’t invite him. The headline is misleading,” she writes.  “I was asked if I wanted him to be there and I said he clearly needed to learn so he should come.”

When told that women have contacted this writer to complain about Lalonde’s willingness to let Hehr attend, she responds: “That’s fair. [But] I am not redeeming him. He will not be acknowledged by me.  I refuse to pretend he’s the only issue in the party. MANY men are abusive in politics. Unless I ban all men, abusers will be in the room.”

And that, of course, is indisputably true: many male abusers still lurk in the corridors of power.  #MeToo has unmasked some of them, but not all.  They are still out there.  Some even pretend to be supporters of the #MeToo movement.

What, then to do about Kent Hehr? Should he be permitted to attend workshops like Lalonde’s, and thereby achieve some small PR victory – or, ideally, learn something?  Or, as his (many) critics have said, Hehr should be removed from the Liberal party caucus – and barred from workshops like the one in Halifax – until (a) the investigation is over and (b) he performs an act of contrition that is clear and unambiguous and public?

Women should decide, not men. Women, after all, are disproportionately the victims of male political predators.

This man’s take, offered merely as an opinion: Kent Hehr should have stayed away, and Julie Lalonde should not have said she would “love” to have had him there.

Until the investigation is complete – and until all the facts are known – that workshop belonged to the women.

Not Kent Hehr. Not Francis Drouin, either.


The week in the Twitter sewer

I am active on Twitter. I admit it.

Some people apparently read me on Twitter, too, and I (mostly) enjoy interacting with them. Here’s what the last week has been like. Lots of interaction.



A “reach” of over five million. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I know this: me and others are clearly drawn to Twitter.

But I’m repulsed by it, too. Perhaps you are, as well. Because, you know, Twitter is also often terrible.

Its creator, Jack Dorsey, has a more benign take on President Pisstape’s preferred platform, naturally. Speaking of Twitter’s beginnings, Dorsey says “we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Well, no.

In my experience – and in the experience of not a few others – Twitter is often anything but inconsequential. It is the place where neo-Nazis and white supremacists go to spew hate and frighten minorities. It is where misogynists come to threaten and demean women – with dark promises of rape and murder and blackmail. It is where the mob is, most days, digitized torches and pitchforks at the ready.

Facebook is for falsification. Twitter is for defamation.

Case in point: a proud Beaches-area neo-Nazi named James Sears publishes a “newspaper” against which we have been doing battle for years. We have had some successes, but we aren’t nearly done yet.

Sears also has a Twitter account, under the name “Dimitri the Lover.” He fancies himself one – although the law sees him differently, having charged him in the past for sexually assaulting women.

I block Sears’ Twitter account, but I also periodically scan it for material that may be useful in the five legal actions we’ve initiated against him and his Hitlerite winged monkeys (two criminal, two civil and one administrative). A few weeks ago, I found a Sears tweet that contained the foulest expressions of anti-Semitism and race hatred. I won’t reprise it here.

I reported it to Twitter, however. I pointed out – yet again – that they had become a willfully-blind accomplice to the dissemination of Naziism. I demanded they remove it. They speedily acknowledged receiving my complaint.

This weekend, I finally received a brief notice from Twitter that they’d dealt with my complaint, here:



Wow. Had they finally kicked Sears off Twitter? Really? I went over to Sears’ account and this is what I found.



A birthday tribute to Adolf Hitler. Complete with swastikas, a declaration that the Holocaust was a hoax, and “Hitler was right.”

Twitter, with its “chirpy” name and “inconsequential” bits of information, is neither chirpy nor inconsequential. It is the haters’ village square. It is the place where subhumans like James Sears have found their voice. With impunity.

Dorsey shouldn’t have called it Twitter.

He should have called it Sewer, because that’s what it so often is.