Categories for Feature

When the victim becomes the victimizer

Liberal MP Sherry Romanado-Morgan was right to object when Conservative MP James Bezan made a sexual remark to her.

So who will speak up for this unnamed person who Sherry Romanado-Morgan fat-shamed?

No one, I bet.


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.


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.)


An open letter to the worst minister in Canada

Dear Minister Joly:

May I call you Melanie?

You’ve blocked my access to your ministerial Twitter account, so please forgive the formality of an open letter. I sense that I’ve upset you, which concerns me deeply.

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the propriety of a public servant (that’s you) blocking the access of one of your employers (that’s me) to one of the official platforms you (a public servant) use to communicate with the likes of me (one of your employers). Let’s leave all that aside for a moment.

Let’s get to the pith and substance of the matter, shall we?

Have I been critical of your performance as a cabinet minister? Well, yes, you could say that. Among other things, I think you are possibly the worst cabinet minister in the history of Confederation. You make Bev Oda look like Margaret Thatcher. You make Stockwell Day seem positively Churchillian. You stink at this politics stuff, you know?

The evidence before the court of public opinion is myriad and multiple.  It is overwhelming.

Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, for example.  In my experience, countries only get one opportunity to celebrate their 150th birthday.  Governments, meanwhile, get plenty of notice that a 150th birthday celebration is coming.

You rendered our 150th in Ottawa a fiasco, however.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s just a sampling of the bon mots sent to you by other citizens (who, again, are your employers):

• “Shame on you Ottawa. Shame on you Heritage Canada and the organizers. You failed us!”

• “I have never seen such a poor, chaotic display. Shame on you Ottawa.”

• “The organizers of Canada Day 2017 should be ashamed of themselves for the shoddy work that went into this year’s event.”

• “Please, [Minister Joly], I beg you to step out of your protective shell and acknowledge what a mess Canada Day was and take some responsibility for it.”

• “Time for you to resign!”

But you weren’t done.  Nope.  The Netflix announcement – which essentially saw the streaming behemoth being granted tax-free status for a piddling amount of investment in Canada’s cultural sector, and most particularly in the province you profess to represent – was also a debacle.

A sampling of commentary about the Netflix mess:

• Globe: “[Joly’s] fall from grace in her home province has been swift and merciless, sped by her maladroit attempts to sell a deal with Netflix…”

• National Post: “[Joly] she has been savaged in Quebec media, artistic and political circles.”

• Journal de Montreal: “[Joly sounds] like a living answering machine having a nervous breakdown.”

But there’s more!

As you will recall, there was the matter of the plaque affixed to the new Holocaust Monument in Ottawa.  It didn’t mention the six million.  Or the word “Jews.” Or “anti-Semitism.”  You hurriedly ordered the plaque replaced, but not before just about every Jew in Canada noticed.

The resulting headline in the Washington Post, then, actually made me wince: “Canada forgot to mention Jews on new Holocaust monument dedication plaque.”

Ouch.

Anyway.  Let’s forget about the Holocaust Monument, and the Netflix thing, and Canada 150.  Let’s forget about all that.  Let’s turn the page. Let’s focus, instead, on your latest decision, which I will render all-caps, because I think it merits it:

MELANIE JOLY HAS SPENT $5 MILLION TO BUILD A HOCKEY RINK ON PARLIAMENT HILL.

And it’s not just any $5 million hockey rink.  No, not in Joly World.  It is a $5 million hockey rink that:

• Prohibits the playing of hockey.

• Will be in existence for less than a month.

• Is a block from the biggest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal.

Oh, and the Toronto Star reported this: “The rink, which will be available for free public skating from Dec. 7 to Jan. 1, is budgeted to cost about $215,385 per day that it’s open.”

One of my readers informed me that works out to about $300 per skater, per leisurely skate.  I’m not sure Wayne Gretzky made that much in his prime with the Oilers, Melanie.

And here’s what you had to say about Skate-gate: “We believe that it is really good news because this will be here for a month, and this will support, of course, important programming.”

“Really good news.”

It isn’t, Melanie.  It isn’t.  It is a disgrace.  It is disgusting.  It is an actual scandal. It is.

Melanie, it is also time for you to go.  You aren’t helping your reputation – and you are regularly hurting the reputation of this government, which is a not-bad government, as governments go.  Resign, for the love God, resign.

Oh, and I’d tell you that on Twitter, too.  If you weren’t, you know, blocking me.

Your friend,

Etc.