Categories for Musings

Hey, Public Safety and RCMP: do I scare you?


“Bureaucrats, for example, bumped around a copy of a head-scratching open letter posted by Sun columnist Warren Kinsella on his blog. In it, he calls on Anonymous to get involved by attacking the Nova Scotia NDP or the RCMP.

Just the same, Public Safety passed it around internally, and then sent it to the RCMP. In one particularly telling exchange from the bureaucrats, one staffer emails the other to ask if they’ve “been following the news about Anonymous’ rampage,” and wonders “what can be done to stop such embarrassing attacks?” They note it was the lead story on CBC’s The National.”

Link here.

I’m suspicious about the source – Ling is a proven ding-a-ling, in my view – but I have to say that, if true, this little snippet makes me happy.  Any day this web site makes Public Safety and RCMP elf lords nervous is a good day.



In today’s Sun: Trudeau touches the third rail

Now that he has reopened the abortion the debate – and, rest assured, Justin Trudeau has done so – what next? Who wins, who loses?

Trudeau himself is both a winner and a loser.

At the centre of a Parliament Hill scrum a few days ago, the Liberal leader said “our position as a party is we do not reopen [the abortion] debate,” which was reasonable enough.  Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1988 Morgentaler decision – which jettisoned criminal laws relating to abortion – successive Prime Ministers have carefully steered away from the issue, which is the third rail of Canadian politics.

Messrs. Mulroney, Chretien, Martin and Harper all vowed to never, ever reopen the abortion debate. And they didn’t. So Trudeau’s position was an eminently sensible one.

But, looking a bit unsure in that now-infamous scrum, Trudeau didn’t stop there.  As reporters’ eyebrows went up, Trudeau said: “We are steadfast in our belief [in the Liberal Party], it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. That is the bottom line.” And then, leaping into the abyss, he reopened the issue he had said he didn’t want to reopen.

Said he: “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

In the days since he uttered those words, Trudeau has been engaged in uninterrupted damage control.  As bemused Conservatives and New Democrats looked on, Trudeau’s policy contortions have been something to behold. Over the past few days, Trudeau has said his party is pro-abortion, and its MPs are expected to vote that way without exception – but he has also decreed that anti-abortion candidates are welcome, and (presumably) so too anti-abortion thoughts.  That is, pro-choice if necessary, but not necessarily always pro-choice.

If that makes no sense to you, rest assured: it makes sense to no one else, either.

While the pro-life and pro-choice forces typically disagree on everything, they probably now concur on two slender points.  One, Justin Trudeau wasn’t telling the truth when he said he wouldn’t interfere in the selection of Liberal Party candidates – by telling them how they must vote on a matter of conscience, he was fundamentally involving himself with candidate selection.  Two, he wasn’t telling the truth about not wanting to “reopen the abortion debate,” either – he has now done precisely that.

But Trudeau is not necessarily a loser, now.  On Wednesday, Ottawa Bishop Christian Riesbeck told CBC that Trudeau’s stance was “unseemly.”

“It’s the fact that he considers himself to be a devout Catholic but then adheres to, or advocates for, abortion,” said Riesbeck. “That is scandalous.”

Scandalous? With that, the Bishop has mapped out an escape route for the relieved Trudeau. As Stockwell Day learned the hard way, Canadians favour a wall between Church and State.  They don’t like politicians involving themselves overmuch with religion.  And they don’t like the religious involving themselves, at all, in politics. As such, Bishop Riesbeck has gifted Trudeau’s relieved backroom with what they urgently needed: a way out of the mess they created for themselves.

Whenever the clergy start attacking me about something, a former Prime Minister once remarked to this writer, it helps get me re-elected. The same holds for Trudeau.

The Conservatives and the New Democrats have emerged as winners, too, and without doing very much. Pro-life voters will continue to gravitate to the Tories, convinced that there is no home for them with the Grits.  And for those pro-choice folk who favour no ambiguity, they will find a home with the New Democrats.

So, who loses, at the end of this sad political melodrama?

Canadians, mostly.  The majority of Canadians didn’t want the abortion issue re-opened. They didn’t want the rancour and ugliness it always brings.  They didn’t want what is highly personal becoming, once again, the highly political.

Will they blame the Liberal leader for reopening the debate? Who knows. But one thing is for certain: it has not been Justin Trudeau’s finest hour.


Told ya

Ipsos tonight:

Ontario Race Tightens:
Hudak PCs Slip (35%, -4), Horwath NDP Gain (28%, +4) and
Wynne Liberals Stall (31%, +1) among Decided Voters
But Ballot Box Bonus Belongs to Progressive Conservatives (41%, +6), Not Liberals (30%, -1) or NDP (26%, -2) among Likely Voters

Ontario: who is a political ad for? (updated twice)

Not for you, highly-informed reader of Canada’s Best-Loved Political Website™.  Not for you, or people like you.

Let me explain. This morning, I heard The First Ever Academic To Understand Political Ads™ on CBC Radio: Prof. Peter Graefe of McMaster said that political ads are for people who don’t pay attention to politics.  They’re a shortcut. They’re designed to be simple.  They’re for the uninformed.

Finally! Finally, an academic who gets it! Yay, Peter Graefe!

Geddit? So, the Ontario campaign’s ban on political spots ends tonight.  But, already, the political parties have telegraphed the themes they will be pursuing over the next while.  Here are they are, below.  I like two of the three.  Can you guess which ones, and why?

And, remember: don’t be an egghead.  Watch ’em, as I always advise, with the sound off – and as Joe and Jane Frontporch would: without much prior knowledge.

UPDATE TWO: Quote from commenter that made me laugh out loud, really loud: “With the sound off the Liberal ad looks like I’m being chased down the street by Graucho Marx.”


In Tuesday’s Sun: how a loser is winning Ontario’s election

Allan Gregg tells a great anecdote, one that explains why the least popular guy is presently ahead in the Ontario provincial election campaign.

It’s all about authenticity, the talented former Progressive Conservative strategist says: “For most of my adult life, I have worked with political and business leaders and have never ceased to be amazed at how different they can be in private compared to their public personae.

“Time and time again, I have witnessed otherwise funny, thoughtful, caring men and women walk from the wings of the auditorium to the podium, only to be transformed into nothing less than a big, blustering bullshitter – in effect, offering up a ‘performance’ and a caricature they think they should be playing.”

These political performers favour exaggerated claims about their opponents, Gregg says. They feign outrage. They take too much credit. And – this is the kicker – they carefully avoid “any direct and honest engagement of difficult subject matter that has the potential to cause media controversy.”

Which brings us to Tim Hudak, leader of the PCs in Ontario. Some polls say he is doing not badly. But some say he is winning, and winning big. This, despite the fact that selfsame polls previously showed him to be the least popular choice for premier.

Hudak is the embodiment of Gregg’s aphorism. In person, the PC leader is a highly likeable, friendly person. But when a microphone is placed before him, he becomes robotic. And it’s why so many Ontarians haven’t warmed up to Hudak – he was seen as inauthentic. He was reciting talking points written by someone else.

Well, the first two weeks of the Ontario campaign fully contradicts Allan Gregg’s wisdom. Hudak is still too stiff and too awkward on the hustings. But, if the polling firm Ipsos is to be believed, he is way, way ahead.

According to the last couple of Ipsos polls, Hudak’s support is growing – while that of his Liberal and New Democrat rivals is shrinking, in some places dramatically. The latest Ipsos offering pegs Hudak’s party at 39%, with the governing Liberals almost a full 10 points back – and the New Democrats even further behind, at 24%. If Tim Hudak is still stiff, awkward and therefore inauthentic, why is that happening?

Because of the other part of Gregg’s observation, that’s why. The part about “direct and honest engagement of difficult subject matter that has the potential to cause media controversy.” And that is precisely what Hudak has done, with his announced plan to cut 100,000 positions in the broader Ontario public service.

Given the fact that many of those who will be losing their jobs are teachers – and given that lots of public services will disappear, too – Hudak’s plan has attracted no small amount of criticism. Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, who is advised by the same inept gang who cooked up Paul Martin’s “soldiers in our streets” ads in the 2006 federal campaign, has been most critical. She has declared that Hudak’s plan will cause a “recession”– and, while in Walkerton, warned of the consequences of deep job cuts.

Hudak, meanwhile, remains unfazed and well ahead. He may never be seen as the most “authentic” politician, true. But he’s the one presently engaged in “direct and honest engagement of difficult subject matter that has the potential to cause media controversy.”

And he’s winning because of it.


Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

I live three doors down from not one, but two, group homes. Without exception, the developmentally-challenged folks who live in them are quieter and nicer neighbours than the other neighbours I’ve got.

I spent yesterday at a big family get-together, cleaning the roof, moving generators, trying to start a fire, and shooting off fireworks for Son Three. I therefore didn’t see this.

What can you say? You can say what I said in a speech in Ottawa last week.

“These people are a disgrace. These people are a stain on our politics. And, by all that is holy, I swear to God that I will spare no effort in driving them, and the memory of them, from office.”


The punk rock torch passes from one generation to the next

[The Dead Kennedy’s ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’ comes through the truck’s speakers.]

Son Three: I like Jello Biafra’s voice.

Me [astonished he knows who the Dead Kennedys are, let alone who Jello Biafra is]: You know about Jello Biafra?

Son Three: I think ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ is still their best song.

Me: I think I have to pull over, because it’s dangerous to drive while this happy.