Categories for Musings

Thornhill and Niagara Falls: check the second-to-last paragraph

The rule I have always followed is this: in any letter or email, the message being conveyed is always contained in the second-to-last paragraph. The first part is just throat-clearing and the end part is just sign-off.

So, too stories about polling, it seems. The way I read it, the Star has finally figured out it look’s like a horse’s ass pimping all those Forum “Research” polls – the accuracy of which are discussed here and here – and they’re now hedging their bets. Thus, the second-to-last paragraph:

“Like most polling firms, Forum uses a proprietary weighting formula, which has been shared with the Star, to more accurately reflect the broader electorate. Raw data from this poll will be housed in the Political Science Data Library at the University of Toronto.”

So, if you want to see how wildly they’re off this time, you’d better start your trek through the snow to U of T, you hear?

Anyway. After talking to various pollsters and politicos, your Free Warren Poll™ is this:

  • The Wynne Liberals are in third place in North, Southwestern Ontario and Eastern Ontario, and have been for some time;
  • The chances of the Hudak PCs losing Thornhill, when the Libs bizarrely called the by-election at the same Stephen Harper was in Israel,  are somewhere between slim and none;
  • The Board are doing to the Ontario Liberals what they did ten years ago to the federal Liberals;
  • The Hudak PCs, like the Wynne Liberals, are now both attacking the Horwath NDP in paid and earned, which tells you all you need to know; and
  • The Wynne Liberal pollster has told cabinet that all they can now hope to hold is fortress Toronto, but they can hold onto government, if they pick up a few GTA seats – which is more on crack that Rob Ford is.

This Free Warren Poll™ is completely 100 per cent accurate, 20 times out of 20.  You’re welcome.



Gary McHale’s lawsuit against me is thrown out of court!

A month ago, I told you I had some great legal news, but my legal counsel – Brian Shiller, who hasn’t lost me one case yet – told me to be silent about it for a month.  So, uncharacteristically, I have done so.

McHale’s action has been tossed out of court! More on Gary here and here and here. Tells all you need to know.

Thousands in donations were received from many of you, for which I am so grateful.  After legal costs are paid out, I intend to donate the remainder to the Six Nations, who have opposed McHale’s “activism” for years.

And, for you to clip and save, here’s the dismissal order. Have a swell day, Gary!

SFH: Anthem of Love and Peace

Left to right: Winkie Nuclear Age Smith, Davey Snot and Bjorn von Flapjack III. Where are Steve Deceive and Royal Niblet?  We know not. But we wrote this song for them tonight.

Fear of labour

This is what happens when you let Randy Hiller write your labour policy, Mr. Hudak.

Full disclosure: I practiced labour law, union side.  I’ve represented plenty of unions over the years, radical and otherwise.  So I have a tendency to think Hudak’s strategy – like his anti-foreigner strategy in 2011 – might work in a Southern U.S. state, but not ever in Ontario.  It’s nuts.

He’s not the only one making a strategic error, however.  The Ontario Liberals have been seeding revelations about Hudak’s misguided policy with the media for a few days, now.  They assume that they alone are the natural beneficiary of the controversy.

They’re wrong.  If the ballot question in this Spring’s provincial election becomes the role of organized labour in Ontario, the beneficiary will be Horwath’s NDP.

In two-party campaigns, effective attacks will usually suppress your opponent’s vote, and mobilize your own.  But in a three-way race, think before you attack: the one who gains may not always be you.



Fare thee well, Heenan Blaikie

Story here.

The winding down of this fabled firm – where I was for a fun get-together just a couple weeks ago – is sad, but not unprecedented.  Goodman and Carr went the same way, a few years ago, for a lot of the same reasons.  Nothing lasts forever, including law firms.

The reasons, as I’ve posted in the past, are not unique to Heenan or Goodman.  Big law firms are dying, much in the way that big media firms are – because of bad management decisions, because of resistance to change, and because of a total underestimation of the impact that the Internet would have on what they do.  I left the day-to-day practice of law, in a law firm, a decade ago, and I haven’t regretted my decision once.  Meanwhile, most lawyers I know, like most politicians I know, are totally miserable.

Oh, and my friend who had an office at Heenan’s in Ottawa? Don’t worry about him for one solitary minute.  He has a name that is much, much bigger than any single law firm.


How do you see Toronto?

This is an amazing piece of work, sent by an acquaintance of a friend. I don’t know the author’s name. But if they’re reading this, I say: do more stuff like this. This is really, really powerful.

Public Image Ltd.

I post this for four unrelated reasons:

1. It’s relevant to current events (cf. what John Tory did to his public image yesterday).
2. Tomorrow Michael Coren is interviewing Clash drummer Terry Chimes, who (like many of us punks, Johnny Rotten included) is Catholic.
3. In the Social Blemishes (pre-Nasties), we met and jammed one afternoon with PIL’s drummer, fellow Albertan Jim Walker. True story.
4. You all needed to be educated about where U2’s The Edge stole his guitar sound (and the actual riff to ‘I Will Follow’) from.

You’re welcome.

In Tuesday’s Sun: small is big

What’s better, politically? Small or big?

Well, a few years back, Conservative MP Peter Van Loan called Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty “the small man of Confederation.”

Van Loan shouldn’t have made remarks about a political rival’s size, of course.  At the time, Van Loan was big enough that he could have applied for his own time zone.  But the then-Conservative House leader was upset that McGuinty had demanded Ontario get more House of Commons seats – along with B.C. and Alberta – due to population growth.

Van Loan was against that notion, then.  (Now that pollsters are saying that the Conservatives may win another majority thanks to those new seats, he isn’t nearly as opposed to representative democracy.)

What rankled many Liberals, at the time, was Van Loan’s characterization of McGuinty as a “small man.”  Calling a political opponent “small” suggests that they lack vision and courage.  It’s kind of mean.  (Although, when compared to the Rubenesque Van Loan, everyone looks small.)

But what if we live in an era wherein “small politics” is the order of the day? If you survey the political landscape, that certainly seems to be the case.

There was the President of the United States, for example, last week delivering his State of the Union speech, and it was all about small.  The New York Times characterized it as “the diminished State of the Union,” and they were right.  For 6,786 words, Barack Obama went to great lengths to remind everyone that he now lacks the ability to do big things.

So, he said, he would go around a gridlocked Congress, and think small.  He plans to “take steps without legislation,” he said, to do fewer things.  What they are, we know not.  The Keystone pipeline, which is of critical importance to the Harper government (and which they have critically mishandled) was not mentioned once.  Gun control (a year after the slaughter of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School) received two paltry sentences.

The reaction of the media? The Times approvingly decreed that “big, muscular” government was “a dead end.”  The Washington Examiner and Post, respectively, called it “small bore” and “modest.” Neither seemed upset about that.

Up here, politicians have taken note.  Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats have discarded Venti-sized policies, and are now purveyors of the picayune.  Their latest preoccupation isn’t the Constitution or free trade: it’s ATM fees.  The Conservatives, similarly, aren’t busying themselves with nation-building so much these days. Lately, they’ve seemed most energetic about the duration of cell phone contracts.  The Liberals? They spent a Summer talking about cannabis, but not Syrian genocide or Quebec’s racist secular charter.

Small is big.  The Globe’s Jeff Simpson pithily derides it as “small ball politics,” and he’s right.  But it’s a strategy that has worked for Harper’s Conservatives for years, Simpson says, and he’s right about that, too.

Visionaries, I once remarked to no less than Dalton McGuinty – who, full disclosure, I proudly helped out – “start religions and wars”.  They can often be the most dangerous people in a democracy.

But, as we look around our Lilliputian politics these days, where only political pygmies like Peter Van Loan now wield power, yearning for a bit of the vision thing is understandable.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader who thinks big, and does big things, once again?