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Warren Kinsella - TORONTO NEEDS A MAYOR, DAY 14

"...[Kinsella is] a modern-day Machiavelli, the mastermind who ran war rooms for Jean Chretien and Dalton McGuinty... He's the ultimate political insider... [The War Room] has plenty of fascinating insights and is a must-read for political junkies."

- The Toronto Sun

"The top Canadian spin doctor...tells all!"

- The National Post

"Warren Kinsella’s new book is a must-read for anyone interested in political campaigning in Canada. And not just political campaigning.…I wish I’d had the chance to read The War Room before I became Stephen Harper’s campaign manager; it might have saved me from many mistakes and months of painful learning on the job."

- Tom Flanagan, The Literary Review of Canada

"The War Room is a rich, detailed, and substantive primer on how to run a winning war room - warts, pizza boxes, smelly couches and all - from a master war roomer."

- The Hill Times

"Kinsella has crafted a handy little guide for politicos and non-politicos alike. Just keep it away from the kids."

- The Winnipeg Free Press

"... a great read ... full of fascinating stories..."

- John Moore, CFRB

"...I don't want to say [he's a] genius...but there's valuable insights here..."

- John Oakley, AM640

"I just got one copy, but I plan to get more!"

- John Wright, Ipsos, CFRB

"I do recommend [The War Room] to everyone."

- Charles Adler, Adler Online

"He's Canada's James Carville...a must-read...If you really want to win, you need this book!"

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

"A fascinating book...full of great stories."

- Ken Rockburn, CPAC


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I slept under the same roof as Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jean Chrétien last night.

No, really. It’s true. There were quite a few Senators, MPs and assorted dignitaries bunking with us at the Hotel Beauséjour in Moncton, too. All of us were there because of Romeo LeBlanc. (And all of us many Liberals gave full marks to the Prime Minister for coming to pay his respects, too.)

Whenever a political leader retires, or he or she dies, lots of nice things get said about them. That they were kind, that they fought for the little guy, that they cared about the people they served. Sometimes it’s even true. In Romeo’s case, it was always true.

Since being down here, I’ve heard plenty of stories about Romeo LeBlanc’s immense capacity for kindness, for caring, for his lifelong commitment to public service. A couple of the stories I hadn’t heard before. In one of them, a former constituent described seeing the Governor-General of Canada pushing a cart through Sobey’s in his little hometown, doing his own shopping for groceries, and how no one – not him, and not anyone who knew him – thought anything of it. That’s how he was.

In another story, related today in a series of obituaries – by Jean Chrétien, Dr. Naomi Griffiths, and Romeo’s son, MP Dom – we heard how Romeo’s family was so poor, he was sent to school in a pair of homemade shoes. And that his Dad was only able to pay his tuition by providing the priests with firewood for the Winter.

In our family, we loved Romeo LeBlanc. Let me give you an example of why.

Back when I worked for Jean Chrétien’s government, and my wife was working for Romeo, we learned that our many prayers were going to be answered, and that we were finally going to become parents. We got word at the end of August, when my wife was touring New Brunswick with Romeo; our daughter arrived a few days later, in September. We didn’t get much time to prepare for a big change in our lives.

Now, back in those days, adopted children were openly discriminated against. Even though they were as helpless as any other baby, adopted children were treated differently. The law did not give adopting mothers the same benefits that other mothers got, not by a long shot.

We didn’t know what to do about that, but Romeo – when he found out, I think from Dom – had a solution. “Bring your daughter to work with you,” he said. “We’ll set up a crib in your office, and I don’t give a damn who doesn’t like it.”

So that’s what we, she, did. In very short order, our daughter became a big hit at Rideau Hall, with secretaries, aides, military officers and RCMP regularly coming by to give her a hug, or help babysit. One of the more regular visitors was Romeo LeBlanc, so picking out a godfather was pretty easy.

I wish you could have known him like people do down here. He had this big heart – a heart as big as the province (and the country) that he loved so much. I don’t know if anybody has called him the people’s Governor-General, but that’s what he was.

After the funeral, today, our daughter would smile every time we introduced her as Romeo’s goddaughter.

“How lucky you are to have known such a man,” one lady said to her. And she was certainly right about that.

God bless you, Romeo. You will be missed.

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A garbage strike anecdote, from this morning.

We're heading out of town for a few days for Romeo LeBlanc's funeral in New Brunswick. So, on the way to work - I'm an early riser - I took my single bag of garbage and drove, with some trepidation, towards the Commissioner Street Transfer Station. It's a hulking Dickensian sprawl beside the Gardiner. (Not sure why they call it a "transfer station," either, but they do.)

Turning the corner, I was greeted by a line of CUPE workers carrying signs and looking unhappy. One of them approached me.

"Good morning," he said. "Just park over by those pylons and one of the supervisors will help you with your garbage."

"Um, thanks," I said, uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

I parked where he told me to, and before I could even out get of the car, another CUPE guy was saying good morning through the window.

"Got garbage?" he asked. "No problem. Let me get that for you."

He opened the door, took out the garbage, and wished me a good day. Some of his colleagues waved at me, too.

I mumbled "good luck" and drove away, regretting that I did not give them all big hugs.

After reflecting on matters, I have decided we should let the CUPE workers I met this morning to be mayor on a rotating basis. They're a Hell of a lot more organized, and friendly, than the sullen, isolated guy now running the place.

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...and my favourite Parliament Hill performer, by a long shot and in every way, was Sarah McLachlan.

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...is actually "Globe Less." Too funny.

A few years after flirting with pay-per-view Internet, the Globe is energetically back at it. They want $160 a year for access to the paper online. That's a lot of money!

Will it work? Will it stop the bleeding? Will Margaret Wente ever retire? Well, let's put it this way:

1. For wee web sites like this one, which are free and always will be, it'll mean a lot more eyeballs. That's what happened last time. It's crazy, I know, but people like free stuff more than they like paying for stuff. Go figure.

2. Bloggers will still find the articles they want to post - as they did last time, through a quirk in Google - and they'll post them, no charge. The Globe will then have to retain an army of lawyers to chase the pyjamahadeen, for little or no return. The pyjamahadeen will punish them with intentional copyright violations. Digitization = free.

3. The only way the thing could work is if every single media organiztion in the world agrees to do likewise, simultaneously. They won't; they can't. There'll always be an outfit who will figure out a way to make money by offering news content gratis. There'll always be someone who will stubbornly insist on rebelling against pay walls.

4. You can't charge for something that has been free for years, now, without making it way, way better. Does the Globe seem way, way better to you? Last time I looked, Margaret Wente was still there, dishonestly opining for the rights of white supremacist parents. Again, call me crazy, but I'm not sure I want to pay (twice) for that kind of insight.

5. People who left print aren't likely to ever come back - because they find the Brave New World way more convenient. In a hectic, modern age - where no one is picking up your garbage, or offering paramedic services, day care, or pools for little kids on hot days - people like convenience. Pardon the obvious metaphor, but this is all a bit like shutting the proverbial barn door after the proverbial horse has fled to Blackberry Farm, is it not? Yes, it is.

6. Newspapers have to realize - but never will - that their news content is the best advertising for them. That's what good, solid journalism is: good. It makes a case for itself. When MSM mavens hide content, people will mosey off elsewhere for news content that isn't hidden. News is like water: it flows. It seeps out.

7. Google is the boss, not the news providers. If Google won't agree to facilitate charging for news, that's the end of the discussion. And Google won't ever, ever charge: it's contrary to its entire business model.

8. Plenty of studies have shown that consumers don't see any improved value behind those pay walls. What's more, they worry about further losses of privacy, and regard pay walls as a pain in the ass. Ditto filling out credit card information, blah blah blah.

9. There are two chances that non-subscribers - that is, the people the Globe currently doesn't have, and desperately needs if it is to survive - will pay for content they have been getting for free for a decade: slim and none. They may lure some current subscribers to the other side of a pay wall, but not non-subscribers. Instead, those folks have just been given yet another reason not to read the newspaper.

10. The remedy doesn't cure the actual disease. Like Yours Screwly and others have been saying for years, the reason why online stuff is beating the traditional media isn't simply because the former is free and the latter is not. It's because - due to cutbacks to journalism, and stupid convergence decisions, and bad management - the content just isn't that good anymore. Make it worth reading, and they'll read it. Simple.

So, will the Globe and their fellow residents of Journalism Jurassic Park make it worth reading?

Well, let's put this way: you're here, aren't you?

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This guy should be mayor.

David Chen is my new hero. He should be yours, too.

A few weeks ago, David – a 35-year-old Toronto restaurant employee - spotted a creep on a bike stealing a box of plants. The same character had been stealing stuff from people and businesses in the Chinatown area for a while. Everyone knew who he was and what he was doing.

David spotted the guy later that same Saturday, and he confronted him. The guy dropped his bike and took off. David chased after him with two other restaurant employees. When they got him, they tied him up by his hands and feet, put him in a delivery truck and immediately contacted police. They made a citizen’s arrest.

But when the cops arrived at the Lucky Moose Food Mart, everyone – including David and the two other guys, along with the thief – was arrested and charged. The three grocers were charged with assault and kidnapping; the man on the bike was charged with theft. David was kept in jail overnight. The crook, however, was promptly released on bail.

Lots of shopkeepers and customers in Chinatown are pretty upset with what has happened to David, and they should be. They’ve told the media the area is plagued with petty theft, but that the police often don’t get there fast enough, or at all. The police, in the interim, have been dancing on the head of a legal pin – like one of them was doing, badly, on CBC Radio this morning – saying what David Chen did wasn’t really a citizen’s arrest because, um, er, it wasn’t a “continuous event,” your Honour. Uh-huh.

Section 494 of the Criminal Code allows “anyone” to make an arrest “without warrant” if they believe someone has committed a criminal offence. Sounds like what David did, doesn’t it? Check.

The section further provides that the citizen “shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.” David did that, too. Check.

The whole thing seems to turn on the fact that the bad guy was not being “freshly pursued” by the good guys. What does “freshly pursued” mean? Beats me. “Fresh” is a word you can apply to any edible product, in any circumstance, without being arrested. But in David Miller’s Toronto, “fresh” has to mean “continuous,” or someone is going to charge you with kidnapping and a bunch of other stuff, too.

I’m not a law-and-order maniac. As a member of the executive of various provincial and federal law associations, I actually love the genius of the law. But, in this case, I would have to admit that the law is, indeed, an ass.

David Chen, meanwhile, is my new hero. You can sign a petition supporting him here.

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• This is a complement, I think. I’ll take ‘em where I can get ‘em.
• Uh-huh. And where will the Conservative stalwart get the money (or the support) to pay for this explosion in bureaucracy? And is he saying the system the Ontario Conservatives created has been acting for untold years without “evidence”? If so, why aren’t they challenging the system they created in court? Also, do you think Dalton is sleeping really, really well since Saturday?
• Maybe. Tim’s baby is highly cute, however.
• On narratives, winning and otherwise.
• Bourrie, worth reading.

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...on why what happened didn't happen:

Look, politics has a lot of ups and downs. But in recent months, Canadian politics has been a bit like a roller coaster. From the Stephen Harper-induced constitutional crisis to recent events, we have gone through a lot of stressful times.

Now, Michael Ignatieff is not a professional politician or a lobbyist, like Harper is and was. Ignatieff has done other things with his life.

Because of that, he has — genuinely and truly - tried to do things differently since entering public life. Because of that, he has come to believe that Canadians are fed up with politicians who put naked grabs for power before everything else. They’re fed up with the kind of games Harper excels in.

So, when Harper’s Reformatories whipped up a crisis at the end of last year, my leader had lots of people — including some in the Liberal Party — urging him to push Harper out and lead a coalition government. Ignatieff certainly could have done that. But that just isn’t how Ignatieff wanted to win.

On reflection, he and other Liberals determined that wasn’t what Canadians wanted, either. We Liberals want to win, for sure — but we want win the right way.

Right now, the Liberal Party is either ahead or highly competitive in the opinion polls. We’ve got a great team and we areready for an election. And, once again, Ignatieff heard from a lot of people — including Liberals — who wanted to defeat the government at the end of June, and have an election just a few months after the last one. Once again, Ignatieff and Liberals thought about that. And Ignatieff decided,once again, that wasn’t how he wanted to win.

We’ve said — over and over — we want to make Parliament work. We meant it. And that’s what we’re trying to do. You have to mean what you say — you have to do politics differently than Harper plays it, if anything is ever going to change.

Will we defeat the Harper government, sooner or later? Yes, we will. For sure. But we will not be bound by artificial deadlines, or the self-serving spin of the Conservatives and the NDP and the Bloc.

Canadians told us they don’t want an election right now. We Liberals think Canadians are the boss, and not the other way around. They decide, not politicians.

Our party will vigorously contest the next election, and we will win it. But we will win it the right way. Not through backroom deals, or through brinkmanship. We will win it the old-fashioned way: in an election, with the support of our fellow Canadians, when they tell us they are ready for it. And we will bring Canadians government that is as honest and as hard-working as they are.

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The newly-minted Ontario Conservative leader wants to get rid of the Human Rights Tribunal. The Tribunal resolves applications brought under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

So does what that mean? That isn't so bad, is it?

Well, it is if you are black, and someone has denied you a job because of that. It is if you are a Jew, and a will prevents you from buying a piece of land because of your faith. It is if you are gay, and someone has refused to provide you with a motel room for the night. It is if you are sexually harassed at work. It is if your union won't accomodate you because you are in a wheelchair. It is if a golf course won't let you play, because of your religion.

To be fair to him, I'm not sure Tim fully understands the law. That's okay, in a way: lots of people don't know everything there is to know about the law.

The difference, of course, is none of them is running to be Premier.

Man oh man, this campaign can't come soon enough.

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