Review: Recipe For Hate “a complex, multilayered mystery”!

“The Canadian Review of Materials is published weekly from September through June and is an all-volunteer online publication which features reviews of books and other materials that are authored, illustrated and/or published by Canadians and that are produced for/of interest to children and adolescents. CM’s reviewers are teachers, teacher-librarians, public librarians and university professors…”

And here’s what they say about Recipe For Hate in their review!

“[Recipe For Hate is] a complex, multilayered mystery that highlights the energy and passion of youth while pointing a finger at issues like police misconduct, irresponsible journalism and the rise of the alt Right.”

Not bad! Other reviews, to date, are below:

  • Quill and Quire: “Kinsella skillfully blends convincing depictions of both the punk scene and the racist underground with the hoary trope of a band of kids setting out to solve a mystery. The novel is a suspenseful page-turner that also gives considerable food for thought, anchored in realistically drawn characters and an eye for significant detail.” 

  • Publisher’s Weekly: “Adult author Kinsella (Fight the Right) sets this riveting murder mystery in Portland, Maine, in the late 1970s…Tension starts high and stays there in this unflinching page-turner, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the early punk scene and a moving testament to the power of friendship.”

  • Globe and Mail: “Portrayals of rebellious and non-conforming teens can feel reductive or contrived but Kinsella nails it without any stereotyping or embellishment. Though this authenticity will have big teen appeal, the novel is also part police procedural, part detailed history on the emergence of punk and part gritty murder mystery, all elements that skew more adult. Classification aside, it’s absorbing, jarring and raw.”

  • Toronto Star: “Warren Kinsella is known mostly as a political operative and pundit, but he also has estimable punk-rock credentials (as punk historian and as bass player in SFH, which bills itself as Canada’s best-loved geriatric punk band). This YA novel is loosely based on real-life events, and concerns the murder of two teenagers in 1979 in Portland, Ore., then the epicentre of the punk scene. It will be of interest to anyone interested in punk culture — not just the music, but the fanzines, art and writing of the period.”

  • Booklist: “Kinsella’s book explodes off the page from the start…a dark and engrossing tale of punk-rock heroes fighting for justice.” 

Patrick Brown, P.I. (updated)

Welcome to today’s class in how not to do P.R., folks.  Today’s case study is Patrick Brown, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Three weeks ago, CTV  broadcast a report that Brown had engaged in graphic sexual misconduct with two very young women.  He denied the allegations of the two young women, but he stepped down a few hours after the CTV report.

His party started a leadership race to replace him.  All of the candidates seem to be a lot more popular than he was.

Three weeks after he resigned, Brown hired a PR firm and started a media tour.  He attacked the young women who made the allegations against him.  The two young women doubled down on their stories, refusing to back off.

I have been told by CTV folks that Brown has not taken steps to sue them or his accusers.  And he’s rapidly running out of time to do so.  In my view, until he serves a Libel Notice, I don’t give a rat’s ass about whatever he has to say.  It’s all spin or bullshit, at this point.

Oh, and this: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators. (UPDATE: These guys, I’m told.)

I found that out on-air, on CFRA on Monday afternoon.  I was on Evan Solomon’s show with Karl Belanger and Alise Mills when Alise said she was working with Brown, and that he had hired private investigators.  Here’s what she said: “Patrick has hired someone to do the forensics, a P.I., he’s got a very strong legal team.”

That was news.

Evan and I started questioning Alise, who I know to be an honest person.  She didn’t walk back her statement.  She stood by it.

To repeat: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics.”  Forensics are defined  as “scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime.”

So, whose crime?  And who are they investigating?  There are only three possibilities, because there are only three groups of participants in this sordid tale.

  1. One possibility is Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics” on him.  Given that he’s the client, this isn’t highly likely.
  2. Another possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit the CTV team who worked on this story.  I’ve been told by two sources at CTV that they think P.I. types are indeed following them around.
  3. The only other possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit and attack the two young women who made the allegations in the first place.

Those are the only possibilities.  If it’s either 2 or 3, it is big, big news: a sitting member of the provincial legislature has hired private investigators to go after the media and two young women who claim to have been sexually assaulted. (Another possibility: he’s investigating other MPPs: but that would be a clear violation of their Parliamentary privilege.)

Anyway. If the above is true – if what Alise Mills revealed on Monday is indeed the case – I do not see how Patrick Brown can be permitted to retain his seat.

Digging up dirt on reporters, doing their jobs?  Digging up dirt on alleged victims of sexual assault? Digging up dirt on fellow MPPs?

That’s not the kind of person we need in our provincial parliament.

Sub judice and a dead boy

On Friday night, in Calgary, I spotted tweets by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Justice about the verdict in the trial of the “man” who shot Colten Boushie in the back of the head with a semi-automatic handgun at point-blank range. It was, for the record, an appalling, disgusting, truly unjust verdict.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, however, decided to offer comments on the verdict and the victim. They did this before the Crown had made a decision on an appeal.

On Saturday morning, I raised the matter with my class at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. To a one, my students expressed tremendous sympathy for the young victim and his family. To a one, they also expressed concern – as I did – that the Prime Minister of Canada (generally) and the Minister of Justice (specifically) would comment while there was still the possibility of an appeal.

“Have Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould harmed the Crown’s position?” I asked.

To answer that, you need to know what the sub judice rule is.

The sub judice rule is a rule of court, a statutory rule, a parliamentary convention, and a practice that has developed in the interaction between media and public officials…

The term subjudice literally means “under judicial consideration” or “before the court or judge for determination.” At its most basic, the sub judice rule prohibits the publication of statements which may prejudice court proceedings.

That is from a lengthy Dalhousie Law Journal legal analysis of the rule. On the face of it, the comments by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice were, indeed, statements on a court proceeding.  But was the court proceeding still underway? And, if so, were they statements that could prejudice a court proceeding?

Our highest court has mainly left it to provincial appeal courts to figure out what the sub judice rule means.  Our provincial courts, meanwhile, have said there must be a clear intent to interfere with a trial.  And/or, there must be a real and substantial risk of prejudice – beyond a reasonable doubt – to the administration of justice.  And/or, if the comments were made in good faith to inform the public about a matter of pressing importance, no contempt finding follows.

Looking at those appeal court rulings, you’d be moved to say that Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould could safely say what they did.  But I’m not sure you’d be right.

That’s because they’re not just individuals – they are the two most senior and powerful lawmakers in Canada.

Here in Ontario, to cite just one recent and local example, cabinet ministers have resigned because they named young offenders.  Those were cases of statutory contempt, however, where there was a clear and written prohibition about naming a young offender.  But what about a situation like the Colten Boushie case?  What do the courts say?

Here’s one case that is right on point:

Comments made by higher level members of government, such as Ministers, may be seen to have more impact. This was illustrated in the case of Director of Public Prosecutions v Wran, in which the Premier of New South Wales stood in front of a court house and publicly stated that an accused was innocent. The Court of Appeal found him guilty of contempt, giving weight to his position as Premier, which would increase the newsworthiness of his prejudicial comments.

My view is that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice should not have commented – not because of the sub judice rule, per se, but because of paradox.

This is the paradox: because of their positions – because of the powers with which they’ve been entrusted – Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould may have hurt the very thing they (and most of us) desire:

Justice for the dead boy named Colten Boushie.

It isn’t witness tampering

…but it certainly resembles that.  That was what I wrote last week, too.

A PMO director contacting a complainant in a sexual harassment case, when a third-party, arms-length investigation was already underway into that same sexual harassment case? That’s a big no-no.  Any first year law student would know that, once a quasi-judicial review is underway, you simply cannot communicate with potential witnesses.  Lawyers have been disbarred for less.

But that’s what a PMO director did – about a case involving another PMO director.

And here’s what some experts in the field had to say to the Hill Times.  They all agree: PMO staff should not be covertly communicating with anyone who is at the centre of an independent investigation into alleged wrongdoing by PMO staff.

Eddy Ng, a Dalhousie University professor specializing in human resources management, told The Hill Times he saw several issues with the way government officials dealt with communications professional Myriam Denis, who wrote her account of interactions with two high-ranking Liberal staffers in a Huffington Post Canada blog on Feb. 5.

Mr. Ng said it was problematic for Mr. Thalmann to reach out to a potential victim while an independent investigation into an alleged harasser was ongoing, because he would be seen as having an interest in the matter by virtue of his PMO position.

“He has no role in the investigation, period. He is seen as an agent of the PMO. In this case, he has—on the surface—an interest in protecting the PMO’s reputation,” he said.

He said a third-party investigation has to be—and be entirely perceived to be—neutral, unbiased, and fair. Anything that can be viewed as influencing an investigation can harm the integrity of the process.

Column: should government name things for a neo-Nazi?

Should the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia name something after a neo-Nazi?

It’s not a hypothetical question.

Fall River, Nova Scotia (pop. 11,526) is a little community in Halifax’s regional municipality.  By all accounts, it’s a lovely spot, and the locals are nice.  If you go hiking on a trail in the area, you may spot a bear or a bobcat or the occasional coyote.

Tillmann Brook runs alongside such a trail.  According to Natural Resources Canada, who oversee such things, Tillmann Brook’s name is designated as “official.” The decision apparently goes back to 1999, and would have been made by something called the Geographical Names Board of Canada, with some participation by Nova Scotia’s government, too.

Tillmann Brook is a river, basically, that flows from Soldier Lake into Miller Kale.  There’s a little waterfall on it, and people are known to regularly hike there to take a look.  What’s less known, however, is whether any of the visitors – or even locals – are aware of the origins of Tillmann Brook’s name.

Because there’s a problem with its name – and John Mark Tillmann is the problem.  He’s proud of Tillmann Brook’s name change, and he has even been known to pose beside a Tillmann Brook sign for a photograph.

Making a Nazi salute.

He’s a notorious sort of fellow, John Mark Tillmann is.  You may have even him on TV.  He’s perhaps better known for being a very successful art thief: in January 2013, police arrested him for just that.  Interpol, Homeland Security, the FBI and the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were involved in the case – and found more than 10,000 artifacts at his home, including a letter written by George Washington, valued at more than a million dollars.

He thereafter pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, theft, possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a forged document, obstruction of justice and providing a false statement.  And he was granted full parole just three years later.

Born in Halifax in the Sixties, Tillmann was a handsome, charming fellow.  He grew up in a relatively affluent family.  He obtained a degree in marketing, and travelled to Russia, where he learned to speak the language.  While there, he married a beautiful Russian university student, and the two of them were a veritable Bonnie and Clyde, travelling all over Europe and the Americas, swiping art and artifacts.

Tillmann mainly stole valuable things, the police say, for kicks.  CBC’s Fifth Estate and American media have paid a lot of attention to his art heists.  Less attention, however, has been given to his political views.

That’s unfortunate – because John Mark Tillmann is a self-admitted Nazi fan.

When the cops finally showed up, they found Nazi paraphernalia all over his impressive waterfront home in Fall River.  There was a framed photo of Adolf Hitler in a window, which Tillmann called “a special spot in my home.” Tillmann says Hitler is “a great man – one of the greatest men in history.  A decent man.”

There were Nazi armbands and insignia and whatnot, too, all carefully maintained.

Asked about his Nazi leanings by the Fifth Estate in 2016, after he got out prison, Tillmann said: “I stand by that. I stand by that today.”

Oh, and there’s a Nazi flag that he’s position over a railing, too, where neighbours could see it.  Maybe he wanted them to see it.  In Fall River, in fact, there is a widely-held view that Tillmann – aided and abetted by his mother – successfully lobbied to get the brook’s name changed to Tillmann, to emphasize his German antecedents.  To make Jews feel uncomfortable.

“There’s a Jew who lives near there,” says Tillmann in a self-made 2011 home video.  “It’s an appropriate name to put near him.”  He then gives dark laugh.

So, how did all that happen?  How did a proud Nazi supporter get a name change – to, as he admits, make Jews feel uncomfortable?

The folks at the Geographic Names Board of Canada know all about the Tillmann Brook problem, but they say they can’t talk about it.  They refer a writer to Nova Scotia, who they say initiated the name change.

Nova Scotia’s Geographic Information Services, meanwhile, said a “support Specialist” would respond.  Days later, they still haven’t.

So: how was a known and notorious Nazi enthusiast allowed to pull a fast one on two levels of government – so he could upset Jewish Nova Scotians?  And, now that they know, will they clean up their mess?

Many questions.  In the John Mark Tillmann case, answers remain elusive.


Kathleen Wynne is the luckiest politician alive

Here’s why:

• Andrew Horwath’s New Democrats have been in a witness protection program for months – and, when they finally start to show signs of life, they lose their Chief of Staff to allegations he was indifferent to complaints about sexual harassment

• Caroline Mulroney is revealing herself to be completely unprepared for the top job – she looks and sounds uncertain, she’s nervous and she’s clearly out of her depth – and increasing numbers of worried PCs are saying Wynne would eat her alive in a leader’s debate

• Christine Elliott is doing again what she did in 2009 and 2015 – she’s phoning it in, and giving an entirely new dimension to the Trumpian epithet, “low energy”

• Doug Ford is amazing and charming PCs everywhere – he’s being disciplined, strategic and working his tail off – but he’d still be easy for the Libs to demonize in a province-wide vote

• Oh, and for good measure, the last thing the PCs needed – for Patrick Brown to start doing the rounds in the media, and demonizing those young women who came forward – is, incredibly, actually happening

At this point, I am hearing from many, many senior and experienced Progressive Conservatives that Doug Ford may well win this thing. Incredible, I know, but he is doing what he should be doing: working. Elliot simply isn’t – and Mulroney is decidedly not up to the job.

Like I say: Kathleen Wynne is the luckiest politician alive.