The launch launched!

And it was a fun one. The Mayor and his amazing wife came, media luminaries like Stephen Maher were in attendance, and political stars – like former MP Paul Zed and York Region’s Loralea Carruthers – partied it up.

Lots of copies of Recipe For Hate and SFH Kinda Suck were sold, and Lisa even came onstage to provide backing vocals. Wish I had a photo of that.

Dundurn’s Kendra Martin told me the book had been written up in Postmedia, and it had been, below.

A fun night until BJORN’s arm checked out during Vomit. Wish you’d been there!

“The names have been changed to protect the guilty.”

Warren Kinsella mentions this more than once when discussing his first novel, Recipe for Hate, revealing its existence in a strange literary zone between fact and fiction.

Based in Portland, Maine, during the late 1970s, the YA murder-mystery tells the story of a group of young punk rockers who find themselves at risk after two friends are brutally murdered. It exposes a ring of neo-Nazis and the early rumblings of a hate movement that began to appear in fledging punk scenes across North America during that period.

So, yes, it’s fiction. But there’s plenty of truth running throughout. Kinsella, a Toronto-based lawyer, musician and political commentator once known as the “Prince of Darkness” for his days as an aggressive strategist in Liberal war rooms, has also carved out a reputation in the past few decades as one of Canada’s foremost experts on Canada’s far-right hate groups.

He was also a punk rocker in the late 1970s, having played in the pioneering Calgary punk band The Hot Nasties in a music scene that was very reminiscent of the Portland backdrop he has created for Recipe of Hate.

And finally, he was a summer student at the Calgary Herald in the mid-1980s, which is where he came across the inspiration for a shadowy figure who becomes central to Recipe of Hate.

Kinsella doesn’t reveal much more about this real-life character, only to say that he was not able to write about him for various reasons while a summer student. To reveal much more would be a spoiler for his novel.

“It stuck in my craw for the succeeding 30 years and it became the centre of Recipe of Hate,” says Kinsella, in an interview from his office in Toronto. “Recipe of Hate really got it start in the Herald newsroom.”

The author is a little more specific when it comes to other real-life events or characters that inspired the novel. Kinsella’s 1994 national bestseller, Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network, was a wake-up call for Canadians that charted a growing and highly organized hate movement in this country. It was based, at least partially, on work that Kinsella began as a young reporter at the Herald and, later, the Ottawa Citizen.

In Recipe for Hate, there are acts of violence based on real events Kinsella researched for his non-fiction work. The killing of a talk-show host is based on the 1984 murder of Alan Berg, who was assassinated by members of the white nationalist group The Order in Denver. Another passage in Recipe of Hate was based on a 1990 incident in Edmonton involving members of the Aryan Nation attacking broadcaster Keith Rutherford on his front lawn.

“There’s a whole series of events within the book that was based upon things that really happened,” he says.

That includes details about Calgary’s punk scene, even if they are transported to Portland. He even uses the names of actual bands from Cowtown’s early punk scene, including The Social Blemishes and Hot Nasties, two bands that Kinsella played in back in the 1970s.

A passage where protagonist Kurt Blank meets the Clash’s Joe Strummer also came from a real-life meeting between the legendary punk-rocker and Kinsella in Vancouver. Gary’s, an old biker bar that is central to the book’s plot, is based on the early punk-rock bar The Calgarian; while the high school in the novel is based on Calgary’s Bishop Carroll.

Also key to Recipe of Hate is a period in the history of punk when some of the racist attitudes being embraced in Britain began to infiltrate scenes in smaller cities. Before that, the punk scene, at least in Calgary, “really was the United Nations,” Kinsella says.

“We had Rasta guys, we had skinheads who were into reggae culture, we had gay kids, overweight kids, socialist kids, art students from (Alberta College of Art,)” he says. “Everybody got along. There were no fights. It was wonderful. It was around ’78 and ’79, just after they went to the dark side in Britain with the British movement and the National Front that the skinheads we knew in Calgary, who had previously been these great guys and had black friends, the vast majority of them became neo-Nazis. That’s why the Hot Nasties packed it in. We just got sick of the fights. It was ridiculous.”

Still, Kinsella said he wanted to move the action to Portland for the same reason he wanted to try fiction writing in the first place: to write something unlike anything he had written before.

“I had done Web of Hate on racism on the right; I had done Unholy Alliances about extremism on the left. I had written books about politics. I did a book on punk rock,” Kinsella says. “I had these filaments, these threads that I wanted to stitch together in a single book. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to see if I could do this.”

Recipe of Hate is now in stores.


Media roundup: neo-Nazi rag gets charged for promoting hate

Best part of yesterday: our kids said they’re proud of us.  Second-best part: Andrew brought his months-old son into the office.

But it was a wonderful day, and a long time in coming.  As we said in our press release, we are immensely grateful to Bernie Farber, Richard Warman, Len Rudner, Mark Freiman, Karen Mock, Evan Balgord, Avi Benlolo and our STAMP and Daisy colleagues – as well the legal teams at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre,  B’nai Brith and CIJA.  Those folks did the heavy lifting.

It was a historic day, too: for the first time in Canadian history, charges have been laid for promoting hatred against women.  It’s happened before when the victims were Jews, or gays, or non-whites.  It’s never before happened when the “identifiable group” was women.  Having seen how hard my feminist wife pushed the police on that – as far back as early 2016 – I think she deserves the credit for making a bit of Canadian legal history.  In the Weinstein et al. era, too, it is long overdue.

Now, the hard part begins.  Section 319 requires the approval of the Attorney-General, and is used very infrequently – as it should be.  The state’s criminal law power should be used only sparingly, and only in the most extreme cases.  This is one such case.  The trials are going to be long and tough, however.

Thanks to all of you for the kind words of support.  Thanks, too, to Toronto’s media, who have been diligent and factual on the Your Ward News saga.  Here, for your elucidation, is a roundup of some of the better coverage.

  • Canadaland: The best summary of the myriad legal cases, by Evan, is here.
  • CITY-TV: You know who has been the best at covering this neo-Nazi rag?  CITY.  By far – Cristina in particular, here.
  • CBC: Featuring a fetching photo of Lisa, here.
  • Globe: Patrick White focuses a bit more on the “free speec”(hate propaganda isn’t “speech,” FYI) angle, here.
  • Star: The Star folks have been covering this story diligently from the start, as seen here.
  • Yahoo News: Good report on the various legal actions, here.
  • Global: Solid report, here.
  • Sun: Great Warmington report – one of the first – here. 

 


BREAKING: neo-Nazi rag charged with promoting hate against women and Jews

BREAKING: James Sears and Leroy St. Germaine, the editor and publisher of the racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic rag Your Ward News, have been criminally charged – finally – for promoting hatred against women and Jews.  They were charged just a few minutes ago at 55 Division in our Beach neighbourhood.

Below you will find the press release our group of citizens have issued.  It’s taken a long time – too long – but we are relieved that this day has finally come.

Stay tuned for more details – and thanks to all who have offered their support.

The police just sent me this:

Between March 2015 and June 27, 2017, the Toronto Police Service and other GTA police services received numerous complaints regarding the content and distribution of a publication entitled “Your Ward News.”

These complaints were investigated by the TPS Intelligence Services Hate Crime Unit and the police services of the respective jurisdictions.

It is alleged that:

– two men published and disseminated a number of editions of “Your Ward News” that promoted hatred against members of the Jewish community and women

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, James Nicholas Sears, 54, and Lawrence (Leroy) St. Germaine, 76, both of Toronto, were arrested.

They were each charged with:

1) Wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, namely Jews,
2) Wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, namely women

Toronto Police Service Corporate Communications will be publishing a News Release in relation to the arrests (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/)

Thank you for your patience.

 


The police, the Crown and the AG “have done nothing” about that Nazi rag

Your Ward News, to be precise. And the Toronto Police Service, and the Crown, and the Attorney-General, HAVE DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT THAT FOUL NAZI HATE RAG.

And many, many of us ARE SICK OF WAITING FOR ACTION.

AND WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THIS INTO AN ELECTION ISSUE, MUNICIPALLY AND PROVINCIALLY, IF SOMETHING DOESN’T HAPPEN DAMN SOON.

(Sorry for the all caps, folks, but I am so tired of waiting for these people to do their jobs.)

The CJN story is here:

“Hell just got a little more crowded,” author, lawyer and political consultant Warren Kinsella declared during a panel discussion on confronting Holocaust denial on Nov. 6.

Kinsella was referring to the death earlier this year of the infamous Holocaust denier, Ernst Zundel, who lived in Canada from 1958 to 2000 and founded a publishing house that issued neo-Nazi pamphlets with titles like, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth At Last.

The talk, which was part of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre’s Holocaust Education Week programming, was held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Kinsella, whose 1994 book Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network is considered a seminal work on white supremacy in Canada, argued that the tactic of ignoring Zundel and his kind is dangerous.

“He wouldn’t and he didn’t go away,” Kinsella stressed, “and his foul legacy is still felt in this city and this country today.”

He showed the audience photocopied pages from the Toronto-area publication Your Ward News, which is known for publishing vitriolic content that attacks Jews, Muslims, women and other minority groups.

Kinsella and his wife have launched a private prosecution against the paper’s publisher and editor.

Pointing out pro-Hitler images in the publication, Kinsella said that, “This isn’t from Zundel’s presses. It’s happening right now … and the Toronto Police Service has done nothing about it.”


Column: when going neg goes wrong

Go neg, sure.

But don’t fib.

The Working Families group has a new ad out.  If you live in Ontario, you’ve likely seen it.  If you don’t, you haven’t.  But the ad is worth talking about, because of the issues it raises.

Working Families describes itself as a group that was “created by members of the labour movement with the goal of making voters aware of policies that were threatening the well-being of working families across Ontario.”  It doesn’t like conservatives very much.

Working Families has been around for a while.  Before and during Ontario elections, it ran lots of ads going after the Progressive Conservatives.  Even though I was the guy who ran Dalton McGuinty’s war rooms in 2003, 2007 and 2011, I can tell you that I was never a big fan.

The media assumed, wrongly, that we Ontario Liberals were secretly working with Working Families.  I’d never met the shadowy figures behind Working Families, however. I couldn’t pick them out of a police line-up – which is where most PCs thought they belonged.

Their ads, I thought, were ham-fisted and off-message.  As the Ontario Liberal war room guy, I didn’t need the media always suggesting that we were covertly conspiring with some US-style dirty tricks operation to get around Ontario election law.  But that’s what Working Families ad campaigns did, more than anything else: they made our job harder.

For Ontario Liberals, Working Families new ad campaign is going to create even more trouble.  Among other things, it’s dumb.

It’s only 30 second long, but it packs a lot of bullshit into that half-minute.

Now, it says, correctly, that Donald Trump’s election has caused “suffering.” It says, accurately, that Brexit is causing “chaos.”

But then the spot shows an unflattering photo of Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, over ominous-sounding music.  It says he’s against marriage equality and increasing the minimum wage and working families.  “Now Patrick Brown promises change,” goes the ad.  You know: Donald Trump-style “change.”

So.

Forget about the fact that Brown has lately marched in innumerable pride parades, now loudly favours gay marriage, and wants to see the minimum wage increased, too.  Forget about all that.

The main allegation in the Working Families ad is that Patrick Brown is basically the Great White North version of Donald Trump, the Mango Mussolini.

I’m a big fan of tough campaign ads.  I’ve put together quite a few of them over the years.  I’ve written books about them. When polled, people will always say they don’t like “negative political ads.”

But that, to me, is letting language do our thinking for us.  If you ask any sentient being if something “negative” is “positive,” they’ll obviously say no.  Nobody likes car crashes, either, I like to say.  But they always slow down to take a look, don’t they?

Because the media scrutinize attack ads like no other form of political communication – and because voters don’t want to admit they’ve been motivated by an attack – attack ads must be 100 per cent accurate.  There can’t be anything in them that is factually wrong.  Nothing.

In the 2000 federal Liberal campaign, for example, a colleague and I spent an entire day agonizing over whether the placement of an ellipsis in a quote in an attack ad was going to get us in trouble.  And it did.  The impact of the ad was lost to a ton of process stories.

The campaign crew helping out Kathleen Wynne are the ones who cooked up the federal Grits’ “soldiers in the streets” spots in 2006.  Those ads, more than any other factor, contributed to Stephen Harper’s subsequent victory.  Because they were bullshit.

The Working Families ad is bullshit.  The notion that Patrick Brown – who has voted with the Liberals on every single tolerance/diversity issue in the Legislature – is Donald Trump is, well, crazy.  And anyone making that claim, with a straight face, is either fibbing or stupid.  Or both.

Go neg, for sure.  It isn’t ever wrong to criticize the public record of an opponent seeking high public office.

But don’t lie about it. Because those rotten eggs you want to throw at your opponent?

They’re going to bounce off him, and hit you.

 

 

 


Baby, you’re a rich man

It’s hard to keep track of political revelations in the Trump era, true.  But back in August. you may recall that The New Yorker’s award-winning political writer, Ryan Lizza, published a big story about Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic, white supremacist muse, Steve Bannon:

Bannon has become friends with Gerald Butts, a longtime political adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. They met in New York during the transition and now talk regularly. Bannon sees Butts as a sort of left-wing version of himself. Last year, as the Prime Minister’s popularity was in decline, Trudeau pushed through a tax hike on the rich, and it helped him rebound.

Bannon wants to sell the idea politically by arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood. Bannon is one of the few Republicans in Washington actually to consider what has long been backed up by polling: many working-class voters who support Republicans are in favor of higher taxes on the rich. “There’s nothing better for a populist than a rich guy raising taxes on rich guys,” Butts told Bannon.

PMO never disavowed that story, and Butts didn’t tell The New Yorker’s fact-checkers what Lizza wrote was wrong.  So we can accept it as the truth.

The notion that Gerald would “become friends” with a known white supremacist and anti-Semite actually broke my heart, but that’s a story for another day.  The part that really interested me was that quote:  “There’s nothing better for a populist than a rich guy raising taxes on rich guys.”

Practice what you preach, goes the saying.  So, up here in The Great White North, of course, what Justin Trudeau’s top advisor was telling Donald Trump’s then-top-advisor to do was exactly what the Trudeau Liberals were doing – they were rich guys, raising taxes on other rich guys.

They said they’d do it in their platform, and in their budget, and on the hustings, they reminded us: rich guys were going to be targeted.

The Trudeau guys are not noted for their subtlety.  If they could get away with printing a budget on a pair of Star Wars socks, they’d do it, and then they’d put it up on Instagram.  So, to ensure we didn’t miss the arc of their narrative, Trudeau dressed up as Superman for Halloween, and Bill Morneau actually likened himself to Batman.  They were the millionaire superheroes, you see, saving the middle class from millionaires less philanthropic than them.

But the details got in the way, as they always do.  Morneau’s tax changes unfairly targeted small business, not big businesses like his.  Revenue Canada said it would start going after waitresses for their tips, and retail clerks for the clothes on their backs.  And then the whole thing ended in farce, with a secret French villa, set up to avoid the reach of tax collectors back here in the colonies.

The Conservatives, being led by a remarkably unremarkable fellow who also plays footsie with white supremacists and anti-Semites, shouldn’t be benefitting from all this.  He’s a dud, a nobody who has done nothing.  But, according to not a few pollsters, now, he’s competitive.  A Forum poll, this morning, says he’s been ahead of Justin Trudeau for months – right around the time that Bill Morneau started advocating against millionaires like him.

Voters will forgive lots of stuff.  But, to them, no sin is greater than hypocrisy.  As that pedophilic Republican Roy Moore is discovering the hard way, your personal life better reflect your public life, or else. Voters hate hypocrites.

That’s why Messrs. Trudeau and Morneau are in some trouble: they are rich guys who said they’d go after other rich guys.  But they went after the little guys instead.

There are a lot more votes on Main Street than Bay Street, as the smart progressive populists – Bill Clinton, Jean Chretien, Barack Obama – knew.  They always took care to be seen in Harvey’s and McDonald’s, and not the Ritz.

The Trudeau government is in some trouble.  It’s true.  And they’re in trouble not because they’re rich guys.  Politics is full of rich guys.

They’re in trouble because they didn’t, you know, hide it very well. And they’re in trouble because they said they’d do one thing – to Steve Bannon, no less! – and then they did precisely the opposite.

Can they recover? Sure.  But they need to smarten up.