Just go, Judy Sgro

Blatchford slices and dices her, and appropriately so, here.

As a woman of colour, the former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, said on Twitter, “The problem is, Judy, that you did not treat the #blackface issue with seriousness or sensitivity.

“You got your ass handed to you and then decided to put out a statement.”

Amen.

The ever-more-loved Trudeau, as of writing this Wednesday, has made no comment on either Sgro’s goofy statement or her apology. He can hardly condemn her for her benevolent read on what he did, and what he so easily forgave in himself.

Sgro is in the right party, at least. She and Trudeau seem immune from shame, when they should be suffused with it.


The rumours about Justin Trudeau

Rumours. It’s more than a Fleetwood Mac album.

Rumours about Justin Trudeau have littered Canadian newsrooms like confetti since the start of this election. Rumours about Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

As we now know, some of the rumours about the Liberal leader turned out to be true.

So, in 2014, this writer was told there were affidavits detailing inappropriate conduct between Trudeau and various young people. I simply did not believe it, but I raised the allegation directly with Trudeau’s most-senior adviser.

To my surprise, he acknowledged the allegations had been made in affidavits, but said that Trudeau’s insular inner circle were not worried. They had rebutting affidavits of their own to respond.

Subsequently, a female parliamentarian sent me an editorial written by a B.C. reporter in which she alleged that Trudeau had groped her, quote unquote, at a beer festival. While Trudeau said he did not act inappropriately, he apologized, saying “people can experience interactions differently.”

In 2016 and again in 2017, this writer was told by a senior Liberal that photos existed of Trudeau wearing blackface, dating back to his time as a teacher at a private school in Vancouver. The Liberal war room knew about the photos, he said.

Efforts to find any proof, however, were unsuccessful. It did not occur to us to simply check the private school’s year books. I — and others, as it turned out — did not believe Trudeau could be that stupid. To pose for photographers wearing blackface.

But it was true: At the age of 29, while a teacher and in a position of responsibility with children, Trudeau had indeed partied in racist blackface. Turned out he had done it several times, too.

Did the blackface rumour — now the blackface fact — mean that Trudeau was a racist? In no time, several non-white Liberal MPs hustled to microphones to say that, sure, the blackface incidents had happened. But Trudeau wasn’t a closeted drawing-room bigot, they insisted.

And then Omer Aziz, a former Trudeau government aide, authored a scalding op-ed in the Globe and Mail. He wrote about Trudeau and his inner circle, and their attitudes towards minorities: “Condescending attitudes were regularly revealed. Minorities were undermined, ghettoized. The casual disregard of the privileged was systemic. I felt like I could not breathe.” Aziz quit.

Those are just some of the rumours. Some turned out to be true, others are just false, or without a shred of proof. One is presently making the rounds on a fake-news website that has fooled many in the past, this writer included. It should not be taken seriously, in any way.

But those of us privileged to hold positions in the news media, whether we admire Trudeau or not, have an obligation to investigate and report. When the subject-matter is the prime minister of Canada — a man who has repeatedly held himself out as a feminist and anti-racist and a family man — we in the media owe our readers and our listeners the truth.

On a segment on a Toronto radio program this week, and in an opinion piece on Canadaland, this writer was criticized for wondering, in a single tweet, why a Globe and Mail reporter asked Trudeau about why he abruptly left the aforementioned Vancouver private school. My answer: Because it is relevant. Because it is newsworthy. Because it is important.

When the media start acting as an extension of any political party’s war room — when we proactively self-censor — we do our readers and listeners a grave disservice. We work for them, after all.

Rumours may be just rumours. But with Justin Trudeau, as we have seen, oftentimes the rumours turn out to be the truth.


Singh, gold. Scheer, silver. May, bronze. Mr. Grecian Formula: did not qualify.

I was on Newstalk 1010 late last night for the debate. Here’s some of the commentary as it happened. And, below, are some of my tweets, gratis!


My latest: debate? What debate?

Here’s the thing about Monday’s leader’s debate, Canada.

You won’t be watching it.

Well, let’s amend that. Sun readers are a scrappy, elbows-up lot, who dig politics and a good scrap. Sun readers are likelier to be watching the debate. They like debates.

But most everyone else? They won’t be.

Everyone else will be watching Shark Tank (which this election kind of is) or Wheel of Fortune (which this election isn’t). Or, they’ll be binge-watching old episodes of Arrested Development (which neatly describes most of our federal political leaders).

Increasingly, voters simply don’t watch leader’s debates in Canada. For example, Maclean’s magazine put together a debate in 2015, but it had fewer than 40% of the viewers who took in the 2011 English-language debate. And Maclean’s actually counted people who only watched part of that debate, not all of it.

Master Chef got way more viewers.

Last time around, there was a Globe and Mail debate, too, and it was absolutely awful to watch. YouTube later found only about 400,000 Canadians did so. That’s in a country, in 2015, with 36 million people in it. Ipsos later did a poll and found only about 20% of Canadians watched the first couple debates in 2015.

There’s been one debate in 2019 that Justin Trudeau has deigned to attend. It was entirely in French.

Around 1.2 million Quebecers allegedly took in the TVA leader’s debate, in which Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and the separatist leader, Yves-Francois Blanchet, also participated. In a province with more than six million eligible voters, 1.2 million viewers isn’t anything to brag about, although TVA did.

Oh, and in English Canada — in English — nobody got to watch the French debate when it was happening. Because it was entirely in French. To get a sense of what happened, the vast majority of Canadians needed to check out the media after the fact (Widely-held consensus: the separatist guy won, hands down).

As someone who owns a public opinion firm — Daisy Data, at your service! — I can relate one empirical statistical fact: a dwindling number of voters watch debates from gavel to gavel. They may in take part of a debate, sure. But not all of it.

What voters do, instead, is watch the news media’s coverage of a debate. They’ll see a clip of a fiery exchange on TV, or they’ll hear a so-called defining moment on the radio heading into work, or they’ll read expert commentary in the pages of the Sun and hopefully nowhere else.

But they don’t watch all of the debate.

I’ve prepared prime ministers and premiers for debates, and I now know I did it all wrong. I assumed, as did my debate-prep colleagues, that everyone else watched the debates as closely as we did. That was a flawed assumption.

It also explains how Justin Trudeau was seen as a winner in the 2015 debates, even against two superior debaters — Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Trudeau’s strategy in 2015 was a lot like what he did in his celebrated boxing match with Patrick Brazeau: he waited in his corner for an opening, then he’d go in with a flurry of punches.

He didn’t try to dominate all of the matches — he just did what he needed to do to get clipped on TV, then he’d sprinkle the results all over social media.

It worked, because he knew that Canadians were more likely to see clips of a debate than all of a debate.

That’s what he’s going to do on Monday night, too. In an era of shrinking debate audiences, it works. Will the other leaders let him get away with it in 2019 like they did in 2015? Tune in and see.

Or, join everyone else, and go watch Shark Tank.

— Sun columnist Warren Kinsella will be providing debate commentary on Bell Media radio on Monday night