Adler-Kinsella Show: in which I defend Trudeau on personkind, and on all kinds of pipelines

Every Thursday, I have a radio-via-phone encounter with my great friend Charles Adler.  This week, the encounter took place by luggage rack two at Calgary’s Airport (said airport having received more snow than the North Pole before we started wrecking the planet).

I valiantly defended the Prime Minister on personkind-gatewhich shows no signs of abating, and may be getting worse – because I actually believe him when he said he was trying to make a dumb joke that fell flat.  But you only get so many of those “it’s just a joke” mulligans in this business.

I defended him on the growing Alberta-B.C. spat, too.  I said to him what I have heard from so many partisan Conservatives and Liberals here in Alberta: they admire Rachley Notley’s intelligence and guts.  She may still lose to Jason Kenney, but there’s a lot of admiration for her here – particularly for how she’s taking on the nation-wrecker Horgan.

Anyway, here it is.  Me, I’m now off to many hours of lectures at the Faculty of Law!

Is Ms. Mulroney a lawyer? (With shocking update! And important question!)

She has said in multiple interviews that she is.

Fine.  But then there’s this:

She practiced 13 months, apparently, then stopped.

I know that if you don’t pay your fees in Ontario, where I am called, you can get suspended.  Other provinces are mostly the same.

But can you still call yourself a “lawyer” if you aren’t paying the relevant regulatory body the fees when every other lawyer does?

Comments are welcome.

P.S. “Lawyer” or no, being called to the New York State bar is really, really hard, by the by.

SHOCKER UPDATE: She’s been re-instated! Her people saw it coming!  New spin:  SHE’S BEEN SECRETLY RUNNING FOR THE LEADERSHIP FOR TWO YEARS!

OH AND THIS QUERY: Why would she quietly re-instate as a New York State lawyer in THE SAME WEEK she became the PC candidate in Ontario?

#MeToo: Kristin’s story

[Ed. note:  just over two weeks ago, a brave young woman named Kristin told her #MeToo story.  It was national news, and culminated in the resignation of a federal cabinet minister.  But Kristin’s story doesn’t end there.  Today, we are offering her this space for to tell her story, in her words.  Please read it. WK]

Two weeks ago I waded into the national #metoo debate.

Before I talk about my experience, I want to highlight the inherent privileges that accompanied me and allowed me a platform to be heard in the first place.

I grew up in a middle class family. My grandfather worked in politics, my mom worked in politics, my brother worked in politics and I worked in politics.

I have friendships and connections across the political spectrum and with that comes media connections.

My initial tweet went viral mainly due to the support of Warren Kinsella. A high profile journalist and former Liberal party strategist, and a very vocal supporter of #metoo.

Those are not privileges afforded to the majority of Canadians fighting to have their voices heard and fighting to shed light on their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.

The #metoo movement needs to continue to be inclusive of the LGBTQ2S and Indigenous communities, inclusive of people of colour, inclusive of those struggling with poverty, addictions or mental health struggles. This movement needs to reflect all of our lived experiences, not just those with the privilege I took for granted when I spoke out.

When I sent out my tweets I did so with the hope that it would contribute to a much-needed debate on sexual harassment and assault in Canadian politics. Instead of contributing to a story, I became the story and it was not a position I was at all prepared for, or comfortable with.

Often when people come forward, the first critique lobbed at them is that we are coming forward for attention. This was a constant theme of the abuse I endured online. What I can only assume is that people making these comments have no idea what that “attention” actually looks or feels like.

I walked into work the day after posting my Tweet having no idea what was about to happen.

My work phone and email blew up with messages from reporters. My Twitter messages were either media requests or people telling me I was an awful human being. Within an hour of getting to work I had to leave because I couldn’t take it. It felt as if all my safe spaces were gone. I walked to a friend’s office and burst into tears.

On my way home, my dad called me to tell me reporters were calling his house asking for my contact information. Initially having no idea what was going on, he gave it to them. Thankfully, he is also 75 and depends on a never-updated list of important numbers so he gave them the wrong one.

The impact of my twitter disclosure on my family goes well beyond calls to family members. What I didn’t realize is that in the absence of any other picture, that media would use my Twitter profile picture and screen cap my tweets. My picture featured my four-year-old niece. Not one media outlet even attempted to blur or cut out her image. I made a choice to speak out, but my niece didn’t ask to have her picture plastered everywhere.

The vitriol on Twitter is something I only ever witnessed in passing before. The day the story broke, a woman I consider a mentor and certainly a seasoned vet of Twitter awfulness told me to stay off for a few days. I didn’t listen. I still checked. In the days that followed I received messages that were beyond awful and hateful on Twitter and on Facebook. The argument can be, and has been made, that I should have expected it. But I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for a random stranger telling you that they hope you get killed.

One of the biggest weights I feel as a result of all of the media attention around the threats I received is a great sense of responsibility not just to this issue, but most importantly to the survivors. I’ve advocated for survivors of sexual violence for a long time, and I would never want to be the catalyst that pushes more survivors into silence. That’s why I’m writing this post. Because as scared as I feel to put myself back out there, I know there are many people who need to believe that speaking up is worth it.

I’ve wavered back and forth about this core belief. I sat in my best friend’s parents basement, hysterical, just repeating again and again that I just wanted the abuse to stop. I also finally gained the strength to check my messages and to find my inbox overflowing with messages from others who felt empowered to speak out because I did.

To paraphrase Bruce Cockburn, “sometimes you have to kick at the darkness to begin to bled daylight.” A light needed and still needs to be be shed on the pervasive abuse of power that exists in the politics of our country – politics at every level and in each party.

Every voice that feels empowered to contribute to this movement makes a difference. This movement stands on the shoulders of decades of people who were disbelieved, silenced, and had their careers sidelined. People who could only have dreamed of a time where instead of diminishing our voices, we see those voices finally being championed and believed.

Remember – as you decide for yourself, when and if you want to share your experiences – that together we are paving the way for the future generation, and demanding that things be different for them.

You matter. Your experience matters and I can promise you one thing: it might not feel worth it today, tomorrow, next week or next year, but in every way we choose to use our voices it is worth it.

To paraphrase an Alberta political commentator: let’s burn it to the ground and work together to rebuild a system worthy of all of us.


Vice is right

That little fellow at Vice who got mad at me a long time ago – I criticized him for thinking that the torture and murder of Luka Magnotta’s victim was funny, and he never forgot it – is still mad at me.  This upsets me a great deal, as you can well imagine.  Sorry, Justin.

As a public service, then, I offer the following links about the place where he worked for so long (and, I stress, there are some really good folks there – including a couple who have told me Justin was a workplace monster, and who have taken concrete and positive steps to clean the place up in the new era).  It’s revealing and informative about Justin Ling-era Vice (although he’s now working out of the Globe’s offices in Toronto).

This little guy who was at Vice apparently thinks #MeToo – and guys like me, I guess, who support it – are a joke.

Except we’re not the joke, Justin.  You are, for working alongside a gang of pigs and criminals for years, and saying precious little.

And still taking their paycheques.

Ten language commandments or compersonments: take your pick

So, about the little exchange captured below. Was it a dumb thing to say?  Yes.  Will conservatives treat it like a war crime for months to come, which is also dumb?  Yes.  Naturally.

So, ten things.

  1. Language changes all the time. 
  2. Language changes because society changes.
  3. Language evolves as people evolve.
  4. Language changes because no two people experience stuff the same way.
  5. We changed the anthem last week to make it gender-neutral.  No one died.
  6. But: society shouldn’t have changes in the lingo dictated to them by the powerful. Ask indigenous people about that.
  7. And: changes to the language shouldn’t be passed along in a patronizing, condescending way. And: MEN, STOP INTERRUPTING WOMEN!
  8. Also: don’t let language do your thinking for you.  Ever, ever.
  9. N.B.: imposing arbitrary language changes tends to divide people, not unite them.
  10. His noster maximus anxietas, et bene facis. Which (I think) is Latin for: “If this is all we have to worry about, we’re doing okay.”



Ten reasons why everyone should take Doug Ford seriously

When I quit the Olivia Chow mayoral campaign – because she’d not told the truth to the media, among other things – guess who was the first person to call me down in the States?

Doug Ford.

“Warren, old buddy,” he said.  “We’ve had our differences, but I want you to chin up.  Rob and I like you and respect you.  Let’s get together when you get home.”

When you’re a political chew toy, you tend to remember calls like that one: you remember who called, and who didn’t.  So, we stayed in touch after that.  We did TV political panels together, and we talked pretty regularly. I told him he shouldn’t run for mayor again, because John Tory was doing a great job, and John would cream him.  He should run instead to be Premier, I told  him.

There’s clearly a market these days for populist conservatives who defy the conventional wisdom, and say what they think, I told him.  And there were lots of reasons why he’d be a formidable PC leadership candidate.

Here’s ten.

  1. Doug’s working hard:  Every plugged-in PC is telling me the same thing: “Doug’s working the phones.  Doug’s reaching out.  Doug’s doing all the right things.”  He’s doing what a candidate has to do, in a race as short as this one: he’s working his tail off.
  2. Doug’s disciplined: I think his musings about scrapping a carbon tax are a mistake  – we need it (as a province) and his party needs it (because it finances their entire platform).  But apart from that, he hasn’t blown any feet off, and he’s saying the kind of stuff card-carrying Conservatives love.
  3. Doug has early support: Planning a rally this early in a campaign is a big risk: it takes a lot of time and hard work to get hundreds of people to come out to one of your events.  Well, Doug got out thousands out for a Toronto rally last week, and in a very short time frame, too.  It gave him momentum, and the visuals were pretty stunning – not everyone there was an old white guy.  At all.
  4. Doug’s evolved:  A few weeks ago, I watched TVO’s fun Political Blind Date show, because Doug and Jagmeet Singh were on, and because I like both of them.  Jagmeet was engaging, warm and likeable, as you’d expect.  But so was Doug – big time.  I was shocked at how he had evolved as a politician.  Gone is the shouty city councillor, always being forced to defend his brother’s bad behaviour.  In its place was a HOAG – a Hell Of A Guy.
  5. Doug’s better at retail:  The TVO show also revealed something else.  You could tell that the participants in the broadcast – the Dippers who agreed to the match-up, and perhaps the TVO producers who came up with the idea – expected Doug to be what he had always been: a bit of circus act, a trained bear riding a tiny bike in the centre ring.  Someone to be laughed at.  Well, guess what?  He was way better in the mano-a-mano segments than Jagmeet was. Way.
  6. Doug has a USP: A Unique Selling Proposition, that is.  It’s easy to see how to some disengaged voters – that is, 99 per cent of voters – would see Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott as all kind of the same thing.  You know: female, centrist, careful, establishment.  Doug is none of those.  He offers the only clear alternative, for the voters who are after one.  (Voters are always after one.)
  7. Doug gives quote: The guy is a quote machine.  The microphone loves him.  He never uses a 20-dollar word when a two-dollar word would suffice.  He never uses jargon and acronyms and Newspeak.  He talks about values.  He knows facts tell – but stories sell.  Doug Ford is a one-man media machine.
  8. Doug dominates vote-rich GTA:  An important Mainstream poll – little-noticed in last week’s madness – apparently showed that only one PC leadership candidate was very strong in the part of the province that decides who gets to be government: Toronto.  In 416/905, he dominates.  That matters.  Remember: his brother crushed George Smitherman, and Doug came within 60,000 votes in his mayoral run.  Ford Nation knows how to win in GTA.
  9. Doug ain’t dumb:  I worked for a populist-type politician who everyone – from the Martinites to the media – always dismissed.  They always put him down.  They always said he was dumb, when he was way (way) smarter than all of them.  Doug Ford, so far, is running a very smart campaign.  If he can keep his mouth under control, he’s got a real shot at winning.
  10. Doug is reaching out:  He did with me.  And I know he’s reaching out to many others who have criticized him in the past: “The door is open,” he’s telling them.  “Just walk through it.” In a leadership race – and in an election – it’s all about connection.  Doug is connecting.  He’s reaching out.

Can Doug Ford win?  Damn right he can.  Underestimate him at your peril.

“I find you so pretty” – senior PMO director to young woman looking for a job

This is wild.  Wild.

Look at the message Myriam Denis, an experienced and bilingual communicator with a Liberal pedigree, got from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Deputy Director of Operations:

“I find you very pretty,” he says.  One of the most senior unelected officials in the federal government, sending messages like that, not even bothering to hide his identity.

That’s not all: Ms. Denis – who I have never met – was being hit on by a guy who worked for Bardash Chagger, presently the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.  That guy, an advisor to Chagger, allegedly put his hand on Ms. Denis’ thigh when they met to discuss a job opening.  She says he told her she had “a nice bikini body.”

After all this outrageous behaviour by two senior men in the Trudeau government – two men who, coincidentally, had both worked for Melanie Joly – Myriam Denis did not get the job.  She did, however, complain to Chagger’s Chief of Staff, a woman (thankfully).  The chief of Staff took her complaint seriously, it seems.

But get this: right after Ms. Denis wrote briefly on Facebook briefly about getting hit on by a senior Trudeau operative, she heard from another Trudeau guy.  He told her that he “handles [human relations] in the Prime Minister’s office.”  That’s a quote.

Except he didn’t.  The Claude-Eric Gagné investigation was being handled by an outside, arms-length law firm.  Not someone who worked within PMO.  (Oh, and the guy’s title was “Director of Administration and Special Projects.”  Not HR.)  So: one of Gagné’s fellow directors at PMO seemed to be falsely claiming to be “handling” sexual harassment cases like Ms. Denis’.

Was he truly contacting her to help? Or was it just to cover it all up?

She is the victim, here, and should have the final word, and you should read every word:

This is wrong on so many levels. Even if he was truly the HR person in the PMO, it would be extremely inappropriate for him to be contacting potential victims when there was an ongoing examination by a third-party investigator.

Until the moment I received the Facebook message from Brett Thalmann, I was willing to believe that Vidah and Gagné were just two cases of “bad apples” within a big organization. I am not so sure anymore. This third strange experience makes me think that it might be more than a few isolated incidents of reprehensible behaviours.

I feel a lot of sadness and empathy for the women who are currently working [in Justin Trudeau’s PMO].