“Zero tolerance”

In the Trudeau era, it means there’s literally zero you won’t tolerate.

My latest: 2020 sucks

It’s more like an ordeal, than a year. That has been 2020. 

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens famously declared that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 

But you can’t really say that about these times. They are the worst in living memory. There is no glorious revolution to celebrate, as Dickens did. 

The three horsemen of the current apocalypse are well-known: the coronavirus, the collapse of the world economy, and the lethal racism that seemingly permeates too many institutions. It is not an exaggeration to say that these three things have reordered our present view of the world. 

Indeed, against those three things – Covid-19, global recession and widespread systemic racism – many have been measured. Many have been judged. 

Many have been found lacking. 

So, Donald Trump will lose in November because he has failed the test of all three. He called the coronavirus “a hoax.” He repeatedly promised an economic rebirth that never came. And – because, he is in his essence a white supremacist – he badly miscalculated how to respond to the historic rebellion against police racism and brutality. His response: threaten to send in American troops to confront the American people.

But others are in the process of being judged, too.  And not just in the United States. 

In the middle of an unprecedented global uprising against racism, Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole issued an unambiguous dog-whistle, proclaiming he wanted to “take Canada back.” From whom, he didn’t say. He didn’t have to: his is, and was, the party of the barbaric practices hotline. 

Justin Trudeau was caught wearing racist blackface, and was so completely lacking in self-awareness – so incapable of shame – he later turned a Black Lives Matter protest into the backdrop for a photo op. Plunging into a crowd on Parliament Hill when, just the days before, he had exhorted us all to keep away from crowds. 

The RCMP, once our proud national police force – once even a symbol of the country itself – is being judged, too. As the Mounties’ leadership plays semantic games about what “systemic racism” means, its membership shoot an Indigenous woman to death during “a wellness check.” They gun down an Indigenous man in a New Brunswick street – why, we do not know. And they brutalize and beat another Indigenous man – a respected chief in Alberta – in a parking lot. All this, from a police force whose Commissioner told the Globe and Mail “we don’t have systemic racism,” before reversing herself.

Many media have done a commendable job documenting all of these serial failures by those who are supposed to know better. In the grinding, grueling Spring of 2020, our media have mostly served us well. 

Not CBC, however.

CBC recently decided to destroy the career of Wendy Mesley, a Gemini-winning journalist who has worked at the national broadcaster for 40 years.  Her offence? To express concern about a possible panelist who might use the N-word. 

Mesley did not say the word on air.  She was in a private meeting with CBC staff, discussing the suitability of the guest who might say it.  She expressed disapproval.

That didn’t matter to the craven, dissembling cowards who run the CBC.  They summarily cancelled the remaining episodes of Mesley’s show, and suspended the award-winning journalist.  Mesley had apologized, quickly and unambiguously.  Veteran CBC journalists like Neil MacDonald and Bruce Dowbiggin had come to her defence. But the CBC’s “leadership” was undeterred.  Mesley was gone, and few expect her to come back.

This would be the same CBC, of course, who once gave a platform to the founder of the American Nazi Party to spew white supremacy and anti-Semitic bile on-air.  The same CBC who brought robed Klansmen onto a show to advocate separation of the races.  The same CBC who hosted Anne Coulter, who calls non-white immigration “genocide.”

The same CBC which, not long ago, gave an uncritical platform to Gavin McInnes, the founder of the white supremacist Proud Boys.  While the clueless CBC host did precisely nothing, McInnes advocated “issuing a bounty” on Indigenous people.  McInnes – who had previously written “Ten Things I Hate About Jews” for Rebel Media, and called Muslims “sandbox savages” – was permitted by CBC to spew racist invective without opposition, without context.

The CBC, in its scramble to look tolerant, now looks like something else entirely: a farce.

We live in profoundly troubled times.  We are at risk of losing much to a troika of grim threats – coronavirus, recession, systemic racism. We need leadership.

Too often, this year, we’re not getting it.



Because it’s 2020

On sexual assault, and sexual harassment, Justin Trudeau is not to be believed. He just isn’t.

But will some self-described Liberal “feminists” go on TV and defend it? You know they will.

Member of Parliament Marwan Tabbara — who is expected to appear in court today to face assault and criminal harassment charges — was approved to run for the Liberals in the 2019 federal election despite a party investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him during his last mandate, CBC News has learned.

The Liberals looked into detailed allegations of misconduct made against the Kitchener South-Hespeler MP that included inappropriate touching and unwelcome sexual comments directed at a female staffer, according to sources with knowledge of the allegations. The allegations date back to the 2015 election campaign, the source said.

The sources who spoke to CBC News requested anonymity, citing the risk of being blacklisted within Liberal circles and it negatively impacting their careers.

CBC News has confirmed the party’s internal investigation determined that some of the allegations were substantiated, but has not been able to learn whether Tabbara faced any consequences.

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct in the workplace, the party approved Tabbara as a Liberal candidate last year.

Kent Hehr speaks

When you read this important essay, keep in mind that Kristin Rayworth was obliged to apologize to me, retract, pay my legal fees, and make a donation to Equal Voice on my behalf.

That says plenty. So does Mr. Hehr.

More than two years have passed since I faced the #MeToo accusations that led to me resigning from Cabinet. While it has been a whirlwind, I have taken pause every day since to reflect not just on the accusations, but how I have lived my life.

This came into sharp focus a month ago when the woman who accused me of sexual harassment in 2018 apologized for making libellous statements about Canadian public figure Warren Kinsella. She falsely claimed that he had abused women and hit his wife, and was forced to retract these statements. Kinsella wrote an article that provided some context for all of this, and you can read it in the link below. Here’s how he closed it: “… to Kent Hehr, wherever you are: I now wonder whether you deserved better. I wonder that a lot.”


When I read this, my mind immediately went to the classic Clint Eastwood film, Unforgiven. My favourite scene is when Eastwood’s character, an aging outlaw killer, stands above the corrupt sheriff who pleads, “I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” Eastwood’s character replies, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

I stand by what I wrote to Canadians in the spring of 2018. The same woman who accused Kinsella alleged, when I was an MLA twelve years ago and she worked at the legislature, that I had called her “yummy” in an elevator. I did not, and do not, recall ever meeting her. I certainly don’t recall ever saying “yummy” to her (or to anyone, for that matter).

In response to this accusation I wrote, “I have never been perfect but have always strived to do better,” and this remains true today. The important question for me is whether I could become a better person from the #MeToo movement. The answer has proven to be yes.

I used to think that I could call myself a feminist simply because I was a progressive. I thought it was enough that I believed in equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to choose, and national daycare. I thought it was enough that I ran in elections under the Liberal banner, as a champion of women’s liberation and gender equality.

But it was not enough, not even close.

I have learned that it matters not just who you affiliate with, but how you speak and listen. Being a progressive is a choice each and every day, to fight for certain values as well as to live by them. It meant looking at my own behaviour and language. It means humility by consistently choosing to be humble. It means renouncing attitudes once taken for granted.

The truth is: I have acted inappropriately at times in my life—sometimes inadvertently, sometimes by choice. I grew up playing hockey, and if there was ever a place for toxic masculinity to fester it was in the dressing room. Everything centred around sex; it was far from healthy or respectful, and I willingly took part. I spent more than my fair share of time sitting around a pub table where improper conversations about women were commonplace.

I didn’t see, or try to see, the inherent harm in what I thought was harmless banter. This was wrong. Even as an elected politician, I could revel in a bad joke with friends, colleagues and my own staff. I realize now more than ever that this was also wrong. I take personal responsibility, and what I stated in 2018 doesn’t just stand: it takes on new meaning for me every day.

Here’s another quote I love from Unforgiven. The Schofield Kid says, “Yeah…well, I guess they had it comin’.” Eastwood’s character replies, “We all have it comin’, kid.” I agree: sometimes we do have it coming, whether we deserve it or not.

At 50, there are more days behind me than ahead. I’ve learned during my time rolling this earth that, while “deserve” may have nothing to do with it, forgiveness does. I hope to be forgiven and I want to forgive others as well.