Look, lots of us agree on his position on reproductive freedom. We were taking that position long before Justin Trudeau was, in fact.
But calling your opponents names – to wit, “old men” – is dumb. Makes him look defensive and callow.
Oh, and it probably won’t help him much with the many, many folks who are older than him. Many of whom, last time I checked, vote often and early.
To establish my bona fides, let me say that the most beautiful place on Earth is Oban, on your Western coast. I travelled there with a girl some years ago and promptly forgot about the girl, and thereupon became fully preoccupied with moving to Scotland, hanging out in a pub and writing poetry. I didn’t do any of that, but Oban still calls me.
My bona fides thus established, let me say that I hope you did not vote to separate. Without you, Scotland, the United Kingdom will be neither: not united, and not a kingdom. It will be something else entirely.
What, then? What will Scotland become? What will happen to its people, and the people to the South, with whom you have been brothers and sisters for 300 years?
As a Canadian who loves Scotland in his bones, I can only tell you about our own experience with nationalism. Sadly, we Canadians have had too much of it. We defeated it in 1980, and in 1995, but it will come back again, like a persistent stain in the living room rug. It always does.
On that last occasion, in 1995, I was a Chief of Staff in the federal government. I worked in Hull, Quebec, but lived in Ottawa, Ontario. I and other political staff had been ordered to stay out of the referendum battle then underway, so – reluctantly – we did.
In the referendum’s dying days, a cabinet minister summoned all of his deputy ministers to a room. I was invited. It looked entirely possible that the separatists were going to win, and that Canada would break up, and the minister was deeply troubled.
I did not take notes. But I recall, as if it were today, that the minister wanted to know what would happen if the Quebec nationalists won. One of his deputies, a good man, stood up. He peered down at his notes.
He had been talking to many of his equivalents in Quebec’s government, he said. He had some things to report.
“In the event of a yes,” he said, “they intend to deposit truckloads of gravel at roads leading into Quebec, to establish de facto border crossings. They also plan to padlock all federal buildings in Quebec, and say that their taxes paid for those buildings.”
He continued: “There are a large number of francophones in the Armed Forces. They believe those men and women will pledge allegiance to a separate Quebec. Finally, they intend to immediately go to the Supreme Court of Canada, to seek a declaration that Canada no longer exists, and create constitutional paralysis.”
“Chaos,” said the Minister. A few of the deputies were crying, by now.
“Yes, Minister, chaos,” said the deputy, looking up from his notes. “They win, ultimately, by creating enough chaos – economic, constitutional, legal, social – that we will be persuaded to focus on our own many problems, and let them go.”
As a strategy, it wasn’t a bad one. After a decade or two of economic calamity, it would have probably worked, too.
Here is the message one Canadian, with a deep affection for Oban, has to pass along, Scotland: when you let loose the dogs of anarchy, there is no telling who they will bite. There is no way to predict the way things will go.
Take a look around the world, if a single Canadian example doesn’t suffice. Virtually every war or armed conflict does not have its origin in religion. The origins of most wars can be traced to the desire of one group of people to live separately from another – or one group of people seeking to impose their will on a separate group of people.
Scotland, if it is separation you seek, you will have it.
But, by God, you shall have chaos without end, too.
…and some discussion of Brian Gallant’s “re-do” mess.
All of us here say: get well soon.
Now, I don’t know if Rob Ford has cancer. But, based on the stories that are emerging, based upon what political people are hearing, few will be surprised if the Mayor’s doctors reveal – later today – that his tumours are cancerous.
So, if you are in the middle of an election campaign, how do you handle that kind of news? Here’s how Doug Ford says Olivia Chow handled it:
“We appreciate it so much,” he said, adding the mayor is aware many people are praying for him.
One of the biggest supporters behind the scenes, said Doug, is mayoral candidate Olivia Chow, who has been “amazing.” Mayor Ford, said Doug, thinks highly of her.
“She has been so kind,” said Doug. “She is a great lady.”
Chow told me that she and her late husband, Jack Layton, always had great affection for the mayor — perhaps not in political philosophy but in approach and personality.
“I will never forget when Jack died, Rob cried like a baby. He was really hurting about it,” Chow said. “I also appreciated all of his work behind the scenes on the memorial for Jack. Rob told me at that time, anything we needed, he would do.”
She said he came through on it.
Chow said she is hopeful the mayor can make it through this rough patch and get well.”
John Tory, meanwhile, has taken a different approach. He has decided to attack someone who is in a hospital bed, and who he knows – he knows! – is facing a serious cancer diagnosis. As he did with Jean Chretien’s disability, Tory hasn’t hesitated to attack someone when they’re down.
Knowing John Tory a little bit, I know that he isn’t the nice guy he professes to be. He is, instead, an old-fashioned politician who is prepared to go low – really low – to win. He is prepared to attack a man who, by some accounts, is fighting cancer.
Anyone who has read this web site, over the past 14 years or so, knows my cardinal rules:
- Don’t attack an opponent’s family.
- Don’t attack the way an opponent looks.
- Don’t attack an opponent’s personal life.
- Don’t attack someone who is sick or disabled.
John Tory has – more than once – attacked an opponent who is sick or disabled. For that, alone, he does not deserve your vote.
Oh, and this: I fully expect Doug Ford to remind fair-minded folks, over and over, about what John Tory has done.
John Tory may not like the results.
Dunno if Brian Gallant is a goner, but he sure as Hell made his life more complicated – and with just four days to go.