When politicians and cops trample on people’s rights

This appearance by the OPP’s commissioner before a committee of the Legislature this morning was extraordinary.  It will also ensure no one is ever charged over this deleted emails horseshit.

1.  The constitutional rights of whomever was facing scrutiny have been trampled.  The top cop and the Opposition speculating, in public, about jail time and charges? This thing is over. In the unlikely event anyone is ever charged, they’ll argue section 7, 11 and have the thing tossed in about five minutes.

2.  There is no offence, here.  Mischief? Seriously? The only reason the publicity-hound heading the OPP would mention that section of the Criminal Code is because he knows it is not a crime in Ontario to delete emails.  And mischief?  To meet the requirements of the relevant section of the Code, there has to be destruction of data, arguably done here.  But it also has to have been “willful.”  And that requires a high degree of mens rea – that is, a malicious intent. Here, there was no law.  And I wouldn’t consider this practice – the widespread, routine and regularized deletion of emails – to be in any way malicious. To wit, got a paper shredder in your executive offices, Commish? Of course you do.  Gonna charge yourself with mischief? I’d like to.

3. The OPP has been acting like Gomery Redux.  For months, the OPP has been leaking like a sieve about this “investigation” to a cop reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, who has been dutifully writing reports that equate the routine deletion of emails with, say, murder.  In the (again) unlikely event this crap ever goes before a judge, the accused’s lawyers will have a dozen examples of how the OPP – like Gomery – showed a reasonable apprehension of bias in their dealings with the press.  It’ll get tossed.

Again, this entire thing is a frigging joke.  No one will ever be charged, because nothing wrong was ever done.

I have half a mind to make a complaint to the OIPRD.  I think I just might, too.

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Canada’s bad week in the Ukraine

I see.

You know, Trudeau (rightly) apologized for making a bad joke about a situation in which Ukrainian citizens have been killed.

But will Harper and his cabal (promptly) apologize for trying to take political advantage of a situation in which Ukrainian citizens have been killed?

Don’t hold your breath.

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In Belleville for Three Oaks shelter

Lala and me are in Belleville, where I speechified and we raised $1,000 for the Three Oaks shelter for abused women and their children. Sold some books, preached the progressive gospel, and – most of all – raised money for Three Oak’s second stage housing project. Ribbon-cutting later this year, and we will be there.

In other news, is Spring ever going to come?

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On judgment, and Trudeau’s apology – and you, dear reader

Since Justin Trudeau made a very bad joke about the Ukraine and Russia and the Olympics, on the weekend, folks have been weighing in on this web site. The vast majority have disagreed with my view that (a) he should have apologized and (b) he should have done so immediately.

I won’t name names, but to those commenters who aggressively defended what Trudeau said, I say: you are starting to resemble the Conbots you used to (rightly) condemn. You have fallen in love with the meat, as I sometimes indelicately put it, and that is a bad, bad thing.

Here’s what you owe Justin Trudeau, or any politician you work for/with: YOUR JUDGMENT. You owe them your view, honestly and clearly expressed. Not ass-kissing bullshit.

You want to know one of the principal reasons Conservatives are turning off Canadians? Because they treat every bit of dissent as treason. Because they never tolerate any disagreement, no matter how reasonably expressed. Because, intellectually, they are lemmings.

Don’t be a lemming: tell the truth. And when your leader screws up – and they all do, sooner or later – tell him or her the truth.

Don’t kiss their ass.

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In Tuesday’s Sun: when has saying dumb stuff ever been an impediment to political office?

Funny story: back when Adlai Stevenson was running to be president, a woman came up to the Democratic nominee.

“Every thinking person will be voting for you,” she gushed. Stevenson, who would go on to an impressive loss against Dwight Eisenhower, was unfazed. “Madam,” he said, “that is not enough. I need a majority.”

It’s an anecdote worth remembering. In politics, as is well-known, intelligence and power are often mutually inconsistent concepts. Case in point: Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

It is not enough to say that Ford never seems to be troubled by deep thoughts. It’s even more than that: Mayor Crackhead positively revels in the fact that he belongs in the same shed where the other tools are kept. The ones that aren’t, you know, sharp.

If the pointy-headed downtown intellectuals are against him, Ford couldn’t be happier. “I side with the poor people,” wheezes Rob, the son of a multi-millionaire.

Ronald Reagan used to be called dumb, too, but he did alright, didn’t he? Handily won the presidency twice, and he remains revered by conservatives as the greatest-ever communicator.

Back in the early Eighties, before airports would be named after them, Pierre Trudeau and Ronald Reagan privately got along well enough. Trudeau regarded Reagan as gracious, and often remarked to his circle that the US president was a genuinely kind and pleasant man.

To his critics, however, Reagan was not bright. Then and now, they saw Reagan as a fool. A dummy.

Watching Pierre Trudeau’s eldest son give a convention speech on Saturday, I thought – as I often do – about Ronald Reagan. Their respective ideologies could not be more dissimilar, of course. But in other respects, Reagan and the younger Trudeau sometimes seem cut from the same cloth.

Reagan was a Hollywood actor; Trudeau was a drama teacher. Like Reagan, Trudeau has a fondness for the dramatic and (occasionally) melodramatic. Too much flair, too much theatre, can be dangerous in politics. It can leave voters wondering about your authenticity.

But for both Reagan and Trudeau, the dramatic flourishes attracts many more voters than it repels.

The Republican leader and the Liberal leader have an affinity for a slightly hokey style of politics, too, one that always favours pictures to the written word. It’s a style that is steeped in the power of symbolism.

So, there is Reagan joking with his doctors – as John Wayne would – after he is shot by a would-be assassin. There is Trudeau, pummeling Patrick Brazeau in the boxing ring, and shrugging his Wayne-like assessment afterwards: “He didn’t know that I could take it and keep going.”

Mostly, however, Reagan and Trudeau share this: they do not profess to be intellectuals. Trudeau has gone out of his way to suggest that he isn’t one.

Perhaps recalling what happens when his party has recently sought out an intellectual as a leader – eg., Dion, Ignatieff – Trudeau, like Reagan, seems amused that he is regularly dismissed as an intellectual lightweight.

The bad news, for the likes of Reagan and Trudeau, is regularly being mocked for being a bit dim-witted.

The good news, of course, is being underestimated by one’s opponents. ‘Cause it’s the ones doing the underestimating who usually end up doing this:

Losing.

 

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