My latest: bits and pieces, this and that

Almost-end-of-summer, long weekend political bits and pieces:



That’s what you will hear if you are waiting for a public inquiry into Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal general elections. Crickets.

Towards the end of the last Parliamentary session, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously dangled the prospect of actually having such an inquiry. Back then, it looked like he had no choice.

His chosen “rapporteur” David Johnson — he who helped lead the Trudeau Foundation, that itself received boodle from the Chinese regime — had quit.

And an overwhelming number of Canadians — including more than 70% of self-described Liberal voters — wanted an inquiry into well-documented allegations that the Chinese had attempted to gut our democracy.

All of the opposition parties wanted an inquiry, too. But they, and we, all made a big mistake: we trusted Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau sent out his Maytag repairman, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, to rag the puck. LeBlanc did.

So, here we all are in September, with no public inquiry in sight. Just the unmistakable sound of crickets, reminding us that nothing has happened.

Oh, wait. Something has happened. A U.S. congressional committee — that is, a legislative committee found in another country — has invited one of the victims of Chinese political meddling, Canadian MP and former cabinet minister Michael Chong, to testify.

Before them. In America.

Get that? The Americans are calling Canadian witnesses to investigate Chinese interference in democracy.

Not us.


Look, Tasha Kheiriddin is a nice person.

She’s been a Conservative, and is a conservative, but I don’t hold that against her. She is smart, and perceptive, and a great writer. In fact, she is a writer who is a colleague: she writes about politics for The National Post, which shares an owner with the Toronto Sun.

A few weeks ago, Tasha sought media credentials to attend the upcoming Conservative Party convention in Quebec City. A party functionary wrote back: no.

She got her bosses at The National Post, no Trotskyite leaflet, involved. They also stressed that they wanted Tasha at the convention.

Her conservative credentials are pretty impeccable. She cochaired the Tory leadership campaign of Jean Charest and she has written books about being a conservative.

Even after the intervention by her editors at The National Post, the answer came back: no. Podcasters were allowed, assholes at Rebel “Media” were welcome. But not Tasha Kheiriddin, longtime conservative operative.

Says she: “I was disappointed with the Conservative Party’s decision to deny my media accreditation. Ironically, the only places where I am not welcome as a journalist are Russia, where I was banned last year, and the Conservative Convention, where I am persona non grata this year.”

She notes that representatives of other political parties are also being barred: “This kind of hostility is not only petty but feeds the polarization people deplore in today’s politics. It’s also a great example of gatekeeping — which I thought the party opposed.”

All of this reminds us, once again, of the famous words of my colleague Brian Lilley: “Politics is about addition, not subtraction.”

Meaning: You should always be trying to keep good people, not drive them away.


A final note on the polls.

All of them, pretty much, are now showing Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives far ahead of the governing Liberals. For instance, late last week, the pollster with the best record for accuracy federally, Leger, also confirmed the Tories are ahead of the Grits by nearly ten points.

That’s a majority government, folks. That’s lights out for Justin Trudeau’s team.

The horserace numbers probably don’t mean a whole lot, however. What is more meaningful is the reason why. Why is Pierre so far ahead, and Justin so far behind?

Trudeau’s tendency to overpromise and under-deliver is part of it. His fondness for Nanny State “woke” stuff, too. Serial scandals, the housing crisis, soaring inflation, and the total absence of a policy agenda haven’t helped, either.

But the main reason why Trudeau is losing so definitively to someone he clearly considers to be beneath him is this: we have grown sick of his face. He’s been Liberal leader for more than a decade, and he’s reached his best-before date.

In politics, the best you can hope for is eight years at the top. After that, voters are generally coming after you with nooses and pitchforks.

If Justin Trudeau wants to prevent the election disaster that is looming ahead, he needs to leave. Sooner than later.

Will he?

That’s a question worth debating after Labour Day!

My latest: terrorist is as terrorist does

Punish him. Make it hurt.

When this writer — an aspiring painter — heard that someone had thrown paint on Tom Thomson’s masterpiece Northern River, I was very angry.

It happened this week. A man came to the National Gallery in Ottawa and smeared pink paint across the front of it. He was a member of an “environmental” group called On2Ottawa, reports said. After he defaced Thomson’s work, he glued himself to the floor.

A “climate activist,” some media called him. A “terrorist,” others might call him.

I come from a family of artists, you see. “Art is the greatest form of hope,” the British artist Banksy once said, and it’s true. To deface Thomson’s painting — which took two years to complete and is considered one of the greatest works of art ever produced in this country — was to deface hope itself.

My initial reaction, I confess, was that someone should break the fingers and arms of the paint-thrower, so that they can never do it again. I was that angry.

But, no. That’s extreme. That’s the kind of thing the Taliban does, isn’t it? Ironically, the paint-throwers share quite a bit in common with the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group that now rules over Afghanistan. They try to murder art, too.

The Taliban burn books, prohibit music and — infamously — kill works of art. Upon seizing power in the 1990s, the Taliban systematically and efficiently destroyed thousands of works of art at the Afghan National Museum and elsewhere because they were “un-Islamic.”

In all, 70% of the museum’s artifacts — some 100,000 individual works — were destroyed by the Taliban. In 2001, they obliterated the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan because they were considered un-Islamic and blasphemous. The statues were more than a 1,000 years old.

The destruction of art — the extermination of art — was not something invented by the Taliban, however. Over the centuries, it has happened many times.

Acid thrown onto a Rembrandt by a mentally ill man in Russia. A Velazquez ripped to shreds by a British feminist who later embraced fascism. A shotgun blast fired into a Da Vinci depicting The Virgin and Child in London’s National Gallery.

And, of course, fascists and extremists often target art first. The Nazis destroyed thousands of works of art by cubists, expressionists and impressionists in Germany and France — because they considered them “degenerate.”

So this week’s attack on Thomson’s masterwork is not without precedent. (It was not permanent, either; glass protected it from permanent damage.) Lunatics and monsters are always using beautiful works of art to make a political statement.

And Thomson’s Northern River is unquestionably beautiful. It is extraordinary.

Our greatest artist worked on it on a large canvas — unusual for him — over two years in 1914 and 1915. It depicts thin, dark trees reaching for a Canadian sky, some water glinting in the background. It is a scene that every Canadian has seen or should. It has been described as perfect. It may not be that, but it certainly seems like a perfect rendering of the Canadian wilderness.

It’s not known where Thomson saw what would later become Northern River. Algonquin Park formed the subject matter of many of his masterpieces, of course, but a friend of Thomson’s later said it wasn’t a scene from there. So it could be anywhere in Canada, really.

Why would anyone want to destroy something like that? Why attack beauty? Why would they smear paint on it?

On their website, On2Ottawa says that they are prepared to break laws because “the state is acting immorally.”

Maybe. Perhaps. But the ones who try to destroy art that depicts the very environment that On2Ottawa claims to be concerned about?

They’re the ones who were the most immoral this week.

My latest: we love covfefe

BOSTON – A few years back, Jean Chrétien said this:

“A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”

Get that? It’s quite a few years later, and I still don’t. And I worked for the guy (some say I still do).

I mean, you could read those words 100 times, backwards and forwards, and you’d still have a hard time figuring it out. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with 17 sides. You can’t do it.

Politics being a business for people who are nasty, brutish and short-tempered, I thought Chretien’s words – uttered in a Parliament Hill scrum, back when he was Prime Minister – would be roundly mocked and ridiculed.

I thought Conservatives, with their tiny black hearts, would belittle him. I thought us Chretienite spin doctors would be sent out to explain the unexplainable.

Nope. Not needed. Nobody understood what Chrétien had said, really, but it didn’t matter. They loved it.

I later mentioned my bewildered befuddlement to a Tory friend. He laughed. “Oh, I loved that,” he said of the now-legendary Proof Is A Proof thing. “Classic Chrétien.”

Which brings us to Joe Biden, another politician I have worked for, full disclosure and all that. I’m down here in the U.S. of A., and my gal brought it to my attention. “Did you see what Biden did in Hawaii?” asked E. I winced.

In politics, when you get a question like that, it almost always precedes bad news. Like: did you see Robert Stanfield try and catch that football? (He didn’t.) Or: did you see Preston Manning actually read French cue cards at the French debate? (He did.) And so on.

So, when he was in Hawaii to survey the terrible damage and destruction and death caused by the Maui fire, my guy Joe Biden said he understood what the people of Hawaii had gone through. Because he’d almost lost his ’67 Corvette one time.

Seriously, he said that. This is exactly what he said: “Lightning struck at home, on a little lake that’s outside of our home—not a lake, a big pond—and hit a wire that came up underneath our home into the heating ducts and air conditioning ducts. To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.”

His Corvette. And his cat.

Is it bad? It’s bad. Is it embarrassing? It’s embarrassing.

Will it matter? It won’t matter.

Stay with me, here. I know you conservative types already hate me for working for Chretien and Biden. I get it. How can I work for two guys who can’t string two sentences together, you’ll say on Twitter or whatever the Hell it’s called now.

Except, conservatives, if you are being honest with yourselves – hard, I know – you’ll admit that you’ve got your fair share of politicos who mangle meaning, gut grammar and shred syntax. You’ve got conservatives who deal in multiple malapropisms and mistakes, too.

Take George W. Bush. Remember this gem? “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.” Or: “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” Or, my all-time favorite: “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

And you know what happened after W. said those sorts of things? He got re-elected, that’s what. People didn’t get mad. They laughed.

Donald Trump, too. Most of the time, it sounds like the cheese has slipped off the Mango Mussolini’s cracker. “The buck stops with everybody,” he said once. Another time, speaking about trade with China, he said: “We have the cards, don’t forget, we’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed, we have the cards.”

Seriously: what does any of that have to do with trade or China? Beats me. And: Would you like a cup of covfefe to wash those down?

The point – and I have one – is this: humans make mistakes. Everyone does. It’s one of the things that makes us human.

People therefore like politicians who make mistakes, too: it makes them seem more like humans, and not lying, conniving criminals, which is what many of them are, most of the time.

So, cut Biden some slack. Bush and Trump for their verbal missteps, too. Nobody’s perfect.

You want proof? Well, a proof is a proof. Because it’s proven.