Mark Urquiza, RIP

Cloud somethings

I told my Mom I was having having a hard time painting clouds. She told me to use my thumb. I had so much fun, I used my thumb for most of this one. What do you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Joey is undecided.

My latest: Trudeau-titlements


You remember that word, don’t you? David Dingwall, a Liberal politician, once said that he was “entitled to his entitlements.”

Dingwall uttered those fateful words before a Parliamentary committee, convened to determine if – as President of the Royal Canadian Mint – Dingwall had abused his expense account.

He hadn’t. Two audits concluded he hadn’t. But, when questioned about why he should get a severance when he voluntarily resigned from his position at the Mint, that’s what Dingwall said. “I’m entitled to my entitlements.”

He wasn’t wrong, but it was a dumb thing to say. The Conservatives used a clip of Dingwall saying those words in their election ads. They won the election.

Entitlements are the root cause of all corruption. People of lesser means decide they work hard, that they are unappreciated, so they sometimes start dipping into the proverbial cookie jar. They take home stuff that doesn’t belong to them, because they feel entitled.

Rich people are a bit different. They think they are entitled, too, but they think that way simply because they are rich. They breathe a more rarefied air, and their Gucci slippers don’t alight on the same ground as the rest of us. They pocket things that they shouldn’t, because they genuinely believe they are superior beings. And their superiority entitles them to entitlements.

So. Many years after David Dingwall said what he said, entitlements are back. Specifically, entitlements for the entitled.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his mother and brother are rich. So is the family of his Finance Minister, Bill Morneau. By any reasonable standard, they’re all rich. They’re millionaires. They have way more money than you and I do.

But there they were, those rich people, getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars – or getting jobs – from a charity, WE. They got paid to make speeches and appear at WE events, where kids in matching T-shirts would applaud their every utterance.

Now, the rest of us volunteer with charities. We donate our time to charities. We don’t, however, expect to get paid $352,000 by a charity. But the Trudeaus did, and were.

Over a period of years, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party got very, very close to Marc and Craig Kielburger’s cult-like WE organization. If the Trudeau Liberals were the Church of Scientology, WE was their Sea Org.

When they won power, Messrs. Trudeau and Morneau sat in on a cabinet meeting and voted to give Marc and Craig’s WE thing close to a billion dollars to run a program that the federal public service was more than qualified to run. They voted to give Marc and Craig and Co. almost a billion dollars sole-source – meaning, with no competition.

Did they disclose to cabinet that their families had received jobs and lots of money from WE? We don’t know. Cabinet discussions are secret.

But we’ll know soon enough. There are multiple investigations already underway into this stinking, fetid mess, and they will undoubtedly find multiple conflicts of interest. The RCMP, who are also now looking at WE-gate, will find it difficult not to launch a formal criminal investigation.

It’s all very sad and all very unnecessary.

Some years ago, you see, before they became wealthy and powerful, Marc and Craig Kielburger came to see this writer in his office. They were smart and articulate and passionate kids, back then. They fastened their unblinking eyes on me and said they wanted to stop child labour.

They also, as it turned out, wanted introductions to then-PM Jean Chrétien and some of Chretien’s ministers – to get funding, to get influence.

Even back then, even as teenagers, Craig and Marc were on the hunt for the famous and the powerful. It was off-putting and a bit creepy.

I said I’d try and help them, but I never did. They gave me a couple of their books and left.

What happened to those two boys who came to see me, who wanted to stop child labour? How did their little charity turn into something else entirely, with a massive real estate portfolio, with tentacles reaching schools across Canada, and allegations of racism and abuse of power, and a scandal that will not disappear? How did all that happen?

Entitlements, mostly. The entitled always want their entitlements.

And Marc and Craig Kielburger, even back when they were boys, knew how to get the entitled to do their bidding.

With, you know, entitlements.

The Fight to Change ‘Swastika Trail’: The Gloves Are Off

Full Canadian Jewish Record story here.

July 14, 2020 – By STEVE ARNOLD

A new campaign to change the name of Swastika Trail in the township of Puslinch, Ont. will seek to defeat local councillors in the next election who don’t support the effort.

Veteran political operative and anti-hate activist Warren Kinsella has joined the campaign by Township residents who have been trying for years to get the name changed.

This time, however, the gloves are off, Kinsella warned in an interview.

“We are saying to the politicians, ‘if any of you continue to defend this, we will run campaigns to defeat you in the next election. We will make sure that everybody knows you were indifferent to this hateful name being attached to this street,’” Kinsella said.

“It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” he added. “If you guys are going to let lthis foul, disgusting name continue to be associated with this street, then we’re going to make sure people know you didn’t do anything about it when you could have.”

Kinsella, a Toronto lawyer, former Liberal Party strategist, founder of the anti-hate group Standing Against Misogyny and Prejudice (STAMP) and head of the Daisy Group consulting firm, joined the latest anti-Swastika Trail campaign at the request of long-time resident, Randy Guzar.

STAMP’s past efforts include helping to bring criminal convictions against the publisher and editor of Your Ward News, a free Toronto newspaper that promoted hatred against Jews and women.

Guzar has lived on Swastika Trail for more than 20 years and has seen at least four previous efforts to get the name changed.

The street was named in the 1920s when the swastika was still widely considered an ancient good luck symbol. The private road, owned by a numbered company, is in a mostly rural corner of Puslinch Township, south of Guelph in Wellington County. About 35 families live on the street.

Swastika Trail

The most recent effort to get the name changed started in April 2017 and ended in June 2018, when an Ontario court refused to review a council decision not to change the name.

Guzar and others went to court to challenge how the matter was handled by the council, which had asked the local cottagers association to decide whether to change the name. The association voted 25-20 to keep it, and Puslinch council vote 4-1 against changing it.

The court’s three judge panel, which found that the council had acted correctly, ruled: “There is no doubt that to many people in Canada in the 21st century, the swastika is an abhorrent symbol, reminiscent of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War Two. While council’s decision…likely does not accord with the beliefs of many Canadians…there is no basis for finding that council’s decisions were unlawful.”

Since then, however, three of the five township councillors, including the mayor, have changed. More importantly, both Kinsella and Guzar argue there have been major changes in public attitudes about racism and hatred.

At the same time, there has been a spike in incidents of antisemitism around the world – the centuries old hatred that found its fullest modern expression under the Swastika flag of Nazi Germany.

“What has happened is that the murder of (George) Floyd) and the whole the Black Lives Matter movement has really awoken people to the importance of tolerance issues generally,” Kinsella said.

Warren Kinsella

“For the Jewish community, given the massive outbreak in antisemitism and vandalism, this is the least this community can do. We’re not asking them to give us money. We’re not asking them to do anything other than be decent human beings and remove this name.

“There’s no time in human history when I’ve seen a greater popular response to racism and bigotry than there is right now,” he added. “What has happened this spring, in the middle of a pandemic, is extraordinary and that tells us we’re on the right side, that people are with us and we just have to make them aware of what is happening.”

Guzar argues that while the swastika may be an ancient symbol, it is too closely linked to Nazi-era atrocities ever to be rehabilitated and “does not belong in a multicultural, diverse and tolerant Canada.”

“The swastika is the symbol of the most homicidal expression of hatred that ever existed. It is the literal embodiment of racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and genocide,” he said. “This is a modern Canada and it’s time that this name be retired.”

Despite changes on council, Guzar said he doesn’t sense a change in attitude.

“From the very first when we started our effort to retire this street name we have had no support from the township and that’s the current flavor today,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in council’s indifference to this name and their use of tax dollars to defend it in court. We would expect our council to stand up and condemn hatred and change this street name.”

In an e-mail exchange Puslinch Mayor James Seeley “politely” refused to comment. Paul Wysznski, whose company owns the road, could not be reached for comment.