Statement by me and Daisy Group

I have been contacted by a CBC reporter who has told me that they have recordings secretly made at my firm in the Spring.  The recordings are about anti-racism work we did.  We’re really proud of that work.

Here’s a summary of what I said to this reporter.

We do not discuss client matters publicly.  It is up to the client to make public the relationship.

But I can say we have proactively reached out to Elections Canada and disclosed everything we did up until June 29, 2019, when our work ended – as the law requires.

I have proudly been exposing and opposing racism for more than 30 years.  Daisy Group has also exposed and opposed racists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, Islamophobes and misogynists for many years.  Many people and organizations seek us out to assist them in opposing hate.

I have proudly been exposing and opposing racism for more than 30 years.  As a political assistant, in 1990, I documented known white supremacists joining Preston Manning’s Reform Party.  In 1993, I documented Kim Campbell’s inadequate response to the presence of actual neo-Nazis in the Canadian Airborne Regiment.  In 2000, as a political advisor, I documented the presence of known racists in Stockwell Day’s Canadian Alliance. 

After lots of research, I concluded none of those leaders were in any way racist.  However, their parties had a problem in those days, which was well-known. 

But the extremism found in the People’s Party of Canada is far worse, and far more pervasive, than anything I experienced before. 

We were, and are, very proud to shine a light on the many extremists found in the People’s Party of Canada. 


How the pollsters got Trump’s victory wrong

Fascinating piece in the Times. Key reasons they messed up:

  • they didn’t weight for education
  • they underestimated intensely anti-Obama voters
  • they missed the “shy Trump” supporters

Excerpt:

By and large, nationwide surveys were relatively accurate in predicting the popular vote, which Hillary Clinton won by two percentage points. But in crucial parts of the country, especially in the Midwest, individual state polls persistently underestimated Mr. Trump’s support. And election forecasters used those polls in Electoral College projections that gave the impression Mrs. Clinton was a heavy favorite.

AAPOR’s analysis found several reasons the state polls missed the mark. Certain groups were underrepresented in poll after poll, particularly less educated white voters and those in counties that had voted decisively against President Barack Obama in 2012. Respondents’ unwillingness to speak honestly about their support for Mr. Trump may have also been a factor.

These and other issues could reappear in 2020, pollsters warn, if they’re not addressed directly.

To make sure their results reflect the true makeup of the population, pollsters typically “weight” their data, adding emphasis to certain respondents so that a group that was underrepresented in the random sample still has enough influence over the poll’s final result. Polls typically weight by age, race and other demographic categories.

But some state-level polls in 2016 did not weight by education levels, therefore giving short shrift to less educated voters, who tend to be harder to reach.

This often understated Mr. Trump’s support, since he was markedly more popular than past Republican nominees among less educated voters — and noticeably less popular among those with higher degrees, who research suggests are more likely to participate in polls.

The AAPOR analysts found that many polls in swing states would have achieved significantly different results had they been weighted for education. This, in turn, would have noticeably decreased Mrs. Clinton’s lead in much-watched polling averages and forecasts of these states.


Why I’m not so critical about Justin Trudeau lately

As regular customers know, I’m a Democrat.  Large “D.”

I work on Democratic Party campaigns as a volunteer.  In 2016, I worked for Hillary in three states, including her Brooklyn headquarters.  I’ve volunteered for Democrats for as long as I can remember.

But I’m also a democrat, small “D.” I believe in democracy.

Saying that shouldn’t be a big deal, but it sort of is.  I come from the punk culture, you see.  The punk movement – defined as it is by anger, and aggression, and DIY, and creativity, and anti-racism – is where I started, and it’s the place where I feel like I can breathe.  It defines me.

Punks despise politics, however.  They think politicians are the scum of the Earth.  And they think democracy is a sham.

Take Gerry Useless, for example.  I met him in 1979 or so, when I brought his band, the Subhumans, to Calgary for the first time.

The Subhumans were intensely political, in a way that other punk bands (particularly North American ones) were afraid to be in the 1970s. In the United States or Canada, it was difficult to advocate for the sort of anarchy and class warfare the Sex Pistols and the Clash sang about. The economic chaos that hit Britain – characterized by massive unemployment, collapsing public services and actual race riots – was not really happening to the same degree in North America.

But the Subhumans and a few others were still unsatisfied with the way things were, and – to their credit – they regularly challenged their audience to press for radical change. For instance, in September 1979, Useless helped initiate Rock Against Radiation, an outdoor concert in Vancouver’s Vanier Park that featured DOA, the Subhumans, the Pointed Sticks and the K-Tels protesting both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. More than three thousand people showed up: the event was a fantastic example of the positive, proselytizing power of punk. Everyone was impressed, but not Gerry Useless.

Gerry Useless wanted more. His patience for societal change – change that was the product of a democratic process – was wearing thin. He wanted to do more than just sing about revolution.  He didn’t believe democracy worked anymore – or even if it ever did.

So he became a terrorist, basically. Useless and some other disaffected Vancouver punk rockers started doing things, and not just talking about things.  They broke into someone’s home and stole a cache of guns. They did lots of robberies, office-trashings and vandalism. When they were in need, they shoplifted; they became good at stealing cars.

Earlier in 1982, Useless and Co. had stolen a half-ton of Toval dynamite from a construction site; later, they located nearly 2,000 pounds of explosives at another remote site owned by the provincial highways department. They targeted the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir hydroelectrical transmission line, near Squamish, in May 1982. Early in the morning of May 31, they blew up four shunt reactors with 400 pounds of the stolen dynamite. The explosion was powerful enough to wake up residents ten kilometers away.

In the Summer and early Fall of 1982, Gerry Useless and his friends selected their next big target – Litton Systems, in Toronto. Litton manufactured the guidance system for U.S. cruise missiles.  The gang brought 550 pounds of explosives across Canada for that one.

In the resulting explosion, they almost killed a man, Terry Chikowski.  The bomb Useless and the others planted at Litton systems split open Chikowski’s back by approximately 14 inches. Four pounds of muscle were blown out of his back. Part of a rib, took. His spleen disintegrated. Four ribs snapped off his spine and four others cracked. A hole was blown in the lower left side of his stomach. His left lung and left kidney collapsed. His diaphragm was split. There were fragments of glass from in his heart.

Half a brick that was embedded in Terry Chikowski’s back, along with a piece of sheet metal. It was sticking out of him like a shark’s fin. Chikowski was in good physical shape before the bomb. Somehow, he survived.

Asked about it afterwards, Gerry Useless and his friends kind of shrugged: “Accidents happen,” they said.  Before long, they’d all go to jail, for a long time.

Why do I relate this long story? Because I knew Gerry Useless – we all did, in the punk scene – and it affected me.  And there are still those, like Jello Biafra, who seem indifferent to what Gerry Useless did.  Not me.

My punk friends will often say I shouldn’t have gotten involved in politics.  They say democracy is flawed, a farce.  They say that you will keep compromising, until you trade away parts of your soul.

I say this: “I won’t win every argument.  I won’t win every debate.  I think that democracy – however imperfect it is – encourages compromise, and conciliation, and change. Democracy is way better than what Gerry Useless did.”

Which brings us back to Fall 2019.  To me, a lawyer, obstruction of justice is disqualifying.  To me, a man who aspires to be a better man, groping a woman is disqualifying. To me, to someone who has aggressively opposed racism since my punk days, wearing blackface should also disqualify you from public office.  Any public office.  Full stop.

But millions of Canadians considered all of that, and they didn’t like it, but they decided to give the wrongdoer another chance.  They decided to forgive him.

So, I have a choice: keep slamming my fists against the wall, knowing that it will change nothing.  Or, consider that – if I’m a democrat – I have to accept a different outcome, this time.  I have to defer to the judgment of others, however wrong I think they might be.  The judgment of the many, not of the one.

That’s what it means to be a democrat, to me.  It’s also a way to avoid what happened to Gerry Useless.

It’s a way to remain sane in an insane world.

 

 


Keeping warm

A close friend of mine has a great story to tell.  Here she is:

Warren, I bought that coat for my ex-boyfriend, who didn’t want to keep it when I left.  I gave it to someone who needed it.  After two years, this person recognized me on the street! This coat kept both of us warm – with smiles on our faces.  I asked if I could take a photo, to encourage people to give away their unused warm clothing.  

Today I am taking my winter stuff out, and making little bags with socks, gloves, hats, sweaters, etc. that I haven’t worn for a while.  If you know anybody that needs them, let me know!  And stay warm and have a beautiful day !