In Friday’s Sun: certainty is the first casualty of war – not Justin Trudeau

It was “Justin Trudeau’s lousy week,” declared the Globe and Mail editorial headline. “Justin Trudeau is war’s first casualty,” wrote Chantal Hebert in the liberal (and Liberal) Toronto Star. “Liberal strategy on Iraq suffers from incoherence,” wrote Postmedia’s Michael den Tandt.

And so on, and so on. Those were the headlines in media corners that are typically friendly to the Liberal leader. Elsewhere – such as here (unsurprisingly) at the Sun – Trudeau’s critics were even more critical than usual.

Hebert’s column was noteworthy, because of the source and because it was so scathing. “By almost any standard, Justin Trudeau is the immediate political casualty of the war of words that attended the debate over Canada’s role in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” Hebert wrote.

“…the Liberal performance [Canadians] were given to watch this week was more reflective of a third-place opposition party than of an aspiring government.”

When one adds to the chorus of condemnation the public dissent of assorted Liberal notables – former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, former General Romeo Dallaire, former party leader Bob Rae and revered party statesman and human rights expert Irwin Cotler – it all adds up to, as the Globe’s editorialists opined, a lousy week for Justin Trudeau.

Are they all right? Has Justin Trudeau irreparably harmed his chances in the 2015 election?

No, he hasn’t. There are three reasons why.

Firstly, and just as he warned us shortly after he won his party’s leadership, Justin Trudeau makes mistakes. Some of his mistakes – the Chinese dictatorship remark, the Ukraine joke, the Commons curse, the more-recent CF-18 stumble – caused great consternation in the commentariat.

But among Canadians themselves, the verbal gaffes haven’t had a measureable effect. Trudeau has remained ahead, or far ahead, in successive polls.

Secondly, public opinion is notoriously difficult to measure, these days. And assessing public opinion during times of war, or anticipated war, is even harder.

No poll has emerged to suggest that Trudeau’s internally-contradictory position – against ISIS, but seemingly against doing anything militarily against ISIS – is out of sync with the views of Canadians. It is, in fact, reflective of the paradoxical way in which voters assess war.

For example, in the U.S. in January 2003, approximately two-thirds of Americans wanted George W. Bush to wait for U.N. weapons inspectors report on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But at the same time, almost the same number of voters enthusiastically supported using force to remove Hussein from power.

In effect, don’t do anything yet, but do something now. One thinks about it, that more or less approximates the current position of the Trudeau Liberals.

Thirdly, dramatic things happen in times of war. What seemed both logical and moral at war’s outset becomes less so as war grinds on, and as the casualties mount. One need only recall Stephen Harper’s infamous declaration that Canadians who opposed joining Bush’s aforementioned war were “cowards,” quote unquote, to know this is so.

Harper reluctantly came to admit that his earlier enthusiasm for joining Bush was a mistake. This, perhaps more than anything else, explains Harper’s exceedingly modest contribution to the intended campaign against ISIS: the Conservative leader has learned from his mistakes.

Will Justin Trudeau be hurt by his apparent mistake? Will his “incoherent” position, as den Tandt put it, impede Trudeau’s long march towards 24 Sussex? To this Liberal – who is decidedly onside with Messrs. Axworthy, Dallaire, Rae and Cotler – the answer is no. It probably won’t.

Incoherence, in times of war, is everywhere. It is epidemic, in fact.

Justin Trudeau may have had a lousy week, this week. But, in the fullness of time, who is to say that his critics and his opponents won’t, too?

Axworthy on the coalition against ISIS

He speaks for quite a few of us, I think:

“I was concerned, and I was surprised at the [Liberal] decision to be honest, because traditions and the history and the principles I think of the party were very much centred I think on this idea that part of our mandate, nationally, is to help protect innocent people,” he said. “And I’m surprised that was not given the kind of weight that it should have been.”

I’ll make a prediction, however, and I said this on Sun News this afternoon: this is where I think Justin Trudeau will end up, too.

New Daisy Group web site!

Thanks to the prodding and design work of Bjorn, and the work of Lala and Babs, the new Daisy Group web site is up! Below, some screenshots from the new web site, which is right here.


Jump on it and click around and let us know what you think. Comments below are welcome, too.

John Tory “summoned” by Harper

Only @JohnTory2014 would think being “summoned” by a very unpopular Conservative leader is worth promoting.  This is going to make you really popular with Ontario Liberals and the vote you most covet (women, youth, folks in the Old City).

What a bunch of idiots.



In Tuesday’s Sun: war – what is it good for?

War, what is it good for?

Remember that lyric? For Edwin Starr, war – and the song “War” – was good enough to represent a number one hit in the spring of 1970. Released at Vietnam’s nadir, “War” was the biggest hit of Starr’s career, and held the top spot on the Billboard charts for weeks. In the intervening years, it has been covered by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

In the intervening years, too, the sentiment at the centre of “War” has been mooted plenty of times in legislatures and parliaments. War, what is it good for? Anything?

As Canada hovers on the brink in Iraq and Syria, it’s a question that will be debated ad infinitum. Is war good for anyone, politically?

For the prime minister, it is obvious that participation in the international coalition against ISIS is a matter of great principle. Only a cynic would characterize Harper’s position as a total fraud.

Only a fool, however, would believe that politics has not entered into Harper’s calculations. As he prepares for an election next year, the Conservative leader is well aware – as Jimmy Carter learned – that unsuccessful military escapades in foreign lands can have unhelpful electoral consequences back home.

Conversely, ISIS’ defeat could provide Harper’s Conservatives with what they most desire: re-election. To understand why, one need only review the respective positions of Messrs. Mulcair and Trudeau.

For the NDP leader, it is parliamentary business as usual. In respect of virtually every military conflict in which this nation has rightly involved itself in recent decades – Afghanistan, Kosovo – the CCF/NDP have always said “no.”

Their military policy is not to have one. Forever sitting on the sidelines, making chirpy speeches about humanitarian measures, doing little — that is the NDP.

It hasn’t hurt them, arguably, in places like Quebec (although the province’s new premier favours military intervention). But, when one considers ISIS’ campaign of murder and torture and enslavement – when one considers that ISIS’ barbarism has even been condemned by al-Qaida as too extreme – is not the NDP’s indifference to genocide tantamount to complicity?

Mulcair will argue, and has, that Canada is better equipped to deliver humanitarian aid, not military support. But that is sophistry: humanitarian and military efforts are not mutually exclusive. Canada can do, and has done, both.

So, we know where Harper and Mulcair stand – one is for war, one against. But what of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals?

In recent days, Lloyd Axworthy has stated his unequivocal support for action against ISIS. “[ISIS] have to be whacked, and whacked good,” says Axworthy, who is on the party’s progressive left, and who is still regarded by Grits as its most effective foreign affairs minister in modern times.

Former Liberal leader Bob Rae, similarly no hawk, has taken a similar view. In an op-ed dismissing comparisons to George W. Bush’s misadventure in Iraq, he wrote: “Islamic State represents a clear and present danger to the people over whom it rules, to any minorities around the area, to the region and potentially to the world.”

Revered former lieutenant-general Romeo Dallaire said likewise: “I don’t see how it’s possible to contain ISIS without having boots on the ground.”

For now, however, Trudeau has disregarded the advice of the likes of Axworthy, Rae and Dallaire. For now, he has aped the NDP’s position. It hasn’t hurt him.

Says Trudeau: “The Liberal Party of Canada cannot and will not support this prime minister’s motion to go to war in Iraq.”

Understood. But Trudeau would do well to occasionally heed the wisdom of the likes of Axworthy, Rae and Dallaire.

And to recall that “War,” in the end, was just a song.

I need some cherry pie

You have no idea, none, how huge this is for me. What I own should give you a small clue:

  • Two (not one) Twin Peaks boxed sets
  • Maps of Twins Peaks
  • Laura Palmer’s diary
  • Twin Peaks cookbook
  • Tape of Agent Cooper’s dictations
  • Several other Twin Peaks books
  • Framed picture of Laura Palmer which I kept in my bedroom

Funny story about the Laura Palmer picture.  Upon seeing it, a girl I dated asked me:  “Is that your ex?”  Me: “Yes.  Yes, it is.”

Anyway.  Twenty-five years after my world-famous Twin Peaks theme parties, this.  God, this is so awesome.