In Friday’s Sun: why I’m not running in Toronto Danforth


Sorry.  But I’m a Liberal.

I am, I am. I’ve occasionally been mad at the party, over the years, and I haven’t been wild about some of the people running it, either. But when all is said and done, I’m a Liberal.

I was rummaging through a drawer recently, and found proof: a “Warren Kinsella Liberal” button from when I was the federal Grit candidate in North Vancouver in 1997. I lost that one, decisively, but it was an honour to run. I loved it.

A few weeks ago, the irrepressible, indefatigable Dennis Mills approached me to suggest I seek the Liberal nomination in Toronto Danforth, the riding he held for many years. I’ve lived on the border of the riding for almost as many years.

I didn’t think it was a good idea. I’m too independent, I told my Grit friends Dennis Mills and Catherine Davey. I’m a writer, and – while a Liberal and a liberal – I haven’t ever hesitated to criticize my party when it deserved it. I’m a contrarian, I told him. I’m incapable of being deferential to authority – ie., I’ve never been good at kissing powerful behinds.

But Dennis kept talking to me about it. I started to think about it.

I heard from people. Two former Prime Ministers told me I should do it. Two Ontario Premiers – one sitting, one former – encouraged me to give it a shot. Lots of former cabinet ministers and MPs and Grits were similarly enthusiastic.

But the folks around Justin Trudeau weren’t enthusiastic. They were against it, in fact.

A senior Trudeau advisor told me why. My writings over the years, here and elsewhere, had been too critical of Team Trudeau. They didn’t like that.

That wasn’t all. Trudeau’s circle is now dominated by folks who tried to drive out my friend Jean Chretien a decade ago. They, too, were unenthusiastic.

Thereafter, I started to hear from many Grits that the party’s mysterious “Green Light” process – wherein the suitability of potential candidates is assessed – would be used to deny me an opportunity to run. Some pretext would be found.

All that said, let me also say this:

I agree with Trudeau’s gang. I shouldn’t run under their banner – but not for the reasons they cite.

I am, indeed, a contrarian. When you are a writer, that’s your job: to tilt at windmills. To try and tell the truth to power.

If Team Trudeau wants people who are in lockstep with them on every issue, every single day, I’m not the guy they want.

There are other reasons why I won’t run. Like Bob Rae, Lloyd Axworthy, Romeo Dallaire and several million voters, I disagree with Trudeau on the international effort against ISIS. When genocide is happening, indolence is complicity.

Ironically, I agree with Trudeau’s position on abortion: I think it should be safe, legal and rare. But I don’t like how Trudeau arrived at his position: political parties shouldn’t dictate intensely personal matters of conscience to Members of Parliament.

I also agree with him on the need to have more women in Parliament. And if I have to stand down to ensure women have an equal voice in Parliament, I will do so.

There are other reasons, of course. I’ve got kids who are still young. I’ve got a business to run. I’ve got a book coming out. I’m getting hitched to the most amazing woman. And so on.

Mostly, however, it’s not a good fit. The Trudeau guys aren’t enthusiastic about dissenters. And I’m a dissenter.

Will I give it a shot in the future? Maybe.

And do I still hope Trudeau wins? I do, I do. It’s time for a change. I like his energy and his positive attitude. Canada needs that, in Toronto Danforth and elsewhere.

In the meantime, however, Sun readers are stuck with me.


“A portrait of depravity”


From the New York Times lead editorial this morning:

The world has long known that the United States government illegally detained and tortured prisoners after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and lied about it to Congress and the world. But the summary of a report released Tuesday of the Senate investigation of these operations, even after being sanitized by the Central Intelligence Agency itself, is a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach.

Largely left unaddressed in the news coverage, this morning, is this question: were the so-called “black sites” – about which George W. Bush refused to be briefed, and on which the Canadian government remains reliantthe places where ISIS/ISIL was created? Did they give rise to the very thing they purportedly were seeking to prevent?

Like New York Democrat Jerrold said: “Torture fails to make us safe. But it certainly makes us less free.”

In Tuesday’s Sun: they’re disgusting, but they’re working

Political truths aren’t obscure.  Most of the time, they’re right out in the open, for all to see.

Turn on your TV – or your radio, or your PC – and you will see one of the principal reasons why Stephen Harper is competitive, again.  Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, your tax dollars are being deployed to broadcast the Conservative Party’s ubiquitous “Economic Action Plan” ads.

There’s no accounting for what the latest spate of ads cost, naturally.  But, to date, it is known that more than $100 million in public funds have been blown on the Action Plan’s five-year bacchanal of partisan self-promotion.

The ads do not reference the Conservative Party’s name, Tories will say.  But the ads also do not reference anything that is real, either.  The latest spate promote a family-focused tax package that hasn’t even passed Parliament yet. And when you see them, you know that tagging them with a chirpy “vote Conservative” closing line would be almost redundant.

To make matters appreciably worse, the Economic Action Plan ads are not the only such abuse. Lately, untold fortunes have been spent on a series of Health Canada anti-marijuana ads.  “The science is clear. Marijuana use equals health risks,” the ads proclaim, because none of us apparently already knew that regularly inhaling any kind of smoke is inadvisable.  All that is missing from the Health Canada agitprop is another kind of tagline: “Don’t vote for Justin Trudeau, because he wants to make it easier for your kids to get drugs.”

Some will say that they are not affected by such advertising.  But the undeniable truth is this: big ad campaigns work. That’s why corporations and governments do them – because, if done well, they reliably move public opinion.

Thus, the other truth, referenced off the top: Stephen Harper, whose political obituary has been written many times since Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader, is decidedly not dead.  And, therefore, the people who are paid to track such things have observed diminutive – but significant – shifts in public opinion.   Stephen Harper, once a political goner, is back in the hunt.

That Ipsos poll released in the middle of last week, for example:  it showed the Conservatives and the Liberals tied, nationally.  As with other polls, the Ipsos survey – conducted over three weeks, and involving more than 8,000 Canadians – found that the Liberals have been slipping, somewhat, and the Conservatives have been edging up, somewhat.

A Nanos poll released on the same day, meanwhile, proclaimed that Stephen Harper has achieved a twelve-month high on the key question of who Canadians prefer as Prime Minister. Nanos found that 33 per cent selected Harper, while  29 and 20 per cent favoured Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair, respectively. Three months ago, on the same question, Trudeau had been ahead of Harper by six points.

There are other reasons that explain why Harper is doing well, of course.

His decision to deploy our Armed Forces in the international effort against ISIS is very popular with Canadians.  The NDP and the Liberals have been preoccupied with two unseemly Parliament Hill sexual harassment cases for weeks, with no end in sight.  The Canadian economy is heading into a “broadening recovery,” said the Bank of Canada’s governor, coincidentally on the very same day Ipsos and Nanos released their polling.

When examining political cause-and-effect, it is never just one thing that accounts for big shifts in political fortunes.  It’s a lot of things.

But, in Canada, if there is a single factor that accounts for the spring in Stephen Harper’s step, it is the repellent and revolting orgy of pro-Conservative advertising, funded by us, the taxpayers.

And it is all right there in the open, for all to see.

Fourteen reasons

…why we still need effective gun safety laws.

  1. Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  2. Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  3. Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  4. Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  5. Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  6. Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  7. Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
  8. Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  9. Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  10. Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  11. Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  12. Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  13. Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering studentBarbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
  14. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student