We live in dangerous times

The murder of the CAF member in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu by an avowed ISIS sympathizer had political implications, and within minutes.  Yesterday, the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons to speak about the terrible event – even before the rest of us knew it had happened – and explicitly linked it to terrorism.

“The individual who struck the two CAF members (Canadian Armed Forces) with his car is known to federal authorities, including the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team,” PMO later said in a written statement issued Monday evening. “Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized.”

All that may be true, but all of us should be profoundly uncomfortable that any politician would be speaking about this tragedy – and assigning motive – before the police.  That is not the way our system works.  And it raises the distinct possibility that Harper and his advisors are willing to reduce a soldier’s death to a talking point.

If that’s true, then we are piloting through some very dangerous waters, indeed.  In the aftermath of the (strikingly similar) May 2013 murder of British Army soldier, Fusilier Drummer Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, British public opinion became dangerously inflamed.

English hate groups, like the English Defence League (which, by the by, is partnered with the Jewish Defence League here in Canada) used Rigby’s murder to whip up support. There were riots and violent street clashes, and dozens of arrests. Anti-Muslim sentiment exploded.

The Prime Minister and his government have a responsibility to (a) let the police do their job (b) ensure public opinion isn’t needlessly inflamed (c) resist the temptation to politicize a soldier’s death.

Will they do any of those things? Don’t hold your breath.

As someone once said, we live in dangerous times.



In Tuesday’s Sun: bookish

Politicians write books for different reasons.

They write them to show that they are men and women of substance. They write them to demonstrate that they are brimming with ideas and character.

They write them because they want to go above the heads of the news media. They write them because they have experienced some trials and tribulations, and they want to put the best possible spin on them. They write books to be taken seriously.

Justin Trudeau’s book – whose title is ‘Common Ground’ – has likely been written for all of those reasons. Trudeau wants it known that he is a person of substance, a serious person of character. He wants it known that he has ideas to share, and some revelations, too.

The book is only out officially today, so many of us haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But, hopefully, it contains more about the highly revealing exchange Trudeau recently had with sports writer Bruce Arthur. That encounter resulted in a fascinating, wonderfully-written story, and one hopes it – or something like it – makes its way into Common Ground.

In the story, Trudeau talks about his March 2012 charity boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, in which Trudeau wiped the floor with the disgraced Tory. It is highly revealing.

“My dad taught me how to box as just a little kid, among other things,” Trudeau told Arthur, getting off some well-deserved jabs at Sun New Network along the way. “He was a black belt in judo and he wanted us to be adept in a wide variety of athletic pursuits.”

Trudeau recalled the insults being hurled at him ringside by the Sun people, and others. “Obviously you learn to ignore nasty negative attacks, but you also learn not to give credence to the people who think you’re wonderful because they loved your father,” says Trudeau. “People who say [I’m a silver-spoon kid] forget what kind of a man my father was, and what kind of father my father was…He was a tough man, and he was disciplined, and so filled with love for us; he knew we would have extra baggage to deal with and to carry, because of the name he was giving us, and he wanted us to have to tools to deal with it.

“So he never would have wanted us to take the easy way, or to take things lightly.”

As such, Trudeau told Arthur about the moment when he knew he was going to take Brazeau down. “I suddenly had permission. One of the things I had to learn as a kid, the eldest of three brothers, is to control yourself. To not lose your temper, to not get carried away, because I was bigger than my brothers. We were three boys close in age, and I had to learn to restrain myself a little bit.

“And in politics, as a teacher, my personality is to be nice, and it works in politics. But suddenly this was a moment where I was allowed, and fully expected, to give rein to a side of myself that I don’t normally allow out there, which was a ruthless and forceful side. It’s that moment that where push comes to shove, do you have it? And I always knew I did; I just knew I could never show that in life, and suddenly here was a moment where I could.”

And he did. And everything changed for him, after that.

Many of us don’t know if there’s more of that sort of passion in Trudeau’s new book. But one thing we do know: that passion, that ruthlessness, is already in him.

As they ready themselves to climb into the ring with Justin Trudeau, perhaps Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair should reflect on that.

New York Times on John Tory: “uniquely charmless,” “rich white man,” “entitled,” “old WASP elite”


“The two front-runners are Doug Ford — Rob’s brother — and John Tory, with Mr. Tory holding a narrow lead in recent polls. They have indulged in the uniquely charmless rhetoric of rich white men calling each other privileged.”


“Mr. Tory is a way back to the old WASP elites with their unspeakably vast sense of entitlement.”

Story here.

That all sounds about right.

Nothing good happened (except gridlock, legislative and vehicular) during the Rob Ford years because the mayor was a drug addicted basket case. Nothing will happen (except dithering and dotage) during the John Tory years – if he wins, it’s between him and Doug Ford, at this point – because he is a charmless, entitled, WASPy, old rich guy who ran because he wanted redemption and he figured he could beat the overweight crack addict and the Chinese socialist.

People get the governments they deserve.

John Tory doesn’t think white people have an easier time of it

And the Torontoist is on to him, in a blistering (but belated) editorial:

Let us now turn to John Tory, whose campaign has been a massive disappointment. John Tory’s candidacy was meant to be premised on the idea that he was a man of substance—and, more importantly, of principle. After all, the argument went, John Tory is the man who lost the 2007 election due to his unpopular but principled stance on religious schooling. There are two problems with this. The first, of course, is that it was an astonishingly bad idea—an expensive, misguided solution to a problem that Quebec already dealt with simply by abolishing their own separate school boards, because a secular government should not be paying for religious schools. The second problem is that Tory’s “principled” stance was, in fact, a misguided attempt to drum up political support from religious voters, and when it backfired he was unwilling to look like a flip-flopper by acknowledging that the idea was unpopular both with the right and the left.

Recently Tory has come under fire for claiming that white privilege does not exist. We do not have here the space to enumerate all the ways in which this position is both absurd and false. What we do have space to point out is that John Tory is a rich man’s son who got his first job because Ted Rogers was a family friend and who, after being called to the bar, was made partner at the elite law firm that his grandfather founded and that had the Tory name on its letterhead. [It is disturbing that Tory is willing] to dismiss out of hand the abuses, disadvantages, and prejudices that hundreds of thousands of Torontonians suffer every day.


Great writing, here, and some actual wisdom delivered in staccato bursts, too. Lala and all you in your forties, read.